ARCHIVE REVIEW: Happy-Go-Lucky

Happy-Go-Lucky
Directed by: Mike Leigh
Written by: Mike Leigh
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman, and Karina Fernandez

Impossible would be one way to describe Poppy (Sally Hawkins), the flamboyantly optimistic center of Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky. With that one word, you can take her as impossibly happy, annoying, or over the top.  She is all of these things and more, as you and she both learn during the course of this off-beat life lesson comedy.

Hawkins and Leigh both approach this complicated woman with true zest and unapologetic heart.  This performance is a work of art inspired by a terrific actress and this director’s unique method.  Leigh casts his movies with only story in mind, and then works with his actors to craft improvised moments and write out the actual screenplay.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Julia

Julia
Directed by: Erick Zonca
Written by: Roger Bohbot & Michael Collins
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Aidan Gould, Saul Rubinek, and Kate de Castillo

Make no ifs, ands, or buts about it: Tilda Swinton is one of the finest actresses of her generation.  So sublime and brilliant is her technique, that even in a dud like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe she manages to give you something to watch.  And then there is Julia, a movie that is actually good, where she inhabits the heart and soul of her character, leaving you stunned, disgusted, and many other things by the time the credits roll.

As the title character, Swinton plays an alcoholic nothing hired by a neurotic Mexican neighbor (Kate de Castillo) to kidnap her son and reunite them across the border.  This plot seems like something you’d see in a glitzy Hollywood caper, and the characters in Roger Bohbot and Michael Collins’ screenplay seem conscious of it.  When Julia tries to explain the scheme to some of her confidants, they look at her like she’s a fool, which she is.

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