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Mike Leigh

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Reply #45 on: May 21, 2010, 12:49:07 PM
Cannes Film Festival: There will never be another Mike Leigh
'I practice a craft that can't be copied,' says the director of 'Another Year.'
By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

Reporting from Cannes, France"I always have a problem giving films titles," Mike Leigh says, thinking about it. "That comes last, and this film was a real tough one, a bummer. At some stage we thought we should just call it 'Life,' but you can't call it that, it's bloody pretentious."

"Another Year" was the appropriate title eventually selected, but the truth is that Leigh's exceptional new film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, really is about the turning wheel of life as dramatized by the hand of a master, about the pleasures and jealousies, disappointments and insecurities, destroyed dreams and rekindled hopes that make up our daily lives.

"Another Year" is also further proof — if proof were needed after six Oscar nominations for writing and directing, a Palme d'Or and best director award from Cannes and a Golden Lion from Venice — that Leigh is a filmmaker like no other, a writer-director who uses his own singular method to go so thrillingly deep into character on screen that it frankly makes your head spin.

Starring Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen as a happily married couple and an exceptional Lesley Manville as their tightly wound friend, "Another Year," is, like all of Leigh's films, "very personal, subjective, about things that preoccupy me," he says. "I am 67 and in part this is a film about time getting on and all that stuff. The last film [2008's "Happy-Go-Lucky"] was very much from the perspective of younger people and with this one I decided to look at some things from the perspective of my age."

But if Leigh "can't help working from a subjective overview," he also continues to be engaged in what he describes as "this ongoing investigation into putting some kind of distillation of reality onto the screen." Which means continued use and refinement of his process of working with actors to create those superbly delineated individuals his films are known for.

Though any attempt to generalize about Leigh's method is doomed, in the broadest possible terms they involve the intense, months-long process of forming formidably detailed people from the ground up before any attempt is made to put them into a script — or even a plot. "What we do," Leigh says, "is the very long and elaborate construction of what in conventional Hollywood terms would be called 'back story.' What we do is start at the beginning and work forward."

This process can be enormously time-consuming, and Leigh remembers actress Brenda Blethyn asking him, after a full three months of this kind of work for 1996's "Secrets & Lies," "will we ever get up and do ordinary acting?" But the results bear out Leigh's belief that once this process is complete, "it's all there, the resonance of relationships, their actual layers, the hidden, implicit aspects are instantly there."

As Leigh is the first to acknowledge, helping this process enormously is that "it's been my privilege and luxury to work with the most brilliant actors: intelligent, sophisticated, informed about the world with a sense of humor about their lives. They're supreme individualists with the ability to be part of an ensemble without any ego crap. They're great character actors who don't go in and play a version of themselves." Which is why Leigh can use them again and again: "Another Year" is his seventh film with Broadbent, his ninth with Manville.

Despite lots of inquiries , these actors have never been Americans, and Leigh's explanation of why offers additional windows into how his process works. One reason is simply that as a British filmmaker, he's not had an idea that specifically called for Americans, but another is that "every actor ever seen in any of my movies joins in not knowing what the characters is, not knowing the size or weight of the part. Also actor Zed may have to do nothing for some weeks, do some research or just be patient, until I sort out actors X and Y. It's almost impossible for some actors to sit waiting like that."

And though people have asked, it is once again the nature of Leigh's process that has kept him from taking on protégés to learn how to do it. The fact that "having anyone around is a damn nuisance" aside, Leigh insists on making sure that "nobody ever watches actors really getting used to being real. I don't allow people to watch them formulate how to do it. I'll often go off myself and leave them to it."

More than that, Leigh is at this point in his career frankly skeptical that his methods are teachable. "I used to encourage others, I used to say anyone could do it, but I now feel that that's absolute and total bollocks," he says. "What I do is so idiosyncratic, so esoteric, so telepathic, so intuitive that if I had to explain it would be difficult.

"When people say, 'Just tell us how do you do it,' I say, and this is kind of smug, it's like asking 'Mr. Van Gogh, I want to paint some sunflowers, can you tell me how to do it.' I practice a craft that can't be copied."

"Another Year" is the last film on which Leigh's longtime colleague Simon Channing Williams will be listed as a producer: He died in April of last year, just as rehearsals were about to begin. "It's an absolute cast-iron certainty that I would not have been able to make the films I've made since the 1990s," the director says, "films with no script, no commitment as to subject matter and a refusal to discuss casting, without Simon as the producer."

Leigh and Channing Williams' longtime associate, Georgina Lowe, produced "Another Year," but Leigh has a suspicion that his old producer pitched in as well. "We shot four seasons in 10 weeks and there were days when it had to be not raining and major storms were predicted," the director relates. "We'd get to the location and it would not rain. After a while, I started to think that Simon had gone to heaven thinking 'I've let the guys down, what can I do?' And in his schmoozy way he took care of the rain. That was very much Simon's posthumous contribution to the film."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

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Reply #46 on: March 19, 2013, 01:43:24 PM
Sony Pictures Classics Picks Up Mike Leigh's Untitled J.M.W. Turner Biopic For 2014 Release
via The Playlist

Generally speaking, Mike Leigh's films have usually leaned toward the realistic, with dramas that feel almost like documentaries thanks to an approach that emphasizes rehearsals to find new and authentic notes for the characters the writer/director has put on the page. But could his next picture see him deliver something more in the vein of the flamboyant "Topsy-Turvy"?

Sony Pictures Classics have snapped up the North American, Latin American and Eastern European rights to Mike Leigh’s upcoming and untitled J.M.W. Turner biopic. Last fall, it was reported that Timothy Spall would be taking the lead in the movie, playing the painter who was born in London in 1775, and grew up to be at the forefront of the British Romantic movement in art until his passing in 1851. Leigh has been working on the project for a few years now, with the budget expected to be a bit larger than what he generally requires. And it looks like he'll find both humor and heart in the subject matter.

“Turner as a character is compelling. I want to explore the man, his working life, his relationships and how he lived. But what fascinates me most is the drama that lies in the tension between this driven eccentric and the epic, timeless world he evoked in his masterpieces," the director said. "I also see rich tragic-comic potential in his often turbulent relationship with the English Art Establishment, especially in his later years, when his increasingly radical work was misunderstood and derided.”

It sounds promising, and Leigh has a great team of collaborators. The National Gallery, Tate Britain and the Royal Academy will grant special access to some of Turner’s original works for the movie, and behind the camera the director will be assisted by cinematographer Dick Pope ("The Illusionist," "Secrets & Lies," "Another Year," "Topsy-Turvy"), Academy Award-winning costume designer Jaqueline Durran ("Anna Karenina," "Pride & Prejudice," "Atonement") and more.

Production will begin this spring for release in 2014.


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Reply #47 on: December 07, 2013, 03:01:15 AM


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Reply #48 on: December 16, 2014, 02:23:26 PM


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Reply #49 on: December 16, 2014, 03:44:03 PM
There is a nice feature-length portrait doc of Mike Leigh called THE ONE AND ONLY MIKE LEIGH that was just put out by BBC. It's available to those in the UK here for the next few days: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04svg4x

For those outside of the UK, it is streaming here: http://www.movhunter.net/watch.php?vid=345c91218

Features a nice, long interview with Leigh, and an overview of his life and career.


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Reply #50 on: April 17, 2015, 02:23:35 PM
Mike Leigh's Next Film To Focus On The Peterloo Massacre
via The Playlist

"There has never been a feature film about the Peterloo Massacre," Mike Leigh said in a press release. "Apart from the universal political significance of this historic event, the story has a particular personal resonance for me, as a native of Manchester and Salford." Well, now he's going to make it happen.

The director announced that the Peterloo Massacre will be the subject of his next film. It will tell the story of the infamous 1819 massacre by government forces at a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St. Peter's Field in Manchester, where 700 working people were injured, and 18 killed. The filmmaker will reunite with his longtime collaborator, cinematographer Dick Pope, to shoot the project, but here's the thing — it won't lens until 2017. Why the delay?

Well, Leigh is currently gearing up "The Pirates Of Penzance" for the English National Opera, and we'd reckon that the scale of Leigh's Peterloo project will be quite large and require some amount of prep work before it can roll. But this is something to look forward to, even if we won't see it for some time yet.


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Reply #51 on: March 19, 2020, 01:30:29 AM
idk man, the 90s. so i put Naked in and in the beginning the lead character is sexually assaulting a woman in an alley. that's the beginning of the movie, and he's the rest of the movie. and that isn't why i used to like the movie, i used to like the movie because it complained about life. i grew up in a time period in which complaining about life was the cultural norm. and now it's a different time period, in which action is being taken against sexually assaulting a woman in an alley. i put the movie away because i just couldn't get into it. which shows how i've changed too. he's dead serious about this question

Jeremy: [in the middle of a massage] Do you think women enjoy being raped?

he's 100% serious. and this type of quote, the next quote, seems to validate his whole personhood (i can't remember if the movie validates him as a person, i'd have to rewatch the movie but that sounds awful as i'm describing)

Johnny: Was I bored? No, I wasn't fuckin' bored. I'm never bored. That's the trouble with everybody - you're all so bored. You've had nature explained to you and you're bored with it, you've had the living body explained to you and you're bored with it, you've had the universe explained to you and you're bored with it. So now you want cheap thrills and like plenty of them, and it don't matter how tawdry or vacuous they are as long as it's new, as long as it's new, as long as it flashes and fuckin' bleeps in forty fuckin' different colors. So whatever else you can say about me, I'm not fuckin' bored.

god that sounded insightful to a younger me? what a bad influence this movie was. this is always how dumb people explain why they do dumb things

i'm trying to find what the security guard says to him. oh here's a topic DFW goes into in Infinite Jest

Brian: But a cliché is full of truth, otherwise it wouldn't be a cliché.
Johnny: Which is in itself a cliché.

Johnny just dissed DFW while dissing everything. the whole thing with Infinite Jest is it wanted to elevate the ordinary without sexually assaulting a woman in an alley. of course this was also what The Pale King wanted to achieve and DFW killed himself while writing it but i still prefer how Infinite Jest describes cliches, and now i've figured out the security guard's name. look at this section too

Johnny: And what is it what goes on in this postmodern gas chamber?
Brian: Nothing. It's empty.
Johnny: So what is it you guard, then?
Brian: Space.
Johnny: You're guarding space? That's stupid, isn't it? Because someone could break in there and steal all the fuckin' space and you wouldn't know it's gone, would you?
Brian: Good point.

Johnny is legitimately saying nonsense that's being called a good point. in order to steal the space of the place there would have to be enough people to fill the space of the place, and Brian would notice all the people

i think Brian shittalks Johnny i'm looking for it. no okay it's not in the imdb quote section, just Brian defending his job is. i read somewhere that Brian says something against Johnny's cynicism but it's not in the imdb quote section like i just mentioned, and i also just mentioned that i was a child to like this movie


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Reply #52 on: March 19, 2020, 09:31:44 AM
I don't think the film is about validating him (or anyone) as a character or person. Isn't it the point that he hides his own hollowness behind his supposed nihilism? He can say some insightful things and still be a sociopath, something that the film, Leigh and Thewlis never shy away from.

Also, no matter how deep or isolated the character study feels, Leigh is always about the social and class commentary, and I think he is aiming and nailing to portrait a particular brit atmosphere of numbness and meaninglessness during the early 90's, the country in a major recession, the conservatives winning the elections, historically high unemployment, etc...