Mike Leigh – Bleak Moments (1971)

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Synopsis:

The quiet desperate life of a secretary and her retarded sister depicted in a halting sequence of improvised fragments. The uncompromising cinematic debut of British director Mike Leigh

Review:

“Might be too bleak a look at reality for some but it nevertheless is an uncompromising way of brilliantly telling its harrowing story.” Continue reading

Mike Leigh – Mr. Turner (2014)

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Quote:
Mr. Turner explores the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies. Throughout this, he travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty. Continue reading

Mike Leigh – Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

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Quote:
Unlike Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky probably won’t pick up many awards. It’s not a film with a ‘big statement’ and it signals a return to Leigh’s low-key films in the Nineties, such as Life Is Sweet and, in particular, Career Girls. But whereas those two films were only intermittingly successful, Happy-Go-Lucky’s vivid, absorbing and truthful portrayal of thirtysomething London life shows how far Leigh has developed his craft over the past decade.

There’s also a sense that Leigh’s brand of compassionate realism has become more engaging as cinema and drama becomes overly negative about the human condition. A refusal to rise above the banal and mundane was always Leigh’s glaring weakness as a film maker. But when ordinary people’s everyday life and behaviour has become politicised and problematised, Leigh’s ringing endorsement of free individuals enjoying the good life in twenty-first century Britain has never been more welcome. Continue reading

Mike Leigh – Naked (1993)

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Quote:
Mike Leigh’s brilliant and controversial Naked stars David Thewlis as Johnny, a charming, eloquent, and relentlessly vicious drifter on the lam in London. Rejecting all those who would care for him, the volcanic Johnny hurls himself into a nocturnal odyssey through the city, colliding with a succession of the desperate and the dispossessed, and scorching everyone in his path. With a virtuoso script and raw performances from Thewlis and costars Katrin Cartlidge and Lesley Sharpe, Leigh’s panorama of England’s crumbling underbelly is a showcase of black comedy and doomsday prophecy, and was the winner of the best director and actor prizes at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. Continue reading

Mike Leigh – Career Girls (1997)

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from allmovie:
Mike Leigh’s first film after his international success Secrets and Lies was this comedy-drama about two former college roommates spending a weekend together — the first time they’ve seen each other in six years. As teenagers, Annie (Lynda Steadman) was painfully shy, terribly nervous (so much so that it manifested itself in a severe facial rash) and in desperate need of self-esteem. Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge), on the other hand, had strong opinions about everything and a habit of blurting them out regardless of the hurt they would inflict upon others. Years later, Annie has gained a certain confidence and poise (and her face has cleared up), but she’s yet to learn how to relax, while Hannah is still incapable of letting a quiet moment speak for itself. As they spend the weekend hunting for apartments (Annie’s looking for a new place to live), they’re constantly reminded of their past together — how far they’ve come, and how far they still have to go. Marianne Jean-Baptiste, who won acclaim for her role as the daughter given up for adoption in Secrets and Lies, co-wrote the musical score for this film. Continue reading