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Rules Don’t Apply – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Jack Reacher Never Go Back35

Howard Hughes is one of the most interesting people in American history.  Aviator, inventor, filmmaker, and possibly insane, Rules Don’t Apply opens with a packed newsroom awaiting a phone call from Hughes (Warren Beatty) who has holed up in an Mexican hotel room, to debunk a tell-all book about him, and prove to the world that he is still alive, and that he is not crazy.  The film then jumps back in time and tells us the story of hired driver Frank (Alden Ehrenreich), and one of Hughes’ contract actresses, Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins).  Hughes of course has a strict no dating policy between his drivers and his contract actresses, but naturally sparks fly between the two, but ambitions on both sides get in the way. 

She wants to be an actress, he wants to invest and develop land with Hughes.  Both want to meet their reclusive boss, and when he does arrive on the scene and each does get to meet him, things get a little crazier and a lot more complicated.  Beatty’s Hughes is a character I’d love to meet.  He was a bit nuts, but often times he was still the smartest man in the room.

The film was enjoyable, both as a look at a bygone Hollywood age, and as a fictional biopic of Howard Hughes.  Warren Beatty really stood out in the film, which is not surprising as he was screenwriter, director and star.  That aside, his performance really was excellent.  He walked a fine line between sanity and insanity, between genius and insanity. The film almost felt like Sunset Boulevard with Howard Hughes instead of Norma Desmond.  Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) had great chemistry with everybody, and I really enjoyed her singing too.  The film really brought together a great cast including Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Candice Bergen and Oliver Platt among others.

At times I do think that the film lost it’s course a bit and couldn’t decide if it was supposed to be a comedy or a dramatic tragedy, but overall the story was light and it was enjoyable.  The pieces they chose to show of Hughes’ life were interesting and they even managed to throw a few twists in that I did not see coming.

Bottom Line: I thought I should watch The Aviator to get some more Howard Hughes, but I decided to watch The Rocketeer instead.  I love The Rocketeer!


The Trip To Italy – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

The Trip To Italy3 Stars

While I really enjoyed 2010’s The Trip, I found The Trip to Italy to be just “more of the same”.  I laughed a lot and I laughed well, but not as often as at the original.  Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are on the road again to sample and review restaurant foods for a newspaper, tell jokes, and do impressions, this time in Italy.  I really enjoy both actors, and they get to showcase their improv and impression talents once again.  The two seemed this time to have swapped positions since the first Trip.  Brydon is now unhappy in a marriage that looked very solid before, and Coogan looking the more sympathetic character who wants to connect more with his son.  Unfortunately, the “story” of these fictionalized versions of Brydon and Coogan runs out of steam and can’t carry the film the way it did before.  The main strength of the film is still the chemistry between Coogan and Brydon.

If you loved the first one, watch the second, you’ll like it a lot.  If you only liked the first Trip, you can probably skip the second and get away with cruising YouTube for clips.  Of course, if you didn’t like the first film at all, stay away from the sequel.  Though I really shouldn’t have to tell you that.

Bottom Line:  I found the first Trip to be very fresh, spontaneous and original, this time it was still funny, but seemed watered down and too scripted.

Alan Partridge – DVD review 4/5 stars

Product Details4 Stars

Hilarious, absolutely hilarious.  I really enjoyed Alan Partridge.   Steve Coogan has been playing Alan Partridge on television on and off since the mid 1990s, but if you don’t know who Alan Partridge is don’t let that discourage you from watching this movie!  The film introduces a  character that is both familiar to the fans but also entirely accessible to those who are meeting Alan him for the first time, and making a film about a television character can be trickier than just making a stand alone comedy.  Sometimes you just get a repackaging of things already done in the shows, like Borat which can make it boring for the real fans, you do have to serve the fans, but it can’t just be for them.  Fortunately Alan Partridge (originally titled Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa in the UK) is a fairly easy watch and quickly explains everything you need to know about Alan Partridge.

Alan Partridge is a rather inept, self-important TV interviewer turned small-time radio DJ.  When the small station in North Norfolk he works for is bought out by a larger media conglomerate Partridge and his fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) discover that one of them is about to be fired.  Partridge crashes the new executives meeting and successfully pleads the case for Farrell’s firing instead of his own.  Farrell crashes the re-launch party and holds the station’s staff hostage, inadvertently making his trusted friend Partridge the siege negotiator for the police.

This was a full blown British farce film; a bit of slapstick, some broad humour, a bit of a chase, and naturally clever dialogue.  Steve Coogan exudes comedic talent and knows how to make a funny, entertaining movie that never seems like he is milking his Alan Partridge character at all.  Colm Meaney, probably best know as Chief O’Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was brilliant as he walked the fine line between menacing and hilarious.

Bottom Line: as I did a bit of Steve Coogan research for this post I found out that The Trip is having a sequel this summer, The Trip to Italy.  Looks good to me.

The Trip

Product Details3.5 Stars

So I watched The Trip last night, and was working away on my review.  I had hit around 550 words or so, and then someone else hit a pole outside my building.  The power went out, with chainsaws buzzing around 3:00 am, and electricity finally restored around 5:30 am, I soon discovered that the “auto-backup-draft” feature here was not working.  Trust me, what I had written last night was GOLD.  We’re talking prize-winning stuff…sadly, I’ll never be able to recreate that magic, so here comes “take two”…

The Trip, features comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, who previously worked together in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, again with director Michael Winterbottom.  This time out, they are playing fictionalized versions themselves, in an interesting cross between improve comedy and mock-umentary filmmaking.  The Trip was originally filmed as a television series for the BBC, but was trimmed down from six half-hour episodes to one 107 minute feature.

Steve Coogan has been recruited by The Observer to review several restaurants in Northern England, over the span of a week long road trip.  The plan was for Steve and his girlfriend to travel the English countryside, enjoy the sites, and enjoy the food.  Unfortunately Steve and his girlfriend are on “hiatus”, so Steve calls Rob Brydon to accompany him on the trip.  Why Rob?  Well they worked together before, and everyone else he called was busy.  Steve and Rob travel the countryside, showing us the sites, the food, bantering back and forth and serving up a deliciously witty bit of British humour for our enjoyment.

Each day was originally a separate episode, and featured a different restaurant, and the film basically separates them as well.  Each day basically features some travel, some food/restaurant scenes and some English scenery.  Occasionally, we are introduced to a day by one of Steve’s dreams, which really are funny, and show that the movie was somewhat plotted, even if it was not scripted.  Drama is added to the film as we see Rob call home to talk to his wife, or Steve contact his US agent, his estranged girlfriend and even his son.

Both men are recognized comedians in their native land; though Coogan has received more North American exposure; and both excel at impressions.  Throughout the film we are treated to their impressions of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Richard Burton, Hugh Grant, Anthony Hopkins, Ian McKellen, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, and even duelling Michael Caines.  The restaurant scenes where they critique and compare impressions are hilarious.

While the dialogue throughout the film is sharp and witty, my favourite parts took place on the road.  These parts showed how well these two friends played off each other, and showed realistic road trip dialogue.  They sing along to songs, they make up their own, and have the kind of candid discussions and made up conversations and skits we all have as we take  along trip with our friends.

The Trip was a highly enjoyable, and I would say definitely worth the watch.  I had much more to say about it, but the hour is late, and we rise at 9:30….ish

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