Tony Whitehead is Cinema Programmer at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. He also works as a part-time lecturer in film at the University of Glamorgan. His book on Mike Leigh has just been published by Manchester University Press.
[Pictured above: Director Mike Leigh 1943-]
Tony Whitehead's new book on Mike Leigh is actually enjoyable, not to mention that Leigh himself endorsed it.
It's a wonderful trip down memory lane, revisiting every character and hilariously tragic line of dialogue from Bleak Moments to Vera Drake. Vanessa Gildea, Film Ireland --Vanessa Gildea, Film Ireland
Mike Leigh may well be Britain's greatest living film director; his worldview has permeated our national consciousness.
This book gives detailed readings of the nine feature films he has made for the cinema, as well as an overview of his work for television.
Written with the co-operation of Leigh himself, this is the first study of his work to challenge the critical privileging of realism in histories of the British cinema, and place the emphasis instead on the importance of comedy and humour:
of jokes and their functions, of laughter as a survival mechanism, and of characterisations and situations that disrupt our preconceptions of 'realism'.
Striving for the all-important quality of truth in everything he does, Leigh has consistently shown how ordinary lives are too complex to fit snugly into the conventions of narrative art.
Developing characters and narratives through meticulous processes of improvisation in preparation and rehearsal, Leigh has led his collaborators in creating a body of work that is utterly distinctive.
From the bittersweet observation of "Life is Sweet" or "Secrets and Lies", to the blistering satire of "Naked" and the manifest compassion of "Vera Drake", he has demonstrated a matchless ability to perceive life's funny side as well as its tragedies, establishing a unique niche in the British cinema as both humorist and humanist.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Manchester University Press (1 May 2007)
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