A faddishly earthy bourgeois couple travels into the country for a camping and walking holiday, but comes unstuck amongst the great unwashed. After a less-than-promising start, they befriend a trainee P.E. teacher from Cardiff, and all proceeds peacefully. However, when a pair of boisterous Brummies arrives at the campsite, clashing personalities soon see tensions rise to the point of violence, in Leigh’s riotously funny telefilm. Winning performances, instantly quotable dialogue, and potent social satire combine to enormously entertaining effect.
— Iain Stott (An Ozu a Day…) Continue reading Mike Leigh – “Play for Today” Nuts in May (1976)
From the Guardian:
Home Sweet Home: The tragic-comic tale of a lonely postman, the social workers who chivvy him about his estranged teenage daughter, and his secret affairs with the wives of his fellow postmen. Continue reading Mike Leigh – Play for Today: Home Sweet Home (1982)
From DVD Times:
A young working-class couple, Dick and Mandy, move into a council house, to find their old teacher living next door with his wife. Their new life is plagued by endless visits from Mandy’s lonely elder sister Gloria, a situation that finally erupts into a major catastrophe involving the neighbours. Continue reading Mike Leigh – BBC2 Playhouse: Grown-Ups (1980)
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
“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 – Bleak Moments (1971)
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 – Mr. Turner (2014)
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 – Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
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 – Naked (1993)