Reader, you know how Hollywood and the larger/smaller film world that, for most people, is encompassed by the vague term of ‘Hollywood’ has the tendency to put out films with very similar premises at roughly the same time? I know, I know—I’m trying to get better about run-on sentences, but you know. Meh. But, for instance, say there are two end-of-the-world disaster movies coming out at the same time—which there are, like, every other week—or two romantic comedies where friends decide to sleep together against their better judgement or two movies that are totally both about Snow White for some reason. Here, I even just found a Wikipedia page about it, so you know it’s true/made up by someone with way too much time on their hands.
Case in point, last year, I read some really positive press on a small-time, low-budget film being made about a crazy planet that suddenly appears in the night sky and gets closer and closer to Earth, understandably freaking everybody out and particularly affecting the life of the main character, a young blonde woman. Though I didn’t get a chance to catch the movie while it was in theatres, I made a mental note to Netflix it when it made it to DVD.
Recently I followed up on that promise to myself and made sure to put Melancholia—staring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and (oddly) Keifer Sutherland—into our queue.
130 sleepy minutes later, I walked away from the movie a bit perplexed—though the the film was visually engaging, starting off with a prolonged, glacially paced, dreamlike sequence of silent scenes with booming music overlaid, the whole thing struck me as artistic in a forced way, not at all engaging, devoid of a compelling narrative or characters you cared at all about, and really, really slow. And not in a cool ‘new-slow’ movie way.
Katie agreed. Her review—a near-immediate deep sleep.
Cut to (I know, we’re such movie-makers lately) me browsing our queue a few weeks later and, among the recommended releases (nice work, Netflix), finding one I recognized right away—Another Earth, the real highly recommended movie about a fair-haired white lady whose life becomes inexorably intertwined in the fate of a planet moving closer and closer to the Earth. You know. The other one of those that happened to get made that year.
Compared to Melancholia, Another Earth is wildly compelling, wonderfully acted (by lead actor + co-writer, Brit Marling + former Lost ‘Other,’ William Mapother), also beautiful in a much less ‘look at how beautiful this is‘ way, and even starts off in a jarringly explosive manner as compared to Melancholia‘s wordless molasses dream sequence intro. I will give this to them though—Melancholia does have an awesomely designed Web site, somewhat technically reminiscent of another we wrote up last month.
All that is to say—go rent this crazy drama about bizarre planetary discoveries and interpersonal relationships, not that one. Unless you’re just looking to catch up on your sleep or get a glimpse of Kirsten Dunst’s tatas + hoohaw, in which case, have at it!
Below, stills from Another Earth.