Small Axe: Mangrove

The Mangrove Nine in the dock

  Small Axe: Mangrove is the first of a series of five standalone films made for the BBC by Steve McQueen. The umbrella title takes its name from the reggae song by Bob Marley (or Lee Perry, depending on who you ask) and though it was originally aimed at the big-name Jamaican music producers muscling everyone else out of the market, it translates perfectly to any underdog story. Mangrove is that story – 1968, Notting Hill in London, before it became the Notting Hill of Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts fame, was a downmarket inner-city area full of fine houses left to rot, crammed with too many tenants, many of them from the West Indies. … Read more

Human Traffic

Shaun Parkes and John Simm in Human Traffic

      Human Traffic made a hell of a feature debut for its writer and director Justin Kerrigan at the back end of the 20th century. A pill-popping tale of a mad weekend among McJobbers in Cardiff, Wales, it’s a film unashamed, delighted in fact, to bring us drug-taking as it is experienced by those who do it most – from Friday night euphoria to Sunday comedown – as fun, an escape, a lark. We’re talking about ecstasy, this being 1999, and the film was so of the moment that the UK newspaper The Guardian called it “the last great film of the nineties”. The paper was rushing on its own euphoria but … Read more