Wednesday, March 22, 2017

plato's cave twenty (being a film journal)

tony richardson - the entertainer - 1960

tony richardson - look back in anger - 1959

double feature at film forum. both tony richardson films are shot by oswald morris, and use the written word of john osborne. 

unique sound design in the entertainer with distant music (mostly harmonica) coming in and out of focus, with chris greenham as sound editor.

the perpetual trains in look back in anger are quite pleasurable aurally and visually.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

plato's cave nineteen (being a film journal) mike leigh

mike leigh - another year - 2010

the films of mike leigh part four

four seasons in "another year", with a superb cast of mike leigh characters interacting within each season, some here and some there.

if naked is the post-punk film about being a young man in london, too smart for your own good; another year is about the subtleties and depth that comes with being no longer young, and not having to prove anything. the exchange between tom and ken about "young people" makes this clear. it is a film about alcoholism, depression, stability, and lost loves. and also about a strong love between two beautiful souls. having seen this film when it came out, i was immediately taken by it. being a little longer in the tooth now, it speaks even clearer.

ruth sheen
a further development of sheen's role in high hopes possibly. she is another essential actor in mr. leigh's world.
other mike leigh films :
- high hopes - 1988
- secrets & lies - 1996
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004
- mr. turner - 2014

jim broadbent
stills above show how expressive mr. broadbent can be, even with an eye lid not sure where it wants to go (second still). this eye lid moment in the film would be hard to repeat and is quite overwhelming.
other mike leigh films :
- life is sweet - 1990
- topsy-turvy - 1999
- vera drake - 2004

other non-leigh films with mr. broadbent worth mentioning
- the shout - 1978, jerzy skolimowski
- the hit - 1984, stephen frears
- brazil - 1985, terry gilliam
- the crying game - 1992, neil jordan (as the bartender and matchmaker col)
- bullets over broadway - 1994, woody allen (as warner purcell who snacks progressively more as the film advances)
- harry potter and the half-blood prince - 2009, david yates

lesley manville
manville is just breathtaking in this film!
other mike leigh films :
- grown-ups from bbc2 playhouse tv - 1980
- high hopes - 1988
- secrets & lies - 1996
- topsy-turvy - 1999
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004
- mr. turner - 2014

imelda staunton
plays a depressive insomniac, hard to watch
other mike leigh films :
- vera drake - 2004

peter wight
young people, young people.
everything's for young people!
these bars, you know, they're
full of young people shouting
about nothing.

other mike leigh films :
- meantime - 1984
- naked - 1993, as brian the "insecurity" guard
- secrets & lies - 1996
- vera drake - 2004
- mr. turner - 2014

oliver maltman
other mike leigh films :
- happy-go-lucky - 2008
- mr. turner - 2014

phil davis
from commie to golfer
other mike leigh films :
- who's who from play for today tv - 1979
- grown-ups from bbc2 playhouse tv - 1980
- high hopes - 1988
- secrets & lies - 1996
- vera drake - 2004

david bradley
one of britain's truly great actors, bradley has a memorable role in this film.
this is his only mike leigh films but here are some other films and tv shows he makes an impression in:
- prick up your ears - 1987, stephen frears
- harry potter films - 2001-2011 (as argus filch)
- harry brown - 2009, daniel barber (leaves an impression as the character leonard attwell)
- broadchurch - 2013 (as the character jack marshall, wrongly accused of dirty business)
- game of thrones - 2011-2016 (as walder frey, who understand the complexities of the female form)
- the strain - 2014-2017 (i don't much care for this show but have watched it to see mr. bradley and also corey stoll)

michele austin
other mike leigh films :
- secrets & lies - 1996
- all or nothing - 2002

karina fernandez
other mike leigh films :
- happy-go-lucky - 2008, as flamenco teacher
- mr. turner - 2014, as miss coggins who plays purcell whilst turner sings along

martin savage
hooligan character
other mike leigh films :
- topsy-turvy - 1999
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004
- mr. turner - 2014

eileen davies
as mourner
other mike leigh films :
- meantime - 1984
- vera drake - 2004
- mr. turner - 2014

mary jo randle
as mourner
her only mike leigh film

ben roberts
as mourner
his only mike leigh film

cinematography by dick pope
dick pope was also camera operator for the following films, and worked closely with mike leigh and grip colin strachan.  when asked "how do you work with mike on-set?" he responded "mike directs from the camera, only at the camera. he looks through the viewfinder on almost every key shot and directs from there too, refining the acting and its choreography in the greatest detail. he watches each take from next to the camera. nothing is left to chance."

other mike leigh films :
- life is sweet - 1990
- naked - 1993
- secrets & lies - 1996
- career girls - 1997
- topsy-turvy - 1999
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004
- happy-go-lucky - 2008
- mr. turner - 2014

music by gary yershon
the consistent feel in the music of mike leigh films is very striking. it is obvious he had a huge impact on the feel of the music, even if there are different composers. the music in the driving sequence in the beginning of the "winter" section of this film is very much like the driving sequence in naked by andrew dickson. quite fascinating.
other mike leigh films :
- happy-go-lucky - 2008
- mr. turner - 2014

Thursday, March 16, 2017

plato's cave eighteen (being a film journal) mike leigh

mike leigh - the short & curlies - 1988

the films of mike leigh part three

some of the most memorable dialogue from a mike leigh film, just puts a big smile on my face. much of it nonsense. alison steadman's body posture is so extreme it is hard to watch her... and her anxiety as well. quite lovely business. entertainment through pain in a way.

alison steadman
one of the best voices ever heard in a mike leigh film.... is steadman's character in the short and curlies, just lovely. i wonder if marylouise burke based her character a little on alison steadman's "betty" as miles' mother in alexander payne's film sideways from 2004?
other mike leigh films :
- nuts in may from play for today TV - 1976
- abigail's party from play for today TV - 1977
- the kiss of death from play for today TV - 1977
- life is sweet - 1990
- secrets & lies - 1996
- topsy-turvy - 1999

david thewlis
"two peanuts walking down the road, one of them was a salted"
other mike leigh films :
- life is sweet - 1990
- naked - 1993

sylvestra le touzel
a character very concerned with herself
other mike leigh films :
- happy-go-lucky - 2008
- mr. turner - 2014

wendy nottingham
other mike leigh films :
- secrets & lies - 1996
- topsy-turvy - 1999
- vera drake - 2004

cinematography - roger pratt
other mike leigh films :
- bleak moments - 1971 as assistant camera-man
- meantime - 1984
- high hopes - 1988

music - rachel portman
other mike leigh films :
- four days in july - 1984 tv
- life is sweet - 1990

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

plato's cave seventeen (being a film journal) mike leigh

mike leigh - high hopes - 1988

the films of mike leigh part two

high hopes, mike leigh's film from 1988, centered around a working-class couple in london. one a karl marx worshiping commie, and the other a rather lovely person that is matronly and desires to have a baby.

ruth sheen
one of mike leigh's greatest collaborators
other mike leigh films :
- secrets & lies - 1996
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004
- another year - 2010, here she plays gerri a role she said took months and months to develop, in one of leigh's greatest films
- mr. tuner - 2014

phil davis
his first film was in pasolini's canterbury tales
other mike leigh films :
- who's who from play for today tv - 1979
- grown-ups from bbc2 playhouse tv - 1980
- secrets & lies - 1996
- vera drake - 2004
- another year - 2010

jason watkins (man with suitcase)
his only film with mike leigh

lesley manville
plays "sue" alongside gary oldman in alan clarke's 1989 masterpiece the firm. another great leigh collaborator
other mike leigh films :
- grown-ups from bbc2 playhouse tv - 1980 
- secrets & lies - 1996
- topsy-turvy - 1999, the only film by mike leigh that does not do much for me, maybe it is the subject matter
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004
- another year - 2010
- mr. turner - 2014

david bamber
the yuppie-thatcherite who declares ''what made this country great is a place for everyone, and everyone in his place.''
his only film with mike leigh

philip jackson
also in an alan clarke film; scum from 1979
his only film with mike leigh

linda beckett
other mike leigh films :
- bleak moments - 1971
- secrets & lies - 1996

heather tobias
her only film with mike leigh

edna doré
other mike leigh films :
- all or nothing - 2002
- another year - 2010

cheryl prime
her only film with mike leigh

judith scott (with yellow bag)
plays suzi and competes with cyril in commie talk
other mike leigh films :
- vera drake - 2004

cinematography - roger pratt
other mike leigh films :
- bleak moments - 1971 as assistant camera-man
- meantime - 1984
- the short & curlies - 1988

music - andrew dickson
other mike leigh films :
- meantime - 1984
- naked - 1993
- secrets & lies - 1996
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

plato's cave sixteen (being a film journal) mike leigh

mike leigh - meantime - 1984

the films of mike leigh part one

meantime, mike leigh's tv film from 1984 focusing on a little over a dozen working class characters in london's east end.

thinking of mike leigh as being in a long tradition of great artists that use an ensemble of actors throughout their work (from william shakespeare to john ford), i wanted to watch each of his films with an eye for the actor's involvement with mr. leigh, and also the involvement of the cinematographers and composers. the key elements of mr. leigh's films for myself have always been the contributions of the actors, the way the films look, and the music that at once announces that you are watching a mike leigh film (the music heard in the beginning of naked while johnny drives to london). bringing these elements together is obviously his direction in the films, which includes him as one of the best.

the first time i saw a mike leigh film was my last year of high school in 1993. my father and i went to the local art house cinema in wilton new hampshire (wilton town hall theatre) to see the most recent of his films naked. it hit me like a ton of bricks.

i started seriously watching mr. leigh's work in film school a couple of years later.  at the time, i was heavily obsessed with the work of john cassavetes. i was working at a movie theater in cambridge mass, and one of my coworkers was studying under ray carney. he said to me; if i was interested in how improvisation plays a major role cassavetes' work, i should spend some more time with mike leigh. i had only seen naked at that point, and quickly delved as deep as i could into the work. the improvisations that shape the scripts make these films so wonderful to watch and unique in film history. david thewlis' "johnny" in naked is the most appropriate example of the improvisational process between actors and director in mike leigh films, and the results of this process that make up the final film. yet leigh's entire oeuvre is full of such moments of wonder.

i must admit that i have never read a book on mike leigh (although i should), and these observations are based on my viewings. any errors i have made, i would be interested in knowing.

tim roth
his only film with mike leigh. another essential film with mr. roth from this time period is alan clarke's made in britain from 1982

gary oldman
his only film with mike leigh. another essential film from the time period is alan clarke's the firm from 1989

phil daniels
his only film with mike leigh. another alan clarke connection is the films scum from 1977 and 1979 with mr. daniels. his actorshippe was quite heavy in meantime

jeffrey robert
his only film with mike leigh, surprising as he has such a strong presence in the film

marion bailey, mike leigh's partner
other mike leigh films :
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004
- mr. turner - 2014, as mr. turner's lover sophia booth

pam ferris
her only mike leigh film. also notable in childen of men as the midwife, and the harry potter films as the nasty aunt marge

peter wight
other mike leigh films :
- naked - 1993, as brian the "insecurity" guard
- secrets & lies - 1996
- vera drake - 2004
- another year - 2010, as the memorable drunken depressive friend ken
- mr. turner - 2014

alfred molina
his only mike leigh film. also notable from the time period is stephen frears' film prick up your ears with gary oldman, from 1987


leila bertrand
her only mike leigh film. her part is quite minimal but leaves an impression

hepburn graham
his only mike leigh film, his minimal part also leaves quite an impression

tilly vosburgh
other mike leigh films :
- vera drake - 2004

eileen davies
other mike leigh films :
- vera drake - 2004
- another year - 2010
- mr. turner - 2014

cinematography - roger pratt
other mike leigh films :
- bleak moments - 1971 as assistant camera-man
- high hopes - 1988
- the short & curlies - 1988

music - andrew dickson. composer for many of mike leigh's key films including naked
other mike leigh films :
- high hopes - 1988
- naked - 1993, one of the best film scores ever!
- secrets & lies - 1996
- all or nothing - 2002
- vera drake - 2004