Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the psychological drama “The Lodge,” the poignant Brit com “Military Wives,” the Netflix comedy “The Lovebirds,” the family drama “The Roads Not Taken” and the Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon comedy “The Trip to Greece.”
It would be easy to think that the Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon movies are easy-breezy travelogues with pretty scenery and sumptuous looking food, but they are much more than that. The latest, “The Trip to Greece,” which comes to VOD this week, brings with it all the banter, impressions and eye-catching sights you expect from these movies, but beneath the veneer of laughs lies a story about mortality and legacy.
Ten years after took their first trip together Coogan and Brydon travel from Troy to Ithaca, following in the footsteps of the Odysseus. Under blue skies the pair sparkle, almost as much as the crystal-clear turquoise water that appears in virtually every shot of the movie. From quoting Aristotle’s Poetics and impersonating Dustin Hoffman, to loudly singing 70s Bee Gee tunes and visiting Epidaurus, one of the wonders of the ancient world, they present their patented brand of high-brow and pop cultural references, mixed together in a stew that is as appealing as much of the five star “Top Chef” style food we see them eat on their travels.
“The Trip to Greece” isn’t story-driven as much as it is a snapshot of two people at different places in their lives, brought together by friendship and, amusingly, one-upmanship. The movie works not because we’re waiting breathlessly for a twist or a turn, but because of the chemistry between the two. The stories are fictional—the pair play heightened versions of themselves—but the themes that lie just below their joking—jabs about aging, mortality, neediness and vanity—add depth to what could have been a travel show farce. A subplot about a death in Coogan’s family is unexpectedly touching and never overplayed.
They say “The Trip to Greece” will be the last of these excursions and that’s a shame. Director Michael Winterbottom expertly blends travel, food and heaps of personality into one package that celebrates their friendship while acknowledging that a quick get-a-way can’t solve all your problems at home.
On the May 24, 2020 episode of The Richard Crouse Show we meet comedian and author Mark Critch, photographer Paul Perrier and “The Trip to Greece” star Rob Brydon. Critch talks about life in isolation in Newfoundland, photobombing Justin Trudeau and offering Pamela Anderson $1 million to quit acting. Photographer Paul Perrier talks about “The Mask Project” on Instagram (search thetorontoportrait) and then British comedian Rob Brydon joins us from England to talk about Al Pacino, whether he’s keen to fly on a plane again, meeting Michael Caine, and, of course, the fourth instalment of “The Trip” series, “The Trip to Greece” available this week on VOD.
Listen to the whole thing HERE! (Link coming soon)
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Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit” and the culinary road trip of “The Trip to Spain.”
It’s hard to know exactly how to categorize “The Trip” movies. Since 2010 Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have co-starred in a series of British television travel shows, later cut down to feature length movies for North America.
The first saw the dynamic duo do a restaurant tour of northern England, then came “The trip to Italy” where they followed in the footsteps of early 19th century English poets on the Grand Tour. This time around trade plates of pasta for pintxos and paella in “The trip to Spain.”
The films are semi-fictional ad libbed culinary road trip adventures that have become increasingly melancholy as the odometer clocks each passing mile. They aren’t documentaries nor are they Food Network style travel shows. They are funny, although the laughs are fewer and further a part in the new, but they also contain moments of profound despondency. Sometimes they seem to be little more than a showcase for Coogan and Brydon’s prodigious gifts of celebrity mimicry, other times they are pathos dipped examinations of aging.
The third course on their culinary trip sees these two—imagine an intellectual version of The Two Ronnies—sample the best of Spain’s New Traditional restaurants, take in the sights but they spend most of their time not appreciating the beautiful coastal scenery but hilariously poking fun at a who’s who of Hollywood, including Al Pacino, Sean Connery and Woody Allen.
Wedged between the jokes and Michael Caine impressions is Coogan’s dissatisfaction, both personal and professional. Contrasted with Brydon’s happy family life and career, Coogan’s fear of becoming last week’s news as he enters his fifties gives the film an edge the others haven’t had. That means “The Trip to Spain” isn’t nearly all-out funny as the others, but it does have more substance. The others weren’t exactly empty calories but this one feels weightier.
“The Trip to Spain” features much of the stuff fans expect—Brydon’s “small man in a box” voice makes an appearance and Coogan’s way with words gives us culinary descriptions like, “life affirming butter”—but director Michael Winterbottom is clearly in a Cervantes state of mind as he sets his Don Quixote and Sancho Panza off on a new Spanish adventure.
Four years ago a restaurant tour by two British comedians resulted in one of the most charming films of 2010. “The Trip” was an improvised journey not just through Northern England’s culinary scene but through the psyches of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they comment on life, usually while doing spot-on Michael Caine impressions.
The Michael “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” Caine impressions are back in full force in “The Trip to Italy,” as are the laughs and the self-aware conversations.
This time around Coogan and Brydon rent a Mini Cooper and retrace the steps of the Byron and the other Romantic poets’ grand tour of Italy set to the music of Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill.” They eat, banter and take in the view from Liguria to Capri. Between a hysterical re-imagining of the dialogue from “The Dark Knight Rises”—“I can Hardy understand what Tom’s saying.”—and a one-sided conversation with a preserved corpse in Pompeii, is a study on everything from fatherhood to fame to faithfulness.
Director Michael Winterbottom luxuriates in the chemistry between the two men. They are naturals, an intellectual version of The Two Ronnies, who riff on everything from pop culture hot buttons like Batman and pop music to the carnal exploits of Lord Byron. Their interplay is the key to keeping the rambling narrative on track and it is enough. They are the film’s glue and the sheer joy of watching them spar prevents the film from dipping into self-indulgence. That, and the gorgeous scenery.
“The Trip to Italy” is a riotous comedy that finds time for self-reflection, Roger Moore impressions and the timeless Alanis Morissette vs Avril Lavigne debate and it is intimate and infectious.
A Mighty Heart dramatizes the manhunt launched in Pakistan when jihadists kidnapped Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl in January 2002.
Based on wife Mariane Pearl’s memoir of the same name, the story begins with Pearl and his pregnant wife traveling to Karachi to investigating a possible tie between “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and Sheikh Gilani. Despite repeated warnings to exercise caution and meet the Sheikh, who had connections with radical Islamic groups in the past, in a public place, Pearl is kidnapped and later brutally murdered.
The bulk of the film is Mariane Pearl’s account of the five week investigation that led up to her husband’s death. Call it CSI: Karachi, it is a police procedural with tension, excitement, but most of all, heart.
Director Michael Winterbottom’s gritty style and ever-moving camera gives the film a documentary feel and the sense of urgency of a current news story. Even though we know how the sad saga ends there is never a sense of resignation or inevitability to the story. It feels as though it is unraveling in real time, as if a news crew had unprecedented access to Pearl and the investigation. It’s harrowing, unvarnished stuff, but utterly compelling.
At the center of the film is a barely recognizable Angelina Jolie as Mariane. She is literally in disguise as Pearl’s wife—hair curled tight, minimal make-up and a French/Cuban accent—and leaves the well defined Angelina Jolie persona in the dressing room, handing in a forceful performance (maybe her best ever) that is sure to garner awards.
A Mighty Heart is a demanding film. Unsentimental, yet heartfelt, it manages to deliver emotion and realism without a hint of manipulation on the filmmaker’s part.
The Factory Records scene, born in Manchester, England and home to acts like Joy Division and The Happy Mondays was one of the most vibrant musical movements of the 70s and 80s. English director Michael Winterbottom has documented the rise and fall of the label and its founder Tony Wilson in an interesting, but not entirely successful way in 24 Hour Party People. The film attempts to cover the years 1976 to the early 90s, the birth of punk rock to the waning moments of acid jazz but is too ambitious in its scope. Names and dates are glossed over, and while you get a sense of excitement you’re frequently left wondering what is so exciting. The film takes piercing the fourth wall to a whole new level as Steve Coogan, the English comic who plays Wilson, frequently addresses the camera with asides. “You’ll see more of that scene on the DVD,” he says at one point. Those who aren’t familiar with the Factory Records scene won’t learn much, and those who are won’t learn anything they didn’t already know. I left the theatre with the nagging feeling that this material might have been better served in documentary style, something like Julien Temple’s look at the career and influence of The Sex Pistols The Filth and the Fury.