REVIEW: The Trip

The Trip
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
Written by: N/A
Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Claire Keelan and Margo Stilley

The Trip blends the line of fiction and reality so seamlessly that by the end you’re left uncertain of what you’ve seen.  As it unfolds it is clear that you’re watching a movie, but there’s something different about it.  It could be that there was no actual shooting script and that the actors are playing themselves (in a Curb Your Enthusiasm kind of way), but it’s not just that.

What Michael Winterbottom’s film does so brilliantly is comment on reality with a very close fictional version.  Its comedy is born out of deep personal truth.  This undertaking requires tremendous efforts from the two lead performers, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.  Steve is asked by The Observer to travel around the UK and try the finest restaurants.  His semi-girlfriend backs out, so he asks Rob, who is happily married.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: In the Loop

In the Loop
Directed by: Armando Iannucci
Written by: Jesse Armstrong & Simon Blackwell (screenplay)
Starring: Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, Mimi Kennedy, and James Gandolfini

Britain has always been a step ahead of the United States when it comes to comedy.  More recently, Ricky Gervais bestowed The Office upon the U.K., and we made a spinoff show to great success.  We borrow their premises and develop them into our own context, sometimes losing the laughs along the way.

With In the Loop, though, we find a distinctly British sense of humor unleashed upon the idiots that run both their government and ours.  It’s probably unintentional black irony that this blazing, brilliant political satire is in the vein of the distinctly American Dr. Strangelove. That’s the highest praise that could be awarded to satire, and this movie earns it.

With one of the most brilliant, hilarious screenplays in recent memory, director Armando Iannucci crafts a documentary-like comedy about how we got into the mess in the Persian Gulf.  No real names are named.  In fact, some smart creative liberties were taken, and the film is all the better for it.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Ladykillers

Image courtesy of IMDB

The Ladykillers
Directed by: Joel Coen
Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen (screenplay), William Rose (the original screenplay)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, and J.K. Simmons

Adapting one of the most British films of all time for an American audience is no easy task.  Film makers Joel and Ethan Coen attempt the feat here, succeeding sometimes and falling short the rest of it.

The original film was based in post WW II Britain and centered on a group of criminals from different walks of life robbing a bank and hiding out in the home of a suspicious and nosy old woman.  The caper ultimately fails, ending with the fatalistic death of all of the criminals.

In this new 21st century version, there are still a group of different criminals planning a heist, but it’s now in hurricane-devastated Mississippi.  The American melting pot also applies to the criminals, as they all are extremely different.

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