The Trip (2010)
The first time I took notice of Steve Coogan was on a Comedy Central stand-up show in 1991. The then-ponytailed comedian busted out dead-on impressions of Sean Connery leafing through a grocery list and Roger Moore attempting to be a Method actor.
On The Trip, the slightly melancholy, Louie-esque 2010 British show where Coogan and another impressionist, Rob Brydon, star as fictionalized versions of themselves who embark on a road trip where they review classy European restaurants, Coogan gets to revisit his impressions of the 007s. The show also features Coogan's Michael Caine impression, which collides with Brydon's Caine impression in a dining scene that became a viral sensation.
However, Brydon's Caine wins that round of dueling Caines. On The Trip to Italy, a TV sequel that, like The Trip, has been shortened into a feature film for theatrical release here in America and will hit art-house theaters on our shores this August after a run on the film festival circuit, Coogan and Brydon experience another round of dueling Caines, and this time, they throw in a little Bane. Their impressions of both Caine and Tom Hardy's performances in The Dark Knight Rises are, to borrow the words of Bane, "Mrwmf ovrff ffrwff szrrv."
Sex and Lucia
I despised the last few seasons of How I Met Your Mother, gave up on watching HIMYM right when the future wife of annoying-as-hell Ted finally appeared and was glad to have no longer been a HIMYM viewer when they did that racist episode where all the white cast members pretended to be Asian and put on yellowface. But I always loved Cobie Smulders on that show, because of her comedic skills and also because she looks like Sex and Lucia star Paz Vega. I like to think of Sex and Lucia as a special TV-MA-rated episode of HIMYM that was shot on location in Spain by Julio Medem, who hated everyone on the show except for Robin, and it took place during Robin's extra-horny, Enrique Iglesias-dating, sand-all-up-in-her-hair international tourist phase.
|"Original Score by Hank Shocklee and the Bomb Squad" was something that didn't happen enough in the '90s.|
"There was so much Tupac put into the Bishop role. It wasn't like he was stepping outside of his boundaries. He put all of his pain from growing up--moving state-to-state and seeing different environments. A lot of his family was getting killed or were on the run," recalled Juice co-star and Naughty by Nature frontman Treach in a 2012 Vibe oral history about Tupac's work in the 1992 film and other films as well. Treach's group contributed "Uptown Anthem" to Juice's Hank Shocklee-produced soundtrack, a terrific snapshot of hip-hop and R&B in the early '90s (when Shocklee and his Bomb Squad were in their prime as beatmakers). The album has aged remarkably well. For a few years, it even overshadowed the film itself.
But after Tupac's death put an end to a body of acting work that started to get interesting with his turn in Gridlock'd as a junkie musician who wants to get clean, Juice grew in stature as a film about inner-city violence and the anger that fuels the Bishops of the world. Tupac's performance as Bishop is on a par with the likes of James Cagney in White Heat and Michael K. Williams on The Wire, and like Cagney and Williams, he goes out in spectacular fashion in Juice. (Eric B. and Rakim's "Juice (Know the Ledge)," the equally spectacular crown jewel of the soundtrack, as well as the tune that kicks off the film, can be heard during "Beat Box" and "The Whitest Block Ever" on AFOS.)
|(Photo source: Films in Films)|
Taxi Driver (streaming until July 1)
So how did that date at the porno theater work out for you, Travis?
("A Reluctant Hero/Betsy/End Credits," from Bernard Herrmann's terrific Taxi Driver score, can be heard during "AFOS Prime.")
|(Photo source: Dooby Reviews)|
The Long Goodbye
Wonder Boys, the recent subject of an interesting Greg Proops Film Club episode, is my favorite Michael Douglas movie, as well as one of the most enjoyable movies ever made about the unsuccessful side of being an author. Critics loved Wonder Boys more than audiences did, as did Paramount, which released it twice in the same year and overhauled its marketing campaign, with the hopes that it would win over moviegoers like it did with critics, and it failed to do so either time. In 1973, The Long Goodbye, an equally enjoyable and smart film that, like Wonder Boys, is anchored by a rumpled protagonist whose delivery of dialogue is the definition of "stoner," received the same treatment as Wonder Boys later did. United Artists released the Robert Altman film twice and tried different kinds of marketing campaigns to make the film look more appealing to moviegoers, the East Coast press ended up adoring the film (much more than the West Coast press) during its re-release and yet it still didn't make much of an impact at the box office. Today, The Long Goodbye is a classic and one of Altman's most beloved works (hopefully, Wonder Boys will become as lovingly discussed and dissected as The Long Goodbye frequently is).
In The Long Goodbye, Elliott Gould trudges through L.A. like he just woke up from a long nap in his suit and tie. His Marlowe is as much of a wiseass as Humphrey Bogart's Marlowe in The Big Sleep, but Gould's hardly as suave or as prone to exposition as Bogie (if you're looking for long stretches of exposition from Gould's Marlowe to help you make sense of things like in The Big Sleep, say a long goodbye to that). John Williams' Long Goodbye score is equally off-kilter. Altman wanted the score to consist of nothing but different variations on the same melody. Wherever Marlowe goes, the Long Goodbye theme follows, whether it's as supermarket Muzak or as a doorbell ring. The score nicely reflects Marlowe's sense of displacement--he's a '40s guy in a '70s world. (The version of "The Long Goodbye" that was sung for the film by Jack Sheldon of Schoolhouse Rock fame--it's kind of weird not to hear Sheldon singing about words and phrases and clauses--can be heard during "AFOS Prime.")