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Comedy for Connoisseurs
If you want to know what this is like, think Big Train, crossed with Monty Python, with a smear of Jam and a bit of the essence of Father Ted, a smattering of Withnail & I and perhaps a few pinches of half a dozen other shows I've forgotten about.
In other words, this show isn't original. But then what is?. What matters is that it's intelligent and something written with intelligence will always attain a unique feel, regardless of it's inspirations.
Some of the sketches, most of them in fact, are multi layered. There's lots going on making repeat viewings a must. The performers are all quite likable and diverse and work together well. It feels quite old fashioned in it's restrained nature. There's an expletive here and there and the odd bit of shock humour but those things are never the sole focus of the well crafted sketches, they merely add to them.
This really is the best BBC TV comedy in years. I fully expect it to gradually attract a loyal fan base once word gets around. Until then, tune into BBC4 and get there first.
Dangerous Parking (2007)
The opening five minutes or so of this film sit so uneasily with the rest of it that I'm inclined to wonder if they were a veiled satire of the state of most modern British cinema with it's desperate eagerness to please and self conscious coolness. Lets just say these initial scenes almost made me switch off. I'm glad I didn't.
What follows is a glorious mess of a film. A tumble of ideas and emotion mixed up and thrown at the screen. 'Dangerous Parking' is worthy to be included with Nic Roeg's most frustrating, delirious and brilliant output. It's rare to see a film that doesn't compromise or treat it's audience like a tested demographic. This film deserves to be seen and felt by people who love cinema. Watching Peter Howitt's performance is like watching a drowning man. Uncomfortable but compelling.
The best Mike Leigh film since...
Well, all Mike Leigh's films are good, he hasn't made a bad one. I've just felt that personally, they weren't connecting with me like they did in the heady days of 'Life Is Sweet' and 'Naked'.
This film not only reconfirmed my love for Mike Leigh's work, it also dropped hints about things I may have missed in some of his more recent works which i now intend to revisit.
It has a beautiful structure to it. The lead character Poppy has her world-view challenged following a series of events, spiraling from the theft of her push-bike. The stand out performance for me was Eddie Marsan as Scott, a man who seems to have taken a wrong turn somewhere, possibly through no fault of his own, and ended up in a dark place.
Happy-Go-Lucky has been billed by many as Mike Leigh's happy film. That's far too simplistic. In fact this film had moments of pain and sadness that are deeply moving. It's as vital and unflinching a look at humanity as any of his other films. Sit back, watch and enjoy Mike Leigh's latest masterpiece.