Loach and Leigh, Ltd.
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Om Loach and Leigh
The film directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh have addressed the erosion of regional and class identities in an English landscape rendered increasingly uniform by consumerism. Descendants of the social-realist flowering in British cinema of the 1960s, Loach and Leigh have assessed the impact of such consumerism-of the consumer society or the consumerist mentality-primarily on family life, charting the erosion of the welfare state and the consensus that it had once built, and examining the ruptures in domestic as well as social life wrought by divisive governmental policies in an increasingly fragmented, multicultural Britain. The work of both men thus seems to reflect the shift from the collectivist consensus of the postwar years to the individualist, material concerns of more recent decades. Moreover, if the social realists of the 1960s sometimes shortsightedly blamed women for the blighting of British manhood, women in the films of Loach and Leigh-in the former director's Ladybird, Ladybird (1994), say, or the latter's Career Girls (1997)-are often complex and powerful individuals.Regularly compared to his fellow filmmaker Ken Loach, Mike Leigh shares Loach's concern with everyday life and the dramatic conflicts that underlie it, but, with the marked exception of Naked (1994) and Meantime (1983), two films which place their protagonists in defiant opposition to the society they find themselves in, Leigh is less political. Loach, for his part, is a campaigning artist; in such films as Land and Freedom (1995) and The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006), his characters serve some purpose or agenda beyond the simple telling of a story. In contrast, Leigh focuses almost wholly on character itself, illuminating the incidents and accidents and calamities of people's work, love-lives, and relationships; there is rarely the sense that the dramatis personae of films of his like Bleak Moments (1971) and Secrets and Lies (1996) are serving as spokesmen for a larger cause beyond themselves.Bert Cardullo's Loach and Leigh, Ltd.: The Cinema of Social Conscience is the first book to consider the work of both Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. It contains an introduction titled "Escaping Their Own Stereotype: Mike Leigh and Ken Loach"; an interview with, and essay about, Leigh: "'Making People Think Is What It's All About'" and "Committed Cinema: The Films of Mike Leigh"; Leigh's filmography, selected credits from his film career, and a bibliography of criticism on his work; an essay about, and interview with, Loach: "Work, Family, and Politics: The Films of Ken Loach" and "'It's Not Just about Me': Ken Loach and the Cinema of Social Conscience"; Loach's filmography, selected credits from his film career, and a bibliography of criticism on his work. Loach and Leigh, Ltd.: The Cinema of Social Conscience concludes with a thorough-going index and includes a section of thirty-eight photographic stills selected from the films of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.