Ray Carney, The
Films of Mike Leigh: Embracing the World (New York and Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2000), 13 illustrations, paperback,
290 pages. This book is available directly from the author for $20.
Leigh is a maverick British independent who, for nearly 30 years, has
been producing eccentric, unique, and almost uncategorizable works. Though
his career dates back to 1971, with a film called Bleak Moments,
Leigh has worked in obscurity for most of that time, coming to the attention
of an international audience only with his recent productions of Naked,
Secrets and Lies, Career Girls, and Topsy Turvy.
Working in a similar
way to that of Robert Altman, John Cassavetes, and Tom Noonan, Leigh
begins with a small group of actors around whom he builds his films
during months of private rehearsal. There is no script at the start.
It is written as he goes along.
The films--which include
Abigailís Party, Meantime, Home Sweet Home,
High Hopes, and Life is Sweet--are brilliant, outrageous,
iconoclastic--and hilarious. Leigh's work has been both ridiculed
by some and celebrated by others as among the greatest filmmaking
of the twentieth century.
This study argues, among
other things, that part of the misunderstanding of Leigh's work
has been the result of misclassifying him as a British "realist"
in the tradition of Osborne and Loach, when in fact his films are
far stranger and more artistically daring. The Films of Mike
Leigh: Embracing the World makes the case for regarding Leigh
as one of the great artists of the century.
This is the first comprehensive
critical appreciation of Leigh's work ever written, and it offers
insights not only into this unusual filmmaker's strange and often
baffling movies, but into film itself as a way of knowing and understanding
the world. This book offers nothing less than a radically new way
of understanding both life and art.
* * *
This book is available
and Noble, your local bookseller, or, for a limited time, directly
from the author (in discounted and specially autographed editions).
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