I guess i’ve been thinking about this/these themes for a while now, and this is just a bit a spill of them all out into some text form, i apologise for any confusion or mistakes, im trying to make this just roll out, maybe it’ll turn into something more comprehensive later down the line.
A little while ago i went to see Mike Leigh‘s latest creation, Another Year, at the GFT with a half price ticket. I wanted to see it mostly because Jim Broadbent has a part in it, and I am a fan of Jim. That’s the only reason i really wanted to see the film. And the reason i did go to see it at all was the half price ticket offer. I do enjoy Mike Leigh films, but I wouldn’t say that the ‘hype’ around the film was why I went to see it, i just enjoy Jim Broadbent’s face. Anyway, I left the film having enjoyed it, and thinking that my mother should see the film and would very much enjoy it, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. But then I began to realise that maybe she would not actually enjoy the film, but why?
The film is typically Mike Leigh, and therefore quite awkwardly intimate and depressive, much too strong a word but I cant think of an appropriate one right now. I know that the facts around the film would not concern my mother, she probably has never heard of Mike Leigh, and possibly not too aware of Jim Broadbent either. So I began to ask myself in what way would my mother view a film, and what way do I view films? What do we look for in cinema? and what are the differences? I immediately decided on the ‘entertainment‘ factor, the visual, aural and spectacle of the occasion. My mother enjoys being entertained in an obvious, visually ‘aggressive’ fashion, to laugh out loud, to be mesmerized or to be entertained. In some way I suppose it’s the notion of being ‘given’, and to ‘take’, without having to work towards your appreciation or enjoyment. Not meaning to cause any offense here, but not to have to be ‘critically’ or ‘intelligently’ engaged. I think with most Mike Leigh films you need to put in a lot of work to get something out, and you wont be so much ‘entertained’ as ‘worked’. I do enjoy films that just give and I take, ‘Blockbusters’, but also I enjoy films which I need to engage with, to disagree with, to fight for or push against, to appreciate and to ‘understand’. I think some people (maybe, if im being overly judgemental, most people) don’t want to have to work to watch films. Sure, we want to be engaged, but we also want to be absorbed by the film, we want to watch illusions, magic on the screen. This is fair enough, we all want to ‘veg-out’ from time to time, but we shouldn’t want this all the time. People will criticise a film if it isn’t a ‘spectacle’, or ‘blockbuster’. But we need to watch films and to understand them, we need to engage with them, we need to be in control, not seduced and dare I say it, brainwashed by them. With ‘Another Year’, Mike Leigh gives us life, maybe our own lives, maybe not, but it is life, and maybe this is depressive, maybe this makes us think about things we dont like to confront; things like the futility of life, the shortness of it, the harshness of it, the everyday ‘normalness’ of it. But these things are things we must confront, we must embrace, so that we may conquer and work past them, to some sort of ‘enlightenment of everyday life‘. This is why I think my mother should see the film, why everyone should see the film, but these people must be aware of the reasons why they should see the film, realise that they should not go into the film expecting to be mesmerized or seduced or spectacularly amazed. They should also not go in thinking that they will get any answers to life, but probably more questions, and they may come out thinking negative, down-at-heel thoughts, but when these thoughts have settled, have mulled, matured over time, that they will understand that the issues ‘Another Year’ confronts us with are not issues to make us feel bad or good about our own lives, but to understand that there is beauty in every persons life, there is lightness in even the darkest eyes, and there are clouds everywhere, no one is perfect, no ones life is perfect, even the ones that think they are or it is, but in order to bring the brightness out of the dark eyes out we must understand these clouds of darkness, and understand the gentility of life, forget our desire to impact the whole world, but just concentrate on the impact we have on our own part of the world. Most people in the world are not ‘famous’, are not ‘celebrities’, are not chased down by paparazzi all the time, fame is not the norm, this is something I think we often forget, we are surrounded by glossy magazines and ‘popularity/talent’ contests, instant fame is achievable, but is not normal, we need to remember that famousness is not normal, is not needed and is not universal. We must live without worrying about our legacy. I think I want my mum to see this film so that it makes her sad, in some way I want her to be upset by it, so that she can think about it and get over her upset. To understand that life is just that. I began by saying I think my mother should see ‘Another Year’ because she would enjoy it, but I have now realised that what I mean to say is that I think she should see it because she won’t enjoy it….