18 items from 2014
There's acting and then there's losing yourself to a role. Timothy Spall came very close to the latter in bringing legendary British painter J.M. W. Turner to the screen for Mike Leigh's latest, "Mr. Turner," which recently world premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The biopic marks Leigh's first one in 15 years, following 1999's "Topsy-Turvy," in which Spall, a Leigh regular, played a supporting role. As Spall told Indiewire at Cannes this morning, Leigh first approached him about the project seven years ago. Four years later, Spall found himself "walking around London, feeling a bit enigmatically depressed as actors often do," when to his surprise he sat at a pub where he happened upon a placard that said the establishment marked the place where Turner was born in 1775. Spall called up the filmmaker immediately, and Leigh in turn told him to start prepping for the shoot, which wouldn't occur for another three years. »
- Nigel M Smith
What’s crueler to witness: a force of nature that sinks a great many ships, or a tide of opinion that destroys a lone artist’s reputation? Nineteenth century landscape painter J.M.W. Turner often concerned himself with the former subject on his canvas — sunrises, shipwrecks and such — but leave it to writer/director Mike Leigh to make room for the latter in his latest period piece, Mr. Turner, an emotionally muted biopic less beholden to Leigh’s similarly set Topsy-Turvy than one might initially assume. After all, in a career defined almost entirely by present-day character studies set in working-class Britain — Happy-Go-Lucky, Another Year, Secrets & Lies — only these two stand out as stately reflections of artistic anguish. However, Topsy-Turvy addressed the burdens of a stagnant creative partnership between a composer and a playwright, and by extension an entire theatre company, whereas Turner is more mindful of the man’s often solitary struggles with navigating the »
- William Goss
★★★★☆A past Palme d'Or winner and first of two British heavyweights in competition, Mike Leigh returns to Cannes with a beautifully realised portrait of one England's greatest ever landscape artists, J.M.W. Turner - entitled simply Mr. Turner (2014). Similar to 1999's Topsy-Turvy, Leigh is interested in the warts and all, spit and filth, rag-and-bone shop nature of the creation of art. In arguably a career-topping performance, Timothy Spall plays the cantankerous painter as a complex, grunting, snarling and utterly single-minded creature. His ex-barber father (Paul Jesson) assists him in his business and his housekeeper adores him. Turner is at the height of his fame, a celebrated and relatively wealthy man.
- CineVue UK
Pete Hammond (Deadline) says Leigh has helmed “another masterpiece” and the film “will be a major Oscar contender in several categories . It’s that good in terms of costume and production design, makeup, music, writing, directing and particularly acting. If there aren’t nominations for star Timothy Spall and supporting actress Marion Bailey then something is terribly wrong with the Academy. Acting just doesn’t get better than this.”
In her Cannes review, Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) writes, “With gorgeous, rich, vibrant art direction and probably the best cinematography you’ll see all year, Mr. Turner is filmmaking old school.” Stone continues, “Mr. Turner »
- Michelle McCue
Mike Leigh returns to Cannes with this biopic of Jmw Turner, and it is also his return to a period drama set in Victorian England since Topsy-Turvy wowed Venice audiences way back in 1999. Timothy Spall appeared in the latter film and has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Leigh, but whereas in the past he has been a reliable support this time the film is all his.
The film deals with Turner’s mature years. Spall as our eponymous hero is an irascible wanderer, harrumphing and snorting his way through his conversations, he’s abandoned his first wife and their two daughters, and he enjoys a groping, fumbling and thrusting relationship with the family housekeeper, Hannah (Dorothy Atkinson). Despite these shortcomings, we take to Turner. He is a loving son to his “daddy” (Paul Jesson), he’s a joker and generous with his friends. His apparent dismissal of his wife and daughters, »
- Jo-Ann Titmarsh
English painting’s renowned master of light, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), gets a suitably illuminating screen biography in Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner,” an ecstatically beautiful and exquisitely detailed portrait of the artist as a cantankerous middle-aged man whose brilliance with the brush overshadows his sometimes appalling lack of social graces. Returning to the large-canvas period filmmaking of his 1999 Gilbert & Sullivan bio “Topsy-Turvy,” Leigh has made another highly personal study of art, commerce and the glacial progress of establishment tastes, built around a lead performance from longtime Leigh collaborator Timothy Spall that’s as majestic as one of Turner’s own swirling sunsets. A natural awards contender across multiple categories, the pic rolls out Dec. 19 Stateside via Sony Classics following a bevy of further fest appearances.
Leigh has long spoken of wanting to make a Turner film, and his affinity for his subject is palpable in virtually every frame of “Mr. Turner, »
- Scott Foundas
Cannes - If any critics were about to ding Mike Leigh for wading into the warm waters of the period prestige picture for his latest, long-contemplated feature, let it be known that the veteran writer-director has come prepared. "What is wrong with being a portrait painter?" asks a slighted practitioner of the form at an ego-crammed artists' gathering midway through "Mr. Turner," Leigh's expansive, exquisitely realized biography of Britain's foremost Romantic painter. The retort from a colleague is airy and sneery and entirely predictable: "What does it do to elevate the art?" he smugs. You might ask the same question, and receive the same answer, about the biopic genre -- routinely dismissed by highbrow critics as an easy-access route to bland, Oscar-gilded gravitas, subverted only by a few filmmakers resourceful enough to bend the form's rigid structure and insert something of themselves between the factual lines. Leigh earned his stripes »
- Guy Lodge
Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner arrived in Cannes with a lot of fanfare, being one of two British films in the Competition and marking the director’s second foray into historical biography after 1999’s Topsy-Turvy (the fictional Vera Drake doesn’t count). For anyone who tuned in to Leigh’s films late in his career, there's a curiosity in seeing where he goes with Mr. Turner, a biopic of the 19th century painter. Turner’s life fleetingly overlaps those of Mssrs Gilbert and Sullivan, the subjects of Topsy-Turvy, but Mr. Turner is a rather more sombre film. There are comical flourishes for sure, but little in the way of wit, as displayed by the title character.To start with the plus points, Dick Pope’s cinematography is superb, a midway point between Turner’s often dreary daily life and the exquisite chaos of his canvases. The production design, too, is near-perfect, »
Renowned for his contemporary tales of the bittersweet travails of working-class life, Mr. Turner marks Mike Leigh’s third foray into period drama, following Topsy-Turvy (1999) and Vera Drake (2004). A biopic of artist Jmw Turner (1775-1881), it spans a quarter of a century as Turner (Leigh regular Timothy Spall) throws his all into his magnificent seascapes to the detriment of his neglected family. Episodic and unconcerned with anything as vulgar as a plot, the film offers gorgeously rendered snapshots: Turner breaking from his work for...
- Jamie Graham
Mike Leigh's first period biopic in 15 years is a feat of confidence, with an outstanding performance from Spall as the Romantic landscape artist
Full coverage: Cannes 2014
What a glorious film this is, richly and immediately enjoyable, hitting its satisfying stride straight away. It's funny and visually immaculate; it combines domestic intimacy with an epic sweep and has a lyrical, mysterious quality that perfumes every scene, whether tragic or comic.
Mike Leigh has made a period biographical drama before: Topsy-Turvy (1999), about the rewarding but tense association of Gilbert and Sullivan and their own rewarding but tense association with the theatre-going public. Now he made another utterly confident excursion into the past and into the occult arcana of Englishness and Victoriana: a study of the final years of the painter Jmw Turner, played with relish and sympathy by Timothy Spall.
In the past, I and others have commented that Leigh's dialogue »
- Peter Bradshaw
Mike Leigh's process—which includes a lengthy rehearsal process before shooting even begins—means that his films can come as quickly as a couple years apart, or in the case of "Mr. Turner," four years on since his last effort, 2010's lovely "Another Year." The latter won an Ecumenical Jury Prize at Cannes, and the director is back on the Croisette in Competition this year with a period drama about famed artist J.M.W. Turner. Timothy Spall takes the lead role—his fifth film with Leigh following "Life Is Sweet," "Secrets & Lies," "Topsy-Turvy" and "All Or Nothing"—in the movie that chronicles the eccentric life of the painter, who hangs with aristocracy and prostitutes, and who once strapped himself to the mast of a ship so he could accurately paint a snowstorm. And in these two clips we see Turner as both a man of the people and a furious artist, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Along with fellow British veteran Ken Loach's Jimmy's Hall, Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner (2014) will be in the running for the coveted Palme d'Or in the next fortnight. A biopic of Victorian painter J.M.W. Turner, the film stars Timothy Spall as the famed painter alongside Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey and Paul Jesson. Leigh's previous foray into period drama produced the fascinating Topsy-Turvy (1999), a warts and all look at those other doyens of Victorianism, Gilbert and Sullivan. Leigh has had his share of triumphs at Cannes, picking up the Jury Prize for Naked in 1993 and winning the Palme d'Or three years after with Secrets and Lies (1996). It hasn't all been plain sailing, however, as Vera Drake was passed over by Cannes in 2004, only to pick up the prestigious Golden Lion at rival fest Venice.
- CineVue UK
Nina Gold welcomes me into her tall Victorian house in north-west London, and what she calls her "cottage industry in Queen's Park". What would normally be a front living room has been transformed into an office, with a bank of four computer screens along one wall being manned by her business partner, Robert Sterne, and two assistants. An end wall is dominated by a framed poster of Mike Leigh's musical drama about Gilbert and Sullivan, Topsy-Turvy. Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner played the Victorian operetta writers in Leigh's 1999 movie – a fact well-known to Gold, because she helped cast them. »
Although films like Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” and David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” look like Cannes shoo-ins, the festival’s 2014 lineup is still very much a work in progress. That hasn’t stopped Variety’s top film critics from naming what they’d like to see included when the official selection is announced April 17.
When people talk of ambition in Hollywood, they usually mean big budgets and visual effects, but what impresses me about Anderson is his ability to render cinematic the most challenging of subjects — from Scientology to, in this case, a Thomas Pynchon novel.
“A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” Roy Andersson
It takes the Swedish master so long to make his meticulously composed absurdist satires that there have only been two in my lifetime: “Songs From the Second Floor” and “You, the Living. »
- Variety Staff
A belated festival premiere for Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” and a powerhouse showing for British filmmakers including Mike Leigh and Ken Loach — plus appearances by other usual suspects such as David Cronenberg, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and the Dardenne brothers — are among the strong possibilities hovering over the lineup of the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival.
In recent years, festival topper Thierry Fremaux and his selection committee have tended to push their final decisions to the very last minute under a nearly impenetrable veil of secrecy, defying the intense media scrutiny and endless speculation that always swirl around the Cannes lineup at this time of year. Although anything could change between now and April 17, when the official selection is unveiled — there are still enough hotly anticipated titles in the mix to warrant some educated guesswork about what is shaping up to be a promisingly diverse slate of auteurs. »
- Justin Chang and Elsa Keslassy
If you have a proclivity for the smaller, indie films, then you won’t want to miss Le Week-end. This charming film opens at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema in St. Louis this Friday, March 28th.
Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent (Iris, Topsy-turvy, Another Year) and Lindsay Duncan (About Time, Alice In Wonderland, Mansfield Park) give exquisite performances as Nick and Meg, a long-married British couple revisiting Paris for the first time since their honeymoon in an attempt to rekindle their relationship.
During a two-day escapade, diffident, wistful Nick and demanding, take-charge Meg careen from harmony to disharmony to resignation and back again as they take stock of half a lifetime of deep tenderness – and even deeper regret. A surprise invitation from Nick’s old friend Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), an amusingly boorish American academic with a fancy Parisian address, soon leads them to an unexpectedly hopeful vision of what their love and marriage might still become. »
- Michelle McCue
Director: Mike Leigh
Writer: Mike Leigh
Producer: Georgina Lowe
U.S. Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
As he has proven on several occasions before, Timothy Spall is a great fit for period pieces and he just so happens to be a perfect fit for any role Mike Leigh deems fit. Leigh discovered the person in water colors and working alongside trusted visual adviser in cinematographer Dick Pope, we can expect this to look just as good as Topsy-Turvy.
Gist: This is a look at the life of British artist J.M.W Turner (Timothy Spall).
Release Date: Still await confirmation on the playdate – most likely hits will be fall release from Sony Pictures Classics. A festival playdate is either Cannes or Venice.
More Top 200 Most Anticipated Films of 2014 Top 200 Most Anticipated Films for 2014: #20. Fabrice Du Welz’s AlleluiaTop 200 Most Anticipated Films »
- Eric Lavallee
It's become quite obvious what draws me to the theater more than anything, the work of directors I've come to admire, appreciate and expect great things from. Certainly a film's subject matter adds to that excitement, but most often it's because the directors I most anticipate tell stories I most want to see brought to life. However, what today's list of my top ten most anticipated movies of 2014 illustrates is that even when the subject matter isn't necessarily something in my immediate wheelhouse, the thought of a new movie from one of my favorite directors makes such subject matter immediately more interesting. Or, as in the case with one particular film on this list, the subject matter, the development of the film itself and the talent involved makes it an obvious choice for my top ten, which we'll get to right now... If you've missed any of the previous installments »
- Brad Brevet
18 items from 2014
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