Screening Room: ‘The Trip to Greece’

A decade after The Trip introduced the concept of a couple comics japing around as they touristed and ate delicate foods, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have returned for the fourth and last entry in this surprisingly durable series.

The Trip to Greece opens this Friday. My review is at The Playlist:

There are many viewers who, upon hearing that “The Trip to Greece” is very much like the three previous entries in Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s comic culinary road trip flicks, will be not disappointed but absolutely delighted. Given the current state of uncertainty and the likelihood that social-distancing will dramatically impact the ability of studios to produce new movies, new incarnations of the familiar and beloved are treasured. Many would be delighted to hear that the pair had scampered off to tour France, Israel, Japan, and maybe even Iceland before the shelter-in-place orders came down…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Greed’

Steve Coogan in ‘Greed’ (Sony Pictures Classics)

In Michael Winterbottom’s new satire, Steve Coogan plays a morality-challenged fast-fashion billionaire whose sixtieth birthday bash becomes a Felliniesque disaster.

Greed is opening this week in limited release. My review is at Slant:

Steve Coogan plays the discount billionaire villain as a more malevolent variation on the smarmy selfish bastard he’s polished to a sheen in Winterbottom’s The Trip films. Sir Richard McCreadie, nicknamed “Greedy” by the tabloids, is one of those modern wizards of financial shell games who spin fortunes out of thin air, promise, hubris, and a particularly amoral strain of bastardry. He made his billions as the “king of the high street,” peddling cheap, celebrity-touted clothing through H&M and Zara-like chain stores. Now somewhat disreputable, having been hauled before a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the bankruptcy of one of his chains, the tangerine-tanned McCreadie is stewing in semi-exile on Mykonos…

Here’s the trailer:

Now Playing: ‘The Trip to Italy’ is Highly Unnecessary Comedy, But Not in a Bad Way

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in 'The Trip to Italy' (IFC Films)
Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in ‘The Trip to Italy’ (IFC Films)

Two comics playing slightly tweaked versions of themselves, ravishing Italian scenery, phenomenal food, recitations of Shelley’s poetry, Tom Hardy impressions. That’s about all one needs to know about Michael Winterbottom’s nervy, gadabout sequel to the 2010 road comedy The Trip.

The Trip to Italy is playing now in highly limited release. My review is at Film Racket:

The Trip to Italy’s total lack of necessity has little bearing on its enjoyability. There’s nothing wrong with watching a pair of lyrical, spry, and acid-tongued comics lashing each other with barbed commentary while enjoying the operatic grandeur of a foodie junket through Italy’s more salubrious and sun-splashed districts. Does it matter that they’re not bringing much new to the party?…

You can see the trailer here:

Also, here you can check out one of the better clips: Coogan and Brydon on The Dark Knight Rises:

New in Theaters: ‘The Look of Love’

Steve Coogan displays 'The Look of Love.'
Steve Coogan displays ‘The Look of Love.’

lookoflove-posterThe collaborations between director Michael Winterbottom and comic Steve Coogan have created some of the greatest film comedies of the past couple decades, from The Trip‘s deadpan sniping to 24 Hour Party People‘s recreation of the Manchester music scene. For their fourth film, Winterbottom and Coogan focus on Paul Raymond, an infamous and glamorous figure in England who is essentially unknown across the pond.

The Look of Love opened this week in limited release. My full review is at Film Racket; here’s part of it:

It would be too much to call Paul Raymond the Hugh Hefner of England; if only because Hef never owned that much real estate. But in many other ways, Raymond’s life story, as shown in Michael Winterbottom’s flashbulb-riddled biopic, shows a definite kinship with Hef’s. They were both kids from straight-laced backgrounds who became erotic publishing and nightlife impresarios, as well as standard-bearers in the fight for (profitable, highly profitable) sexual liberation in the 1960s and ‘70s. Just like Hef, Raymond claimed that he didn’t publish pornography; what he was selling was a lifestyle. Unfortunately, lifestyle is just about all that The Look of Love has going for it…

The trailer is here:

New in Theaters: ‘Trishna’

It’s a shame that Michael Winterbottom thought to set his modernized Tess of the d’Urbervilles in India instead of in England, or another Western nation. This isn’t because he doesn’t know how to use South Asia as a setting (he does) or because today’s India doesn’t provide a highly relevant analogy for many of the class issues in Thomas Hardy’s novel (it does). But by shifting Hardy’s story from England 1891 to a developing nation, it lets viewers off the hook…

Trishna is playing now in limited release, and while it definitely has its faults is still an undeniably gorgeous and effective romantic melodrama of the kind that don’t seem to get made that much anymore. My review is PopMatters.