Longtime British filmmaker Mike Leigh doesn’t often make period films — but when he does, the results can be remarkable. (Do watch his marvelous “Topsy-Turvy,” from 1999, if you haven’t: it’s a Gilbert and Sullivan biopic, starring Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner, and it’s one of the finest films about artistic creation that you’ll ever see.) Now he’s got a new period project, in the works for more than a decade: a film biography of the British artist J.M.W. Turner, starring Timothy Spall (a regular in Leigh’s films). Sony Pictures Classics acquired the rights to the film this week, and Leigh said he will begin shooting this spring, with a 2014 release date planned. The National Gallery, Tate Britain and the Royal Academy will make Turner’s work available to the film. Sounds like something to look forward to.
Speaking of “Topsy-Turvy,” here’s a taste of it, with the great Shirley Henderson singing “The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze” (and beautiful camera work by cinematographer Dick Pope).