49 posts categorized "Cinema"

December 19, 2020

Why The "Trip" Movies Are The Most Sophisticated Modern Day Comedy Franchise

Trip"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana." I’ve watched writer-director Michael Winterbottom’s four “Trip” comedies more than I’ve watched any other films. I’ve streamed them, watching just five or ten minutes at a time, or repeatedly all the way through, to savor every line or lush vista of the films’ stunning locations. The movies have helped me stay rational during the insanity of Donald Trump’s trademarked Covid19 virus era that has no end in sight. I have no plan to ever stop watching the “Trip” films either, so there.


The “Trip” films have taught me things about comedy that I would otherwise not have been privy to, namely how seamlessly such a satisfying comic franchise could be constructed and executed. Coogan and Brydon provide a masterclass in timing. They bounce impressions off one another in an ongoing process of improving their craft as actors of impeccable skills. Coogan plays straight man to Brydon's sidekick relation. Talent is like a nude, you know it when you see it. These are two very talented and hard-working individuals with a knack for naturalism. They make it all look so, so easy.


I can’t say the films are flawless, but most of what I take issue with rests with my own desire for more. I want to see more of the lovely historic locations that Coogan and Brydon go on at length about as if they were tour guides or erudite participants in filmic podcast. I want to see more Russian-doll layering of Brydon and Coogan doing kooky film-within-the-film skits, as when they play Italian Mafioso and Brydon gives Coogan the blade right in the garden, I mean the gut.

Trip_to_italyNow that our bickering, impersonation-prone tour guides (Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon) have taken audiences through the English Midlands, around Italy, off to Spain, and around Greece, their work appears to be done. Michael Winterbottom has stated as much. “Keep ‘em wanting more” is an old entertainment tenant that’s hard to argue with. Still, I wish there could be another installment. Wales perhaps.


Everything about the “Trip” movies is designed to disarm the viewer so that when Steve Coogan, or more frequently Rob Brydon, deliver yet another punishingly funny punchline or hilarious Michael Caine, Robert De Niro, or Sean Connery impression, we bite — hook, line, and sinker.

One of Winterbottom’s many ruses hides in the set-up for our fearless duo’s weeklong vacations that ostensibly come at the behest of The Observer and or The New York Times for a series of restaurant reviews for which only Brydon will do any pen-to-paper work. It sounds plausible enough. Who needs to hunt down any supposed article when we’ve already seen the movie? But if you do go digging on Google, you’ll find out soon enough that no such reviews exist. Winterbottom doesn’t even take a screenwriting credit even though every line of seemingly improvised speech is pre-written. Clever, very clever stuff.


Trip_to_spainThen there’s Coogan and Brydon playing near versions of themselves that seem perfectly appropriate. Coogan is a womanizing narcissist actor who values his seven BAFTA trophies more than his family. Brydon plays the affable but height-challenged light entertainer with a complex or two capable of keeping his egotistical pal in check, at least some of the time.

Herein lies one of the series most invisible comic mechanisms. It seems on face value that Steve Coogan steals the lion’s share of the spotlight away from Rob Brydon, but in reality the comedy is tilted to celebrate Brydon. It’s this well-shrouded element of dramatic tension that allows the films to breathe with serious actorly camaraderie built on mutual respect for craft as it is on compatibility. For as mismatched as Coogan and Brydon might seem, they’re friendship is thoroughly convincing for the compromises that they are willing to make for each other. Their ability to openly criticize one another takes the comedy to another level as well.


Trip_to_greeceIt has taken ten years to complete four “Trip” films. However invisibly Brydon and Coogan prove to have grown as actors and as people, the evidence is in plain view. Their “Trip” characters are driven by a love of world history, literature, celebrities, and film culture that is infectious. Their way of relating to each other, and to the world around them, is endemic of a uniquely male artistic approach to life, travel, food, sex, and to their audience. The jokes can be pointed, and at times on the rare side, but never raw. Michael Winterbottom, Steve Coogan, and Rob Brydon are much too sophisticated for that.    


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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

July 08, 2019

NEW BEVERLY PODCAST —Tarantino Tells Films to See Before July 26th

Cinema is dead. Good thing then that we have Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood" to serve as our mutual cinematic memorial service. QT says this is his last film. There's your proof that Cinema is truly over. I'll never forget meeting Quentin by the press lockers in the Palais in Cannes the day after the premiere of "Reservoir Dogs." I'd slept in my tux the night before when I shook T's hand and told him how his movie had kicked my ass. He said, "that's exactly what I wanted to hear."

Quentin was generous enough to record a three-hour podcast for his L.A. cinema The New Beverly. Check it out! 

QT on Set

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May 26, 2019



Palme d’Or: “Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho


Grand Prix: “Atlantics,” Mati Diop


Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, “Young Ahmed”

Actor: Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”

Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory

Actress: Emily Beecham, “Little Joe”


Jury Prize — TIE: “Les Misérables,” Ladj Ly; “Bacurau,” Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles


Screenplay: Céline Sciamma, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”


Special Mention: “It Must Be Heaven,” Elia Suleiman


Camera d’Or: “Our Mothers,” Cesar Diaz

Short Films Palme d’Or: “The Distance Between the Sky and Us,” Vasilis Kekatos

Short Films Special Mention: “Monster God,” Agustina San Martin

Golden Eye Documentary Prize: “For Sama”


Ecumenical Jury Prize: “Hidden Life,” Terrence Malick

Queer Palm: “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,”  Céline Sciamma


Un Certain Regard Award: “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão,” Karim Aïnouz

Jury Prize: “Fire Will Come,” Oliver Laxe

Fire WIll Come

Best Director: Kantemir Balagov, “Beanpole”

Best Performance: Chiara Mastroianni, “On a Magical Night”

Chiara Mastroianni

Special Jury Prize: Albert Serra, “Liberté”

Special Jury Mention “Joan of Arc,” Bruno Dumont


Coup de Coeur Award: “A Brother’s Love,” Monia Chokri; “The Climb,” Michael Angelo Covino


Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “An Easy Girl,” Rebecca Zlotowski

Une Fille Facile

Europa Cinemas Label: “Alice and the Mayor,” Nicolas Parisier

Illy Short Film Award: “Stay Awake, Be Ready,” An Pham Thien


Nespresso Grand Prize: “I Lost My Body,” Jérémy Clapin

I Lost My Body

Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: César Díaz, “Our Mothers”

GAN Foundation Award for Distribution: The Jokers Films, French distributor for “Vivarium” by Lorcan Finnegan

Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award: Ingvar E. Sigurðsson, “A White, White Day”

Ingvar Sigurdsson

FDC green

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