Film, Theatre & Music Musings.
I'm trying to think if Mike Leigh has ever made a bad movie and none come to mind. Do you know any? I can't wait to see this either.
alex......sad middle aged people in free fall....hummmmm typical Leigh me thinks....I will give it a go!
Mike - Well, two I'm not a fan of are MEANTIME and HIGH HOPES, but the rest: great. Actually HAPPY-GO-LUCKY got quite a backlash here, as a lot of people found the protagonist irritating. But I really liked it, and Sally Hawkins's performance. What did you think?John - yes, it looks "familiar" but in a good way. Pleased to see that Lesley Manville has a starring role: she's one of my favourite actresses.
alex I have met her!!!
I loved Happy-go-Lucky, made my best of list of that year. I even give High Hopes a pass in my books. I haven't seen Meantime though, was that one he made for TV between Bleak Moments and High Hopes? I haven't seen any of those TV movies.
John - So have I!Mike - Yes, MEANTIME was for Channel 4, I think, early 80s. There's a boxset of the TV films available now, including the more obscure ones (FOUR DAYS IN JULY is a gem). And ABIGAIL's PARTY and NUTS IN MAY are a must.I thought HAPPY-GO-LUCKY was great too. Interestingly, though, it seemed to get a much more positive critical response in North America than here.
Hi Alex. I've loved all six of Mike Leigh's films that I've seen: Life Is Sweet, Naked, Secrets & Lies, Career Girls, Vera Drake, and Happy-Go-Lucky. I also saw a very enjoyable stage production of Abigail's Party in London a few years ago. Your post is the first time I've heard about his latest film, so thanks for sharing the news. I very much look forward to seeing the movie when it's released stateside. Mike Leigh has such a distinctive dramatic style and method.By the way, I found Happy-Go-Lucky to be hilarious and engrossing as well, and I thought Sally Hawkins's performance was phenomenal. (I do recall reading reviews by some critics who found her grating, an expected reaction in a way.) The romantic subplot with the handsome boyfriend felt a bit too "easy" to me at points, but the confrontation in the car with the driving instructor and the final scene in the rowboat on the lagoon, especially, have really lingered in my mind since seeing the film a couple of years ago. Interesting, I think, because those two scenes are so (intentionally) opposite in tone and intensity, yet they're equally effective.
Thanks for stopping by, Jason! Yes, the romantic subplot - and especially the introduction of it via the (swiftly dispensed with) character of the boy at school - didn't really work for me, but there were, nonetheless, some wonderful sequences, especially the scenes between Hawkins and Marsan. My view - and its a horrible generalisation, I know - is that North American critics/audiences were much more open to the optimism of Hawkins's character than the cynical Britishers... It had some really unfair reviews here. One of the things I love most about Leigh is his use of a company of actors, to which he also continually adds fresh faces... Check out TOPSY-TURVY, his film about Gilbert & Sullivan. It's astounding.
You're welcome, Alex. It's the least I could do to reply in kind to your generous comments on my first two posts. And I'll definitely plan to check out Topsy-Turvy.Your idea about North American critics being somewhat more open to Sally Hawkins's character is true, I think. Most of the reviewers here weren't too bothered by her cheerfulness, and they may be unfamiliar with the everyday social landscape in England. I thought her overly optimistic outlook was well-integrated into the plotline of the film.I've just finished paging through your blog, all the way back to its inception, and I shared a few more comments on your older postings along the way. Our tastes definitely overlap quite a bit, as I'd had a feeling they might!
Alex, I'm not sure what to say about how North American's responed to the film but what I liked about it was how it felt as though Mike Leigh, like Fellini with Nights of Cabiria and Junet with Amelie, was giving us another of the cinemas great, original female characters. I think it's in bad form to critize a movie called Happy-Go-Lucky for having it's main character be just that. However I found that quality quite endearing and love and Leigh just lets that be right up until the end, never commenting or forcing the story into places it wouldn't naturally venture on its own.
Thanks for trawling the blog, Jason, and especially for all the comments! I'll write some replies tomorrow.I am envious that you have the chance to see LE REFUGE already! I don't think it's out here until December... Still, I shouldn't complain - at least it's getting a release: Ozon's previous film, RICKY, has never been distributed in the UK, despite being based on a (great) short story by a British writer, Rose Tremain. Did you get the chance to see that one?
My pleasure, Alex.Hmm...I don't think Ozon's Ricky was ever screened here in Boston/Cambridge, for some strange reason. I hadn't even heard of the film before seeing your blog entry about it. I love Ozon's Time to Leave (and own it on DVD now); it's quite a downer for most viewers, but I understand the central character's decision and think the film is moving and beautifully made. I'm excited to see more of Ozon's movies, and I'll let you know my thoughts on Le Refuge after I see it in mid-June.
Mike - I expect you to speak on behalf of ALL Canadian viewers on this!;) I totally agree. To me, the movie isn't holding Poppy up as an exemplar - saying, "This is how everyone should go through life!". She's simply another of Leigh's great character studies, brought into contact with a range of other interesting characters. Jason - Yes, I do like TIME TO LEAVE, though for me UNDER THE SAND (a kind of companion piece to TTL in some ways) is Ozon's masterpiece. But all of his films are provocative and challenging, and I admire his work very much.