Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I've been in film mode for the last couple of days. Yesterday I went to the Cornerhouse to check out the new Mike Leigh film, 'Happy-Go-Lucky' which was introduced by the director himself and followed by a Q&A with Mike and one of the actresses, Kate O'Flynn who played Suzy in the film.

I'm pleased to report that it's a great fun film with a lot of laughs without being flippant and overly light. It tells the story of Poppy, a thirty year old primary school teacher renting a flat in Finsbury Park who goes about being happy, positive and generally getting on with life. A quite intentional aspect of the film is that she at first appears quite surface to the point of being annoying but you soon realise that she has great wit and intelligence and has a very positive influence on her friends and the world around her. Actress Sally Hawkins who plays Poppy gives a great performance full of charm and humour whilst delivering the more serious scenes with the perfect balance. The film was also a fab little nostalgia trip for me as it was set very near where I used to live in north Camden.

It was interesting to follow with a question and answer session that illuminated on some of the themes of the film. Mike confirmed that he wanted to show a more positive outlook than portrayed in many of his previous films but without ignoring the fact that Poppy is living in the same tough world, the difference being that she deals with life's difficulties in her own way. He also talked about his method of film making using improvisation around ideas and themes, in this case for six months before doing any filming. One questioner suggested that the film is quite feminist potraying women as succeeding in coping with life and the men the one's struggling, a view that Mike agreed with. He also talked about the somewhat ironic fact that he's seen by many as the London film maker despite being from Salford. He said that he'd like to make more films in the north but that it's too expensive up here and actually cheaper in London. This does seem very surprising but he didn't explain why this is the case. It would be a great shame for film making in Manchester if this is generally true. All in all it was a great evening and I'm really glad I went along.

The film theme unexpectedly continued into today. I've just got back from having lunch with my other half and a good mate Helle at the Continental Cafe in West Didsbury where lo and behold, legendary director Ken Loach was there having lunch as well. There were rumours he would be at the Q&A last night as he's in Manchester making a film at the moment. I'm not sure what the film is about or where this is happening. Somewhere near West Didsbury perhaps? Maybe some film buff could let me know.

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