Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old film and tv director called Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh, writer, film and theatre director is 70 today and old men remember, when he and they were young men and he made them laugh and wince in the 1970's.

A 'Brummie' couple, Finger and Honky arrive on their motorbike, equipped with an army tent, football and a fondness for late-night drinking and when Finger's plans to light a fire to cook sausages, Keith objects as it contravenes the 'rules of the site' and resorts to violence in order to stop it :
The following year Mike made 'Abigail's Party' in which Beverly Moss, played by Alison Steadman who was married to Mike at the time, invites her new neighbours, Angela and Tony over for drink and also neighbour Susan, divorced for three years, whose fifteen-year-old daughter Abigail is holding a party. She serves more drinks, the alcohol takes effect, flirts more and more overtly with Tony :
Husband Laurence sits impotently by and after a tirade about art, suffers a fatal heart attack.

.What you probably didn't know about Mike, that he :

* was born in Welwyn, Hertfordshire and brought up in Salford, Lancashie where his father, Alfred Abraham was a doctor from a family of Jewish immigrant whose surname was originally 'Lieberman',  anglicised to 'Leigh' in with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

* studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Camberwell School of Art and the Central School of Art and Design and as a cartoonist was influenced by the work of Ronald Searle.

 * is a 'northerner' who came 'south', proud and critical of his roots and Jewish background who began as a theatre director and playwright in the mid 1960's and in the 70's and 80's made films for BBC TV characterized by a gritty 'kitchen sink realism' style.

* begins his work without a script, but with a basic premise which is developed through improvisation by the actors and only after months of rehearsal, the script is finalised with almost no improvisation on camera.

* when he had arrived in London, one of the first films he had seen was 'Shadows', an 'improvised' film by John Cassavetes, in which a cast of unknowns was observed 'living, loving and bickering' on the streets of New York, and Leigh had "felt it might be possible to create complete plays from scratch with a group of actors."

* his worh in film includes 'Life is Sweet' in 1990 :

'Naked' in '93 for which he 'Best Director' award at Cannes:

'BAFTA winning 'Secrets and Lies' in '96 :

the comedy-drama 'Career Girls' in '97 :

the Gilbert and Sullivan biopic, 'Topsy-Turvey' in 97 :

 the bleak working-class drama 'All or Nothing' in  2002 :

and 'Golden Lion' winner 'Vera Drake' in 2004.

'Another Year' in 2010, with Mike talking :



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