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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Coogan’

Warren Beatty

Alden Ehrenreich, Warren Beatty

“RULES DON’T APPLY”  My rating: C (Opens wide on Nov. 23)

126 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

If “Rules Don’t Apply” is a comedy, why aren’t we laughing?

If it’s a romance, why don’t we feel something?

If it’s a tragedy, why don’t we care?

Warren Beatty’s latest feature as writer/director (his fifth, and the first since “Bullworth” in 1998) might be charitably described as a highly polished question mark.

It’s good looking,  competently acted and mildly affable. Basically it’s two hours of narrative  noodling that never scores an emotional or intellectual point.

Ostensibly the film provides an opportunity for Beatty to tackle the character of real-life  billionaire Howard Hughes — though Beatty doesn’t make an appearance as the nutjob recluse until nearly 40 minutes into the movie.

“Rules…” is, at its most basic level, a love triangle involving Hughes and two of his employees.

Marla (Lily Collins), a virginal Virginia beauty queen, has come to late-‘50s Los Angeles  after being signed to an acting contract by the mysterious Mr. Hughes.  (In addition to his oil and aviation interests, Hughes is a Hollywood producer.)

Lily is but one of two dozen aspiring actresses stashed by Hughes in posh digs all over LaLa Land. These stars of tomorrow — or harem members , if you will — are given a weekly stipend, acting and dance classes, and are ferried around town by a small army of limousine drivers whose behavior is strictly proscribed (no canoodling with the girls, no talking about Mr. Hughes’ business, etc.).

Marla and her driver, Frank (Alden Ehrenreich), have enough in common — including a shared religiosity — that Marla’s hovering mom (Annette Bening, aka Mrs. Warren Beatty) warns her daughter against any attraction to the handsome young chauffeur.  (more…)

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Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon...eating their way through Italy

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon…eating their way through Italy

“THE TRIP TO ITALY”  My rating: B (Opening on Aug. 29 at the Glenwood Arts and Tivoli)

108 minutes | No MPAA rating

Fans of the 2010 buddy  film “The Trip” will feel right at home with the sequel. There are no surprises here.

Once again we have Brit comic actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan portraying slightly fictionalized versions of themselves on a cross-country trek, this time through glorious Italy.

Once again they spend much of their time eating scrumptious food and engaging in chatter that looks suspiciously like the conversational version of hand-to-hand combat. When these two egomaniacs square off, it’s a virtual comedy competition.

Early on, Coogan warns Brydon that he will tolerate no celebrity imitations this time around. This pronouncement may momentarily dampen our enthusiasm (watching the two trying to upstage each other by mimicking Michael Caine was one of the first film’s great wonders), but it soon becomes apparent that Coogan’s dictate has no teeth.

Because for the next 90 minutes we see the two of them (mostly Brydon this time) comically conversing in the voices of Caine, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Christian Bale, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Woody Allen, Hugh Grant, Dustin Hoffman, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal and Humphrey Bogart.

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“OUR IDIOT BROTHER” My rating: C- (Opening wide Aug. 26)

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The only person likely to win any awards for “Our Idiot Brother” is the anonymous editor who cut the trailer. This unsung hero took an aggressively unfunny comedy and so effectively manipulated bits and pieces as to evoke potential ticket buyers’ memories of other, much funnier Paul Rudd films like “I Love You Man.”

But make no mistake, this is bottom-drawer stuff that, by all rights, should have shuffled straight off to home video.

And what makes it even more discombobulating is that “Brother” wastes a slew of good comic actors.

Ned (Rudd) may not be precisely an idiot, but he’s slow enough on the uptake to be in perennial trouble. Also he cannot lie. When a cop in uniform asks him for some weed, Ned takes pity on the poor flatfoot and sells him some. Result: Prison.

Newly out, Ned is passed back and forth among his three sisters. His childlike pechant for honesty gets him in one scrape after another.

Sister Liz (Emily Mortimer) doesn’t appreciate it when Ned reveals that her filmmaker husband (Steve Coogan in typical supercilious mode) is having an affair with the ballerina who is the subject of his latest documentary.

Sister Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), a magazine journalist, tries to use a source’s off-the-record comments in her latest piece. Ned calls her on it.

And Sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), in a relationship with another woman (Rashida Jones), doesn’t appreciate Ned letting it slip that she’s pregnant by an artist friend.

The best that can be said for this film from director Jesse Peretz and writers David Schisgall and Evgenia Peretz is that the hirsute Rudd (he looks like a very happy Jesus) exudes a sweetness that helps make up (though not nearly enough) for the script’s lack of cleverness and wit.

I mean, didn’t anybody read the screenplay?

| Robert W. Butler


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Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take "The Trip"

“THE TRIP” My rating: B (Opening Aug.  5 at the Tivoli and Rio)

101 minutes | No MPAA rating

“The Trip” seems a very casual, largely improvised movie — the sort of thing the British refer to as a “toss off.”

Certainly it appears a lightweight affair to bear the name of director Michael Winterbottom, whose output (“Welcome to Sarajevo,” “The Claim,” “24 Hour Party People,” “A Mighty Heart”) trends toward the heavily meaningful.

But don’t let its shaggy-dog demeanor fool you. Despite its simplistic setup, this is one extremely clever and entertaining film. Heck, it even has moments of depth. (more…)

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