Sunday, August 13, 2017

plato's cave thirty nine (being a film journal) mike leigh, the birth of a cinephile

Mike Leigh - Naked - 1993

The films of Mike Leigh part seven

This site doesn't normally apply itself to the art of writing, or have the art of writing found withing its pages, unless there is something that needs to be said essential to a particular work, and definitely not particularly in the way of personal business. The following text is included here as it has to do with a primary reason this viewer comes back to certain films; as films are precisely accurate for triggering memories both from the time when the film is introduced to the "spectator", as Duchamp calls the viewer, and also the many memories that flood in from all of the multiple viewings. Also the reason I named this blog The Art of Memory. Please forgive this possible nonsense.

I believe I mentioned in a previous entry that this was the first Mike Leigh film I saw; with my father at Wilton Town Hall in Wilton NH. It was my last year of high school (1993). A somewhat miserable time period. I watched many films as a youngster - being a latchkey kid, but this film is one of a dozen or so that made a huge impression on me. My father had shared many of his favs with me over the years, his interest was mostly in films with a certain intensity, films that didn't pull their punches (whilst serving in Vietnam, he spent his spare time boxing).  I saw many of these crazed films at an age not appropriate (who gives a fuck).

This film will always be THE Mike Leigh film for me because it began my dark days and evenings in the life of a cinephile.

The Shining and A Clockwork Orange were some others from the list of early essentials. I saw them on TV when I was quite small (The Shining), and then a little older when I rode my bike to the town video store to rent (A Clockwork Orange), my mind was never the same after.  For me it is hard to imagine a young person's film viewing in current times, you simply turn on the computer and there you go, or Criterion does the work for you. Because of this curation, there are so many films missed. Back in the 80s and early 90s - if you didn't have friends to guide you, the great films would just appear if you were lucky. For me these films came flooding in at a very young age: They Live, The Thing, The Godfather Parts I & II, The French Connection, The Exorcist, Serpico, Dog Day AfternoonHarold and Maude, The Terminator, The Deer Hunter, Escape From AlcatrazDirty Harry, The Crying Game, Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, Klute, All The President's Men, Hud, The Last Temptation of Christ (another Wilton Town Hall viewing), Goodfellas, Jaws, Bullitt, and many more. Naked came last in this early film education for me and basically pointed me to a type of cinema I was to further explore, and still am quite heavily. **


David Thewlis
One of the towering roles of the twentieth century; David Thewlis as Johnny. Much of Johnny's dialogue came out of improvisations by Thewlis, and his intense reading at the time : "The very first day of the project, we had nothing at all," says Thewlis. "No script, no characters, no ideas. We made up everything as we went along. That’s how Mike Leigh makes all his movies." *  Like Leigh's other films, the script was then put together from these improvisations sessions. As I read it, much of what makes this film so astounding is the magic and actorshippe of Mr. Thewlis. Other key roles for Thewlis are Knox Harrington in The Big Lebowski (with the cleft asshole), Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter series, Wingfield in The New World, and the voice of Michael Stone in Anomalisa.

other Mike Leigh films :
- The Short & Curlies - 1988
- Life Is Sweet - 1990

Lesley Sharp
other Mike Leigh films :
- Vera Drake - 2004

Katrin Cartlidge
Cartlidge tragically died at the age of 41. Her presence in Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves, and Leigh's other films leaves a huge impression. "It's impossible to talk about Katrin, this film and Career Girls without simply being overcome by an enormous emotional sense of loss. It's indescribable. Plenty of people have died, and obviously one feels bad and sad about them, but very few have died and left me with such enduring and inconsolable grief. I am one of a whole bunch of people who still say, 'I can't believe she's not going to show up and have lunch.'" (Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh)

other Mike Leigh films :
- Career Girls - 1997
- Topsy-Turvy - 1999

Peter Wight
As Brian, the insecurity guard.

other Mike Leigh films :
- Meantime - 1984
- Secrets & Lies - 1996
- Vera Drake - 2004
- Another Year - 2010
 - Mr. Turner - 2014

Claire Skinner
other Mike Leigh films :
- Life Is Sweet - 1990

Greg Cruttwell, Elizabeth Berrington & Carolina Giammetta
other Mike Leigh films with Elizabeth Berrington :
- Secrets & Lies - 1996
- Vera Drake - 2004
- Mr. Turner - 2014
Cruttwell played a similar role in 2 Days in the Valley.

Ewen Bremner
His only Mike Leigh film, yet he is one of the most memorable characters, with his barely decipherable Scottish cursing, and his constant "Maggieeeeeeeeee"

Susan Vidler
Her only Mike Leigh film, both her and Bremner were in Trainspotting

Gina McKeeHer
Her only Mike Leigh film

Deborah MacLaren
Her only Mike Leigh film

Robert Putt
other Mike Leigh films  :
- Vera Drake - 2004

Darren Tunstall
His only Mike Leigh film

Cinematography by Dick Pope
Mr. Pope used the process "bleach bypass process" for the film to give it washed out black and blues. This process was also used in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Bleach bypass process entails either the partial or complete skipping of the bleaching function during the processing of a color film. The production designer Alison Chitty also did colour control on the sets and exteriors, painting bright objects dark grey and making sure things such as red cars where moved and not present during the shoot (Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh and wiki sources).

other Mike Leigh films :
- Life is Sweet - 1990
- Secrets & Lies - 1996
- Career Girls - 1997
- Topsy-Turvy - 1999
- All or Nothing - 2002
- Vera Drake - 2004
- Happy-Go-Lucky - 2008
- Another Year - 2010
- Mr. Turner - 2014

Final scene, Leigh's only steadicam shot, with overwhelmingly emotional music by Andrew Dickson. Seeing this in the theatre, you find yourself floating down the street whilst making your way home, it is one of those truly fantastic phenomenons that happens with certain magical films.

Music by Andrew Dickson
One of the most memorable soundtracks from the 90s.

other Mike Leigh films :
- Meantime - 1984
- High Hopes - 1988
- Secrets & Lies - 1996
- All or Nothing - 2002
- Vera Drake - 2004

Cinephile-like voyeurism with Johnny and Brian


** On a side note - at a young age, a film education seems to have a more healthy trajectory if one starts with the classics and moves into the art film or the obscure. A film snob that has not seen the standard classics is not exactly a person interesting to talk film with.

This film viewer ended up studying avant-garde film right after high school, yet was always encouraged by teachers to see both contemporary narrative films and the standard classics.   From the work of Scorsese to Todd Haynes to Orson Welles, watching Maya Deren in class then going to see Casablanca in the evening at the Brattle was key to a solid film education. During those days you could go to The Harvard Film Archive and sit in on screenings meant for Harvard students only (I didn't go to school there but had the calendar memorized).  I would sit and watch 2 films meant to give future lawyers, doctors and politicians a solid education (the works of John Ford, Howard Hawkes, etc), then sit and watch 2 films meant for the public (from 50s Japanese films to Dirk Bogarde double features). You could see everything in Boston and Cambridge in those days - Bergman and Fassbinder retrospectives at the Brattle followed by 3 days of the history of avant-garde animation at Harvard, then hop over to the Kendall Square Cinema to see Dead Man.  Professors talking about this shadowy figure from Hungary named Bela Tarr, that we had to see his work.... seeing his work became an obsession with me that I was finally able to quench when I moved to San Francisco a couple of years later and saw Satantango and Damnation at the PFA. Somehow I think for this viewer, much of this love of cinema started by seeing Mike Leigh's Naked.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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

Mike Leigh - Happy-Go-Lucky - 2008

The films of Mike Leigh part six

Mr. Leigh's “anti-miserablist” film, or Poppy's joie de vivre

Sally Hawkins
other Mike Leigh films :
- All or Nothing - 2002
- Vera Drake - 2004

Eddie Marsan
The heavy master of actorshippe, Mr. Marsan, first saw him in Vera Drake or 21 Grams, I was surprised he has only been in two Mike Leigh films. Also makes a strong impression in The New World, Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1974 & 1980, Southcliffe, God's Pocket, and Ray Donovan.
other Mike Leigh films :
- Vera Drake - 2004

Nonso Anozie
as Ezra, his only Mike Leigh film

Stanley Townsend
as the tramp, his only Mike Leigh film

Kate O'Flynn
other Mike Leigh films :
- Mr. Turner - 2014

Elliot Cowan
as the bookseller, his only Mike Leigh film

Karina Fernandez
other Mike Leigh films :
- Another Year - 2010
- Mr. Turner - 2014, as Miss Coggins who plays Purcell whilst turner sings along

Cinematography by Dick Pope
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
- Another Year - 2010
- Mr. Turner - 2014

Music by Gary Yershon
other Mike Leigh films :
- Another Year - 2010
- Mr. Turner - 2014

plato's cave thirty seven (being a film journal)

George Lucas - American Graffiti - 1973
Cinematography by Jan D'Alquen & Ron Eveslage
Film Editing by Verna Fields, Marcia Lucas, and George Lucas

Climactic Seventies Nihilism
A race between Paul Le Mat (John) and Harrison Ford (Bob Falfa).
Not unlike Two‑Lane Blacktop or Rebel Without a Cause.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

plato's cave thirty six (being a film journal) it is happening again

Mark Frost and David Lynch - Twin Peaks: The Return - 2017
From Part One

Connections between Buella's house of debauchery, vice and business-unlawful in South Dakota and Ethan Edwards return to the Edwards West Texas homestead in John Ford's The Searchers from 1956. Ethan and Martha (brother and sister in law) surely want to get into the pursuit of pleasure in The Searchers but have restrictions that make it not possible, these restrictions don't exist at Buella's.


Heavy connections between Otis from Twin Peaks and Mose Harper (Hank Worden) from The Searchers. Otis is a heavy puller of the cork; god only knows what he is drinking, some Sadean moonshine. Kind of looks like something from The Silence of the Lambs, in the Baltimore Self Storage scene.


darkness enters

 
Glorious line "It's a world of truck drivers"
Comes off as nonsense, but surely has layers of meaning in the world of Twin Peaks