Monday, March 14, 2011


“ANOTHER YEAR” (Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen & Lesley Manville)

A British ‘Dramedy’, this film tells the tale of a year in the life of an elderly couple, Tom & Gerri (Jim Broadbent & Ruth Sheen)
‘Another Year’ is a character driven story that goes absolutely nowhere.
Tom has a rather boring job testing the ground for construction sites. Gerri’s job as a hospital therapist is somewhat more interesting, but after the opening scenes, it is never brought into the script again – which was also frustrating because Imelda Staunton appears in the first two scenes explaining how she is unable to sleep. Several reasons are given as to why this is happening but her character’s dilemma is never resolved – in fact her character exits the film after appearing to be the main focus of the story.
Tom and Gerri have a son, Joe (Oliver Maltman) Joe is a nice guy in his early thirties. Joe rides his bike a lot. Joe is dull.
Gerri has a man-hungry spinster friend named Mary. Now, Mary is clearly the most interesting character and actress Lesley Manville gives an impressive performance, but we soon discover that Mary is a pathetic drunk. Mary shuns the advances of Tom’s friend Ken (Peter Wight), an overweight, closer to her own age drunk in hopes that half her age, not all that slobby looking Joe will look upon her as girlfriend material instead ‘drunk old (psuedo) Aunt Mary.’ Joe is polite towards Mary basically out of pity, but Mary doesn’t ‘get’ it.
‘Another Year’ is divided up into four segments, Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter.
I’m sure I’m not the only one in the audience that was hoping that it started with Winter and that Autumn would be the last season, but no, this uneventful story plods on & on with the audience sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for something interesting, unusual or strange to happen to these people.
Mary drops by unexpectedly when Tom & Gerri are out and Tom’s recently widowed brother Ronny (David Bradley) lets her inside. I thought, ‘OK, this is it – This is what all the boredom has been leading to – either Ronny is going to snap (due to grief) because Mary starts flirting with him and kill her; or Mary is going to snap & rape Ronny. Either way, I felt sure that something dramatically weird was going to happen... finally!
I can’t say I was disappointed when the screen went black because, at least, we were all put out of our misery. Still, I felt cheated by the fact that NOTHING out of the ordinary happens to these people. In fact, I started thinking of better titles for the movie & the one I came up with was, “Another Year In The Lives Of Ordinary People Having Ordinary Conversations About Their Ordinary Lives” . . . Ordinarily, I’d avoid a film with that title. So I guess that’s why they just cut if off at ‘Another Year’. But that’s ALL it is, ‘JUST’ another year in the life of a likable older couple & their uninteresting friends and relatives. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good character study – but in order to make characters come alive, something interesting has to happen to them and NOTHING INTERESTING happens to these nice people. They simply sit around and talk about food, the weather, driving a car versus taking public transportation and how dull their lives are... Oh, and wine – Lots & Lots & Lots of wine! It seemed like in every season there was an elongated scene involving the discussion of what each character felt like drinking;
“Tea, Mary? Or perhaps a spot of Chablis?” “Feel like a cup of coffee, Ken? We also have beer and wine.” “What are you drinking today, Ronny; how about a glass of Chardonnay?”
The female members of our party got off easy – they both fell asleep. While Alan Smithee (Who has come to his senses and is back to agreeing with me) & I kept our eyes glued to the screen, begging for a morsel of memorable dialogue, only to be rebuked by this Oscar nominated script for best original screenplay time & time again. And it wasn’t easy to keep your eyes on the screen at the luxurious Grand Theatre in Tacoma, since every time someone got up to use the bathroom, the screen would turn completely white when they opened the door (& when they returned!)
The label ‘dramedy’ is a misnomer here since there isn’t any dramatic moments and the comedic bits were a limited number of titters and maybe a chuckle or two.
When ‘Inception’ finally ended, I was of the opinion that the audience agreed with me that is was a boring piece of feces since no one left the theatre showing any kind of pleasure. As the crowd exited ‘Another Year’one man said to another, “I liked the first hour fine, but I found the last three to be quite boring.”
It isn't crap, like 'Inception'; the film is nicely acted, but dull. Even the drunks are friendly, but dull. And it seemed to have a running time of infinity. Once again, the viewing audience (& Alan Smithee) agrees with me.
All is right with the world.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


“The DILEMMA” (Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder & Channing Tatum)

The most interesting thing about this film is the plot – or the concept of the plot, to be more precise. I’ve been in similar predicaments a few times in my life. Fortunately my dilemmas weren’t hampered by Vince Vaughn’s foolish antics. On one side you might argue that my dilemmas were void of any humor... Ron Howard’s ‘comedy’ dilemma doesn’t have much of it either.
That’s not to say it isn’t worth viewing – my wife and I had a lengthy conversation about our personal dilemmas, and after 16 years of marriage, lengthy conversations are a rare commodity. I plan to use it as a conversation starter when we’re out with other couples – asking ‘what would YOU do?’
What Vince Vaughn’s Ronny does is go way overboard in both spying on his best friend’s wife (Winona Ryder as Geneva) and agonizing over when, where & how to tell his buddy and business partner Nick (Kevin James) that his wife is cheating on him.
The subplot of Ronny & Nick’s idea to develop an electric engine that makes a loud annoying rumble was so stupid it detracted from the dilemmas dilemma.
Now, Winona isn’t the sexiest actress alive (or even in the top 50) but it made as much sense that she would marry a homely lardball like Nick as it did that Channing Tatum (as the ‘other’ man, Zip) would find her attractive enough to start a relationship with. Why Ronny acts shocked and appalled when he discovers Geneva making out with Zip is laughable – she’s married to Kevin James and Channing Tatum comes onto her; what a dilemma! Do I remain faithful to my bad boxer-faced obese husband or have an affair with this dopey hunk? Well, DUH!
The one relatively interesting aspect of this dilemma is Ronny’s relationship with girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly) In his pursuit to force Geneva to confess her affair to Nick he drives a wedge between himself and the woman he wants to become his bride.
'The Dilemma' was advertised as a comedy & that is very misleading; it isn't an awful film, but as my wife said, "I was hoping to laugh once or twice."
Vince Vaughn’s rambling speeches should have died an agonizing death after ‘Couples’ Retreat’, but here he is again, babbling in the exact same manner he has in the last 4 or 5 films he’s been in.
I recently pointed out that Owen Wilson broke his string of bad comedies (Marley & Me
being an exception) with the dumb but funny ‘Hall Pass’, but ‘Wedding Crashers’ co-star Vaughn’s streak continues to grow...
In an elongated scene involving Ronny confronting Zip both characters are made to look childish, violent & stupid - but in a pathetic way, not in a humorous way.
Like I said, the best part of this film is the conversations it should stir up AFTER it is over. So wait to rent the DVD and invite a couple of couples over and relish in the ‘real’ stories your friends tell because this one isn’t even worth discussing...