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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Meantime [Blu-ray]


(Mike Leigh, 1984)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Central Production

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #890



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:47:23.061

Disc Size: 48,071,410,619 bytes

Feature Size: 31,558,133,760 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.07 Mbps

Chapters: 15

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: August 15th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none


• Mike Leigh with Jarvis Cocker

New conversation between actor Marion Bailey and critic Amy Raphael (28:22)
Interview from 2007 with actor Tim Roth (31:43)
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Sean O’Sullivan






Description: A slow-burning depiction of economic degradation in Thatcher’s England, Mike Leigh’s Meantime is the culmination of the writer-director’s pioneering work in television. Unemployment is rampant in London’s working-class East End, where a middle-aged couple and their two sons languish in a claustrophobic public-housing flat. As the brothers (Phil Daniels and Tim Roth) grow increasingly disaffected, Leigh punctuates the grinding boredom of their daily existence with tense encounters, including with a priggish aunt (Marion Bailey) who has managed to become middle-class and a blithering skinhead on the verge of psychosis (a scene-stealing Gary Oldman, in his first major role). Informed by Leigh’s now trademark improvisational process and propelled by the lurching rhythms of its Beckett-like dialogue, Meantime is an unrelenting, often blisteringly funny look at life on the dole.



The Film:

Colin (Tim Roth, making his screen debut) and his brother Mark (Phil Daniels, who starred in Quadrophenia) are down and out. They live in a squalid flat with their unemployed father, Frank (Jeff Robert), and their put-upon mother, Mavis (Pam Ferris). They're on the dole, and Mark is constantly scrounging for cash and cadging drinks from his friends, among them Coxy (Gary Oldman in his screen debut), a skinhead. Colin, shy and perhaps mentally disabled, has a crush on a good-natured local girl, Hayley (Tilly Vosburgh). But when Coxy brings him over to her apartment, he can only watch helplessly as a rather ugly scene unfolds. Mark, who is constantly mocking Frank's hypocritical and outdated world view, also makes fun of Colin and calls him "Kermit" and "muppet." Barbara (Marion Bailey, who would later appear in All or Nothing), the boys' middle-class aunt, drops by one day and offers Colin work helping her redecorate her house. Colin seems only mildly interested, but his parents pressure him to take the offer. Mark says that Barbara is exploiting Colin, but his family suspects that Mark is just resentful because Barbara didn't offer him the job. On Colin's first day, Mark turns up at Barbara's to learn that Colin hasn't shown up yet. As Mark and Barbara search the neighborhood for Colin, Mark makes insinuations about the state of Barbara's troubled relationship with her husband, John (Alfred Molina). Meantime, conceived and directed by Mike Leigh, was produced for British television, and shown at the 1984 Berlin International Film Festival.

Excerpt from Barnes and Noble located HERE

Meantime is very much a mood piece; an angry young man film set against the backdrop of recession during the early Thatcher years. There’s anger amongst its characters, their aimless use of time echoed by companions across their downtrodden urban estate. And there’s anger in its director, quietly politicising his appropriately slow-burning look under the surface of unemployment and life lived with muted ambition.

Perhaps best remembered now as the feature film debut of Gary Oldham (the acclaimed actor showing in 1983 that his talent had few limits), Meantime has become one of its writer-director Mike Leigh’s favourite works.

Excerpt from Top 10 Films located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Meantime looks rich and grainy on Blu-ray from Criterion and is cited as a "New, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Roger Pratt and director Mike Leigh". It's on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio.  Since this was shot on 16mm we get a predictably heavy textured look. Colors show depth and the overall appearance extends beyond the production limitations showing wonderful consistent, thick, grain. The image was clean with no damage and looks wonderful in-motion with very pleasing close-ups. This seems an impressive, representation - and that is all we can ask.



















Audio :

Typically flat, linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit) in the original English (heavy British accents) - that actually sounds like a solid replication of the original production. There is a score by Andrew Dickson (Leigh's Secrets and Lies, Naked) that plays subtly in the background.  Performances are very grass root - but still sound pleasing. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Mike Leigh with Jarvis Cocker asks Mike Leigh about his distinctive filmmaking process in a 35-minute interview recorded by Criterion in 2016. There is a new 1/2 hour conversation between actor Marion Bailey and critic Amy Raphael about creating the character of Auntie Barbara for Meantime. Actor Tim Roth talks, for 31-minutes, about his experiences making Meantime in a 2007 interview. The package also has a liner notes booklet with an essay by film scholar Sean O’Sullivan.



Meantime is a powerful and penetrating film experience. This is life - real, human, desperate, bleak, and truthful.  The probing camera details emotion at its most stark, needy, grasping for survival. A brilliant film. This Blu-ray package is an easy recommendation. Don't miss this one.

Gary Tooze

July 7th, 2017


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

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Gary W. Tooze





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