Friday, July 22, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
If the idea of going on a minibreak with Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon and Michael Winterbottom sounds like your cup of crazy, then run, don’t walk, to see The Trip. Fans of Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (and if you haven’t seen this gem, rectify the situation, immediately) will know just with they’re in for: Coogan and Brydon playing semi-fictionalised versions of themselves, with all manner of lightening quick banter and gut-busting giggles to follow.
Winterbottom throws the friends together by way of a road movie-cum-food odyssey, which provides a loose structure for what is essentially a string of uproariously silly conversations, hilarious impressions and, most curiously, a fair bit of navel gazing. Coogan has been commissioned by The Observer to write an article on his gourmet travels through Wordsworth and Coleridge country, but when his girlfriend ditches him, Coogan deigns to awkwardly invite his work colleague, Brydon.
The odd couple then set off – mostly scriptless and definitely sat-nav-less – into England’s windswept north, stopping to sample various sumptuous tasting menus, stay in quaint hotels and pay their respects to the great poets. Coogan also finds the time to pays his respects to a couple of local lasses, but his heart, like his girlfriend and his oft-ringing agent, remains tied to LA.
It’s clear the foodie aspect has taken a back seat in the theatrical cut of this original six-part mini-series. Instead Winterbottom focuses on the comically competitive, shamelessly bickering friendship between his two leads, as well as mining the surprisingly emotional vein of Coogan’s midlife and floundering-career crisis. Was Alan Partridge really Coogan’s comedic zenith? Brydon’s frequent needling and Coogan’s wounded retorts would certainly suggest so. Here the film’s deft mixture of fiction and fact bleed so painfully well together that Coogan very nearly transforms into a tragic hero.
For impersonations aside (and by god there are a lot of impersonations!) The Trip is actually a much more affecting as a stumbling journey of self-discovery. Winterbottom swiftly moves beyond comparing their careers - Alan Partridge with Small Man in a Box, or who does the better Michael Caine – to a revealing juxtaposition of Coogan’s state of protracted bachelorhood with Brydon’s jocular marriage and new fatherhood. Further parallels are drawn between Coleridge and the idea of domesticity stifling creative life, a question underscored by Coogan’s palpable anxiety about his waning career.
If that all sounds rather dour, then rest assured there’s more than enough bone dry wit, and potentially too many Pacino, De Niro, Connery, Hopkins and Caine impressions to sweeten The Trip. Moreover, there’s just something bewitchingly satisfying about watching two friends and master comedians riff with each other. Alan Partridge’s shadow may be a long one, but with the help of Brydon, Coogan more than shows the old dog has a lot of tricks left in him yet.
- four stars
Published on TheVine
Australian release date: 30 June 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Impeccably crafted and exquisitely disquieting, Sleeping Beauty heralds not only an exciting new filmmaking talent, but perhaps also Australian cinema’s next agent provocateur. This debut by novelist turned filmmaker Julia Leigh will undoubtedly prove a polarising affair. Her clinical command of the screen, coupled with the erotic subject matter may be deemed as pretentious by some and enthralling by others.
Emily Browning is beautifully opaque as Lucy, a financially strapped university student juggling menial jobs. She takes on a silver service waitressing job, which starts her down the path toward a much more radical form of ‘servitude.’ Rachael Blake and Ewen Leslie are both striking as Lucy’s employer and friend respectively; each playing out a different fantasy with Lucy curiously complicit.
Stripped of its Disney gloss, this Sleeping Beauty confronts with an austere and unforgiving voyeurism. But if Leigh errs in her rapid conclusion, then at least there’s no saccharine coda to dilute what is a truly jaw dropping debut.
4 ½ Stars
Australian release date: 23 June 2011
UK release date: 14 October 2011
US release date: 28 October 2011 (limited)
Sleeping Beauty from Pollen Digital on Vimeo.
Friday, July 15, 2011
The end is upon us! Giles Hardie, Patch Kolan and I are over on The Movie Club chatting about the final Harry Potter film. Ok, we're really gushing about it, and looking a little silly in the process as we don the special-release 3D glasses.
Click play (or HERE) to head over and view the video:
It's also exciting to note that changes are afoot over on The Movie Club, with exiting host Michael Adams' shoes proving too large to fill! Instead Showtime has opted to rotate a group of hosts, and in the process amp up the club atmosphere. I'm thrilled to have been asked to be one of the team, and I'm looking forward to (read: trying not to get too nervous about) hosting my first episodes in a couple of weeks.
You can find out more and join the club over on our newly launched Facebook page.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Here's last Friday's film chat with Deborah Cameron. I got to indulge my inner history geek with Mozart's Sister and busted out a bad Irish accent to review the wedding farce Happy Ever Afters:
ABC702 Review 3 by alicetynan