A thought recurs whenever I watch a Mike Leigh film, as I did Monday night (11.1) when I sat through Leigh’s latest, the touchingly performed and grimly dutiful Vera Drake. It is a realization that watching a Leigh film is like sitting in a dentist’s chair and having my teeth drilled. But there is some comfort in this, for as I sit and suffer I realize I am watching a thing of quality, and that there is considerable truth being rendered within. But I also thank God my life isn’t as drab or dreary as the ones dramatized in Leigh’s films, and that the colors in my environment aren’t so relentlessly gray and milky and blue-ish, and that the middle-aged faces I say hello to aren’t as homely and doughy and beset with such timidity, uncertainty and scared-church-mouse resignation. I respect Leigh, he’s a first-rate artist, and I would rather be worm food than be trapped in a real-life facsimile of one of his films.