Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Mike Leigh Oscar nomination, what about Sally Hawkins

Mike Leigh's oscar nomination for the screenplay for his 2008 movie Happy-Go-Lucky must have taken all but his most ardent fans by surprise.

The film didn't do big business at the box office (unlike his previous release Vera Drake), and was released on DVD very shortly after its initial cinematic run. It also could have been said to have covering some safe and well tested ground for Leigh (the character of Scott could be a less angry and articulate version of Johnny from Naked, and Poppy's deliberate positive attitude is reminiscent of previous Leigh characters. More remarkable still it failed to receive a BAFTA nomination at the normally jingoistic awards ceremony.

However, perhaps the most surprising aspect of this is that Sally Hawkins did not receive an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Poppy in the lead role in the film. Hawkins scooped the best actress (in a comedy or musical) award at The Golden Globes, and it has to be said her extremely well judges performance was a highlight of the year.
It seems that leading lady Oscar nominations only go to heart rending and worthy
performances, but less dramatic but more skillful performances have always seemed to be overlooked in recent years in this particular category.
So for our money Sally Hawkins deserved to be included in the nominations.

If there is any justice on the night of 22nd February then at least we hope that Meryl Streep will win the Oscar for her masterful performance in Doubt.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Comrades - Bill Douglas showing on TV.

ComradesComrades the lost legendary final movie from director Bill Douglas (My Childhood, My Ain Folk, My Way Home). Is due to be shown on FILM 4 in the UK on Wednesday 19th Feb 2009 starting at 23.00.

Comrades is a cinematic account of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, a group of Dorset labourers who in the early 19th century took a collective stand against the unfair treatment meated out by their land owner. The land owner and the judiciary sought to crush any dissent amongst the peasant classes and the labourers were transported to Australia for their 'crimes'.

The film had a terrific cast that includes James Fox, Michael Horden, Freddie Jones, Robert Stephens, Immelda Staunton, Keith Allen and Philip Davis, and was finally finished in 1987 (after endless production problems), and nearly 10 years after Bill Douglas had completed his life trilogy (My Ain Folk etc).

Comrades received a limited cinematic release (no doubt in part due to its unfashionable theme and its 3 hr plus running time), and subsequently received only a couple of plays on television on Channel 4 (who co-funded the project) . It also received a very low key and brief VHS issue, but it has been long out of print and impossible to find.

In the wake of Bill Douglas' death the BFI released the Trilogy on DVD, here is hoping that the premiere of Comrades on FILM4 is the first step to seeing this lost classic released on DVD very soon.