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Entries in Mike Leigh (24)

Thursday
Oct252018

Showbiz History: Marsha marries Neil, Barbra is "Guilty," and Blue is the Warmest Color

7 random things that happened on this day (October 25th) in showbiz history

Neil Simon & Marsha Mason

1881 Pablo Picasso is born in Malaga Spain. He's been played onscreen by everyone from Antonio Banderas to Anthony Hopkins. Okay so just guys named Tony... never mind. 

1973 Legendary Playwright Neil Simon marries the then little-known actress Marsha Mason, who is acting in his Broadway production "The Good Doctor" just months after his first wife's death. Mason's screen career takes off the very next year with an Oscar nomination for Cinderella Liberty. Then she & Simon make films together that Oscar really loves for the next decade like Goodbye Girl, Only When I Laugh, and Chapter Two... 

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Friday
Feb232018

Mike Leigh at 75: "Secrets & Lies"

By Salim Garami

What's good?

Timothy Spall's character Maurice Purley in Mike Leigh's 1996 Palme d'Or winner Secrets & Lies is a photographer and every scene we see him at work involves his usually-successful, sometimes-not-as-much attempts to amiably convince his clients to take a big smile before he takes the photo. Sometimes it's a direct appeal and sometimes it's just by making an off-hand joke that catches them. Usually it's preceeded by a very slight window of sadness implying a long and exhaustive story on the subject's part. It feels like a very reflexive move on Mike Leigh's part: Secrets & Lies, like most of Leigh's works, is a humanist tale of some very messy and sometimes sad parts of a large story but Leigh imbues it with a sense of delicate compassion, sometimes injecting a sense of humor about the situations, but always wanting the best for its characters.

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Thursday
Feb222018

Mike Leigh at 75: "Vera Drake"

by Eric Blume

Mike Leigh nabbed his second Best Director nomination and his third Original Screenplay nomination with his 2004 film Vera Drake (he has yet to win any Oscars despite seven nominations across those two categories).  Imelda Staunton scored an Actress nod as well for this tale of the vibrant eponymous character who “helps girls out” as part of her many job and family responsibilities. Her actions carry a brutal cost, and the film still carries incredible power.

Fourteen years later, Vera Drake has aged beautifully, perhaps in part because Leigh has structured and staged it in a classical framework...

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Tuesday
Feb202018

Mike Leigh at 75: On Wallpaper, Topsyturvydom and Empire

"THE FURNITURE," by Daniel Walber, is devoted to Mike Leigh this week for his 75th birthday. (Click on the images to see them in magnified detail.)

Topsy-Turvy is a subtle, even deceptive film. It moves like a light-hearted showbiz comedy, almost a Victorian Waiting for Guffman. Yet there’s much more going on. Why is it so long, for example? What is Mike Leigh trying to express with so many characters? Why "The Mikado"?

These are questions that can be answered by paying close attention to its production design, the Oscar-nominated work of Eve Stewart and Helen Scott. This is a film about London at the peak of the British Empire, a metropolis gobbling up the riches and the bric-a-brac of the entire world. And the chosen entertainment of its people, eager to take in the sights and sounds of their imperial fantasies, were the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

The first to appear in Topsy-Turvy is "Princess Ida", a fantastical lampoon of Victorian mores that took place in a sort-of Pre-Raphaelite, Medieval court. 

The version presented here involves a stage flanked by a traffic jam of trees, vine-covered Classical architecture and a great many helmets and snoods...

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Monday
Feb192018

Mike Leigh at 75: Happy-Go-Lucky

With Mike Leigh turning 75 tomorrow, we'll be looking at a few of his films. Here's Chris Feil

Of Mike Leigh’s many great films, Happy-Go-Lucky is perhaps the one the has grown most in its potency. Though his films reward multiple viewings, here is one that has grown all the more meaningful as the world around us has become increasingly fraught with depressing news; the benefit of positivity is at once essential and ignored. The film is both a character study of its relentlessly gleeful protagonist Poppy, played to perfection by Sally Hawkins, and about how the world works against her optimistic state of being.

The pull to submit to anger and gloom weighs heavy on our times, and an outlook like Poppy’s can seem so very far away indeed. 

Ten years on now, Happy-Go-Lucky feels prescient to the dire state of the world, as if we are becoming more like those annoyed by her cheeriness. Some of us who once saw ourselves in Poppy might have even succumbed to the numbing anger of the every day in the intervening years...

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Sunday
Dec102017

44 days til Oscar nominations. Screenplay stats!

by Nathaniel R

With only 44 days until Oscar nominations and lots of confusion as to what might be nominated for screenplay (there are seemingly 7 locks for Original and only 1 contender for Adapted -- the math doesn't work. Haha!) let's use today's numerical trivia prompt for writing awards. Fact: Oscar's 4 favorite screenwriters have 44 nominations between them for writing. That's a lot of hogging of writing honors. They are...

OSCAR'S 20 FAVORITE SCREENWRITERS
(Numbers below are for screenwriting categories only)
01 Woody Allen (16 nominations and 3 wins)
He's also been in the Acting and Directing races. Classics include Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan and more...
02 Billy Wilder (12 nominations and 3 wins)
He's also been in the Directing and Producing races. Classics include Sunset Blvd, The Apartment, Some Like it Hot, and more...
03 John Huston (8 nominations and 1 win)
He's also been in the Acting, Directing, and Producing races. Classics include The African Queen, The Asphalt Jungle, Prizzi's Honor and more...
04 Federico Fellini (8 nominations but he never won for writing)
He's also been in the Directing, and Producing races and of course his films have taken multiple Foreign Language Film Oscars. He's the Academy's favorite Italian... yes, even more than Sophia Loren. Classics include La Dolce Vita, I Vitelloni, 8½ and more...

It's perhaps no surprise that all of these writers are also directors and thus were in charge of bringing their own words to visual life. With greater control comes greater consistency in results. Without checking before you hit the jump can you guess which working writers are next in line to join this group?

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