In Memoriam: Bingham Ray.

A rare chance to see Mike Leigh’s breakthrough film in the U.S., unavailable here on DVD. A comic yet gently melancholic story with food and symmetry on its mind and a cast of Leigh all-stars, Life Is Sweet twins the humble efforts of good-natured chef Andy (Jim Broadbent) to open his own mobile snack bar—sold to him by his drunken friend Patsy (Stephen Rea)—with the disastrous nouvelle-cuisine pretensions of the grandiose Aubrey (Timothy Spall), who opens his own bistro, “Regret Rien,” where Andy’s cheerful wife Wendy (Alison Steadman) goes to work as a waitress. Meanwhile, there’s a subplot about Andy and Wendy’s daughters: tomboy plumber Natalie (Clare Skinner), who seems to take after her father, and unhappy anorexic feminist Nicola (Jane Horrocks), who gets off on having her boyfriend (David Thewlis) lick chocolate off her breasts. One of Leigh’s funniest and most tender films, and one of his most optimistic about family ties. Sadly, life is bittersweet in the case of this screening, which pays tribute to the late Bingham Ray, a Mike Leigh character if ever there was one, and the man responsible for this film’s U.S. distribution, as the first release of his fledgling company October Films.