Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” a ensemble drama about a happily married couple (now when’s the last time you saw a movie like that?), screened at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend to much acclaim and was quickly picked up for U.S. distribution by Sony Pictures Classics, which will likely release it in theaters late in the year in time for Oscar consideration. Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Oliver Maltman and Lesley Manville star in the film. Leigh, a Brit, is a unique and fascinating filmmaker who creates his film’s screenplays entirely through elaborate sessions of improvisations with his actors. “Secrets and Lies,” one of his best-known films, explored the troubled reunion of a mother and her birth daughter, now a stranger; “Vera Drake” showcased a brilliant performance by Imelda Staunton as a motherly 1950s lady who performed illegal abortions. My favorite, though, is “Topsy-Turvy,” the 1999 Gilbert & Sullivan film that follows the duo through the creation of their comic opera “The Mikado.” The film, more than any other that I can think of, uses a wealth of detail to beautifully convey what Stephen Sondheim has called “the art of making art.” Here’s a charming scene from “Topsy-Turvy,” as Gilbert (Broadbent) calls up the theater to inquire about the previous evening’s box-office.
May 19, 2010 at 1:57 PM