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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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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The Constant Gardener

BBBB (out of 5) Ralph Fiennes is excellent as a placid British diplomat living in Kenya and grieving over the accidental death of his beautiful wife (Rachel Weisz). Knowing that her political motivations towards helping people in oppressed countries never made her popular among the money set, Fiennes starts to investigate clues he finds among his…

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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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Topsy-Turvy

BBBBB (out of 5) You will not find a more convincing film that depicts the Victorian age: every single time a beautifully crafted character in Mike Leigh’s latest addition to his brilliant oeuvre enters a room, you are swept over with the feeling that someone has pored over every detail of production and costume design….

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Secrets And Lies

BBBBB (out of 5) Working from a script Mike Leigh wrote based on his performers’ improvisational work in rehearsals, actors Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste come as close to true-to-life acting as can be expected; you might sometimes feel like you’re watching a documentary. Blethyn plays Cynthia, an aging, working-class white woman who is found by Hortense…

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