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Entries in Mike Leigh (9)

Saturday
May172014

Cannes Diary Day 3: Mr Turner & Timbuktu

Diana Drumm is reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience on two new films that have won strong reviews.

Timothy Spall as Mr. Turner

Mr. Turner
Mike Leigh’s latest (and the current Palme d’Or frontrunner though we're only a few days into the festival) opens on a pastoral landscape of seemingly neverending fields. A windmill in the middle-ground and sunlight speckling through the vastness give hints of perspective. As the camera lingers, two women ease their way into frame and jolt the viewer into the 19th century. Chatting back and forth and carrying their errands’ loads, they breathe human life into the painterly image (lensed by Leigh's regular cinematographer, Oscar nominee Dick Pope). The camera follows this humble pair until it spots a graying stout figure staring off into the field and sketching near-furiously. Sticking out like a sore crooked-toothed thumb in this panorama, this is J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall), the controversial but influential British painter best remembered for his Romantic oil painting landscape and seascapes though he also worked in watercolor.

Spanning the final quarter decade of the artist's life, Mr. Turner eases through the artist’s autumn loves, losses and disappointments. The film opens with Turner leading the life of a discontented bachelor. His ex (Ruth Sheen who led Leigh's last, Another Year) and two daughters live elsewhere, though they call on him regularly enough to nag and harbinger guilt about his lack of involvement in their lives. His two main companions are his father (Paul Jesson), who acts as his studio assistant buying paints and hosting potential clients, and his housekeeper (Dorothy Atkinson), who he occasionally rogers from behind. Their relationship resembles a bizarrely reticent S&M relationship more than institutionalized employer-employee rape.  

More after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May132014

Cannes Monologue: Secrets and Lies

Andrew with a Cannes edition of our monologue series...

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival begins tomorrow and The Film Experience is doing its part to keep things Cannes focused with our list of favourite Palme D’Or winners, Diana’s upcoming coverage on the ground, and more. To continue the party let's turn to the Palme D'Or winner that topped my own team ballot, Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies (1996).

Brenda Blethyn plays Cynthia Purley, a woman who spends much of her time jabbering away (often incoherently). Like Anne Baxter, featured last week, it’s Brenda’s domination of her scenes that fool you into considering her scenes are more monologue-driven than they actually are.

[18 year-old spoilers follow...]

Secrets and Lies has a fine ensemble but it's impossible to look away from Brenda Blethyn's fantastic turn even when you want to - Cynthia can be draining, even overwhelming and exhausting to watch. Cynthia's arc is composed from a string of breakdown scenes wherein she's reacting to family secrets and issues and they are all pitched perfectly. The one which is most significant comes midway through the film when she meets the daughter she gave up for adoption some decades ago when she was a teenager.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan012014

Interview: Sally Hawkins on Cate Blanchett, Woody Allen, and Godzilla

One of the most delightful surprises of the season was the Golden Globe Supporting Actress nomination for Sally Hawkins in Woody Allen's latest hit Blue Jasmine. While Cate Blanchett rages through the movie like a force of nature as Jasmine (née Jeanette) and has won dozens of prizes, Hawkins has the less showy but difficult task of keeping the movie grounded and the mood breezy while navigating her screen sister's stormiest weathers. Blue Jasmine, which comes to DVD and BluRay on January 21st, is yet another reminder, that Hawkins is one of the stealth MVPs of current cinema.

Sally and I had spoken once before (at length) during the Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) press tour and getting reacquainted was unusually good fun; I've rarely laughed so much during an interview. To give you a sense of the easy rapport and how delightful Sally is in person, I've included a little audio segment of my favorite bit of our conversation, when we were talking about her key directors: Woody Allen (2 films together) or Mike Leigh (3 films together) again. 

Nathaniel: So anyway… Blue Jasmine. When I first saw it I thought ‘this is good’ But then it just wouldn't leave my head. So it’s moved up in my estimation.

SALLY HAWKINS: Those films that sit and resonate with you, that you keep thinking about, are really interesting.

Do you experience that when you're reading a script? Or is that something you don’t discover until you’re on set. Like ‘oh, this one is going to be good.’ [more...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May082012

"Maleficent" - Now With More Mike Leigh!

Had a private double take giggle last night when I read the news of Maleficent's latest cast members. Maleficent herself Angelina Jolie and Sleeping Beauty Elle Fanning will be joined by Brit prestige actors like Oscar nominee Miranda Richardson (who will be play the fairy queen aunt of Maleficent), Sam Riley (Control), Kenneth Cranham (Made in Dagenham), and.... wait for it... Mike Leigh thespian goddesses Imelda Staunton & Lesley Manville as Beauty's protectors (two pixies instead of three fairies).

Imelda and Lesley will protect Sleeping Beauty in "Maleficent"

Suddenly I was picturing Mike Leigh in the director's chair!

Imagine the gritty British realness. Picture Angelina Jolie rehearsing for six month to suit Leigh's process. Hee. The insights into Maleficent's psyche- the grotty castle home she's lived in for decades, centuries worth of raven droppings, her unspoken trauma from past society shunnings, the weight of the horns on her head and how it's left her with a permanently sore neck. Imagine Angelina and Miranda diagramming their entire history as relatives in a quiet rehearsal space and writing their own lines. The pixies vibe would include stunted maternal instincts and adoptive parent sorrow "We have to give the wee lass back?!?".

Mike Leigh's Maleficent wouldn't break $200 million but I'd buy several tickets. 

In the eternal "Pink... no Blue" fairy godmother debate, we figure Imelda gets the pink if she wants it.

She owns the pink. 

P.S. If they were to add a third fairy godmother, excuse me "pixie" who should join Imelda & Lesley to raise narcoleptic Elle Fanning? Cast it in the comments! 

Saturday
Dec032011

Link Hunters

The Guardian Ken Russell was nearly finished with a new screenplay adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, to be made as a risque musical. Will it still be made with a new director?
Nullco Preorder The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack and download a sampler
Rope of Silicon first look at Sam Worthington in Wrath of the Titans and a curious plot synopsis
Thompson on Hollywood talks to one or our favorite craftsmen, production designer Jack Fisk (of Terrence Malick and Mr Sissy Spacek fame.)
24 Frames Hugo steps up as a powerful Oscar contender.

Empire wonders if paranormal romance Smoke and Bone about an angel and a demon that fall in love will be the next big movie franchise? Have any of you read it?
Inside Movies Deliverance actor Bill McKinney has passed away. 
Wipe Your Feet "Watching Melancholia is like..." I love the movie but this is totally LOL. 
Pop Watch tries to imagine Buffy alum Michelle Trachtenberg as Bella Swan. Supposedly, it could have happened.
Hollywood News talks to Will Reiser about 50/50 and the power of Anjelica Huston. 
IndieWire Mike Leigh will head the jury at February's Berlinale. (This year's jury picked Oscar buzzing Iranian film A Separation as the best of the fest. Good luck topping that one!)

Finally, EW has released the first photo of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

I don't want to be bitchy about it since we've seen so little -- the trailer hits next week -- but doesn't it seem like revisionist fairy tale revisions and dark leathery bad-ass costuming are getting a little, shall we say, generic these days? How will this distinguish itself?

And when will Jeremy Renner star in a drama again after all this time spent Bourne Avenging Impossible Missions With Witch Hunters ? Does he want to be Samuel L Jackson that badly? Seems like a waster after his dramatic brilliance in The Hurt Locker.