AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 15-21: MR. TURNER

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Opening Dec. 19, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Mr. Turner, the latest work from celebrated British writer/director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies,Vera Drake, Another Year). A look at the last 25 years of the life of artist JMW Turner, his screenplay highlights the master as man, detailing both his prodigious artistic talent and the emotional vulnerability that defined his character. Read on…

As this tortured lead, Spall turns in what critics are calling the performance of his career, in a role he seems born to play. His Turner is by turns a brutish artiste, thinking nothing of spitting directly onto his canvas to achieve the correct consistency, and a lonely, depressive man whose desire to love threatens to overwhelm him. As Turner’s health fails, his character becomes more fragmented, and Spall’s portrayal is utterly heartbreaking.

Cinematographer Dick Pope, Leigh’s long time collaborator, is shooting on digital for the first time for the director, and the result is as vibrant, as visually stunningly as Turner’s own paintings. Mr Turner is vivid in all senses, a masterful portrait of an iconic artist that is firmly in the frame this Awards season.

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:

Anne Brodie: Mr. Turner is genius. In every way, the performances, the incredible true story and the superb art direction—and regular direction—create a stunning, unsentimental phenomenon.

MaryAnn Johanson: My pick is Mr. Turner, no stuffy costume drama but a bawdy, earthy examination of an artist and his inspiration.

Jennifer Merin: Director Mike Leigh’s exquisitely crafted and profoundly affecting Mr. Turner is one of the best films of 2014. Timothy Spall’s performance is brilliant.

Nell Minow: I am really looking forward to Mr. Turner, for Mike Leigh’s gift for working with actors to create the story and for a long-overdue lead role for Timothy Spall.

Film Details:

Title: Mr. Turner

Director: Mike Leigh

Release Date: Dec. 19, 2014

Running Time: 150 minutes

Language: English

Shooting Location(s): England

Principal Cast: Timothy Spall, Ruth Sheen, Martin Savage, Lesley Manville, Karl Johnson, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Sandy Foster, Amy Dawson, Richard Bremmer

Screenwriter: Mike Leigh

Production Company: Film4, Focus Features International (FFI), Lipsync Productions, Thin Man Films, Xofa Productions

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Official Website


AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, MaryAnn Johanson, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Rebecca Murray, Kristy Puchko, Carrie Rickey, Sheila Roberts, Jeanne Wolf, Sara Vizcarrando.

Other Movies Opening the Week of Dec. 15-19, 2014:

Dec. 17

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Goodbye to All That

If You Don’t, I Will

Dec. 19

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb


Song of the Sea

Mr. Turner

Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D

Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, Associate Editor

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Nikki Baughan

Nikki Baughan is a London-based freelance film critic and features writer. Formerly editor of both Film Review and movieScope magazines, Nikki is currently contributes to various print and online publications, including Screen International, BFI, The List and Film Divider.