Friday new releases: 1 December 2023
The Old Oak, Godzilla Minus One and Trolls Band Together are in cinemas and The Velveteen Rabbit is streaming on AppleTV+
It has been a good year to be an 80+-year-old film director.
Martin Scorsese (81) picked up a New York Film Critics’ Circle Best Picture award for Killers of the Flower Moon overnight, an important precursor for this summer’s awards season.
86-year-old Ridley Scott has an epic historical drama in cinemas and the critical consensus is that his director’s cut will be a marked improvement on the version that’s available right now.
Images were even released last month of a smiling 93-year-old Clint Eastwood back behind a camera, the new film stars Toni Collette and Nicholas Hoult and is a legal drama called Juror No.2.
And then there’s 87-year-old Ken Loach. I’ve lost count of the number of films of his that have crossed my path with the warning that “this is going be his last one” but here we are once again with a film that easily ranks with the very best of his work.
The Old Oak is a shabby and rundown pub in a former mining village in the North East of England. It’s the only community facility left but as the town is slowly drained of opportunities, it too seems destined for the history books. The publican, T.J. Ballantyne (Dave Turner) is a decent enough bloke but also fundamentally broken, like his pub.
Many of the empty houses in the community are being sold for a song to absentee landlords, reducing the property values for the locals, and others are being made available to resettled refugees.
When a coach load of Syrian survivors of civil war arrive T.J. is one of the few to make them feel welcome. But, as Margaret Thatcher knew all too well, sewing seeds of discontent among the dispossessed is the best way to ensure they don’t come after the powerful and others in the community think that the state should be doing something for them before offering a helping hand to strangers.