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Review: The Wind That Shakes the Barley

WSBMASTER116.jpgWhither a Weekend Films Post?
I set out to write about what films to see this weekend and clearly I failed. It’s after midnight on Sunday morning and here I am with almost 600 words about Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley and fuck all about any of the other films I was going to recommend. I’ll get better at this “doing things at the right time” thing, I promise. So, then, take as you will, this longer than expected review of Ken Loach’s excellent offering (albeit a week or 2 late):

Ken Loach‘s beautiful and stirring epic of the years leading up to and including the Irish Civil War is the best film of the year to date and this 2006 Cannes Palm D’or winner is certain to be on many critics’ top ten lists, come December. Often criticized (not by me) for being heavy-handed with his politics, Loach is less so, here. While there’s no doubt as to who the bad guys are in the first part of the film, the lines are blurred once the story moves from British occupation to civil war. Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty have personalized this historical drama with the story of Damien and Teddy O’Donovan, two brothers deep in the Irish resistance. Damien (Cillian Murphy) begins the film all set to leave for London to work as a doctor, while older brother Teddy (Padraic Delaney) is already a veteran member of the struggle against the British occupation. Two particularly vivid acts of brutality by the Black & Tans, paramilitary squads drafted by the English to help quell the rising rebellion in Ireland, inspire Damien to stay in Ireland and join the resistance.

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2006 Cannes Winners

Palme d’Or:
The Wind That Shakes The Barley by Ken Loach
Grand Prix:
Flandres (Flanders) by Bruno Dumont
Prix du Scénario (best screenplay):
Pedro Almodovar for Volver
Prix de la Mise en Scène (best director):
Alejandro González Iñárritu for Babel, a very well received film at this year’s festival. In fact, I ran into a young Swedish director after she had just seen the film and she was shaking and barely able to talk. I didn’t see it and am regetting it more and more with each passing day!
Prix d’interprétation masculine (best actor):
The ensemble cast of Rachid Bouchareb‘s Indigènes (Days of Glory): Jamel Debbouze, Samy Nacéri, Sami Bouajila, Roschdy Zem, Bernard Blancan)
Prix d’interprétation féminine: (best actress):
Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo, Chus Lampreave, the entire female cast of Pedro Almodovar‘s Volver!
Prix du Jury (Jury Prize):
Red Road by Andrea Arnold
Ok, so I was wrong which prize she was going to win….
Caméra d’Or (best first feature):
A Fost sau n-a fost? (12:08 East of Bucharest) by Corneliu Porumboiu
Short FIlm Palme d’Or:
Sniffer by Bobbie Peers. The Short Film Jury presided over by Andrei Konchalovsky also gave the Jury Prize to Primera Nieve by Pablo Aguero and a Special Mention to Conte de Quartier by Florence Miailhe.