Keeping Up with the Classics #10

TOPSY-TURVY - Focus Features

As COVID-19 keeps all of us indoors, I've taken advantage of the time by viewing as many

films as humanly possible.

These are the films I viewed for the first time over the past week:

All or Nothing (Dir. Mike Leigh, 2002) - Touching and remarkably bleak, this kitchen sink drama about the importance of love and its ability to make even the most dire circumstances bearable is another outstanding entry in Mike Leigh's filmography, and every performance from top to bottom is exemplary (Timothy Spall gives one of the best of his career).

High Hopes (Dir. Mike Leigh, 1988) - The performances are the strongest aspect of this Mike Leigh dramedy.

Life is Sweet (Dir. Mike Leigh, 1990) - Cheery and delightful despite some darker subject matter, this loose and lovely comedy from Mike Leigh is powered by naturalistic performances from a superb cast, with Alison Steadman completely stealing the show.

Naked (Dir. Mike Leigh, 1993) - This searing, controversial film is powered on both Leigh's gritty, energetic direction and David Thewlis' breakout, high-energy performance as a troubled man who walks around in the nighttime ranting on about anything and everything. The final shot is unforgettable.

Peterloo (Dir. Mike Leigh, 2018) - Despite not being a big commercial or critical success, Mike Leigh's PETERLOO, about the 1819 massacre of a group of peaceful protestors in Manchester demanding representation in Parliament, is an unfortunately timely and compelling tale filled with rich period detail and a genuine sense of urgency and outrage. PETERLOO is very much worth seeking out.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (Dir. Jack Clayton, 1983) - Despite boasting some astonishing talent in front of and behind the camera, this early-80s Disney horror film written by Ray Bradbury and directed by Jack Clayton falls completely flat, largely due to its nonsensical narrative and glacial pace. Jonathan Pryce is the one highlight as an evil circus owner.

Topsy-Turvy (Dir. Mike Leigh, 1999) - An outrageously entertaining epic from Mike Leigh about Gilbert and Sullivan writing their classic opera, THE MIKADO, TOPSY-TURVY captures the creative process accurately and realistically and with phenomenal performances and craft. This is one of the master director's finest films.