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Winter Film Festival

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The 2021 Festival will not be happening due to Covid-19 restrictions.  Film information below is from the 2020 Festival.

Sunday February 1, 2015 4pm
Rainbow Theatre, Northumberland Mall, Cobourg.

Mr TurnerAbout Mr. Turner. Much like the storied works of its titular character, Mr. Turner is a chaotic and beautiful look inside the life of landscape artist, J.M.W. Turner. Set in the twilight years of the painter's life, Mr. Turner opens with an already-successful artist seeking to rejuvenate his passion for the craft, and continue to expand upon his portfolio. A solitary man, Turner (Timothy Spall) is looked after by his live-in housekeeper (Dorothy Atkinson), and father, William (Paul Jesson). Accepted by his peers, and held in high esteem by the aristocracy, Turner is free to travel across Great Britain painting landscapes, and selling his art. With only his sketchbook as his constant companion, Turner crosses the countryside searching for inspiration for his works.

Leads: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson
Mike Leigh
Genre:  Biography  Language:  English
Run Time: 150 min   Rated R for some sexual content

Review 1

by Matthew Hoffman

When making a biopic, a filmmaker literally has an entire lifetime of experiences to choose from and capture on film. The conventional biopic would chronicle the entire life of its subject, but British director Mike Leigh is anything but conventional. In MR. TURNER, Leigh chooses to focus on the latter half of painter J.M.W. Turner's life, from when the painter is at his career peak, to his inevitable death.

mr-turner2-450The film opens as Turner (Timothy Spall) returns from a long voyage. He comes home to his father (Paul Jesson) and his housekeeper (Dorothy Atkinson), with whom he shares a sexual relationship. Turner often travels under a pseudonym to the small coastal town of Margate, where he forms his final relationship with a kindly widow (Marion Bailey).

MR. TURNER is rather unusually structured. Instead of having one main story and conflict carrying the film, the film unfolds in a more episodic manner, often moving year to year, towards the end of the artist's life. Viewers will have to pay close attention to the film, because unlike many biopics, MR. TURNER doesn't tell us when a year has passed, or what year it is for that matter. You'll have to look for cues from the actors'  makeup and the evolution of Turner's paintings to keep up with the progression of time in the film.

Some of the film's best moments come when Turner visits the Royal Academy of Art. Watching the standoffish Turner interact with other artists provides great entertainment. One scene at the Academy briefly touches upon Turner's ongoing feud with John Constable, and it is hilarious.

The film won the Best Actor award for Spall at this year's Cannes Film Festival; it's easy to see why he won the award immediately. Spall plays the eccentric Turner with such force as he chews through the film's gorgeous scenery. In MR. TURNER, Spall has crafted more variations on the grunt then I thought humanly possible.

Whether you know his work or not, MR. TURNER is a rewarding experience for any mature cinemagoer or art lover.

Review 2

By Craig Williams

mr-turner7-450We see a long shot of two maids, rapt in their whispers, walking down the length of an embankment. The first flickers of dawn are in the air; the promise of a new day. The camera pans to the left and we see our artist at work, magnificently silhouetted against the horizon in a quietly euphoric panorama. This glorious opening is the perfect summation of Mike Leigh's excellent J.M.W. Turner biopic Mr. Turner (2014), his first period piece since 1999's Topsy-Turvy. This perfectly controlled shot prefaces the unusually rough beauty of the picture. We're naturally stunned by its evocative depictions of the bucolic glory around us, but we're equally touched by the small detail of life's currents beating in its midst.

Mr. Turner - starring Timothy Spall in the titular role - is a work that sees Leigh finding the ideal balance between the intimate and the epic. It's a film that focuses on the detail of human interaction and the minutiae of an artist's craft, but these moments take place against a broader canvas that captures the tenor of the times and what it meant to be a living, working artist in the tumult of the industrial revolution. England was changing at a frightening pace, and Leigh's Turner is a man adept to the times, content to be drawn along to the beat of encroaching modernism while keeping his countenance in tune with contemporary society. Spall is on top form, imbuing Turner with an earthy but articulate sensibility. He grunts and mumbles but is apt to launch into eloquent, if antiquated modes of speech.

mr-turner5-450We get the sense of a man dedicated to his art, pushing it to deserved eminence within the right circles. Not a schemer necessarily, but certainly a player. There's no pretence to Turner, nor are there any hang-ups or anxieties. He appears comfortable in his own skin and, crucially, in his work. Diligence appears to be ingrained in his very being. Mr. Turner represents the rugged edges and frayed fringes of the period drama. Leigh is far too good to simply fall in with the inconsequential pomp and artifice of the BBC's increasingly wearing approach to the format. His picture is faithful to the rarefied manners of the era, but gives its characters the breadth to be real, recognisable human beings rather than simple composites of aspirational national fantasies. It's this mastery of tone that makes it work so well; it places Turner and his circle on our emotional wavelength. The British film industry is so mired in inflated self-confidence that celebrations of mediocrity are by now de rigueur. However, in the middle of the swathes of chaff, Mike Leigh is a true English master.