I love Abigail’s Party…….I miss tv plays very much….but this one in particular because is directed by Leigh…is a delight…….not only because is 70’s which is a big bonus to me…but Leigh’s ability to portrait human relationship with sarcasm and humour……..i laugh so hard…….is priceless….
I love Abigail’s Party…….I miss tav plays very much….But this one in particular because is directed by Leigh…is a delight…….Not only because is 70’s which is a big bonus to me…but Leigh’s ability to portrait human relationship with sarcasm and humour……..I laugh so hard…….Is priceless….
Topsy Turvy for me also. It looks a treat, but Leigh’s narrowing dramatic techniques don’t sit easily with the florid Victoriana. I enjoyed some of the stagings of Gilbert & Sullivan, but I’m not sure this is the best vehicle to understand the motivation and driving forces behind the operettas. Dramatically flabby and a good twenty minutes too long, I think Leigh is more comfortable creating a more urban milieu from scratch, not attempting to fill in the gaps from history. Of course, there are little gems along the way and perhaps less meanness spirit than you find in some of his other films.
Incidentally, Launder & Gilliat’s The Story of Gilbert & Sullivan (1953) is a more satisfying and structured take on G&S, albeit a little stolid in places.
I think TOPSY TURVY is by far the best of Leigh’s films that I’ve seen. It took a few viewings to really see how it is put together (full disclosure: I was unemployed, it was in heavy rotation on HBO, I saw it a lot). The doubling/opposite motif that runs through so much of his work is really given free rein here: almost everything happens twice, in a topsy turvy/reversed manner. Sullivan complains repeatedly about the frothy nature of Gilbert’s librettos, and then responds delightedly to the MIKADO, the frothiest of them all. There are dozens of examples throughout the film.
I like NAKED a good deal, and HAPPY GO LUCKY, which is basically NAKED’s lighter twin.
Happy-Go-Lucky is definitly not a great film imo..
It’s a little sad to see Topsy-Turvy getting some mentions earlier. I do understand the era and topic isn’t every one’s cup of tea, but that one’s comprised of every shade of excellence I can think of for a play-within-a-play film. The “life in cross-section” approach to his huge cast is engaging and the way their stories trail off with no truly defined end has a way of sticking in the mind (rather like Naked, though in a much less destructive manner, ha). The incorporation of music, and the time devoted to the pieces, is impressive for a modern dramatic film — there’s as much solid acting in those sequences as anywhere in film. And there’s never enough good things to say about a Broadbent performance which so strenuously ties the frayed character structures together.
Can’t answer the question, having seen only two films of his (gotta change that), but both were great. Certainly a director with a lot of heart an a lot of love for the world.
I think a problem with Topsy-Turvy is in its unfocused narrative. Leigh’s usually tight technique of creating a set of characters and situations from scratch is largely lost when faced with the choice of what to zone in on with the existing story of Gilbert & Sullivan. As a result it’s all a bit scatter gun for me, never quite getting its teeth into the subject and ends up over cluttering the film with some fine vignettes that do not add up to a satisfying whole.
Actually, having recently seen Leigh’s earlier High Hopes, I’d offer that as a much lesser film than Topsy-Turvy.
Not ‘bad’ by any stretch of the imagination – not many films are truly bad – but a rather mean spirited take on social class drawn in unnecessarily crude caricatures, that reveals less about society than a pin-hole view of the world.
The scene where adopted daughter and birth mother meet in Secrets and Lies is one i can hardly bear. I find it hard to believe in, not just for Brenda Blethyn’s strange memory loss but because it doesn’t seem to have proper regard for the feelings of an adoptee at such a huge emotionally powerful, heart-thumping moment, instead prefers to bring out a humorous quirkiness that some may find touching. As i’ve said elsewhere yesterday, it seems to me no coincidence that Blethyn and Leigh regular Alison Steadman both played the irritating caricatured Mrs Benet in Pride and Prejudice.
Now Topsy Turvy is a marvellous film, with vivid characters and full of life and colour
His latest Another Year went down very well at Cannes and there was great disappointment, even surprise, in the UK that it didn’t win the Palme d’Or
one of my favorite director, while his characters are surely and mostly always annoying, but the situation or the essence of their conversation is unbelievable true, at least to my life. The moment when Allison Steadman and Nicola in Life is Sweet are taling in the daughter’s room near the end always brought me to tears and did standing ovation, because I was in the same situation ass Nicola and my mother the exact words. Hope he’ going to make more films in the future.
Oh btw, yes, his tv films or films from the 70s and 80s are far superior than mostly what he did in the 90s and 2000s.
Secrets and Lies would make a good candidate for criterion to reissue. Its only been on a bare bones dvd and thats out of print
In honor of Criterion’s upcoming release of “Topsy Turvy,” I thought this thread might be worth another look.
So . . .
Anyone here seen his new one? Popping up on lots of end of year lists.
I’ve seen Another Year and I adored it. Lesley Manville’s performance is just sublime, and the characters are all so well drawn. It has this amazing ability to make you both laugh and to break your heart in the very same moment, and it moved me to tears in one of its early scenes.
In answer to the original question:
Well, I’ve never seen a bad one, though obviously you can pick out the weaker ones that seem even more inadequate when placed alongside his greatest work.
For me, The Kiss of Death and Who’s Who are both minor disappointments when judged, side-by-side, with his other, early television films. The Kiss of Death in particular I felt was rather formless; drifting from scenes of repetitive none-interaction between barely-developed characters; the same subject-matter and character psychology clearly reworked and transformed in the far superior Naked over a decade later.
Who’s Who might be Leigh’s funniest film, but it is arguably a trivial work in the scheme of things. The two interweaving storylines illustrate the obvious differences and disparities between the young upper-class characters and the older working-class characters incredibly well, but far too often it feels as though Leigh is sneering at his protagonists and making fun of their quirks and eccentricities simply because they’re easy prey.
In his later films – such as Grown-Ups and Meantime – he would manage to make these same observations on character and class without turning the drama into farce.
As for his later films: I’m not a huge fan High Hopes or Career Girls. Again, they’re not “bad films” but I certainly have some problems with them and can’t help thinking that they’re rather slight and undernourished compared to films like Grown-Ups, Naked, A Sense of History, Vera Drake and (yes, even) Happy-Go-Lucky.
Fraser-Orr will be happy to know I rewatched Happy-Go-Lucky and loved it! I can’t honestly say I was expecting to, but damn…I kind of loved Poppy’s character second time round and also found her to be crafted with a lot of depth. It isn’t just that I have grown very fond of the quirkiness of his characters, there’s something more to it than that. All his characters have at least a touch of caricature to them, but the thing is I recognise so many of their qualities from people I’ve met. Every time I watch a Mike Leigh film (with the exception of Meantime perhaps) I’m constantly filled with the feeling of “I’ve met people just like this before!”. Yeah, they’re almost caricatures, but they have so much reality and truth to them: it took me those couple years more maturity and growth between viewings of Happy-Go-Lucky to recognise that quality in his films. It helps also that Leigh’s films are very funny (if you get his sense of humour) and that he presents his characters sympathetically.
I’ve now seen 8 Mike Leigh films and would rank them as follows:
Another Year 10/10
Life Is Sweet 8/10
Career Girls 8/10 (underrated!)
High Hopes 8/10
Bleak Moments 8/10
I won’t try to rate every one, but I’ve never seen a Leigh film I haven’t liked, and I’ve seen everything from High Hopes on. I do want to check out his early work.
Another Year was one of my 3 favorite films (or so) of last year.
Sorry, but if you hated Poppy, I fear for the future of the human race. Oh, how dare he create a positive, life loving character. How dare anyone be happy! There’s a reason why she turns everything into a joke. Mike Leigh has never created a character that is all good or all bad. He recognises that Poppy’s way of living isn’t perfect. In Leigh’s world, perfect characters don’t exist. However, she is impossible to hate. Have we become so pathetic that anyone who doesn’t display fashionable existential angst is annoying?
To hate Poppy is to be even more bitter and pathetic than Scott. Does anyone want that?
I’ve just really enjoyed A Sense of History, nicely handled by Leigh, not forgetting Carl Davis’s score, but the achievement must be mainly Jim Broadbent’s (with some help from Kind Hearts and Coronets).
I’m not impressed by Leigh. I couldn’t stand Naked and thought Secrets & Lies was decent but bland.
Leigh and my memory swells richly with scenes. Will identified the familiarity of the characters, or familiarity generally—the cracked wooden window panes and plastic lawn chairs, summer heat. Episodic and autobiographical memories intertwine, the film merges with identity. A couple of films have yet to leave their mark.
I like Happy-Go-Lucky as a parallel to Naked. Or antidote. I love Career Girls. flaws are features.
I think that Secrets & Lies was a little over-rated, Career Girls is terrible and Naked…man, I f***ing HATE that movie! Best films: Life is Sweet and Topsy-Turvy.
Happy-Go-Lucky was barely watchable IMO, otherwise no.