The Alcohol Years DVD

Carol Morley, 2000-2004

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7 Reviews // 1 List

Film Details

Directed by Carol Morley

Produced in 2000-2004

Main Language - English

Countries & Regions - British Film

MovieMail's Review

If one of the banner developments in documentary filmmaking over the past two decades has been the irresistible rise of the on-screen character auteur - Nick Broomfield bumbling across the front line, Michael Moore blowing his bugle close on behind - then Carol Morley's self-investigative featurette The Alcohol Years serves as some kind of reaction. Not that she comes across as any kind of retiring figure - “I'm sure you just thought about yourself every waking minute,” she's told up front by the film's very second interviewee, who talks of her as “this ‘Carol Morley’ kind of creation” - but she only ever appears on film half-masked by a camera, miming her former self for the film's reconstructions, or acting up in old snapshots. Recollected by old friends and play-things, the creation in question filtered through their memories of their perceptions, framed in turn by the present-day Morley's montage. The effect is like watching a cinematic back-projection beamed through a hall of mirrors.
Made the year before Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People, the film occupies Manchester's wilderness years in between punk and acid house; Morley spent her wild teens there, drinking, shagging, rock 'n' rolling and just hanging on. Eventually she left, her memories apparently addled and abandoned, either through chemical abuse or perhaps convenience; like Richard Jobson's 16 Years of Alcohol, The Alcohol Years isn't a really booze movie, but treats the drink as a cypher for the breach between our ideal selves and the troubled lives we trail. Morley says she made the film to fill in the gaps in her own recollection, but she's hit on a bigger story - of female promiscuity and identity, provincial and generational prickliness and the persistence of punk.
On the DVD Morley submits her own perspective in yet another layer of interpretation on the commentary track. It certainly makes a handy cheat-sheet for the film's range of otherwise unidentified interviewees, who range from the Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley and Hacienda's Dave Haslam to Morley's ex band buddy Debby Turner and Nico's former manager Alan Wise. Also on the disc are two of Morley's subsequent shorts - Everyday Something, a John Peel-narrated snapshot collage of low-lying idiosyncracy going on psychosis, and Stalin My Neighbour, following an East Londoner's twitchy local history tour as she tries to evade the director's inquiries into her own traumatised past.

on 10th March 2005

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Film Description

The Alcohol Years is a poetic retrieval of the drunken and promiscuous life Carol Morley spent in Manchester in the 1980s when she was a habitue of the club scene there just when the city's musical and cultural scene was taking off.

Nominated for a Bafta, The Alcohol Years won the award for Best Documentary at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Also includes the short films Everyday Something - narrated by John Peel, and Stalin My Neighbour.

'Compelling... uproarious... heartbreaking...' - UNCUT ****; 'Of all the memoirs and mythmaps that have been generated by Manchester’s music scene, few could be as raw as Carol Morley’s wretchedly poignant film documentary' - Dazed and Confused.

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Publisher: FILM

Length: 79 mins

Format: DVD Colour

Region: 0

Released: 6th April 2010

Cat No: FILM001X

DVD Extras

  • Director's commentary for The Alcohol Years
  • Bonus short films: Everyday Something and Stalin My Neighbour.

Film Stills

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Community Reviews

by Anon on 8th January 2008

The Alcohol Years is a frank, intimate and funny documentary of the years Carol Morley spent in Manchester and the Haçienda club in the 1980s, the era of New Order and... Read on

by Anon on 25th April 2005

The inaugural release of Film First, The Alcohol Years isn’t the most obvious of choices with which to launch a new DVD label. Though a hit at festivals, the 50 minute... Read on

by Anon on 10th March 2005

Morley’s wonderfully frank and intimate film study of the person she once was.... The film pushes even the most liberated among us to confront our own boundaries of wh... Read on

by Anon on 10th March 2005

Of all the memoirs and mythmaps that have been generated by Manchester’s music scene, few could be as raw as Carol Morley’s wretchedly poignant film documentary, The A... Read on

by Anon on 10th March 2005

Morley's brutally honest approach isn't really about pop psychology or self aggrandisement. She knows her personal downward spiral is as compelling as a car crash, ... Read on

by Anon on 27th October 2004

Everyday Something shows that reality is strange, returning to that old adage 'truth is stranger than fiction'. Based on a selection of newspaper clippings collected b... Read on

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