HIGH HOPES
1988, Park Circus, 108 min, UK, Dir: Mike Leigh

This charming look at life in a working-class London neighborhood centers on Cyril (Phil Davis) and Shirley (Ruth Sheen). She wants a baby but Cyril, a socialist who feels defeated by Thatcherism, is reluctant. Providing the couple with both support and vexation are an extended family including Cyril’s pretentious sister (Heather Tobias) and their increasingly forgetful mum (Edna Dore). “Bluesy and sneaky funny, Mike Leigh's British comedy HIGH HOPES is about as exhilarating as a movie about a bone-deep malaise can be.” – Hal Hinson, Washington Post.


MEANTIME
1984, Janus Films, 102 min, UK, Dir: Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh’s slow-burning depiction of economic degradation in Thatcher’s England is the culmination of the writer-director’s pioneering work in television. Unemployment is rampant in London’s working-class East End, where a middle-aged couple and their two sons languish in a claustrophobic public-housing flat. As the brothers (Phil Daniels and Tim Roth) grow increasingly disaffected, Leigh punctuates the grinding boredom of their daily existence with tense encounters, including with a priggish aunt (Marion Bailey) who has managed to become middle-class and a blithering skinhead on the verge of psychosis (a scene-stealing Gary Oldman, in his first major role). Informed by Leigh’s now-trademark improvisational process and propelled by the lurching rhythms of its Beckett-like dialogue, MEANTIME is an unrelenting, often blisteringly funny look at life on the dole.


HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
2005, Warner Bros., 157 min, USA/UK, Dir: Mike Newell

Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts is perhaps his most dramatic yet, as he deals with both wildly difficult magic competitions and the difficulties of adolescence.


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