Renowned for making films that are at once sly domestic satires and heartbreaking 'social realist' dramas, British writer-director Mike Leigh confronts his viewers with an un-romanticized dramatization of modern-day society in the hopes of inspiring them to strive for greater self-awareness and compassion for others. This collection features new, interdisciplinary essays that cover all phases of the BAFTA-award-winner's film career, from his early made-for-television film work to his theatrical releases, including Life is Sweet (1990), Naked (1993), Secrets & Lies (1996), Career Girls (1997), Topsy-Turvy (1999), All or Nothing (2002), Vera Drake (2004), Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) and Another Year (2010).
With contributions from international scholars from a variety of fields, the essays in this collection cover individual films and the recurring themes and motifs in several films, such as representations of class and gender, and overt social commentary and political subtexts. Also covered are Leigh's visual stylizations and storytelling techniques ranging from explorations of the costume design to set design to the music and camerawork and editing; the collaborative process of 'devising and directing' a Mike Leigh film that involves character-building, world-construction, plotting, improvisations and script-writing; the process of funding and marketing for these seemingly 'uncommercial' projects, and a survey of Leigh's critical reception and the existing writing on his work.
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About the Author
Bryan Cardinale-Powell is Visiting Professor of Moving Image Arts at Oklahoma City University, US.
Marc DiPaolo is Assistant Professor of English and Film at Oklahoma City University, US.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Politics and Poetics of Comic-Realist Cinema, Marc DiPaolo
I. Devising Leigh
Christopher Meir - The Industry and/of the Auteur
Robert Marchand - Devising and Directing
Andrew Crowther - Every Performance is a Contrivance: Art & Truth in Topsy-Turvy
Brenda Wentworth, Christopher Jordan, and Sharon Cogdill - Costuming Choices: Stylization and
Leigh's Selective Realism
Bryan Cardinale-Powell - Cultural Stillbirth: An examination of reactions to Vera Drake
II. It's an Ordinary Life
Leonard Quart - The Uniqueness of Ordinary Lives: Home Sweet Home and Grown-Ups
Sarah Godfrey - Masculinities and Male Identities from Bleak Moments to Happy-Go-Lucky
William Verrone - Transgression and Transcendence
III. Beyond Verisimilitude
Stella Hockenhull - Melodrama and Tradition in Vera Drake and Another Year
Frances Pheasant-Kelly - Class, Loss and Space: Reframing Secrets & Lies
Bryan Cardinale-Powell - All or Nothing: Mike Leigh and the Fickle Finger
IV. Leigh versus the Tories
Steven Morrison - 'Those Days Are Over': Naked & Something Rotten in the 1990s
Derek Gladwin - Gendered Troubles on Screen: Reproducing Nationalism in Four Days in July
Ana Miller - Fluctuating Identifications, Learning Disability, and Class in Meantime
Kevin M. Flanagan - The Grotesque State of the Nation: Mike Leigh's High Hopes and the Thatcherite Comedy of Errors
David Sweeney - 'I Spy': Mike Leigh in the Age of Britpop
About the Contributors