Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Another Year"

In addition to conventional cinematic fare, I also like art-films and foreign movies.  The ambitions and depth of art-films appeal to me.  I've learned, however, not to recommend them to people because many don't share my appreciation for movies that deviate from the norm and are often slow-moving.  That's fine -- Hollywood makes enough movies for those people.

Thus, I'm not going to tell you to see "Another Year," but will report I liked it.  A lot.

"Another Year" was made in 2010 by Mike Leigh.  It got nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, despite being made in England.  It richly deserves the honor.  Sadly, although the movie got rave critical reviews, it made no money.  Few people went to see it.  The audience for cinematic art is very small.

Mike Leigh has made 24 films, of which my favorites are "Secrets and Lies" (1996) and "Happy-Go-Lucky" (2008).  Leigh is a very atypical filmmaker.  He assembles his actors and rehearses with them for six months or more without a final script.  Behaving more like a stage-director than a filmmaker, Leigh has his actors explore their roles in great depth and out of those lengthy interactions, the script emerges.  As a result, Leigh's films seem real, not contrived, and the characters are incredibly believable.  They seem like actual people, not Hollywood constructs.

In "Another Year," this is especially true.  The characters are real and that heightens the drama since you accept their predicaments and conduct as totally believable.  A happy, healthy older married couple interact with their less happy, less healthy co-workers and relatives over the course of a year.  There isn't a plot in the conventional sense; the movie is more like extended character-studies.  The characters, however, are so finely-drawn and deeply sad that you can't avoid caring for them.  One, in particular, is mesmerizing.  I'm referring to Mary (played by Lesley Manville), around whom the movie eventually circles.

As I said, I don't recommend art-films because I don't want to disappoint people who are looking for a conventional experience.  If, however, you're open to art, this film is a good one.


  1. I really liked Happy-Go-Lucky(the only Movie I know from Mike Leigh) so I will take a look at this movies :)

  2. Very good review Ally! I'll definitely watch this!! :)

  3. Great Review! I Love unique movies that other people don't know a lot about.

  4. I love Mike Leigh and Ken Loach films very much. I must see Another Year.

  5. It's so sad that movies are perceived by the public opinion as being entertainment, not art... that makes it difficult for art movies to be produced in this time and age, which is sad. On the other hand, there are already so many good movies from past eras it's not going to get boring any time soon... :) Btw, I watched Fritz Lang's M last night and found it ultimately scary (what is it about ancient thriller/horror/psycho/generally scary movies that makes them so much better than recent ones? Maybe the lack of cliché to build upon? Maybe that they were created as works of art rather than entertainment?). Also by the way, why not try a pleated skirt? I don't see why it wouldn't work for you... maybe high-waisted?

  6. I think you should recommend of the track movies! if you want to see a great one see incendie!

  7. Ditto to poet's post (and M is a fantastic movie!) I actually love slower, character study films like this. People just interest me so much. I enjoy learning about experiences, and what makes them what they are. Unfortunately, I think film is unappreciated in our society in terms of its art potential. It is just seen as silly entertainment. What I find interesting is how many people I know complain about how "dumb" more mainstream movies are, but they make no effort to change what kinds of films they see or demand "better" ones. They may like films like this one, and not even know it. However, this sounds right up my alley. Thanks!!

  8. I don't think I've ever seen an art film before, so I really have no idea if I'd like this type of thing or not. I do like people, though, and I like studying people, so the extended character study comment you made intrigues me. Sad to hear that it didn't make any money, although I'd much rather have my film make no money but have great reviews than the other way around. :D

  9. That movie looks right up my ally, Ally :) I'm going to seek it out.

    I really liked Garden State - which is an indi flick. I still listen to its soundtrack which I bought after seeing the moving and loving the music.

  10. This was one of my favorite Mike Leigh films. It was just so wonderful and sad and inspiring and tragic.

    I loved Secrets and Lies. So amazing.

    Looks like we'll have a lot to discuss over dinner!


  11. I'm a big fan of art films and foreign films as well, and I loved Secrets and Lies -- I'll definitely check this one out. Thanks for the review!