Right from the get-go, you can tell that Michael Winterbottom’s 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE — airing this weekend and all month long on Sundance Channel — is no ordinary biopic. It begins with Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) addressing the camera as he narrates his life. Wilson was a British TV personality who was so taken with the emerging punk and post-punk scene in the 1970s and ’80s that he founded Factory Records, a Manchester-based label that brought the world such notorious bands as the Happy Mondays, Joy Division and New Order. This playful, inventive retelling of his tale intercuts between some of his TV stunts and the key moments of his career, all as he continues to speak directly to us; part of the film’s charm is that Coogan was himself a Wilson-like character at the time. (Already popular among Brits, he enjoyed a tremendous career surge after this role.)
The new Michael Winterbottom film, starring beloved duo Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden, is at times hilarious and often insightful, if not a little slap-dash. Meaning? Well, it’s been put together quickly and simply with a disarmingly straightforward premise: Two actor frenemies named Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden (basically playing slightly ridiculous versions of themselves) go on the road in Northern England for a promotional food tour. Hilarity ensues. But is that hilarity a product of a series of escalating mishaps otherwise known as plot? No. There is no plot. There is a series of locations, a series of over-the-top gourmet meals featuring the likes of duck fat lollipops, a series of Coogan one-night stands, and a series of very funny conversations.
With today’s release of SHUT UP, LITTLE MAN and OUR IDIOT BROTHER, it’s officially a Sundance festival weekend! Regardless of my obvious affiliation and personal bias, I’m pretty darn excited for these two, so excited, in fact, that I actually used an exclamation mark to express myself (I never do that). I didn’t go to the festival last January and aside from these two trailers, not a teaser or clip have I seen.
Last year a show aired on British television called “The Trip,” starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, who survey the haute cuisine scene of Northern England. The six episode series ran a combined total of 180 minutes, footage that was then edited down to 107 minutes for the theatrical release of THE TRIP, making the story available to a worldwide audience not as intimately familiar with Coogan and Brydon as British viewers are – something Coogan attributes to the fact that he doesn’t work with directors, he works with auteurs. Of course, this is according to the Coogan playing the fictionalized, exaggerated version of himself, the unrepentant egomaniac audiences loved in TRISTRAM SHANDY, a shtick made popular stateside by Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and in the UK by Ricky Gervais in “Extras.” How true to self Coogan and Brydon’s performances really are is up for debate, but I hardly think it matters. We get as much pleasure from watching their quips and comebacks and theatrical indulgences as they evidently get in making them.
IFC Films has bought U.S. rights to Armando Iannucci’s comedy “In the Loop” hours before its preem at the Sundance Film Festival.
E. B. White wrote, “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” As such, it was brave of Sundance to convene a panel called “On Comedy: Laughing in Dark Times.” Screenwriter Larry Gross moderated the following group of funny filmmakers: Mark and Jay Duplass (BAGHEAD) [www.sundance.org], Marianna Palka (GOOD DICK), Taika Cohen (EAGLE VS SHARK), Clark Gregg (CHOKE), Pam Brady (HAMLET 2), and Jason Reitman (JUNO), Short Film Juror.
After a weekend of documentaries taking center stage, at least in terms of Sundance acquisitions, distributors stepped up to acquire the first three narrative features of the festival. The newly formed Overture Films picked up Mark Pellington’s dark comedy HENRY POOLE IS HERE, about a dying man who suddenly regains his lust for life. Fox Searchlight acquired CHOKE, actor Clark Gregg’s directorial debut adapted from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel about a man who fakes choking in restaurants to pay for his mother’s elderly care. But the big news was Focus Features purchase of Andrew Fleming’s HAMLET 2.
Sundance Institute announced today the addition of HAMLET 2 to the filmsscreening at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in the out-of- ompetition Premieres section. HAMLET 2 will have its world premiere on Monday, January 21, with subsequent screenings scheduled for Thursday, January 24 and Friday, January 25. The 2008 Sundance Film Festival runs January 17-27, 2008 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah.
Sundance Institute announced today the addition of HAMLET 2 to the films screening at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in the out-of-competition Premieres section. HAMLET 2 will have its world premiere on Monday, January 21, with subsequent screenings scheduled for Thursday, January 24 and Friday, January 25.