5.0 out of 5 stars superb docudrama
As usual, Mike Leigh attains wonderfully naturalistic performances from his actors. The movie is quite long but is interesting and full of humor, with excellent musical performances.
Published 16 months ago by ray
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings--wonderful music, no plot!!!
What is there to say about Topsy-Turvy, a sometimes delightful, often strenuous, musical period drama? Topsy-Turvy catches Gilbert and Sullivan in the midst of their successful careers. Having already scored numerous hits(The Pirates of Penzance, Sorcerer, and HMS Pinafore to name a few), they've reached a creative dry spot with their latest work, entitled Princess Ida...
Published on Feb. 18 2003 by Mark Twain
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5.0 out of 5 stars So many treasures and riches you find more in each viewing,
Let's start with the way it evokes late 19th century London and the wonderful culture of that time. We are given wonderful and bright colors in the theatre and in the homes and businesses! We are charmed by the crude telephones (which were ultra-tech in those days), the fashions, the exotic mixing of truly disparate cultures who knew little of each other, the notions of the time of what was progressive (women smoking, "free love", and so on), the music making in salons and in private (the piano four-hands, the recital, and the reading to each other). What a magical evocation of a past age.
I also love the way it takes us into the making of musical theater (well, it is English - so theatre, I guess), with all the varied personalities with their often strange cares and woes. This was a time before agents and while stars still commanded higher pay, they had to try and get it themselves. The negotiations of the cast with D'oyly Carte are priceless, as is his masterful handling of the temperamental Sullivan, and the rigid Gilbert. And Wendy Nottingham plays Helen Lenoir (D'Oyly Carte's associate) with a charming steeliness that is captivating.
As Gilbert and Sullivan struggle with Sullivan's requirement he write a real opera rather than another topsy-turvy musical we get to see how Gilbert comes up with the idea for "The Mikado". And I love how the movie isn't linear. It is wonderful to see various numbers in all stages of preparation. From the earliest rehearsals, to reading lines with the stars and Gilbert correcting the pronunciation and improvisations to get them to hold to what he wrote and the way his lines scan. We even get to see the way cast members struggle when hard rehearsed numbers are cut (and restored).
Then there are the wonderful performances of the entire cast. Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville have a magical chemistry as she cares for and helps a largely oblivious, yet loving Gilbert. He really is clueless, but talented and doesn't understand what he gets away with because of his talent. Ms Manville's performance is probably the most touching and beautiful in the film. On the other hand, Gilbert's encounters with his separated parents is an adventure into the strange and are both humorous and a bit frightening.
Allan Corduner's portrayal of Arthur Sullivan is another treasure the film gives us. Sullivan and his free-spirited entourage are a lot of fun, if a bit tired and dissipated. His liaisons with a wide range of women and his touching conversations with them are touching and a bit pathetic at the same time. However, it is wonderful to hear Victorian chamber music with all its sentimentality. It can somehow sounds a bit cloying to our jaded ears, but the movie does such a fantastic job of evoking the time that the music can be better understood and heard in its cultural context and we can hear with somewhat fresher ears than if we had just popped a disk into our CD player.
Timothy Spall and Martin Savage give great performances as stars in the company. They sing and perform as if they had done these operettas (the film calls them operas) all their lives. Maybe they did before they became famous film actors, but it is uncanny how good they are in their roles.
The frailties of the stars of the D'oyly Carte Company are manifold and provide other opportunities to see 19th century Victorianism up close without condemnation or praise. It is wonderfully done. The crazy and casual use of injected drugs, the constants imbibing of alcohol and the ubiquitous smoking also help us breathe in the culture of that time.
This is a great treasure from that wonderful opening scene with the white gloved attendants checking each theatre seat for proper functionality and cleanliness, to Gilbert's mad walk through the back streets of London during the premier of Mikado, to Leonora's soliloquy to her own beauty and her solo, "The Sun's Rays are All Ablaze" and everything in between are things to always treasure.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! A Masterpiece! A Work of True Genius!,
I loved the way you really got the sense of how G and S's creativity manifested and also the opulence of their lifestyle and of the Victorian Era itself.
I can't get my fill of this film. Mike Leigh has created a masterpiece. The actors are brilliant and their singing is gorgeous-like everything else in this exquisite production.
The attention to detail is awesome.
I agree heartily with all the other positive reviews in this section.
As for the negative comments:
2.0 out of 5 stars Evidently too classy for me,
Set in mid-1880s London, the film is essentially the story of the conception and production of the comic opera "Mikado" by Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner) and William Gilbert (Jim Broadbent). Sullivan, the composer, is an irrepressible bon vivant and the complete opposite of lyricist Gilbert, a serious businessman. The two ruled the city's stage scene for years, and T-T is a tribute to their remarkable partnership.
Unfortunately, I've never been a particular fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, and T-T is 160 interminable minutes of dialogue that was, for me, neither dramatic or comic, and the "action" proceeded at a glacial pace. The costuming and make-up deserved the Oscars they won, and Broadbent and Corduner do solid work, but how far can you go on those merits?
TOPSY-TURVY will engage those students of the live stage who are fascinated with the nuts and bolts of putting a production together. But I may as well have been watching two engineers collaborate on the design and construction of an assembly line for making wire hangers. Even the 15 minutes or so dedicated to showing "Mikado" as it finally appeared at the Savoy Theatre left me cold. "Mikado" is no "Cats", which I saw at least four times, or "Evita", which I saw thrice.
As I recall, T-T played locally only in the art houses, and even then not for very long. It apparently didn't appeal to the sweaty movie-going masses, of which, for once, I admit being a proud member.
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST HAVE FOR G&S FANS,
The music is awesome, the dialog is witty and rapier-sharp, the sets, costumes and production values are top-drawer. If you appreciate Merchant-Ivory, or any other Victorian era movie, then this is a MUST SEE.
I highly recommend it.
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings--wonderful music, no plot!!!,
4.0 out of 5 stars Genesis of a much-loved work,
The undoubted star is Jim Broadbent as a somewhat misanthropic Gilbert, capable of creating some of the wittiest plots and lines in the English language but not of expressing his own emotions to his dysfunctional family (we can see how he got the way he is!) or to his loving and long-suffering wife. Watch out, though for two characters who have appeared more recently in very different roles: Andy Serkis (voice and body model for Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings") as a quirky and outspoken choreographer, and Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtle in "Harry Potter II") who has here a more substantial part as the attractive if egotistical lead soprano.
2.0 out of 5 stars A Christmas Turkey,
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Best biopic ever! Not just for Gilbert & Sullivan fans!,
Viewers who find musicals simplistic or shallow or generally silly should make an exception in the case of Topsy-Turvy. It is none of those things. In true Mike Leigh fashion, the actors inhabit their characters like second skin. No one is simple or shallow. Nor does Leigh avoid the seamier side of London theatrical life. I particularly liked Jim Broadbent's bitterly comic and misanthropic Gilbert, Martin Savage as the opium-addicted George Grossmith (the 'patter baritone' who rips through Gilbert's rapidfire lyrics like a rap song), and Lucy Manville as Gilbert's long-suffering wife.
Finally, the film is visually beautiful and detailed; wonderful costumes, lighting, and sets that seem faultless in their historical detail.
One of the best, if not the best, bio-pic ever made.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing,
5.0 out of 5 stars To Find Out More......,
By A Customer
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Topsy-Turvy (Criterion) (Blu-Ray) by Mike Leigh (Blu-ray - 2011)
CDN$ 54.99 CDN$ 41.24