Tag Archives: English actors

The Trip: A Short Review

Here’s a little interesting film I enjoyed with my mother and fellow blogger (see the side of my blog for her page) about the wonders of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. In a great move by these two fantastic English actors, a show these two did a few years ago was edited down and turned into a “best of” compilation of their hilarious interactions in this film simply called The Trip. In this movie, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon expand on their characters of a hilarious movie they did quite a while ago, A Cock and Bull Story.

So Steve Coogan is at a lull in his career and decides to take a little break from whatever work may come his way. In order to impress his American girlfriend and try to get some action, he arranges to do a food tour around the U.K. But things go wrong. Coogan’s girlfriend backs out and Steve must find someone to go with him on this restaurant journey. Lo and behold, Rob Brydon an “acting friend” of his agrees to go along. Without any opportunity of furthering his career or relationship with his girlfriend, Steve Coogan must endure a few weeks with what he seems to consider Hell.

Rob and Steve. Psychos.

Let me just start off by saying that the Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon combo is just pure genius. A cynical downer (Coogan) and a middle of the road family man (Brydon) creates someone with nice comments and someone to shoot them down with a negative blaster. What’s more, this movie makes Steve Coogan seem like the crankiest, worst actor of all time. He puts himself in such tense, awkward situations, you ever wonder how he finds women to cheat on his girlfriend with. With his career in the dumps, you can expect absolutely no good ending for Coogan and Co.

Coogan at the crossroads.

But that’s the charm of the English and their humor. Not everything has to end so happy go lucky and perfect. What would be better now would be to watch the show and see how much of a spiral Steve Coogan goes through. (It wouldn’t be much longer than the movie, but it would still be legit.) Where the real humor comes in this film is the impersonations of Rob Brydon. And, not to be outdone, Steve Coogan attempting to correct the impersonations of someone far better than him. The imagined mediocre lives of these two characters comes to fruition as the tale continues to the point where the two are happy to return home more than anything else. And the Michael Caine impression. BEST SCENE EVER.

If you’re a fan of Steven Coogan and his films/shows:

Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge, I’m Alan Partridge, A Cock and Bull Story, Hot Fuzz (cameo), Hamlet 2, Tropic Thunder, or any of Coogan’s Baby Cow production shows,

then definitely check this out. I’m not as familiar with Rob Brydon other than A Cock and Bull Story, but he was well worth the watch for his comedic relief in one of the darker comedies I’ve ever seen. You really have to appreciate the down in the dumps/dump on myself comedy that Steve Coogan exudes. And I do. I find Steve Coogan, as I will review in the future, as one of the funniest men of *gasp* the world. Give him a try, he’s worth it. (And Rob Brydon.) 9.6 out of 10.

Darkest scene ever.

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The Conspirator: 19th Century Courtroom Drama

I didn’t know much about this movie as me and my family sat down to watch this Robert Redford film of drama. I thought, “Hmmm, James McAvoy? Courtroom drama? Civil War Era? I’m in.” Always having had an interest in the courtroom (I love The Rainmaker.) and becoming a lawyer, fighting for equal representation, this movie piqued my interest once again. And the injustice of another trial was the perfect setting for this film of one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.

Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) is a hardened Civil War

Never stop acting, you lovely man you, James McAvoy.

Northerner that has found his place in the martial court of the newly reunited United States of America. Prejudiced like so many against the South, Frederick hesitantly walks through a newly formed Union, as if on eggshells. And then one night it happened.

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) the man who pulled the trigger, escaped on the only bridge opened that night in D.C., and

Some wonderful images from The Conspirator.

was subsequently shot by his pursuers. It was not this man alone though who crafted one of the worst killings of all time. Also implicated were a dozen other men, including one Mrs. Mary Surratt (Robin Wright). It was at her boarding house that those men, with or without her knowledge, plotted a beloved President’s assassination.

In conjunction with Mary Surratt’s case, Aiken must defend a woman who he finds detestable, a Southerner, and do it with all the equality he can muster. With inner turmoil, a D.C. village who outcasts Aiken for his ability to abide by justice for all citizens, and a government attempting to hang a woman out to dry for her boarding house/son’s doing, this film full to the brim with injustice. And like it or not, the ending with frustrate the shizz out of you. And, despite this harrowing fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Just some of the great cast from the movie. Chillin'.

Why, you may ask? The actors. And surprisingly, a bunch of English actors parading about as Northerners and Southerners of America. It appears as if Robert Redford found their caliber of acting to be far better than that of an equally good American counterpart. But that’s besides the point. Let’s talk about James McAvoy. This wonderful actor really took a role that spoke to me and my own beliefs. He attention and hold to justice was admirable and honorable all in one. Despite the persecution he felt from his contemporaries, he fought fairly for Mary Surratt and her unfair incarceration and foreboding hang date. And Robin Wright herself was a beauty to watch on film. Her prim and proper character fought for her son and daughter and the injustice that was done to her was denied until the end.

Other notable people? Of course there are lots. Kevin Kline played a key, behind the scenes role as

Wonderful scenes happened here.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War and initiator of the Mary Surratt trial. He knew his Northern counterparts demanded a scapegoat, some form of justice, and he gave it to them. Tom Wilkinson played the helpless Southern Marlyand lawyer in charge of Mary’s case who had to decline taking it on the grounds of his bias. His noble stature as Reverdy Johnson stood out to me, despite his cowardice. Evan Rachel Wood played a solidly respectable Anna Surratt, the daughter and poorly mistreated girl that Aiken came to respect despite her ability to turn in her brother. And Danny Huston played a fantastic antagonist as Joseph Holt, the prosecuting attorney and lowlife scoundrel.

A film to be remembered.

The list goes on as is expected from a Redford backed film, and I appreciated the attention to detail in costume, characters, and time period. For the love of God, we must talk about the lighting! It was superb. If any detail in a time period without electricity needed paying attention to, it was this. The lighting in this film blew me out of the water. It literally blew my mind how a film could still function with minimal lighting and dust floating through the air, and make it seem so so so so so authentic. It was superb and caught all of my attention, as if the trial was taking place just right in front of me. The town felt like a suburb of D.C., and all actors carried resemblances of their Civil War characters. If any period piece film about the Civil War need be watched other than Glory (that most important #1), it should be this one. 9.5 out of 10.


Paul

The second I saw this movie was coming out, I got really excited. I’ve seen Simon Pegg’s show Spaced, I’ve seen both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this was just gonna be another winner to add to the list. Not quite. It was quite good, but this had a different feel to it than the other Pegg/Frost collaborations did. Paul is not quite the movie you’d expect from these two, but it had all the things that Simon Pegg loves: Star Wars and aliens.

Paul is the story of an alien (Seth Rogen) who comes crashing (or exploding rather) into Graeme Willy’s (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings’ (Nick Frost) lives. On a road trip around America after Comic Con, Graeme and Willy find that the alien trip they planned through the midwest would be more real than they could ever imagine. Getting into trouble one after another, Graeme and Clive meet an all-star cast along the way in what I could only describe as England vs. America with E.T.

First things first. ACTING. Yes, this movie has quite an extensive cast with cameos and guest stars all over the place. First we got Jeffrey Tambor (Yes, Arrested Development. Best.) as Shadowchild, a sci-fi writer with an ego and O.C.D. problem. Jane Lynch as the alien truck-stop waitress who pops in and out from time to time. David Koechner as the redneck anti-queer (really breaking away from his role as Hannah Montana’s uncle). Jason Bateman as the surly F.B.I. agent out to get Paul (quite funny), along with Bill Hader (one of my favorite SNL guys) and Joe Lo Truglio as the bumbling idiot agents who kind of mess everything up but are quite funny. Also Kristen Wiig (annoying) but actually not that bad in this film. I’ve always found she’s more bearable in films than SNL.Yes, that’s quite a laundry list of actors that have the potential to make a movie funny. Bravo.

Simon and Nick. Just some Comic Con goers.

This movie is also a break directing wise from the usual. Instead of the great Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. How amazing.) we have Greg Mottola (Superbad and Adventureland. Two terrible one word movies.) This really disappointed me. A lot. It gave a different feel to the movie that, frankly, wasn’t all that good at all. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work well together with other English actors. A lot of the humor in this movie comes from the supporting cast. This saddens me. That’s what made Shaun and Hot Fuzz so great. Edgard Wright (He failed at Scott Pilgrim. Check my blog.), English supporting cast, with Pegg and Frost as the driving forces behind the comedy. Bad form.

But that’s not to say this movie isn’t that good. It has its own genuine feel to it that is still quite funny. All of the supporting cast is quite funny American actors. It’s written by Simon and Nick. It’s their brainchild. The thing that ruins it for me is it doesn’t have the choppy, sporadic, English humor you come to expect from them. You could say that’s probably because it’s not Edgar Wright driving the project from behind the camera. Sad, I know, but still.

I was also surprised how sub par the special effects were in this movie. Maybe it was to give it an E.T. feeling, but maybe it’s just the production value that lacked in the making of the film. Paul wasn’t as real looking as I expected for a 2011 film, the spaceship and such felt unrealistic. The stunts were fine, it was just everything else that threw off the movie for me. Maybe another thing that affected me was my movie watching experience. It wasn’t the audience, it was the theater (Thanks, Regal Cinemas 14). The projection was out of wack, all of the lettering in the film was hard to look at. The lights came on in the theater 30 minutes before the movie was over. It kind of ruined it for me. But besides that, the movie was good (Wow, I just complained a lot…)

I still think this movie is worth watching. If you’re ever in the mood for a pretty good alien comedy, please see this movie. Simon and Nick need all the support they can to become really big in America, and I know they already kinda are, but they need everybody behind them to help Americans realize that they’re just as good as actors are here. (Certainly better than Matthew McConaughey or Brad Pitt. Come on… Although Lincoln Lawyer might be good…) So please go see Paul. It’s definitely worth a watch. 7.8 out of 10.