Bill Antoniou takes a look at the films of British master filmmaker Mike Leigh

Whenever people tell me that Mike Leigh is one of their favourite filmmakers, I’m always surprised to hear it.  Even though he’s also one of mine, I forget to think of him as an actual filmmaker.

His brilliant work is derived from his achievements in theatre and it bears those origins on screen, though I don’t mean that as criticism. He returns to some character archetypes frequently (the soulful homeless man, the hopelessly chirpy working-class woman) and the conflicts he puts his characters through feel like the stuff of stage drama. He makes them relevant in cinema from the beginning, then as he goes along, directing more films and making his multi-levelled narratives feel more cinematic. (Meantime just feels like watching people, while Another Year plays almost like a thriller.)

A common mistake people make about Leigh’s work is saying that it is improvised. It’s absolutely not, but is rather a script created from work that he does with his actors, creating characters from birth to death and putting them in situations together in which their improvised interactions eventually result in a finished work. In the eighties, he revolutionized the kitchen-sink melodrama. These films were celebrated for nailing the anxieties of the less fortunate under Thatcher’s conservative reign. In the nineties, he applied his observations of simple lives in the less glamorous parts of London to high concept dramas (and in the case of his Palme d’Or-winning Secrets & Lies, created his masterpiece). Continue reading

Her Brilliant Career: Honoring Katrin Cartlidge (1961-2002)

Katrin Cartlidge’s career was th cut short by a tragedy that was as shocking and as unexpected as anything she had been involved with onscreen. In early September 2002, she began complaining of flu symptoms, which became so pronounced that her partner later took her to hospital, near her home in North London. There she was diagnosed with pneumonia, and very soon septicaemia (blood poisoning) set in. She fell into a critical condition and died on 7th September. She was forty-one.A few years before, Cartlidge had said “I actually like getting older. I hated my twenties; I couldn’t wait to be thirty.” [ . . . ]

Read More: Her Brilliant Career: Honoring Katrin Cartlidge (1961-2002) – Bright Lights Film Journal