Men of the City is just as good in a different register. It's more associative and montage-driven, rhyming several lives of varying degrees of happiness and despair in between little film-poems on the rain, or the architecture, or the night. It's also rather playful in the way Isaacs picks up stray gifts (such as a hunting story) and works them up into leitmotifs. Though there are some finds where you just have to stand aside, as when the Bengali immigrant worker's minimum wage job turns out to involve being strapped to a cross on the high street for ten hours a day (for the sins of Subway!)
I agree, a very nice film. I liked the contrast between these multiple screens of share information flashing away inside offices (even home offices, leaving no escape!) leaving me with the impression that it didn't really matter whether any employee was actually watching
them or not - they would continue to display whether watched or ignored - and the characters toiling away on the streets in all weather, doing jobs that have been devalued but not yet had the human element removed from them entirely.
Though the breathtaking job that the chap zedz mentions above spending hours a day holding a sign, seemingly a more static version of a sandwich board, seems to be the epitome of a pointless, demeaning task similar to that moving rocks from one pile to another one in a film like The Hill or Bent. Presumably he is there as much to stop someone from removing the sign as to actually keep it upright (I've heard of situations where competing businesses even in my local small town complain about signs on the street being hazards to pedestrians and that they should be removed, which incidentally and handily cripples the competition, so I guess similar practices would take place in London also, necessitating the sign to be attached to an employee!), implicitly suggesting that the sign is worth more than he is.
I came away thinking that there was a nice contrast made between the way that the most 'useless' jobs in societal terms are actually the ones that, however small the contribution, keep the day to day life of the society ticking over or which, in their utter contempt and lack of interest in the employee, allow a greater room for an internal life or family concerns. While the lives of the traders who appear to have every advantage involve a sacrifice of their private lives and total commitment to an illusory promise of 'progression' (I guess at least dead end jobs let you know where you stand!)
Along with, you know, the slight issue of these more celebrated careers involving causing the collapse of society itself. But at least we can be grateful that there will always be a need for cleaners!