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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | December 13, 2002
Mike Leigh's All or Nothing is an exhilarating movie about sadness and renewal, set in a London housing project. It's an unlikely follow-up to Leigh's brilliant Gilbert and Sullivan extravaganza, Topsy Turvy. But in its own way All or Nothing is piercingly musical, too, from the first shot of a girl pushing a mop through the hall of an old-age home while an elderly woman advances toward her slowly, with a cane, resisting help. In lesser hands the material would be dreary. Mike Leigh, both a superb filmmaker and a humanist, grasps the rhythmic beauty of the scene and turns it into a poem on the duty of the young character and the determination of the older one. Leigh has a way of depicting force of habit that accentuates the positive even when what's happening is negative.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,michael.sragow@baltsun.com | October 31, 2008
Mike Leigh is tickled that critics have hailed Happy-Go- Lucky, an invigorating tribute to a beautiful dreamer who happens to teach school, as if it were a change of pace. He chuckles when he says, "It is and it isn't. Each of my films has its dark and light side. I like to serve up a different dish every time I invite you around to supper." His method is always to cook up characters with actors who are complete partners in developing the psychology, conflict and narrative of a piece. This m.o. has earned him five Oscar nominations and numerous international awards for movies such as Secrets and Lies . Happy-Go-Lucky began with his desire to explore the "great vitality" of actress Sally Hawkins, who had already performed splendidly for him in Vera Drake and All or Nothing.
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By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Film Critic | February 6, 1992
Life is sweet, isn't it? Of course it isn't. It's hard, bitter, disappointing and, oh yes, it stinks.It is, however, better than all other forms of existence -- all none of them. It's it and that's that.And Mike Leigh's new comedy, "Life Is Sweet," is also it and that's that. The film, which won last year's National Film Critics Award, opens today at the Charles. Its deepest irony is that it's anti-ironic: Leigh really means that life is sweet if you've got the guts and the character to make it so, outer circumstances being what they are; his examination of a British working-class family paints a picture of shining through far more effectively than the overblown Hollywood horsefeather pile of that title.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | October 29, 2004
Vera Drake spends her every waking moment doing for others, whether she's cleaning for the upper-class twits down the road, keeping her own family's spirits up or performing back-alley abortions for lower-class girls "in trouble." Writer-director Mike Leigh sees Vera as something of a saint, and there's certainly a noble, innate altruism to her that evokes compassion, if not admiration. We're made to feel sorry for her, if only because we see coming what she doesn't - the inevitable bad end. Vera Drake, Leigh's latest appreciation of the British working class and its bedrock morality, presents a severely stacked deck, even by his standards.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | October 29, 2004
Vera Drake spends her every waking moment doing for others, whether she's cleaning for the upper-class twits down the road, keeping her own family's spirits up or performing back-alley abortions for lower-class girls "in trouble." Writer-director Mike Leigh sees Vera as something of a saint, and there's certainly a noble, innate altruism to her that evokes compassion, if not admiration. We're made to feel sorry for her, if only because we see coming what she doesn't - the inevitable bad end. Vera Drake, Leigh's latest appreciation of the British working class and its bedrock morality, presents a severely stacked deck, even by his standards.
FEATURES
By Judy Gerstel and Judy Gerstel,Knight-Ridder News Service | September 21, 1993
"Strapped," an HBO Showcase film directed by actor Forest Whitaker ("Bird," "The Crying Game"), won the award for best first feature in the category of First Cinema at the Toronto Film Festival.It beat 27 other pictures by first-time directors, including "Menace II Society," "Boxing Helena" and "Kalifornia.""Strapped" was broadcast on HBO as recently as last Saturday. No more broadcasts have been scheduled, but that could change with this surprise award."Strapped" is about a young African-American man trapped in a world of poverty and crime.
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By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Film Critic | July 21, 1993
"Two Mikes Don't Make a Wright," a compilation of three short films opening today at the Charles, is held together on a pretext as clumsy as the pun in the title. The title, in fact, only makes one point: Here are three movies directed by two guys named Mike and one guy named Dennis, featuring comedian Steven Wright.It's an absurd match: The first film, an HBO-sponsored short featuring the master of deadpan surrealism Steven Wright, has nothing to do with the other two. It happens to be hilarious, but deals entirely with internal issues: That is, the relationship between a man and his shrink.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Evan Henerson and Evan Henerson,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE | October 28, 2004
A generous, big-hearted mother in post-World War II England spends her days cleaning people's homes and her evenings at home with her mechanic husband and two grown children. During her spare time, the title character of Vera Drake - the new film by Britain's kitchen-sink realist Mike Leigh - helps out women in trouble. She performs abortions, which, in 1950, are criminal offenses. Vera takes no money. She never speaks the word aloud. Her family has no inkling that mum engages in this practice.
NEWS
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,michael.sragow@baltsun.com | October 31, 2008
Mike Leigh is tickled that critics have hailed Happy-Go- Lucky, an invigorating tribute to a beautiful dreamer who happens to teach school, as if it were a change of pace. He chuckles when he says, "It is and it isn't. Each of my films has its dark and light side. I like to serve up a different dish every time I invite you around to supper." His method is always to cook up characters with actors who are complete partners in developing the psychology, conflict and narrative of a piece. This m.o. has earned him five Oscar nominations and numerous international awards for movies such as Secrets and Lies . Happy-Go-Lucky began with his desire to explore the "great vitality" of actress Sally Hawkins, who had already performed splendidly for him in Vera Drake and All or Nothing.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic | July 9, 2000
"The first time I saw 'The Mikado,' I thought it was funny," Brian Goodman says. "And I thought the music was great. I still do. It's timeless." Goodman might be a bit prejudiced -- he's the longtime general manager of Baltimore's Young Victorian Theatre Company, which is marking its 30th anniversary with a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado." But it would be hard to argue with Goodman's assessment. Of the 13 stage works created by the team of librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, "The Mikado" stands at the peak.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Evan Henerson and Evan Henerson,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE | October 28, 2004
A generous, big-hearted mother in post-World War II England spends her days cleaning people's homes and her evenings at home with her mechanic husband and two grown children. During her spare time, the title character of Vera Drake - the new film by Britain's kitchen-sink realist Mike Leigh - helps out women in trouble. She performs abortions, which, in 1950, are criminal offenses. Vera takes no money. She never speaks the word aloud. Her family has no inkling that mum engages in this practice.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | December 13, 2002
Mike Leigh's All or Nothing is an exhilarating movie about sadness and renewal, set in a London housing project. It's an unlikely follow-up to Leigh's brilliant Gilbert and Sullivan extravaganza, Topsy Turvy. But in its own way All or Nothing is piercingly musical, too, from the first shot of a girl pushing a mop through the hall of an old-age home while an elderly woman advances toward her slowly, with a cane, resisting help. In lesser hands the material would be dreary. Mike Leigh, both a superb filmmaker and a humanist, grasps the rhythmic beauty of the scene and turns it into a poem on the duty of the young character and the determination of the older one. Leigh has a way of depicting force of habit that accentuates the positive even when what's happening is negative.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic | July 9, 2000
"The first time I saw 'The Mikado,' I thought it was funny," Brian Goodman says. "And I thought the music was great. I still do. It's timeless." Goodman might be a bit prejudiced -- he's the longtime general manager of Baltimore's Young Victorian Theatre Company, which is marking its 30th anniversary with a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado." But it would be hard to argue with Goodman's assessment. Of the 13 stage works created by the team of librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, "The Mikado" stands at the peak.
FEATURES
By Judy Gerstel and Judy Gerstel,Knight-Ridder News Service | September 21, 1993
"Strapped," an HBO Showcase film directed by actor Forest Whitaker ("Bird," "The Crying Game"), won the award for best first feature in the category of First Cinema at the Toronto Film Festival.It beat 27 other pictures by first-time directors, including "Menace II Society," "Boxing Helena" and "Kalifornia.""Strapped" was broadcast on HBO as recently as last Saturday. No more broadcasts have been scheduled, but that could change with this surprise award."Strapped" is about a young African-American man trapped in a world of poverty and crime.
FEATURES
By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Film Critic | July 21, 1993
"Two Mikes Don't Make a Wright," a compilation of three short films opening today at the Charles, is held together on a pretext as clumsy as the pun in the title. The title, in fact, only makes one point: Here are three movies directed by two guys named Mike and one guy named Dennis, featuring comedian Steven Wright.It's an absurd match: The first film, an HBO-sponsored short featuring the master of deadpan surrealism Steven Wright, has nothing to do with the other two. It happens to be hilarious, but deals entirely with internal issues: That is, the relationship between a man and his shrink.
FEATURES
By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Film Critic | February 6, 1992
Life is sweet, isn't it? Of course it isn't. It's hard, bitter, disappointing and, oh yes, it stinks.It is, however, better than all other forms of existence -- all none of them. It's it and that's that.And Mike Leigh's new comedy, "Life Is Sweet," is also it and that's that. The film, which won last year's National Film Critics Award, opens today at the Charles. Its deepest irony is that it's anti-ironic: Leigh really means that life is sweet if you've got the guts and the character to make it so, outer circumstances being what they are; his examination of a British working-class family paints a picture of shining through far more effectively than the overblown Hollywood horsefeather pile of that title.
ENTERTAINMENT
By LOS ANGELES TIMES | September 29, 2005
Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season [Buena Vista] $60 The set of discs for last year's water cooler series has loads of extras that include extended versions of six episodes, commentary with creator Marc Cherry and director Larry Shaw; the housewives discussing their favorite scenes; several featurettes, deleted scenes and bloopers. A clever short features Oprah Win- frey as the new neighbor on Wisteria Lane. Naked [Criterion] $40 Both director Mike Leigh and star David Thewlis took home top honors at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival for this uncompromising drama about a wanderer named Johnny.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Stephen Hunter | October 17, 1996
The inventive Cinema Sundays at the Charles is back in action with a new sked. This Sunday, at the art house on Charles Street, the preview offering (which cannot be named because of an agreement between the Charles and the distributor) is Mike Leigh's new and highly praised film about an elderly woman who meets her black daughter for the first time in her life. The movie won the Palm D'Or at Cannes this spring.Eddie Cockrell, a Washington film expert, will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion.
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