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Entries in Happy-Go-Lucky (4)

Tuesday
Jun 04 2019

The New Classics - Happy-Go-Lucky

Michael Cusumanohere to discuss a scene I find myself thinking about all the time.

Scene: Scott's meltdown
When you pause to consider how mundane the actual events of Mike Leigh's films usually are,it's funny to think how many moments from them lodge permanently in the memory.Barely a weekend goes by that I don't see some kind of world-ending cataclysm portrayed in expansively budgeted detail and what does my brain return to over and over again?Lesley Manville inAnother Yearretreating to her glass of white wine or David Thewlis inNakedstalking a security guard through the dark to harangue him about the meaning of life.

The famous Mike Leigh technique of crafting screenplays from extensive improvisations yields scenes that unfold with the convinction of real life...

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Monday
Feb 19 2018

Mike Leigh at 75: Happy-Go-Lucky

With Mike Leigh turning 75 tomorrow,we'll be looking at a few of his films.Here'sChris Feil

Of Mike Leigh's many great films,Happy-Go-Luckyis perhaps the one the has grown most in its potency.Though his films reward multiple viewings,here is one that has grown all the more meaningful as the world around us has become increasingly fraught with depressing news;the benefit of positivity is at once essential and ignored.The film is both a character study of its relentlessly gleeful protagonist Poppy,played to perfection by Sally Hawkins,and about how the world works against her optimistic state of being.

The pull to submit to anger and gloom weighs heavy on our times,and an outlook like Poppy's can seem so very far away indeed.

Ten years on now,Happy-Go-Luckyfeels prescient to the dire state of the world,as if we are becoming more like those annoyed by her cheeriness.Some of us who once saw ourselves in Poppy might have even succumbed to the numbing anger of the every day in the intervening years...

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Tuesday
Dec 31 2013

Happy 2014...Choose Three Cinematic Spirit Guides!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I've found in years past that it doesn't do much good to fuss over resolutions or plans for a new year...especially a long list of them.Which is not to say that self-improvement projects or,by extension in my case The Film Experience improvement projects,亚博主页should notbe on the agenda.The trick is to really focus so I'm only choosing three even though my nature yearns to do it differently.I have to fight the impulse to draft up a list of 2,014 life goals which would then make me miserable when I failed to accomplish them and guilty when I forgot what they were.I've already been working at upping my game behind-the-scenes since I didn't want to wait until a special date arose ("January 1st"is so arbitrary,really,and why should we be bound toAloysius Lilius's 1582 business,you now?) to act on recent positive impulses,particularly because negative impulses are so more familiar and abundant.So in October this year I started saying "yes"to things I would normally hedge on or pass up altogether from worries of various sorts (time,money,fear).That was the entire goal,say "yes"!I did it in the hopes of breaking out of my "comfort zones"(which can also be pronounced as "ruts").Maybe it's too soon to tell but I think it's working!

I'm not ready to share the three goals yet but for fun I thought I'd choose three spirit guides from the movies,to lean on for inspiration and spiritual support this year.And here they are...

Maria inThe Sound of Music(1965)
Her imageneeds to be rehabilitatedanyway.When I'm feeling ill equipped for whatever comes my way in 2014,I'm going to sing "I Have Confidence,"the ultimate self pep-talk song.I'll do this while swinging my personal baggage around like it weighs nothing (I will do all of this internally and silently so as not to harm innocent bystanders)

Captain America
Talk about freeing yourself from ruts: Is there a harder mold to bust out of than a 60 year old block of ice?He emerged with heroic spirit,super fitness (I so need to get back to the gym) and take charge instincts.He also knows from Classic Hollywood Movies since he saw them in first run!

Poppy inHappy-Go-Lucky(2008)
Because she doesn't take herself too seriously and she'll try anything and throw herself into it.She's our best cinematic illustration that happiness is a conscious choice.Life doesn't always cooperate.

You should totally play along at home - strength in numbers.Choose three cinematic spirit guides and join me in making 2014 your best year yet.

Sunday
May 08 2011

Take Three: Eddie Marsan

Craig fromDark Eye Sockethere with this week'sTake Three.Today:Eddie Marsan

Take One:The Disappearance of Alice Creed(2010)
Marsan is elusive and perplexing as ex-con and current kidnapper Vic in J Blakeson's British thrillerThe Disappearance of Alice Creed.It may be his best role to date.It's certainly his most visible in terms of screen time and lasting impressions.Vic and Danny (Martin Compston) kidnap a girl called Alice (Gemma Arterton).We're not initially certain why or what for,but surprising details emerge.It's an intriguing,slow-burning three-hander,largely set in two rooms of one house,with a slippery plot that gets drip-fed to us with unsettling incremental unease.There's a psychological and dramatic weight to Vic that Marsan smartly unearths.He utilises his familiar best attributes to expert effect,but twists them into something else.Vic spends much of the film in a desperate state.He gives orders to "assistant"Danny and threatens Alice.He's in charge,but of what exactly is open to debate.But Marsan's expressive,layered acting style never lets caricature or over-indulgence creep in.Any more information will ruin the risk of ruiningAlice Creed's many wily turns;just know that both the film and Marsan are excellent.

Take Two:Heartless(2009)
In Philip Ridley's spooky Brit flickHeartlessthings are often not what they seem.To rid his face of a heart-shaped birthmark,Jim Sturgess' Jamie makes a pact with Papa B (the devil,by another name) to commit random acts of vandalism on his behalf.Not a great idea by any stretch,but he's helped (or is it hindered?) in his pursuits by Marsan's Weapon's Man,a shifty,nameless visitor with a sly,blackly comic side.Heartlessis an uneasy blend of grim humour and demonic horror but it's instantly more appealing during Marsan's amusing one-scene appearance.Doing the devil's legwork,he comes on like a dark salesman of the soul,using the over-practiced niceties and witticisms of a pushy middle man.Marsan's bite-sized performance is wickedly funny and unnerving,sending one or two shivers down the spine and a few along the funny bone.The last time an actor was this good in surrealistic character mode,with a snappy in-and-out turn,was Robert DeNiro inBrazil.

Take Three:Happy-Go-Lucky(2008)
It's quite possible that Marsan has one of the best,or luckiest,or most deftly-managed careers in the movies.He's had some enviable bosses: J.J.Abrams (Mission: Impossible III),Alejandro González Iñárritu,(21 Grams),Terence Malick (The New World),Michael Mann,(Miami Vice),Richard Linklater (Me and Orson Welles),Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York) among others.(War Horse,with Spielberg,and a Bryan Singer film are incoming).And this lot – Tom Cruise,Robert Downey Jr.,Jude Law,Natalie Portman,Cameron Diaz,Leonardo DiCaprio,Daniel Day-Lewis,Colin Farrell,Sean Penn,Naomi Watts,Jamie Foxx,Will Smith and Charlize Theron – have all made for dependable work colleagues.But his best collaborator,with 2003'sVera Drakeand,especially,in 2008 withHappy-Go-Lucky,has been Mike Leigh.


To say that Scott,Poppy's (Sally Hawkins) temperamental driving instructor,had issues is like saying time is infinite.Marsan makes him feel like a pitiable,wrong-headed individual,sucked up into the throes of modern existence,instead of an easily discardable nutjob to be vilified.You could have parked a car in the gaping chasm of his social conscience,but he's still very much part of the fabric that binds Poppy to her life of whimsical decency.

The neatly-trimmed goatee,ill-judged earring,generic dress sense and "En-Ra-Ha!"mantra are integral embellishments,and his misanthropic tendencies -- that defiantly ugly disdain for others -- are crucial characteristics.Marsan's control fully grounds this caustic character.  I bet nobody passes their driving test the first time,if at all,with Scott.

Three more  for the taking:Sherlock Holmes(2008),V for Vendetta(2006),Red Riding trilogy(2009)