How do you deal with making a film about a daring rescue of a soldier from the enemy camp during the Vietnam War when your cast is a group of over-paid spoilt brat actors who are more interested in their own careers than the film they are working on? Chuck them in a jungle filled with landmines and hidden cameras and see what happens.
I hated this when I first saw it, and there are still several scenes that seriously shat me watching it again, but I can let go of these and enjoyed the rest – the way the characters are set up to be overly earnest, or taking themselves far too seriously beyond what is acceptable, and then to have them called out on this – it’s a film that surprises me by having a layer that I hadn’t really seen first time around. Provided you can get past the dumb bits.
If you don’t know Alan Partridge, you’ve missed the strange creation of Steve Coogan. Once a host of his own chat show, Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge (ah-ha), Alan has fallen from grace and now has an afternoon radio show on North Norfolk Digital with Side Kick Simon (Tim Key), but when it is taken over and another old DJ, Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) is fired, things get messy. Especially when Pat turns up with a rifle, holding the place at siege. Which works well for Alan’s career, if not necessarily his health.
It’s good if you know and like Alan Partridge, but I think I’ve had enough of him. I like Steve Coogan’s work, but I think there is only so much Alan Partridge I can take. It got great reviews at the time, so I’m clearly may be on my own feeling this.
Following from the success of The Trip (2010), Trip to Italy sees Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon paired up again for the Spectator, this time reviewing food and accommodation around Italy. The dynamic has changed between them, with Steve now seeming more settled and Rob more stir crazy, but there is still plenty of playing off each other, especially with impersonations.
I’ve only seen the film version of this, and don’t feel I need to race out to grab the series. I expect I will, they are very funny blokes. And the food. Oh, the food. Wow. Oh, and the views, and the hotels, and the places that I doubt I will ever be able to afford to stay in. Really wonderful.
Steve Coogan has been given a gig travelling the lake districts of England, staying in delightful hotels and eating marvellous food, and all he needs to do is write it up for the Observer. His young American girlfriend can’t make it, and so he invites his mate, fellow comedian Rob Brydon. The two of them have a gentle rivalry and spend much time trying to out-impersonate each other.
There is a lot for a viewer to enjoy about this film. I’m a huge fan of the humour of these guys together, especially when crafted into a cohesive story balancing the laughter with scenes of melancholy. Then there is the scenery, the beautiful places they stay and, of course, the food. Oh, the food.
The Trip can be watched as a six-part television series or has been cut down for a feature film.
Philomena (Judi Dench) became pregnant as a teenager and lived in at Sean Ross Abbey for a while, working off her debt to them for giving them somewhere to live. Then, the baby was adopted out against her will. Years later, her son would have been fifty and she decides she needs to find him. Her daughter bumps into journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) who has been disgraced out of his position advising politicians. Together, Martin and Philomena head off to find the truth.
It’s definitely a good film. Emotional, powerful, worthy. But having recently seen Oranges and Sunshine, I see how much bigger this film could be. Oranges and Sunshine killed me with the trauma presented. But perhaps this is not fair; perhaps the story is not really comparable. It’s worth a watch, but it wasn’t earth shattering.
Philomena was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Judi Dench), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope). It was also nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Judi Dench) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope). Philomena won a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope) and was nominated for the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, Best Film and Best Leading Actress (Judi Dench).