9 posts categorized "Comedy"

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.

Trip-to-greece-movie

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.

Trip

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.

Trip

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.

Triptogreece


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


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.    

Trip

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

May 11, 2019

FOCUS ON CANNES 2019: THE CLIMB —MICHAEL ANGELO COVINO

THE CLIMB

"A look at the friendship between two guys that spans over many years." "The Climb" screens in Un Certain Regard.

MICHAEL ANGELO COVINO

"Michael Angelo Covino is an actor and producer, known for Kicks (2016), Hunter Gatherer(2016) and Keep in Touch (2015)."

"Three things I really like in no particular order are tree houses, pizza bagels, and telling stories. Now that I think about it those three go really well together. I also love lakes, and I don't roll on shabbos." —Michael Angelo Covino

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May 01, 2019

FOCUS ON CANNES 2019: JEANNE —BRUNO DUMONT

JEANNE BRUNO DUMONT

"A musical that tells Joan of Arc’s story through her victorious battles against the English, court case and death, burnt at the stake."

BRUNO DUMONT

Man alive! 

Dumont is one of Cinema's most inventive, and innovative, auteurs. Dumont's films transport the viewer to unknown yet familiar dramatic realms where magical realism thrives. "Jeanne" sees Dumont stepping into a musical dialectic that is certain to vibrate with universal energies. As thematically oblique as Dumont's films ("Camille Claudel 1915" or "Slack Bay") might seem on the surface, you can savor filmic satire as theatrically fresh and politically relevant as anything the Group Theater did in American in the '30s. 

Lise Leplat Prudhomme promises a breakout performance in the title role. "Jeanne" is being screened in the festival's Un Certain Regard section.

"Bruno Dumont directed his first feature film at the age of thirty-eight: La vie de Jésus(1996), shot in Bailleul, where he was born. This film earned him immediate acclaim: it was selected for the Director's Fortnight, winning a Caméra d'Or Special Mention. Creating demanding, singular and raw works of cinema, Bruno Dumont returned to Cannes in 1999, in Competition, with L'humanité. He was awarded the Grand Prix and a double Best Performance prize for two of the films non-professional actors."

"Bruno Dumont moved away from Northern France to shoot Twenty-nine Palms in the Californian desert, a road movie that was selected for the Venice Mostra in 2003. In 2006, Flandres, a harsh film about the devastation caused by war, received the Grand Prix at the Festival de Cannes." 

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