Children are seldom seen in the cinema of Mike Leigh. This absence is doubtless due to the strictures of the director’s character- and story-building methods, which might make the participation of child actors in Leighland rather problematic. In fact, the only notable child protagonist in Leigh’s cinema is Charlie (Charlie Difford), Poppy’s student in Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), and even here the boy’s problems are merely used as a plot device to bring together the heroine and a social worker love interest. Though the issue is sometimes thematised in Leigh’s portraits of couples who are unable to conceive, the absence of children can seem a significant blind spot in films that clearly aspire to the presentation of full, detailed, realistically depicted social worlds.
With its bittersweet interweaving of fact and fantasy, youthful innocence and adult trauma, this tale of the creation of a children’s classic could have been called Saving Mr Milne. Like Mary Poppins, Winnie-the-Pooh occupies a sacred space in our hearts and anyone wishing to co-opt some of that magic must tread very lightly indeed. Director Simon Curtis’s movie could easily have tripped (like Piglet) and burst its balloon as it evokes a dappled glade of happiness surrounded by the monstrous spectres of two world wars. Instead, it skips nimbly between light and dark, war and peace, like a young boy finding his way through an English wood, albeit one drenched with shafts of sugary, Spielbergian light.
” … Potter’s first film since 2012’s Ginger & Rosa, The Party is an impressively lean affair, shot in a single location with few frills and no fuss – just an A-list cast at the top of their game. Potter looks toward Chekhov, Albee and Buñuel as inspirations, alongside such 60s Brit cinema classics as Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Bryan Forbes’s The L-Shaped Room. There’s a retro feel to Aleksei Rodionov’s handsome black-and-white cinematography, although the ease with which his camera waltzes around the cast lends a note of roving modernity, recalling the fluid poetry of Potter’s 2004 film Yes. Dance has always been central to Potter’s work (not just in The Tango Lesson), and there’s a real exuberance in the way she choreographs her players through the slapstick pirouettes and pratfalls of this vaguely absurdist romp. Meanwhile, Bill’s vinyl collection provides contrapuntal jukebox accompaniment, inappropriate records randomly selected with hilarious results…” | Read the entire review at : The Party review – the dinner bash from hell | Film | The Guardian
As a schoolboy, Michael Caine, the son of a charlady and a fish-market porter, was repeatedly taught to respect “his betters”. It took the social revolution of the 1960s, he says, to make it clear that such a hierarchy did not exist. “I’ve met lots of my equals since. But no betters,” Caine told the Observer this weekend on the eve of the British premiere of his documentary about the outpouring of working-class creativity in the 1960s.
The Irish actor Richard Harris was, to borrow from Seamus Heaney, a far-seeing joker posted far over the fog, or a wind-drunk lion-sun batting kites out of the sky. His performance technique had a studied carelessness or sprezzatura, antlerless and shin-deep in rage. The sixth of nine children, Harris attended a Jesuit school in Limerick and nearly became a professional rugby player before he caught tuberculosis in his teens, a brush with death that only increased his lust for life. Like his great friend Peter O’Toole, he played with his own picaresque mythology: one version is he started life as a ratcatcher and slept homeless for six weeks while he studied at LAMDA.