Topsy-Turvy (1999)
March 20, 2024 2:28 PM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] After their production "Princess Ida" meets with less-than-stunning reviews, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan (Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner) is strained to breaking. Their friends and associates attempt to get the two to work together again, which opens the way to "The Mikado," one of the duo's greatest successes.

Also starring Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Ron Cook, Wendy Nottingham, Kevin McKidd, Shirley Henderson, Dorothy Atkinson.

Written and directed by Mike Leigh. Produced by Simon Channing Williams for Thin Man Films. Cinematography by Dick Pope. Edited by Robin Sales. Music by W. S. Gilbert, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Carl Davis.

90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Criterion and Max. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been meaning to re-watch this, Allan Corduner is so good as Sullivan-- the difference between the artistic/licentious Sullivan and the staid Gilbert, reminds me of lots of musical bands where there is the "artist/dreamer" and the "crowd pleaser/accountant" approaches to creation. And it's this special time, where the West (British Empire) is re-discovering the East (Japan) and of course all the colonial ugghery that entails. And so many wonderful actors in this! It will make me decide to re-watch The Way We Live Now, as the delicious Shirley Henderson is also in that, which will make me reconsider... time to make a list!
posted by winesong at 4:04 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

For so many reasons, this is one of my go-to films around the holidays. Every texture and turn of phrase is perfectly placed.
posted by abraxasaxarba at 5:05 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]

It's been a few years since I saw this, but the big takeaway for me was the actress who casually went about her affairs with the open, oozing wound in her body, carefully hidden. Oh, well, what can you do, right? Of course, that's pretty much modern life in America.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:27 PM on March 20

Bonus skit for those who prefer their "Gilbert and Sullivan are troubled by poor audience response" stories to be shorter than feature length..
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:09 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]

This is almost a perfect film. G&S aren't my go-to for artistic satisfaction, generally, but their portrayal here is exquisite. This also goes for every single other actor. It's Mike Leigh at his best. Strong, strong recommend.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:17 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]

I saw this more or less when it came out, as a teenager, with my dad, who has been in Mikado. I recall it being excellent (I'm sure there are things I missed then that I'd get now), but the narrative treatment of Miss Sixpenceplease has really stuck with me, especially in thinking about orientalism and cultural appropriation, which one can't help but do for Mikado.
posted by DebetEsse at 4:15 PM on March 21

I unabashedly love everything about this movie, and I've realized it's been too long since i've seen it,. It's so lush, just a feast for the senses.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:40 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]

I wish that, while he had the cast and the sets, they'd filmed the whole Mikado as a stage production. The Mike Leigh method being what it is, it wouldn't surprise if they could do it
posted by Grangousier at 6:09 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]

As a G&S nerd I LOVE this movie, have owned it for years. Knowing the story of “Mikado” already, I shouted “the sword is going to fall!” in the theater and people looked at me funny.
posted by Melismata at 4:54 PM on March 23

Currently on Criterion 24/7
posted by Carillon at 12:45 AM on April 22

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