Beckinsale gives a performance to remember in Jane Austen film

Beckinsale gives a performance to remember in Jane Austen film

Twenty years ago, during the tiresome Blur V Oasis battle of the charts; the rise of John Bruton; Clinton visiting Dundalk - and mispronouncing the word Drogheda - while bombing a pharmaceutical factory somewhere in North Africa, there were still people who weren't from wealthy backgrounds making popular art; be that in the moving image, music and face painting.

In this curious age when such a thing as working class voices could still be heard coming through the wireless , the beginning of our great age of liberal democracy and Proto capitalism would ultimately in part lead to a diminution of these voices.

At the time one would often read some inane comment from Noel Gallagher about how his music was superior to Albarns precisely because he worked on a building site when he was back in the hood or something.

As clearly nonsensical as the unibrowed Beatles fans comment is, that is not to say he didn't have a point, he just didn't know what the point was.

In my new film, Lost In France, that is finally coming to the end of its pregnancy and is about to pop out a little -- hopefully not totally unwanted - sprog, I address the link between the attack on the welfare state and the reduction of voices from the margins, outsiders, public school system and homes without hired help.

In this case we are banging on about popular music (let's use that catch all phrase of shuddering 90s-ness indie), but you can apply the same to any of the mainstream and popular arts.

In the past most of the popular music we love was from people like the Beatles who were despite what you might have heard working class, our favourite actor was someone like Albert Finney, and our most popular director was someone like Ken Loach, now this trend has been disintegrated by the free market and the attack on the welfare state this has brought and the rising turn towards capital and the pursuit thereof.

The children of the middle and upper classes are beginning to reassert a much older order, that which is closer to Mozart than it is to Mozzer.

In the arts generally – music, film, theatre – it is clear that cuts to benefits, the disappearance of the art college as refuge from dreaded work and the ever rising cost of higher education are pricing the working class out of careers in the arts and making it increasingly a playground for what Alan Partridge might call posh t**ts with plums in their mouths.

The grants that gave aspiring artists the time and resources they needed to develop are all gone and the relatively human focused benefits system that sustained the pre-fame Ian Brown, Tracy Emin, Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey is being destroyed.

We or rather they have created an intern culture, in journalism and politics we see this also.

Job bridge before jobs, and we should be very concerned as the chance is not going to be there for people from more disadvantaged backgrounds to get heard.

In the media generally, promotion and chances often comes through nepotism, or through those internships that only children of well-off families can afford.

I read a statistic recently that shockingly something like 30 percent of journalism graduates had gone to a public non-fee paying school, a statistic as worrying as it is unbelievable.

The problem here is it's hard to see this situation changing anytime soon and one can only wonder how many great records, films and even books we are going to lose to the ether. We need to ask ourselves do we want our kids to listen to the next James Blunt? Of course not, but maybe they won't have a choice.

This is not to say that films and music which come from people of privileged backgrounds is in anyway inherently worse or less pure than art which comes from the more marginalised less economically advantaged, but that what it means is less difference, less opposition to the status quo, we might be staring a future in the face that is more Mumford and Sons than the Fall, more Benedict Cumberbatch than Ken Loach, more Boris Johnson than Don Johnson.

It can be easy to forget that political decisions have effect far beyond their immediate remit and in our imposed age of austerity we might just be losing the very thing that made all the music and films we love so important, the ability of great art to change the way we see the world by showing us a perspective or point of view we may have not before considered.

Class is an enduring trait we are reminded of in the very entertaining Love and Friendship. Whit Stillmans adaptation of Jane Austen's lesser known epistolary novella is his fifth film and the talented pre cursor to the better known Wes Anderson does not disappoint.

He delivers a film rich with wit and satire, Austens text being the perfect foil for his highly entertaining deadpan schtick.

Funded in part by the Irish Film Board, Produced by Ireland's Katie Holly and shot here in Dublin, this film is well worth your time, especially when it saves you the onerous task of reading miss Jane yourself.

Kate Beckinsale gives a great central performance as Lady Susan, a scheming woman whose pursuit is a steady flow of riches and a man who can satisfy her lust. She subjectively confides in the viewer throughout the running time and this giddy ultra modern dare I say even post modern (I don't) take on usually uptight material is a welcome change from what one expects from a costume drama.

4/5