Another Year Directed by: Mike Leigh Written by: Mike Leigh (screenplay) Starring: Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, and Oliver Maltman
Ordinary life is delicate business, or so Mike Leigh wants you to think in his latest film. Another Year and its cast of aging characters are both intimately familiar and lived in, and yet like nothing you’ve ever seen. Leigh shows us happiness at its most stable and misery at its most crippling, usually in the same scene.
He does this chiefly through Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen), a happily married couple who are used to each other and the joke that their names often bring out in people. Their life together, though, is something they take seriously. Using their house as a kind of fortress from sadness, Leigh takes us through a year in their lives and the lives of those closest to them. We begin in spring and end in winter; life to death. It sounds more dramatic than it is.
Happy-Go-Lucky Directed by: Mike Leigh Written by: Mike Leigh Starring: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman, and Karina Fernandez
Impossible would be one way to describe Poppy (Sally Hawkins), the flamboyantly optimistic center of Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky. With that one word, you can take her as impossibly happy, annoying, or over the top. She is all of these things and more, as you and she both learn during the course of this off-beat life lesson comedy.
Hawkins and Leigh both approach this complicated woman with true zest and unapologetic heart. This performance is a work of art inspired by a terrific actress and this director’s unique method. Leigh casts his movies with only story in mind, and then works with his actors to craft improvised moments and write out the actual screenplay.
With The Social Network and Let Me In giving movie-goers some anti-summer entertainment to look forward to this weekend, we thought it’d be a good idea to map out what the rest of 2010 will look like at the movies. Here is our list of the 10 movies we think will matter the rest of the year.
Black Swan(Dec. 1)– Darren Aronofsky follows up The Wrestler with another behind the scenes plunge into the dark depths of competitive sports. This time it’s Natalie Portman in the lead, playing a ballerina in a a gruelingly competitive production of Swan Lake. When Mila Kunis comes in as a the new kid on the block, the game is on. That makes it sound like Step Up, but from trailer, which shows Portman sprouting feathers and red eyes, it will be decidedly weirder. Aronofsky knows his way around pitch black, and has a knack for turning misery into beauty. Expect nothing less here.
True Grit (Dec. 25)– What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a Coen Brothers movie? They team up with Jeff Bridges again, this time to remake the western that won John Wayne his Oscar. However, the brothers list the novel as their main source of inspiration because of its quick dialogue as well as the premise. A daughter (newcomer Hailee Steinfield) sets out to apprehend her father’s killer with the help of a stubborn marshal (Bridges.) The movie also features Matt Damon as a ranger accompanying the two and Josh Brolin as the killer. With a remarkable cast like this, and the success they had adapting No Country for Old Men, it’s hard not to be excited about this one.