Another night, another two movies.
First up, THE TRIP, which reunites Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, and director Michael Winterbottom from the hilarious TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY. Coogan has an assignment writing restaurant reviews for the Observer. His girlfriend, who's the real foodie, was going to accompany him, but had to go to America. So he calls up his old pal Rob, and they set out on the road together. And that's about it. It's as close to "about nothing" as you can get, but very, very funny. They're two showmen who can't ever let the spotlight be on anyone but them, so they're constantly cracking jokes at each other, and especially doing impressions (they have a running contest over who does the best Michael Caine). There is some stuff in there about career anxiety (especially a brief but awesome Ben Stiller cameo), but it's hard to care about the worries of someone who makes a lavish living entertaining people. And that's when they're at their best--when they're entertaining. Or when Rob is challenging Steve by asking him if he'd let his son contract a painful disease (from which he would make a full recovery) if it meant he (Steve) would win an Oscar.
And then I saw BLACK BREAD, a dark look at the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of a child but not featuring Pan or his Labyrinth. Instead, it features politics, reprisals and murder. Oh yeah, it starts with a murder. A very gruesome murder that literally made my jaw drop. Young Andreu finds the dead bodies, and recognizes his friend. And his trauma is complete when his father is accused of the crime--perhaps truly, or perhaps as political retribution. Anyway his father goes into hiding, his mother works extra shifts, and he is sent to live with relatives. And in this environment he has to try to make sense of the world as he's growing up (including young love. Creepy, young love). A fantastic, traumatic story with a lot of great performances. No wonder it took in such a big haul at the Goya awards (Spain's equivalent of the Oscars).
Total Running Time: 215 minutes
My Total Minutes: 235,251