558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

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kinjitsu
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558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#1 Post by kinjitsu » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:26 pm

Topsy-Turvy

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The world of Gilbert and Sullivan comes to vivid life in this extraordinary dramatization of the staging of their legendary 1885 comic opera The Mikado from Mike Leigh. Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner brilliantly inhabit the roles of the world-famous Victorian librettist and composer, respectively, who, along with their troupe of temperamental actors, must battle personal and professional demons while mounting this major production. A lushly produced epic about the harsh realities of creative expression, featuring bravura performances and Oscar-winning costume design and makeup, Topsy-Turvy is an unexpected period delight from one of contemporary cinema’s great artists.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:

- Director-approved digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Dick Pope (with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- Audio commentary featuring director Mike Leigh
- New video conversation between Leigh and the film’s musical director, Gary Yershon
- A Sense of History, Leigh’s 1992 short film written by and starring actor Jim Broadbent
- Deleted scenes
- Featurette from 1999 including interviews with Leigh and cast members
- Theatrical trailer and TV spots
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Amy Taubin

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The Mikado

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The legendary Gilbert and Sullivan troupe the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company joined forces with Hollywood for this 1939 Technicolor version of the fabled comic opera, the first complete work by the famed duo to be adapted for the screen, directed by musician and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Victor Schertzinger. The result is a lavish cinematic retelling of the British political satire set in exotic Japan, with such enduringly popular numbers as “A Wandering Minstrel I” and “Three Little Maids from School Are We,” and featuring performances by American singer Kenny Baker as well as a host of renowned D’Oyly Carte actors, including Martyn Green and Sydney Granville.

Disc Features

- Newly remastered digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
- New video interviews with Topsy-Turvy director Mike Leigh and Mikado scholars Josephine Lee and Ralph MacPhail Jr.
- Short silent film promoting the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s 1926 stage performance of The Mikado
- Deleted scene with Ko-Ko’s “I’ve Got a Little List” song
- Excerpts from 1939 radio broadcasts of the stage productions, The Swing Mikado, and The Hot Mikado
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

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Jeff
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#2 Post by Jeff » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:31 pm

Two very solid looking releases. I was really hoping that The Mikado would be used as a supplement on Topsy-Turvy. I'm not sure I'll pick it up on its own. Also very surprised that Criterion didn't choose to release an Essential Arthouse (or similarly spare) version of Sidney Gilliat's 1953 film The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan at the same time. They've got the rights to it.

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Svevan
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#3 Post by Svevan » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:23 am

Topsy-Turvy is a lovely, great film. It's thoroughly an ensemble piece, with the drama between Gilbert and Sullivan only the "main" action while the D'oyly Carte actors and other characters fill in the edges. Timothy Spall is especially wonderful. It's Mike Leigh doing Robert Altman, really, with wonderful moments of music not just punctuating scenes but driving the movie forward. Extras are welcome, but the real draw is Blu-ray video quality. The movie is visually stunning, with costumes being an obvious factor. Really, I just love this flick. Hope there's more fans lurking around.
Last edited by Svevan on Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

gandskid
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#4 Post by gandskid » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:53 am

Jeff wrote:Two very solid looking releases. I was really hoping that The Mikado would be used as a supplement on Topsy-Turvy. I'm not sure I'll pick it up on its own. Also very surprised that Criterion didn't choose to release an Essential Arthouse (or similarly spare) version of Sidney Gilliat's 1953 film The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan at the same time. They've got the rights to it.
I'm totally on board for purchasing both TOPSY TURVY and MIKADO on blu-ray but I would also love to see the Sidney Gilliat film on Criterion. The scenes that feature performers from the D'Oyly Carte are beautifully done and the film could use a good remastering --any screenings I've seen in recent years haven't been up to the original Technicolor quality. Also Robert Morley and Maurice Evans are terrific in their roles of G&S.

On another topic, I wonder if THE MIKADO print will include the "encore" verse to Koko's "Little List" song which was filmed and supposedly includes some contemporary (to 1939) references.

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MichaelB
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#5 Post by MichaelB » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:45 am

Svevan wrote:Really, I just love this flick. Hope there's more fans lurking around.
Oh, very much so - and it might also be Jim Broadbent's finest couple of hours, which is no mean feat considering that I think he's just about the best character actor Britain has produced in the last three decades. (His only serious rival is also in the film!)

I worked with the late Charles Simon, who plays Gilbert's father, shortly after he made Topsy-Turvy, and he told me that Leigh made all his cast read pretty much every scrap of information that had ever been written about their characters. Unfortunately, Gilbert's father was a failed novelist, and by all accounts quite a prolific one, which meant that poor Charles had to trudge through his entire oeuvre - only to see his part reduced to a few minutes on screen (they shot a lot more, apparently).

The Mikado is OK, but more as a curiosity than anything else - I wrote it up for Screenonline a few years ago. The most bizarre thing I recall is this dialogue-free prologue that was supposed to clarify the story for the benefit of people new to Gilbert & Sullivan, but they'd almost certainly find it completely incomprehensible.
Jeff wrote:Also very surprised that Criterion didn't choose to release an Essential Arthouse (or similarly spare) version of Sidney Gilliat's 1953 film The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan at the same time. They've got the rights to it.
Yes, that would have made a terrific supplement - it's inferior to Topsy-Turvy on every conceivable level (and I'm a huge Gilliat fan normally), but it's certainly worth seeing: Robert Morley's Gilbert is particularly entertaining. (I also reviewed that, probably at the same time).

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teddyleevin
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#6 Post by teddyleevin » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:40 pm

As a tremendous fan and performer of Gilbert & Sullivan, these releases are infinitely exciting. Regarding the 1939 Mikado, I thought I was doomed to the awful YouTube rips of the already bad DVD for the rest of my life.

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Minkin
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#7 Post by Minkin » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:29 pm

The "more" has been revealed for The Mikado plus a clip from the film (get ready for more Three Little Maids)
Criterion wrote:Short silent film promoting the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s 1926 stage performance of The Mikado
Deleted scene with Ko-Ko’s “I’ve Got a Little List” song
Excerpts from 1939 radio broadcasts of the stage productions_The Swing Mikado_ and The Hot Mikado


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cdnchris
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#9 Post by cdnchris » Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:58 pm

Has anybody here seen A Sense of History, which is the short film on the Topsy Turvy disc? It's absolutely hilarious, and the BBC-profile/documentary style is just perfect. I've always admired Broadbent but he's nothing short of brilliant here. I'm shocked I've never even heard of the film before.

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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#10 Post by cdnchris » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:29 am

Topsy Turvy Blu-ray

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zedz
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#11 Post by zedz » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:18 pm

cdnchris wrote:Has anybody here seen A Sense of History, which is the short film on the Topsy Turvy disc? It's absolutely hilarious, and the BBC-profile/documentary style is just perfect. I've always admired Broadbent but he's nothing short of brilliant here. I'm shocked I've never even heard of the film before.
It's a classic! If you're ever putting together a programme of shorts, this one's your insurance policy. And it shows what a good sport Mike Leigh was to help out on such an uncharacteristic project. If I didn't like Topsy Turvy so much, this extra would be an excellent opportunity to unleash the old 'worth it for x alone' saw.

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Minkin
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#12 Post by Minkin » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:46 pm


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colinr0380
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#13 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:50 pm

And DVD Beaver on Topsy-Turvy (with obligatory topless screen capture)

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teddyleevin
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#14 Post by teddyleevin » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:31 am

Watched through both discs today and am astounded by both. A Sense of History is a brilliant little gem that has solidified Broadbent's position among my favorite actors. He also wrote the piece and the writing is incredible.

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captveg
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#15 Post by captveg » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:39 am

For someone who has seen neither, which one is better to tackle first?

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MichaelB
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#16 Post by MichaelB » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:46 am

captveg wrote:For someone who has seen neither, which one is better to tackle first?
Topsy-Turvy. If you don't know Gilbert and Sullivan at all, it's a far better intro than The Mikado, and it's not as if you need to worry about spoilers.

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manicsounds
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#17 Post by manicsounds » Mon May 16, 2011 6:32 am

Watched "Mikado", and it's obviously never been released in Japan. The play has, and been done in Japanese with a bit more 'authenticity' than the original English version. In these days you can not get away with historically and culturally completely inaccurate depictions of another culture as this film did. Oh, wait a second... Zack Snyder....

The film reminded me of what Ricky Gervais said when he introduced the "apanese version of "The Office" on SNL:
"It's funny because it's racist!"

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Tommaso
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#18 Post by Tommaso » Sun May 22, 2011 1:57 pm

Watched "The Mikado" last night and loved every minute of it. It's original idea to stick closely to the stage performance (including what strikes one as over-acting when not watching this on a theatre stage), which seems to have been seen as a detriment to its cinematic qualities, almost worked as a positive for me, in the sense of increasing the artificiality of the whole thing even more. I didn't know the G&S operetta before, so probably a lot of the fun I had came from the piece itself and not specifically from the film adaptation, but even if you discount this, there's such an enjoyment to be had from the sets, costumes and colours, and from the performances themselves, even though I can't think of any other film from the time which has such a high camp factor as this one (not even "The Thief of Bagdad").

Probably not important as a film because it makes too little use of cinematic techniques in the narrower sense of the word, but I simply was delighted by what I saw.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#19 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun May 22, 2011 2:36 pm

Tommaso wrote:I didn't know the G&S operetta before, so probably a lot of the fun I had came from the piece itself and not specifically from the film adaptation
God, the Mikado is fun. I'm not a huge fan generally, but I've been to three of their operettas (Pirates of Penzance, Mikado, and Pinafore) and I'm pretty sure I've seen a couple more (they blur together), and to me there's nothing to touch the Mikado. Although it's shame they cut my single favorite part of the show from the movie (Koko's Little List song.)

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Tommaso
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#20 Post by Tommaso » Sun May 22, 2011 5:40 pm

But thankfully that one is included as an extra. I was rolling on the floor when I saw that Hitler parody.

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manicsounds
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#21 Post by manicsounds » Sun May 22, 2011 7:50 pm

Yes, the deleted scene made me hysterically laugh too. Man, that actor was uncanny.

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knives
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#22 Post by knives » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:44 pm

I enjoyed Topsy-Turvy a lot more than I was expecting. It came out roughly how I thought it would, but I didn't expect the good things to be as good as they were. There's a lot of good things here too. I love how at the start of the film Gilbert and Sullivan don't really share any scenes and just how separate they are as people. It's a really smart establishing technique and one I'd like to see more of. Of course the performances are great, the insurance of Broadbent is the lone reason I blind bought this, but shockingly in his really bit part I think Spall absolutely stole the show. I've always really respected him, seriously turning up at the last minute in the third HP nearly saved the movie, but becoming the dark horse in a film with this cast is a feat deserving a lot of applause. While he has the strongest moments I don't actually think any one here does a less than great job, but with this cast again it's probably just a given. Though I want to mention Allan Corduner playing Sullivan. I don't remember seeing him in anything else, but here he's just amazing. The way he can make his face red on command is superb. It's just a fun role to watch. It doesn't hurt, going with the genius Altman comparison Svevan gave, that everyone he interacts with is absolutely memorable. Even the cheese prostitute, or at least I assume she was suppose to be a prostitute, is unforgettable.

That praise goes above the following negativity, but unfortunately certain aspects bled throughout preventing this from being unconditionally great to me. The biggest problem is that the film has this tendency to reduce people and the human condition as a whole into a solitary emotion. Either a person is happy or sad with no real look beyond that. This sort of two dimensionality is something I'd typically overlook especially when the performances push so beyond that characterization, but the story and otherwise great camerawork constantly emphasize this noise without providing any source or reason. It becomes more a nagging annoyance when faced with the positive qualities of the film, but it still is enough to harm the film's quality in my eyes.

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Foam
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#23 Post by Foam » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:30 pm

knives wrote:The biggest problem is that the film has this tendency to reduce people and the human condition as a whole into a solitary emotion. Either a person is happy or sad with no real look beyond that. This sort of two dimensionality is something I'd typically overlook especially when the performances push so beyond that characterization, but the story and otherwise great camerawork constantly emphasize this noise without providing any source or reason.
Can you give me some specific examples? The focus is more on the big web of comparisons and contrasts than it is on fleshing out any one character's inner life or motivations (though I think these are hinted at fairly well through the detail of the performances). If any one character were developed much more they would begin to distract from the larger system that Leigh is interested in.

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knives
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#24 Post by knives » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:40 pm

I think the character development is fine, but the camera development so to speak is where I got that from. Certain edits, particularly close-ups would emphasize the emotion of the individual in a way that reduced them in the manner I mentioned.

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Foam
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Re: 558-559 Topsy-Turvy and The Mikado

#25 Post by Foam » Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:26 pm

I don't see how an emotional close up reduces each character (let alone the entire human condition) to a solitary emotion. Each close up is just one part of that character's accumulation of detail, which almost always also includes a series of gestures, mannerisms and tones which have very little to do with emotion captured in medium and long shots (which are further complicated by the gestures, mannerisms and tones of the other characters in the shot or scene). I think there are a lot of directors (and great ones) who could be said to reduce their characters and the human condition to matters of almost pure emotion, but Leigh isn't one of them.

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