Blog Archives

The Trip to Italy (2014)

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Since I started blogging a little over a year ago, I’ve been fortunate enough to make a ton of new friends, simply through a reciprocated love of film and television. Additionally, I’ve been given more opportunities to expand my craft and following through new outlets. The Cinematic Katzenjammer and its wonderful staff welcomed me and my contributions with open arms and I am eternally grateful. So please, head on over and check out my latest review, and while you’re there, be sure to have a look around! It’s run on WordPress, so please login and drop a like and/or comment. You can find my review and be redirected to the site by clicking below. Thank you!

The Trip to Italy (2014)

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)

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For those who know me, it’s painfully aware that comedy isn’t exactly my genre of choice when it comes to watching a flick. Well, unless it’s a classic like “Airplane!” or if the laughs are mixed in with other, better genres such as thriller and romance. That being said, Brits seem to have a direct line to my funny bone with films like “Snatch” “The Cornetto Trilogy,” and “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” amongst other countless successes. So, when I heard that long time television character Alan Partridge, one of my all-time favourite television personalities played by the incomparable Steve Coogan was getting a big-screen flick, you can imagine my excitement. “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” met my expectations right where I put them…somewhere in the clouds. It’s a perfect mix of intelligent, witty humour, lowbrow laughs and the occasional emotional strain. However, keep in mind that this kind of hilarity isn’t for everyone…

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Originating as a radio personality created by Coogan himself, Alan Partridge first appeared on the BBC radio 4 programme “On the Hour.” Then, before making the jump to his most successful undertaking, the television show “I’m Alan Partridge,” this satirical, self-made, small-time celebrity really came into form when he lent his expertise to several TV and radio specials. As time passed, Coogan’s wacky, self-obsessed invention grew quite the cult following and became a more elaborate, rooted individual. Delving into a complex family situation, an almost non-existent love/social-life, and bizarre friends and co-workers, the life of Alan Partridge became something much greater and more complex than ever anticipated. He was now as much apart of the real world as he was fiction. Now, here he is, over twenty years down the road and Alan Partridge is still relevant, hilarious, and growing.

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Beginning in 2004, the idea of a Partridge film was very much alive. However, upon suffering numerous setbacks in the writing phase and struggling with delicate content, in addition to Coogan who was unsure if he wanted to continue on with his creation, the film was severely delayed. Nonetheless, it is now 2013 and after a lengthy period of uncertainty, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” hit theatres earlier this year to the acclaim of critics and cult-followers alike. Co-written by Coogan himself and directed by Declan Lowney, this unorthodox hostage flick holds the distinction of being my favourite comedy of the year. Oozing with laughs stemming from humour that ranges from smart to lowbrow, all the way down to pitch-black chuckles, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” delivers the goods. Add in some charismatic performances and satirical undertones directed at our social and political stances, and you’ve got the most successful underdog of the year, in my honest opinion.

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PLOT:

Alan Partridge is content with his DJ position at North Norfolk Digital in Norwich. However, when the station is bought by a multinational conglomerate and the name is changed to “Shape,” Alan’s good friend Pat Farrell begins to fear the worst. After Pat and a few other co-workers convince Alan to discuss business with the station’s new owners and assure their job statuses, Alan’s irrelevance to the situation soon shifts to panic when he figures out that his job might be in question. Upon convincing his superiors to keep him on, Alan accidental on purpose throws someone under the bus. The next day, the fired employee returns and begins to shoot up the workplace and takes hostages. When the police fail to reach a settlement with the perp, Alan is called in to negotiate the standoff.

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As you’ve probably concluded by now, “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” stars the magnificent Steve Coogan, whom I adore dearly. The cast also features Colm Meaney as Pat Farrell, with Felicity Montagu reprising her role as Lynn and Simon Greenall returning as Michael for those familiar with the television show. Make no mistake though, this is the Steve Coogan show. This goes without saying, but to me Coogan is a comedic genius and anytime he gets to flex his acting chops is just an added delight, as those who’ve seen “The Trip” will agree. Coogan struts his stuff in this flick masterfully and I can confidently say that it’s one of his best comedic outings. Colm Meaney plays opposite Coogan here, which is no easy feat. That being said, he does a sublime job matching Coogan joke for joke, laugh for laugh. Honestly, Meaney hasn’t been this effective in years and it’s joyously see him return to form.

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As much as I despise the genre, especially in its current state, everyone needs a good laugh now and again. “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa” is, without question, the funniest film I’ve seen so far this year, and it looks as if it’ll stay that way. It won’t win any Oscars, it won’t even be nominated, but it’s definitely worth the watch and I’ll be sure to pick it up on Bluray when it’s released.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: 9 out of 10.

The Look of Love (2013)

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For the most part, “The Look of Love” is the beneficiary of some fine performances and unwavering chemistry between director Michael Winterbottom and his actors. In majority, the positives outweigh the story’s skeletal simplicity and the second half is a brilliant ending to a beginning that felt almost non-existent. This biopic provides a veritable gaze into the restricted, promiscuous, pornographic world created and lived by Paul Raymond. And although this lifestyle sounds like all fun and games, it proves to be quite the contrast. Shining a harsh, unflinching light upon drug and sex addiction, family struggles, and existence. “The Look of Love” may offer up some shady hilarity and the occasional quip, but nevertheless remains quite potent and disheartening. “The Look of Love’s” beautiful, nostalgic soundtrack, strong performances, and hypnotic camera work are enough to save it from mediocrity and make it recommended viewing.

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Paul Raymond (Coogan) is an adult magazine publisher and entrepreneur. Upon opening a few burlesque houses and touring with a mature show, his fortune beings to explode. Now, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, Raymond begins to fall victim to temptation. With sex and drugs available to him so easily, Raymond eventually parts ways with morality. This causes him to lose his wife Jean (Anna Friel) and puts a serious strain on his relationship with his daughter Debbie (Poots). Raymond is left trying to recoup and reinvent his life, starting with his family.

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This is the fourth time director Michael Winterbottom has collaborated with actor Steve Coogan, who tackles the lead role portraying Paul Raymond. And even though “The Look of Love” is the duo’s weakest effort in a long line of overwhelming successes, the film is a step outside the pair’s comfort zone. So cinephiles, take note that instead of treading warm waters, the formidable twosome opted for a bold, dramatic, and more importantly new direction. I know it is no excuse for the flicks relatively linear and cliched story. Nonetheless, I’d rather applaud them for taking a leap, you know, find solace in the risk. I mean it should assist in the viewer reluctantly coming to terms with “The Look of Love’s” blandness. However, don’t take this dissection the wrong way, it is an entertaining, visceral, and occasionally funny film.

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Winterbottom’s direction is as intoxicating as ever. Consistently throughout “The Look of Love” the viewer is bombarded with a colourfully detailed pallet. Wave upon wave of neon, bright pigmentation, and dreary shades drown each minute making the film a visual feast. Not to mention the paced nudity, physical interactions, and explosiveness of the characters emotional diversity. Winterbottom leaves no stone unturned and captures the film’s limited brilliance with his usual style and exuberance.

There’s no denying that “The Look of Love” draws a substantial amount of its charm and effectiveness from its two main characters ability to bond. Portrayed by the aforementioned Steve Coogan and the lovely Imogen Poots, it’s safe to say the film didn’t suffer from a lack of talent and investment. The two might not have been able to secure the films flimsy structure, but did manage to salvage some treasure amongst the rubble. Imogen Poots rendition of “The Look of Love” is outstanding and continues to affirm her status as a star on the rise. Coogan once again proves that he’s got the chops to hang with the best in the biz and is undoubtedly one of the most underrated actors. He certainly hasn’t lost his flare for wit, humour, and strong emotional output. Sadly, it feels as if the film didn’t take full advantage of Poots and Coogan’s many talents, most importantly, hilarity.

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Although it could’ve been a lot better, “The Look of Love” has a striking cast, firm direction, and enough pull to appease fans of Coogan, Poots, and Winterbottom.

The Look of Love: 7.5 out of 10.

I’m Alan Partridge (1997)

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In anticipation of Alpha Papa, I’ve decided to review and, in a sense, revive this hilarious, yet relatively unknown television show originating in 1997 entitled I’m Alan Partridge. Outlandishly funny, subtly sensitive, and featuring a career defining role for Steve Coogan. I’m Alan Partridge might cater to a certain comedic taste. But the intelligent humour occasionally swaps its satire for idiotic laughs that are sure to please any viewer. The first season original aired on BBC in the year 1997. It then took another five years for the second season to be released, also airing on BBC. Each season consists of six episodes with each running just short of thirty minutes. The show depicts the life of Alan Partridge in his late thirties. Partridge, played by Steve Coogan, is recently divorced and hosts a radio show in the early hours of the morning. Deceptively controversial, intentionally sporadic, and bursting with likeable characters. I’m Alan Partridge is sure to make you laugh out loud and cause your body ache.

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Season 1: In the first season, Alan, recently divorced from his wife Carol, has found residence in the Linton Travel Tavern. He has distanced himself from his kids and currently works for a broadcasting company. Alan’s radio show is entitled “Up with the Partridge.” Aside from his radio show, Alan allows appears in low-profile and weakly funded appearances for various corporations and businesses.

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Season 2: Five years after the first season, Alan has left the tavern and moved into his own house. He continues to host his radio show but it has been moved to the third best time slot available. Alan has released an autobiographical book titled “Bouncing Back.” He lives in a caravan outside of his dream home that is unfinished.

Since its inception, I’m Alan Partridge has received critical acclaim, for example, garnering several BAFTA nominations. However, the surprising number of, not just viewers, but followers, is staggering. Coogan has been able to keep Alan Partridge going for an extended amount of time and make it as fresh as ever. With a strong cult following and a full length feature set for release in 2013, Alan Partridge shows no signs of dying anytime soon. I’ll post the teaser trailer for Alpha Papa at the end of the review.

It is extremely difficult to review a show with such a limited number of chapters, but I digress. I guess this review will have to be short and sweet. Here is a bit of history regarding Alan Partridge. Steve Coogan has been the brains and talent for Alan Partridge for over 20 years. Originating from a radio show called, On the Hour, Coogan has been portraying Partridge since 1991. Appearing in various radio shows, television series, and numerous TV and Radio specials, Coogan has certainly made sure Mr. Partridge has been active.

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I’m Alan Partridge is a clever, witty, hilarious show full of potent, satirical jabs at every facet of our society’s growing fascination with celebrity.

I’m Alan Partridge: 9 out of 10.

Here is the trailer for Alpha Papa.

The Trip (2010)

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The comedy in The Trip is a lot like every other form of humour, dividing and opinion driven. This film is not for everyone. The laughs are evenly spread throughout its hour and forty five minute runtime, with breathtaking views of northern England anchoring a surprisingly melancholic theme. Starring Steven Coogan (Tropic Thunder) and Rob Brydon (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels)  as themselves, the two create tons of electricity thriving off of one another’s constant bid to outperform the other. The Humour is subtle and intelligent in this Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People) directed dramatic comedy. You may or may not laugh out loud, but there is no denying the sorrow and artistic quality behind the hilarious back and fourths.

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Steve Coogan accepts an offer from The Observer, a sunday newspaper,  to tour northern England and review it’s top restaurants for their column. Coogan only takes this job on to impress his current girlfriend. However, when his girlfriend backs out, he is forced to invite his friend Rob Brydon along for the ride. As the journey begins, Brydon and Coogan start to partake in useless and hilarious competitions of creative feats. Throughout the trip, more and more personal details come to the forefront regarding Coogan and Brydon and we are allowed a glimpse into the tribulations of their lives.

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Boasting a highlight reel of precise impressions and awkward banter, The Trip is as funny as it is endearing. As well as shots of immaculate northern England, The Trip uses wit and aura to create a unique cinematic experience. Steve Coogan, in my opinion is one of the most underrated actors in film today and his performance in The Trip verifies my claim. A snippet, no longer then a few minutes of Coogan imitating his travel colleague in a mirror is one of the most honest realizations captured on film. Brydon seizes the chance to strut his stuff and performs admirably alongside Coogan. Winterbottom captures these two comedic men at their best while encompassing human flaws and our strive to do right despite them.

The Trip: 8.5 out of 10.