Career Girls (1997)

MIKE LEIGH Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.  United Kingdom/France, 1997.  Channel Four Films, Thin Man Films, Matrix Films, Channel 4 Television Corporation.  Screenplay by Mike Leigh.   Cinematography by Dick Pope.  Produced by Simon Channing Williams.  Music by Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Tony Remy.  Production Design by Eve Stewart.  Film Editing by Robin Sales. Mike Leigh scores a rare misfire with this drab story…

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Mr. Turner

BBBBB (out of 5) The life and work of J.M.W. Turner are visited in this impressionistic exercise in brilliance by Mike Leigh, here making yet another unforgettably perfect film.  It also marks a return to the Victorian era following his masterful Topsy-Turvy, but where that film was much more concerned with a precise recreation of…

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Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

BBBB (out of 5) On a casual evening in New York, a hotshot lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) celebrates a personal victory at a local bar, having just sent a guilty man to prison. A nearby patron of the establishment (Alan Arkin) has just had a terrible week that has confirmed his doubts about humanity in general….

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Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

DOUGLAS McGRATH Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB.  United Kingdom/USA, 2002.  United Artists Film Corporation, Hart-Sharp Entertainment, Potboiler Productions.  Screenplay by Douglas McGrath, based on the novel by Charles Dickens.  Cinematography by Dick Pope.  Produced by Simon Channing Williams, John Hart, Jeffrey Sharp.  Music by Rachel Portman.  Production Design by Eve Stewart.  Costume Design by Ruth Myers.  Film Editing by Lesley Walker.  Golden Globe Awards 2002.  …

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Me And Orson Welles

BBBB (out of 5) Memorably enjoyable comedy about a “never the same again after that summer” loss of innocence. Zac Efron is terrific as a young man in the 1930s who lets high school fall by the wayside when he gets the opportunity to be in a Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar and work…

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An Awfully Big Adventure

BB (out of 5) Georgina Cates plays an actress in 1947 Liverpool who auditions and gets work in a local theatrical production company. She finds herself working with a has-been great actor (Alan Rickman) and a foppish director (Hugh Grant), who spends too much of his time gaggling at the little boys in his plays….

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Another Year

BBBB.5 (out of 5) A group of characters are observed throughout four seasons in this lyrically beautiful film by Mike Leigh. While he customarily focuses on the interactions between working-class Londoners, in this particular case he has complicated the levels by focusing on medical secretary Lesley Manville and her friendship with therapist Ruth Sheen and geologist Jim…

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Happy-Go-Lucky

BBBBB (out of 5) Mike Leigh strikes gold yet again with this gorgeously uplifting tale of optimism and mirth. Plucky lass Poppy (Sally Hawkins in an outstanding performance) teaches young children, hangs out with her girlfriends and takes driving lessons with an astonishingly angry instructor (Eddie Marsan), the whole time up for a good laugh…

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Vera Drake

BBBBB (out of 5) A regular 1950s housewife in working-class London, Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) goes about her job as charwoman for various wealthy houses in London, fitting in domestic duties for ailing friends as well as taking care of her aging mother before going home to do all her duties for her loving husband…

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All Or Nothing

BBBB (out of 5) Mike Leigh returns with yet another incisive and touching look at life among London’s working classes. Bored, middle-aged couple Timothy Spall and Lesley Manville do their best to keep it together while their children live in emotional misery. Their son is a foul-mouthed git who sits on his lazy duff and watches TV…

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Naked

BB.5 (out of 5) Brilliantly acted but numbing drama about a homeless man (David Thewlis) who wanders London in search of people upon whom he can inflict his relentlessly negative viewpoints. Mike Leigh’s improvisationally-based style of filmmaking comes through for him once again, presenting riveting characters and dialogue on the screen, but the film is…

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Life Is Sweet

BBBB (out of 5) Fans of Mike Leigh’s brilliant Secrets And Lies should definitely check out this less impressive but still excellent examination of a working-class British family. Mom Alison Steadman (Mrs. Leigh in real life at the time) is trying to keep it together and maybe even inspire the rest of her family to…

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