Early shorts can be a fascinating insight into a filmmaker’s creative development, and few British directors have made as many of them as Midlands workaholic Shane Meadows. At 71 minutes, ‘Small Time’ is hardly a short, but it isn’t quite a feature, either. But that’s appropriate: this is a film which never quite figures out what it’s trying to be, falling somewhere between crime caper and realist drama, between professional and amateur, between budding brilliance and total stupidity. All of Meadows’s pet themes and characteristics are present and correct, albeit in putative form: main character Jumbo, played with more enthusiasm than skill by the director, exhibits that blend of casual, silver-tongued charisma, witless self-absorption and sudden, unpredictable violence that fuels all Meadows’s most interesting anti-heroes. The bizarre market-stall costumes and godawful indie-jazz soundtrack let the film down, but it’s still a fascinating, hugely entertaining insight into one of our finest filmmakers.