Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Netflix Files: Oct. 10-16

Anthony Zimmer (2005) dir. Jerome Salle:
After finally shaking off my rage towards last year's The Tourist, I decided that it would be worthwhile to check out one of that film's key inspirations: the French thriller Anthony Zimmer. As it turns out, The Tourist wasn't merely inspired by Salle's film; it's pretty much a remake with a different location and slightly different characters/set-ups. It's also nothing remotely noteworthy, which I guess is somewhat tolerable, since it means that The Tourist didn't defile some great work of cinema. What Salle's film has going for it, aside from the chemistry between Yvan Attal and Sophie Marceau, is in its pacing and construction. The Tourist's Venetian setting wins in terms of glamour, but Anthony Zimmer is far and away the better-made film. Salle actually injects a sense of style to the proceedings, even though the story still suffers from the same silliness that plagued The Tourist. Additionally, the male lead is no longer a spineless wimp throughout the entire film, which adds an interesting dynamic to the central relationship. Still, it doesn't do enough to raise the film above the "disposable fun" category.

Grade: C+

The Trip (2011) dir. Michael Winterbottom:
Though billed as a comedy, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's reunion with Michael Winterbottom has quite a bit of melancholy running through its veins. Playing loose versions of themselves (their names are even the same), the pair play friends who, on an assignment for a magazine, travel across the English countryside surveying notable restaurants. As the two bounce off of each other on the road and at the dining table, they talk about life, their careers, and who between them can do the best Michael Caine impression (both are pretty damn good). It's not so much laugh-out-loud funny as it is amusing, but Coogan and Brydon have strong enough chemistry to carry the film through its repetitive structure...to a point. The Achilles Heel of The Trip, which features some surprisingly lovely shots of the English countryside during its transitions, is that it runs nearly 2 hours. When the film finally takes a detour from formula, and has the pair walk around some cliffs, it's easy for your mind to wander. So even though the increasingly melancholy tone of the piece is genuine, it simply takes too long to get there, draining it of some impact. The Trip is a solid, and at times extremely enjoyable and insightful film, but it's desperately in need of some trimming. As the men of Monty Python would say, "Get on with it!"

Grade: B-

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