April 18, 2011

In praise of.......BDS

The Guardian usually has three editorial pieces, two on something current and third headed "In praise of...." and then it praises someone or something it deems praiseworthy.  Well today it's the turn of film and theatre director and writer, Mike Leigh.  Here's the piece:
The big mistake people make with Mike Leigh is to simplify him into caricature; he is much too various for that. He is the man who turned London into his own film set, so that to wander around the capital is to think of Naked, Happy-Go-Lucky, Secrets & Lies – yet he is a Salford boy. And of course his work is so distinctive in both focus and style that almost everybody knows what you mean by a "Mike Leigh film" – yet he famously creates his dramas through extensive improvisation and rehearsal. He is the angry socialist who sets conservative teeth on edge – yet his early and later work focus much more on the personal than the polemical. In short, Mike Leigh is a writer and director who zigs when you expect him to zag, who escapes easy pigeonholing by dint of squirming too much. Those who still think of Leigh as the poet laureate of anti-Thatcherism should catch the revival of his 1979 play Ecstasy, recently transferred to London's West End. Some of the classic Leigh elements are there: set in a bedsit in Kilburn, it features a fascinating argument about immigration and its impact on jobs (some things in Britain don't change). But the real theme of the play is loneliness: how people can be lonely even in others' company – and how they try to dress it up. It is not all bleak: the play studies a marriage seemingly sustained by booze – yet which somehow works. But most of all it is tender, with the central character, Jean, depicted as a gifted, interesting woman afloat on her own regret. It is not classic Leigh – but is another Leigh classic.
Hmm, wasn't he the chap who didn't realise what a balls-up he was making by agreeing to give a seminar in Tel Aviv? I think he was the man. It kicked up such a stink he withdrew and managed to expose his erstwhile host, Renen Schorr, as, well let's just say it exposed his host, Renen Schorr. Of course, no mention of any of that stuff but then The Guardian doesn't deem BDS praiseworthy.


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