“In The Year of Our Lord 1980″
(Director: James Marsh)
“In The Year of Our Lord 1983″
(Director: Anand Tucker)
What I love about British film making is its commitment to story and character. Naturally, they will churn out the occasional blockbuster but the legacy of classically trained acting has endured from those post-war Ealing Studios comedies (“The Ladykillers”) to the Kitchen Sink dramas with their angry young men (“Look Back in Anger”), and in more recent years, from Merchant Ivory adaptations to the more gritty films of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. No matter, the legacy of English story-telling gives moviegoers something to sink their teeth into. Not to Hollywood-bash – that’s too easy – but it’s hardly a secret that budget and bottom line box office are what drives that machine. And the surest way to bring in the big numbers is to bring out the big name actors. It’s part of our legacy and we do it quite splendidly at times. After a summer or Christmas season one can, however, feel a bit malnourished. That’s why sitting through five hours of the “Red Riding Trilogy”, while difficult at times, was such a breath of fresh air.
The trilogy, which recently enjoyed a run at the IFC Center, looks so authentically like it was filmed in the 1970s or 80s – the time when the three stories take place – you might swear these were thirty-year-old British TV crime dramas. The verisimilitude is also helped along by the absence of name actors. Not to say there aren’t a great many faces any anglophile would recognize but just don’t expect Hugh Grant or Harry Potter to appear. The three films, which work out the intricate truths behind a series of serial killings in the Yorkshire section of England, are brutal and dare you to sit through them in one seating. And you needn’t; you can see them one at a time, (recommended) then go do something more uplifting, like catch “Shutter Island” or “The Wolfman”. Continue reading