Friday, July 28, 2017

The Trip to Spain (2017) film review

Year: 2017
Running Time: 115 minutes
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Claire Keelan, Marta Barrio

The Trip to Spain will be released in Australia on August 3 (Madman Films) and the United States on August 11. 

As the third film in Michael Winterbottom's television-turned-film series, The Trip to Spain delivers exactly what it promises- more glorious food, stunning locations and hilarious celebrity impersonations.

The great thing about walking into The Trip to Spain is that you know exactly what you are expecting, as long as you have seen 2010's The Trip and 2014's The Trip to Italy. Britain's favourite comedy duo, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon once again set off on another culinary tour, which this time takes them to Spain. Their latest venture is an absolute delight in the same nature as it's predecessors, with the exception of it's extremely odd and disappointing finale.

The Coogan and Brydon films are all edited from their original form of a six episode series made for British television. The films have never really been about the plot and while this may be a monstrosity in most feature films, it is an accepted and celebrated part of Winterbottom's films. There are themes and sub-plots moulded into the film which are welcomed and push the film along, but they are not the focal point of the film.

That being said, it does not excuse the extremely bizarre ending to this film. The unexplained last scene is so left-field and far removed from the tone of the rest of the film that it gives a sour last impression. This is such a shame as for the other 110 minutes, The Trip to Spain is as much fun as Coogan and Brydon have over their enviable lunches.

The partnership of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon is, once again, comedic brilliance. The chemistry between the two is so natural and their conversational humour (which is largely improvised) is witty, smart, hilarious and completely unforced. As both The Trip and The Trip to Italy became infamous for the celebrity impressions Coogan and Brydon so frequently and accurately do, The Trip to Spain is stacked with these impressions. While many celebrities make appearances in the men's conversations that have previously been there (including Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins and Roger Moore), there are some new additions that are just as funny such as  Mick Jagger and Ian McKellen among others.

The culinary delights and stunning Spanish landscapes are also highlights of the film. The six restaurants the two men visit all have incredible cuisine which photograph so well that they easily induce hunger in the viewer. The beautiful urban and rural Spanish towns which they visit are also shot beautifully and capture the charm and intrigue of the country.

The Trip to Spain is incredible fun and a delight to the senses. The hilarious conversations are memorable and do not lose their amusement long after the film has been seen, but in the same way the confusion and distaste for the finale also lingers.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

EXCLUSIVE interview with "Maid To Order's" Katie Carpenter!

Ahead of the second season premiere on July 27, we speak to the star of quirky new web series "Maid to Order". The series, which is based on actress Katie Carpenter’s life as a burgeoning actress, tells of two clueless roommates that start a fantasy maids service, battling urban Atlanta and their own denial of reality. Carpenter and Kendra Carelli star.

Season Two continues the story of two clueless roommates who start a fantasy maid service only to discover fantasy is just as hard to manage as reality. This time around, Margot (Carpenter) must maneuver urban Atlanta on her own as June (Carelli) faces her own obstacles in Los Angeles.

The creative team includes Kevin Welch (director, EP), Katie Carpenter (writer), Karen Felix (writer), and Eryk Pruitt (writer). For more,

We sat down to chat to creator and star, Katie Carpenter!

How long of a journey has this been for you? The idea started with you, I believe?
The idea started about two years ago. I just moved from North Carolina to Atlanta. I was a small town girl in a big city… with access to the Internet. I cruised for gigs on Craigslist and met some strangers. I saw ads for Fantasy Maids, and the pay seemed awesome- but I couldn’t do it. The idea for a character who was so desperate to succeed came to the surface, and the name of “Maid to Order” came not long after. I had no idea it was an 80’s movie until we’d already decided on it!

It’s all based on true experiences?
I would say it’s a fantastic experience inspired by truth. You know, like a Fargo-esque version of life in Atlanta when you’re trying to make it. 

Were you the outsider that came to Hollywood chasing stardom?
I’d actually never been to LA until this year (at least as an adult). Growing up in a small town in North Carolina, I was very intimidated by LA and I never thought it would be possible for me to live there. Then when the film tax incentives got cut in NC, I had a choice. I decided to make the leap to a smaller and closer pond- but I had no idea how much Atlanta was going to grow when I decided to make it my home. We were the number one place in the WORLD to make movies in last year! 
But definitely- still chasing those dreams. The industry is changing though and the Southeast is creating a name for itself as a place with plenty of resources. If the opportunity arose to work on a show in LA, I would be grateful for it but I hope to continue to work and thrive in Atlanta.

Where did you shoot?
The first season was shot in Atlanta, the second season was shot in Atlanta as well as Los Angeles. Part of the reason for the split shooting is that our other lead actress , Kendra Carelli, now lives in LA. So we made the decision in the story to actually have her character live out there while Margot stays in Atlanta. 

How has the reaction been to the first season?
People have been very supportive. I’ve had strangers come up to me in Atlanta and tell me they’ve watched the show, which is pretty incredible. We’re not super well-known outside of Atlanta (and a little bit in LA), but it is refreshing to hear that we have viewers of all ages. 
A lot of people of mentioned particularly how much they love the characters, and the world we put together. I think people respond to the show because they recognize very human qualities, wants, and needs but in larger-than-life, outrageous situations. 

Has it opened doors for you?
Yeah! One of my favourite stories to tell is that two casting assistants watched our series and loved it, so they showed it to a casting director. She watched it- then brought me in for an audition. This was the first time I was asked to audition for her. It was for a very fun and quirky character, and I ended up booking the role. I’m not sure that would have happened if I wasn’t on their minds. I encourage other actors- make your own work! Not only could it lead to potential work but it also makes you so much stronger as a performer and gives you an understanding of all the other elements that make a project great; the casting process, camera, lighting, wardrobe, etc. 

Can you tell us what we can expect in season two?
Margot and June are living different lives across the country from each other but somehow they still manage to get into trouble. Margot joins a regimented cleaning service but it’s clear she’s not a fan of being bossed around. Two audience favorites reappear from last season and Margot ends up in the middle of a turf war; does she choose to stay in Atlanta and fight or flee to June in LA?!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dunkirk (2017) film review

Year: 2017
Running Time: 106 minutes
Writer/Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy, James D'Arcy, Aneurin Barnard, Harry Styles, Jack Lowden, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan

Dunkirk will be released in Australia by Roadshow Films on July 20 and in the United States by Warner Bros Pictures on July 21. 

When it comes to his films, Christopher Nolan is no stranger to winning the approval of audience's and critics alike. Yet with Dunkirk, he takes this admiration to a whole new level.

Dunkirk is a major cinematic force with Nolan's masterful storytelling and phenomenal direction. The film is a stunning piece of art that retells a well known piece of history in an unique, intense and enthralling way. While Dunkirk is being hailed as Nolan's finest film to date, it does not need to be grouped together with his past films in order to be considered a stroke of genius.

The events which took place on the beach at Dunkirk are considered to be a miracle. The prospect of a mass evacuation of over 300000 British troops on the French beach during World War II initially seemed impossible due to the lack of resources needed for a rescue. This story has been taught in classrooms all over the world as part of WWII studies and there have been several retellings in popular culture. However, none quite like Dunkirk. 

The film is a tense and intriguing time lapse of three equally important facets of the most important day at Dunkirk- land, sea and air. Dunkirk is not a typical war narrative, as it represents just a snapshot in time and is driven entirely by the theme of survival. For the soldiers waiting on the beach, they were defenceless against the enemy. There was no way of fighting back against the bombers from the ground. The film shows the desperation of the soldiers as they fight for their life and how far people will go to stay alive. It also looks at how survival itself is heroic and is something that is to be celebrated, not scorned.

The inherent nature of films that deal with survival is that they must be suspenseful. Whether the viewer knows who will survive or not is irrelevant. Dunkirk is so intense that it often makes one forget to breathe. The film is just the perfect example of everything coming together to get the most out of it's screenplay. Nolan brings a trio of moments of warfare terror together all at once at regular intervals throughout the film to build tension to the highest level, with the help of Hans Zimmer's brilliant score and phenomenal sound editing. These scenes come with incredible sweeping shots of Dunkirk and astonishing cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema of land, sea and sky.

It is easy to look at the characterization in Dunkirk the way you would at other feature films, in which case it would be exceptionally weak. We come away knowing very little about each of the main characters.This would usually mean we feel no emotional connection towards anybody in the film and do not care whether they survive or not. However, the lack of identity of each of the characters serves a purpose here.

There were 400000 soldiers stranded on the beach at Dunkirk hoping for a miracle that would allow them survive and find their own way home. It didn't matter who these soldiers were at home, while they were at war they were all stripped of their identity and nameless and faceless in the eyes of the enemy. During those final days at Dunkirk, it was all about survival no matter who you were and where you were from. Most of the soldiers cast are physically alike to emphasise this point. Despite the lack of character in the film, there are some wonderful performances with Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy being stand-outs.

Dunkirk is stunning filmmaking. While it is confronting and incredibly intense, it is gratifyingly so thanks to Christopher Nolan's outstanding direction and creative vision.