Mike Leigh's "Mr Turner", a 2 1/2 hour movie had me so fascinated that it flew by. As an enraptured audience member I felt like a fly on the wall to witness Mr. Turner's life and creations of art that were depicted with such extraordinary realism. I felt on a gut level how this man's wonderful art was inspired by his feelings and the world surrounding him. There were so many wonderfully chosen moments and the scenery was so detailed and - thank God- lacking any Hollywood glamour. The characters were extremely well researched and portrayed to such a degree that I had the <more>
feeling I got to live in 1850's England for the 2 1/2 hours. There was not one moment of "acting' in this movie. How refreshing and inspiring! Timothy Spall's portrayal of Mr Turner was amazing in its detail - He inhabited the role 100 %. He embodied the painter to the last brush stroke. Equally wonderful were the women and everybody else in this brilliantly crafted movie. I shall see it again in case I have missed any detail.
A Masterpiece and anything BUT boring (by demma52)
No need for me to repeat what others have more eloquently expressed Martin Bradley's review in particular , but this is a rare work of cinematic brilliance, profound, moving and truly original. True, it is not for everyone, and, yes, it has no conventional linear plot, but no story? The story is embedded within each of the marvelous vignettes, if one has but eyes to see, and the patience to pull them all together. And they do pull together by the end to present before us the multi- faceted story of a richly complex and conflicted human life. But there are other stories as well, in <more>
particular the women in Mr. Turner's life, most poignant of all the story of his long suffering housekeeper. Alas, many on this review site lack such eyes, and I'm saddened by that fact and what it reveals about our contemporary cultural standards. Ignore the naysayers, this is a masterpiece of profound humanity and insight that deserves multiple viewings. Personally, I was mesmerized by the film from beginning to end and will give it a second viewing tomorrow. And I ain't no film critic with high literary pretensions, nor do I know anything about art. Three quarters of the way through the film, there is a scene with Queen Victoria viewing some of Turner's landscapes and sputtering her disapproval with high indignation. Behind her are a number of cackling philistines, twittering and giggling their disapproval as well. How ironic, when one considers the treatment of the film being meted out by some reviewers on IMDb. In 1956, Samuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot premiered at the Théâtre de Babylone, Paris, and confounded the critics of the time. It was lambasted for defying the traditional conventions of drama, for having no plot, no recognizable beginning, middle and end, and for being utterly boring. Yet today it is justly recognized as one of the masterpieces of modern drama. Mike Leigh's film may very well be the finest cinematic treatment of a great artist ever displayed on celluloid. "Those who have eyes to see, let them see."
Beautiful, absorbing, masterly executed on all accounts (by HowardRoarkII)
First: if you think the film-event of the year is the latest James Bond, then, obviously you should not go and see this film. There are so many reviewers here with the opinion that this is a boring, plot less film that this seems to be something needing to be pointed out. In fact, what we have here is a film with much humour, acted out in scenes and in somewhat appropriately arcane dialogue. There is drama and touching depictions of the human condition. And as for plot, we are given some engaging beautiful scenes from the life of Mr. Turner, as indeed we would have learnt to expect from <more>
Mr.Mike Leigh. Personally, if I had to name a favourite Mike Leigh film, it would have been All Or Nothing, but now, after experiencing this rich tapestry of depth, history and beauty, I have to conclude that the film Mr.Turner is so far, for all involved in this project of collaboration, a most profound crowning achievement. Take part of it with open eyes, ears, hearts and minds.
You could have heard a pin drop....... (by glasslens)
I saw this film last night, in a good cinema with a good screen and new projector and the reason I start off with this will become apparent soon. The film is quite stunning. We sort of drop in to Turner's life at a random point and we follow it on from there. It is not plot-heavy - we are simply viewers of what is happening to this man. Some of what happens to this man are dull and we see a bit of that too. I'm going to analyse the film in a moment, but overall, this is a brilliant film. In the small cinema you could have heard a pin drop - everyone was spellbound. Sometimes when I <more>
see a film, my mind drifts to other things, but not during Mr Turner. I was transfixed and left the cinema with that feeling you only get from seeing a masterpiece.OK, now let's break it down. Mike Leigh is a supremely good director. He allows time for the story. He does not go if for quick cutting - scenes are long and we watch the actors move as though from the far side of the room. This is a relaxing and engaging technique that aspiring directors would do well to copy. His screenplay provides the backbone to the whole film, and it is crafted so well - capturing just who this man Turner is. Film-goers seem to be interested in stars and actors but to me, actors are just actors - they are two a penny. The real stars are the creative people - Leigh of course and in this case Dick Pope the DOP who has surpassed himself here. The film is visually stunning - which is why you need to see it in a good cinema that gets the best out of the visual image, not a tacky popcornplex. Ask your cinema manager what projectors they use and don't go there if they are not modern top quality units. Dick's camera positioning, his lighting, his colour palate and his camera movement which he uses very sparely are a joy to observe. He does his own operating and that shows. No fast zooming or unnecessary camera movement, no clever stuff. Just visually stunning. Shot on Alexa Plus - the best digital camera - and with beautiful Cooke Speed Panchro Lenses that together produce a better than film-like quality. Oh, and nice to see the sound recordist in the opening credits, because hearing the words clearly as well as the Foley and other sounds is really important - you don't want to struggle to hear things when you are enraptured with the pictures.Having been a bit disparaging about actors generally, they are all good in this film as you might expect, and Tim Spall's Turner has lashings of character. But, this is where I would be tempted to mark this film down to an 8 from an otherwise 10. I know that Turner was an larger-than-life character but I think it goes just a bit too far - there just too much grunting and strutting about - it all gets a bit waring after a while - nobody would really be like that all the time. Of course, that is down to Leigh who clearly wanted Spall to bring the character to full life like this. I've seen Spall so often in films and on the TV and he often ends up in parts that require larger-than-life acting. His superb Fagin in Oliver Twist for example. He is not an actor who over acts, but a great character actor who is able to magnify his character when the director demands it. Fortunately for us and him, he is not a "film star" - just an ordinary guy who happens to be a very professional character actor. But, actually, all that grunting and strutting is very entertaining and adds a spice to an otherwise factual film - so back to 9! At two and a half hours, this is a long film and it has a slow pace, but is is never less than 100% engaging. It is a perfect example of the sort of film we in the UK do so very very well, whilst the US churns out ridiculous hack action movies that are forgotten by the time you get home. If you appreciate true quality and don't mind a bit of grunting, you will not be disappointed.p.s This film deserves to be seen at a good cinema - it looses a lot visually on a TV.
We've long been waiting for Seagal to recapture the magic of 'Hard to Kill' obvious exception being the delicately nuanced 'Urban Justice' . Finally, in the biopic Mr Turner, Seagal proves he's lost none of his flappy handed deadly violence chops and belligerent walrus face. Synopsis: Some royal douche-end says Turner's Seagal's paintings are stupid. Seagal promptly loses it and hacks his way through the the 19th century British artistic establishment, eventually facing down John Constable and dispatching him with a trademark judo chop to the outer skull. <more>
Yes the sex scene with the wolf was unsavoury, but that's biopics. You can't rewrite history. 5 stars.
Probably the best acted and impressive movie of the year (by socrates99)
We regularly attend Roger Ebert's Film Festival and before Mr Ebert's death, Timothy Spall was one of the event's special guests. He was there for a showing of Hamlet, I think, and I remember that he was charming and more fun to listen to than I expected. I hadn't really thought of him as a particularly impressive actor but, once again, Roger was right to single him out.His talents are in full display here enriched by one of the most meticulous productions I've ever seen. The supporting cast is as flawless as any lead could ever ask for, as if everyone could see how <more>
unusually good the movie was to become. I particularly enjoyed every move and word that came out of his housekeeper, Hannah, unforgettably played by Dorothy Atkinson.The subject of the movie, the last part of the life of the English artist J M W Turner, is not the stuff of great drama. The man was an eccentric in his later years, and not a particularly pleasant man. But what sustains the movie is the brilliant insight into 19th century English life. Every one of those characters in English novels who never really quite felt true to life is made undeniably real here. And the thing is, it's being done by Englishmen who are not shying away from full disclosure.The thing is I usually wait for the DVD with English movies so that I can use the captions, but our local art theater was so beckoning and as it turns out, I needn't have worried. Often the dialog was impossible to make out, but somehow it didn't matter at all. It's not that kind of movie. It's long, but not slow, and I at least enjoyed every minute of it. The opportunity to be enthralled by such talented people is no everyday thing.
An enchanting biopic boasting a gargantuan performance from Timothy Spall and astounding picturesque cinematography. (by Sergeant_Tibbs)
Four years ago, Mike Leigh released one of the finest films of his oeuvre. I saw Another Year at the London Film Festival gala premiere and I still consider it the only perfect film of this decade thus far. As a result, expectations for his long awaited followup Mr. Turner were very high. Especially as it's ostensibly his most ambitious, even moreso than Topsy-Turvy, also a period drama, that ultimately won 2 Oscars, the only Oscars any of his films ever won. Nevertheless, he's frequently a gift basket receiver at the ceremonies, garnering obligatory screenplay nominations and the odd <more>
directing nom, the last of which being for Vera Drake 10 years ago. His organic storytelling, balance of abstract concepts, ability to orchestrate extraordinary performances and his sardonic sense of humour resonate with critics and audiences alike. However, he's not always a crowd pleaser, and Mr. Turner in particular has divided audiences, though not enough to hinder its current awards progress. It's clear to see why. This biopic of the visionary 19th century artist J.M.W. Turner is dense and cryptic. In Leigh's impeccable attention to detail, not just in the production and costume designs, the language is authentic to the convoluted dialect of the upper class of the period and thus it's hard to follow the sparse plot, even for fans. It's unusual for Leigh to adapt a true story, he often starts from scratch, but true to his form his script here defies traditional structure. It's a liberating free form style, sampling scattered moments of Turner's life, not building to anything specific but just exploring what shaped his idiosyncratic perspective. As a result, the film has grit hard to find elsewhere, and although it's difficult to decipher, it's enchanting for some. Headlining the film is Timothy Spall's colossal performance. He's always been a highlight of Leigh's films when he's been involved, especially his knock out performances in Secrets & Lies and All Or Nothing. This is the role he was born to play. Tossing narrative aside, the film's primary concern is the character study of Turner, a brilliant but flawed man, and each sequence adds layers upon layers of dimensions to him as they swirl in anguish. Spall wears those emotions on his sleeve with a perpetual sneer, grumbly grunts and a piercing stare. The moments where he breaks down have the weight of an earthquake. He's at once a force of nature and has a tender vulnerability. But as illustrated by the exquisite opening shot, he is above all a man of his art and watching Turner paint with a chaotic elegance is fascinating, especially as the results develop over the film. The ensemble around Spall gives ample support, including the fleeting appearances from familiar faces such as the seething Ruth Sheen as the bitter mother of his estranged children and the delightful Lesley Manville as a sprightly scientist who conducts an art orientated experiment. The standouts however are the warm glow of Marion Bailey, Turner's landlady of his second home and mistress, and the anxious agony of Dorothy Atkinson, Turner's housekeeper who he frequently engages in sex but who suffers from a disfiguring skin disease. Bailey has her great moments, especially when she's overwhelmingly flattered, but Atkinson in particular has such heartbreaking conviction that she bursts from the background of her scenes. What makes the film Leigh's most ambitious project is the cinematography. He's always had a great eye for blocking and making the kitchen sink cinematic, but Dick Pope's work here broke the mould. It's obvious to call it Turner-esque, but that's the intention. It's almost like a David Lean precision of waiting for a cloud to move in the right place. It was indeed whenever Leigh and Pope encountered landscapes like this on other films that inspired them to pursue this film. Some shots cover more ground than he covered in the entirety of his early films. Not only are the outside shots beautifully composed, but also the inside, using wide angles to keep the grand scale. A collaborator since Happy-Go-Lucky, composer Gary Yershon's forlorn oboe contributes to the rich ominous tone. It's interesting that for a film about art and colour that it's saturated with browns, blacks and greys. The inherently meandering plot does lead it to becoming bloated, but it attempt to be an insight the many different facets of Turner's life and how that feeds into his work, something applicable to all the great artists. It also considers themes of legacy, one perhaps self-aware in hindsight, but important in context. It's a complex film, and it needs another viewing until I'm fully ready to embrace it. As like life, it ends unresolved and I'm still not sure what to make of it. I must be one of the few people who didn't feel it was too long, but only because I was hungry for something more conclusive. Leigh doesn't make it easy for us, but gives us everything to work with. For what I can digest so far, it's a gargantuan achievement. Due to that inaccessibility and the length of the film, awards attention outside of critic's awards is unlikely. Perhaps it could get a couple of BAFTA nominations, Leigh is not the sweeper people think he is there but it will no doubt get noms for Spall and Best British Film. If there were any justice, it would get Cinematography, Production Design and Costume Design across the board as for even people who didn't like the film can't deny their prowess. Leigh may miss out on that Original Screenplay nomination as the film is looser than his usual output, but particularly because the dialogue needs a double take. It is going to be difficult to imagine where Leigh will go from here but Mr. Turner duly satisfies a thirst for now. 9/10
Mike Leigh is perhaps best-known for his serio-comic social-realist dramas about contemporary British life, films like "Abigail's Party" and "Life Is Sweet", but he also seems to be developing a sideline in biographies of nineteenth-century cultural figures. First there was "Topsy-Turvy" about Gilbert and Sullivan, and now we have "Mr. Turner" about the life and career of the artist J. M. W. Turner. Or rather about the latter part of his life and career; when we first meet him he is already middle-aged. Leigh has described Turner as "a great <more>
artist: a radical, revolutionary painter," and this is undoubtedly true; Turner's work, especially his later work, seems to prefigure Impressionism, perhaps at times even abstract Modernism. We must not, however, allow our appreciation of the progressive side of Turner's work to degenerate into that lazy cliché about the great artist starving in a garret, scorned or neglected by his contemporaries but later discovered by a grateful posterity. Very few great artists, except perhaps Van Gogh, have ever conformed to this stereotype . He was greatly admired by his contemporaries, was praised in the highest terms by many critics, especially Ruskin, became a full Royal Academician while still in his twenties, never lacked for patrons and died a wealthy man. By contrast his great contemporary and rival, John Constable, whose art seems much less radical to our eyes, had a much harder struggle to establish himself. Leigh's purpose in making the film was to "examine the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world." This tension is something very obvious in the film. Turner, especially in later life, was noted for his eccentricity. Unlike many working-class Georgians and Victorians who rose in the world, he never attempted to hide his humble origins. He was untidy, had no social graces and could be rude and tactless. He never married but had a number of mistresses. He was estranged from the first of these, Sarah Danby, and refused to acknowledge his two illegitimate daughters by her. Sarah appears in the film as do two other mistresses, Hannah Danby Sarah's niece and Turner's housekeeper and Sophia Booth, a seaside landlady . And yet this uncouth, boorish-seeming man was an artist not only of genius but also of a deep spirituality. His obsession with accurately recording light and atmospheric conditions- he once had himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he could paint a snowstorm- was born not only of a concern with fidelity to nature but also of a belief that light was a visible manifestation of the Divine. His last words are said to have been "The sun is God" . How, then, could any actor hope to play so contradictory an individual? The answer to this question comes from Timothy Spall, one of Leigh's favourite actors. Spall is someone I have normally thought of as a "character actor", but here he gets the chance to prove himself as a leading man and makes the most of it. His Turner is a grumpy old man, and in his dealings with women something of a dirty old man as well, forever grunting and spitting and forever speaking in a sort of Cockney whine, and yet we are never allowed to forget that underneath his unpromising exterior he is a sublime artist. This is probably the finest performance I have seen Spall give; it won him "Best Actor" at the Cannes Film Festival and I hope that the Academy will bear him in mind when it comes to next year's Oscars. There is insufficient space to single out all the deserving supporting performances, although I should mention Martin Savage as Turner's friend and fellow-painter Benjamin Haydon, forever trying to borrow money off him, Paul Jesson as Turner's father, to whom he was very close, and Joshua McGuire in a comic turn as an effeminate, lisping Ruskin, very different to the way Greg Wise portrayed him in the recent "Effie Gray". The other outstanding feature of the film is its visual beauty. Leigh and his cinematographer Dick Pope were clearly aiming to make it one of those films where every shot looks like a painting in its own right, and certainly succeed in this ambition. Some cinematic biographies of great artists, such as "Girl with a Pearl Earring" about Vermeer, do succeed in capturing the distinctive "look" of their subject, but I think that Leigh and Pope were not actually aiming to make every shot look like a Turner; their palette of colours, for example, is rather too muted for that. Possibly they felt that the peculiar luminosity of Turner's work would be too difficult to reproduce on film. There are, however, some memorable shots, such as the opening scene by the river in Holland, complete with windmill, and the one where Turner watches "the fighting Temeraire" being towed up the Thames, thereby getting the inspiration for one of his best-known works. I am not sure if "Mr Turner" quite justifies the label "masterpiece" which some have tried to pin on it; it can at times be too slow-moving for that. Spall's wonderful acting, however, and Pope's striking cinematography make it a film that stands out from the crowd. 8/10
Although previous movies about artists haven't set the bar very high, 'Mr Turner' is one of the most authentic films about an individual following this occupation. Director Mike Leigh makes no attempt to string together a conventional biography of Britain's greatest landscape painter - his fragmented account simply observes a variety of the artist's interactions with his beloved father, wealthy patrons, colleagues, critics and mistresses during his later years.JMW Turner was born and raised the son of a London barber, and although he became the house-guest of aristocrats, <more>
he never adopted the persona of a cosmopolitan sophisticate. The film follows his restless workaholic progress from studio to exhibition opening, from brothel to stately home, and on to rented rooms in cheap lodging houses bordering the subject matter which he loved to paint. The painter's early work was relatively conventional as he mimicked the styles of some illustrious predecessors. During the latter part of his life - financially secure and with his reputation established - he embarked on a series of ambitious paintings which anticipated the styles of artists who arrived on the scene several decades afterward. Turner's coarse manners and social awkwardness were infamous, but they are probably exaggerated for dramatic effect in this portrayal. However that's a minor gripe - at the center of the film is Timothy Spall's fine portrayal of an eccentric virtuoso going about the business of being an artist.