I, Daniel Blake on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake features superb performances from Dave Johns and Hayley Squires, but nothing quite compared to another comedian, Gavin Webster, in the sawmill when he produced an impressive length of wood 😛

Seriously, though, after watching this, I recalled the moment, When on an ‘improve your CV’-type course, he’s told he should stand out from the crowd – and how he does!

And another moment that made me laugh.. is one I’ll have to put behind a spoiler header

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

There hasn’t been a single other film other than I, Daniel Blake, that I’ve been looking forward to more this year. After hearing so much about it, plus missing out on one of the free Cineworld screenings prior to its release, I approached the PR company to ask if, like some do for low-budget films – and something which I hope increases as streaming becomes more the norm for TV shows and movies, they had a press link available to review purposes, but until the ‘no’ came through, getting an answer out of them about this British film was as much a task as Daniel getting to the point where his ESA appeal was being heard. Hence, I felt like everyone else had already seen it before I did.

In addition, the film won the 2016 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or, and after both Dave Johns and Ken Loach went to this year’s Locarno International Film Festival, where the film was shown outside to an audience of over 800 people, and on a 1.85:1 ratio screen where the dimensions are as huge as the 1.85:1 area within the Manchester Printworks IMAX 1.44:1 screen, while following Dave’s promotional tour of the film on Facebook, I was hugely pleased to learn that they had to stay an extra night because… it won the award which is chosen by the audience – the Prix du public!

Even four months on after the cinema release, the film is even more relevant than ever and it’s had a clutch of awards and nominations including the British Independent Film Awards’ Best Actor for Dave Johns, the Most Promising Newcomer for Hayley Squires, the best British film at the BAFTAs 2017 and also a Best Actress nomination for Ms Squires.


Watch video!

Dave Johns and Ken Loach interview – Locarno International Film Festival


The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and, since it’s a new film and even though it was shot on 35mm for the realistic feel and bringing every element of that home to the viewer, the visuals are stunning and there are zero defects on this disc.

The audio is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and there’s very little in the way of a score – mostly focusing on dialogue and letting the situations speak for themselves, which is deliberate, since this is a strong drama, not La La Land.

There aren’t a huge amount of extras, but what there is on this disc is certainly worth a watch:

  • How To Make a Ken Loach Film (38:05): A superb ‘making of’ mixing film clips and on-set footage, so expect some spoilers and DO NOT WATCH BEFORE YOU SEE THE FILM! (but DO watch once you have)

    There’s also cast from the two leads plus writer Paul Laverty and a number of other crew including producer Rebecca O’Brien and casting agent Kahleen Crawford, and it begins by using a lot of extras to shoot the queue for the foodbank, and telling them it would take three hours, with Ken Loach adding, “If we seem to be hanging around, doing nothing.. because inside, we’re panicking(!)” 🙂

    There’s location scouting with the director getting to the root of the issue with, “Some of the most vulnerable people were single men living by themselves – they’re deemed not to be in great need.”

    We see the unconventional casting process, plus choosing outfits, even right down to his watch and whether or Daniel would still wear a wedding ring, two years after being widowed.

    Plus, there’s the initial auditions with Dave Johns, the moment where he’s told over the phone that he’s got the main part, as well as Mr Loach’s acceptance speech at Cannes where it won the Palme D’or, and you can see how a number of Hollywood stars such as Donald Sutherland and Mads Mikkelsen are transfixed by his every word.

  • Deleted Scenes (7:38): Seven of them, here. None particularly need to be put back in order to add to the film, but they’re all well worth a look, especially the last one which I would add back in for some additional humour. All I’ll say is that Daniel Blake gets a lift home in a police car… but why? Well, you’ll have to watch to find out.

  • Audio commentary: with director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty.

The menu shows Dave Johns sat outside the jobcentre after daubing his specific words on the side, whilst a brief piece of traffic noise plays out in the background. There are 16 chapters, subtitles in English, and also some trailers for other films before the main menu but I’m not listing those here as that’s what the extras menu is for.

Below, you can see Ken Loach’s Channel 4 News interview, made the day before cinema release, where he appeared opposite Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng. I loved seeing Mr Loach stand his ground while the MP tried to bluff and bluster his way through, Ken directly and confidently batting back every serve.

And what if a sequel to this film also saw a battle with Godzilla? It could happen…

Finally, after watching this, it made me think there’s definitely a film that needs to be made about the British police, exposing what a complete farce they are, and following a situation that happened to me, I sketched out a basic screenplay for it which could easily fit into a film of similar length, and also with a story so strong that it would turn your shit white. I hope I get to make that a reality, one day.

I, Daniel Blake is released tomorrow on Blu-ray and DVD, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.


Ken Loach: life in austerity Britain is ‘consciously cruel’ – Channel 4 News


FILM CONTENT
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS
9
10
7
3
OVERALL 7


Detailed specs:

Cert:
Running time: 100 minutes
Year: 2016
Cat.no.: EO52087BRR0
Released: February 27th 2017
Studio: Entertainment One
Chapters: 16
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Ken Loach
Producer: Rebecca O’Brien
Screenplay: Paul Laverty
Music: George Fenton

Cast:
Daniel: Dave Johns
Katie: Hayley Squires
Sheila: Sharon Percy
Daisy: Briana Shann
Dylan: Dylan McKiernan
China: Kema Sikazwe
Joe: Gavin Webster
Employment Support Allowance Assessor: Natalie Ann Jamieson
Appeal Receptionist: Harriet Ghost
Furniture Dealer: Stephen Halliday
Police Officer: Bryn Jones
Police Officer: Helen Dixon
Woman of the House: Viktoria Kay
Welfare Benefits Advisor: Mick Laffey
Ivan: Micky McGregor
Job seeker: Mark Burns
Postman: Colin Coombs
Telephone Benefits Advisor: David Murray
Call Centre Advisor: Laura Jane Barnes-Martin
Madam: Julie Nicholson
CV Manager: John Sumner
Shopper: James Hepworth (uncredited)
Man In Food Bank: Rob Kirtley (uncredited)

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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