Out Now – 9th August 2013

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Some young whipper snapper called Percy Jackson meddles in Greek mythology to find the Golden Fleece. While a fleece made of gold may seem like a great idea it sounds very impractical to me. Nathan Fillion and Anthony Head both have roles in the films so nerds be warned.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Alan Partridge in a siege movie. Either those six words make you want to grab your big plate and head on down to the cinema ASAP or you are dead inside. With the disappointment of The World’s End we need a big British comedy to wow us this summer.

Chennai Express
Bollywood’s finest Shah Rukh Khan stars as a man. A man who finds love on his long journey to scatter his Father’s ashes. His Father having recently died. I presume.

The Lone Ranger
The classic story of the Lone Ranger and Tonto that I am all but completely ignorant of. This film has generated a lot of press over the film makers complaining about the film having generated a lot of press over the film being awful and being set to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Disney did not invite us to see the film so we are just going to sulk in the corner and assume that the film is indeed terrible.

Grown Ups 2
Adam Sandler. David Spade. Kevin James. Chris Rock. No. No. No. No.

Silence (limited release)
A sound recordist explores Ireland to try to record areas free from man-made sound. Along the way he meets various people and uncovers a deep profound silence of some kind. This could be beautiful or pretentious, I’m hoping it’s both.

Foxfire (limited release)
“Set in the 1950s, a group of young girls in upstate New York form their own gang.” I predict much hair pulling and face scratching. Bloody women!

Looking for Hortense (limited release)
Kristin Scott Thomas is French once more as a wife who “pressures her husband to solicit work papers from his civil servant father.” Bloody women!

Neil and Rob Gibbons – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa Screenwriters Interview

Neil and Rob Gibbons

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa opened in UK cinemas yesterday and our friends over at AskMen.com have been lucky enough to sit down with the film’s screenwriters Neil and Rob Gibbons to talk about breaking into comedy and working with Steve Coogan on writing Alan Partridge from Mid Morning Matters through to Alpha Papa. They were also kind enough to let us share with you our highlight from the unedited interview so read on below where Neil and Rob discuss how they came to write for UK comedy’s most cringeworthy character and what collaborating with Steve Coogan is really like.

Neil: [Our] new agent sent the scripts to Baby Cow and literally within 48 hours we were sat in front of Henry Normal and Steve Coogan, with them saying “we really like your stuff, I really liked the line about” this or the way you did that.

Rob: When you’ve been struggling to get somewhere and you have those guys not just saying it’s good, but saying a specific line, then you’re just, “wow”. Actually, the line that Steve liked was pretty shit, but, you know.

It was a sitcom about a guy with an imaginary friend, of which there are quite a few around, but they just liked elements of it and some of the lines. So Steve said that he liked the Northern sensibility of it, which fitted with the way he used to do Paul and Pauline Calf. And that he’d been looking for writers for a few years with the same sensibility and quality of lines that could basically bring them back for a one-off. He then asked us if we’d be interested in doing that and coming up with a half-hour show. The meeting finished and we went to the lift. Steve’s assistant followed us out and said, “Boys, I know Steve can be quite forceful. I just wanted to let you know, it’s entirely up to you, you don’t have to say yes and take your time.” And we said, “Oh, thank you. We will, thank you.” And the lifts doors shut and we were like, “Of course we’re going to fucking do it!” So, anyway, we wrote it, but it didn’t for some reason. But from there, we started doing more stuff with them, mainly for the tour he did a few years ago with a lot of his characters.

Neil: At the party after his tour had wrapped up, Steve said that he was planning on Alan doing this travelogue programme, where he rediscovers the old Britain through blacksmiths and stuff like that. But the germ of that idea we later brought back for Places of My Life. But he seemed to like our Partridge style. There’s two versions of Alan, one on stage and one “real Alan”. Mid Morning Matters happened quite soon after that. From that point on, we’ve been all Partridge.

Mid Morning Matters

Rob: I remember being in meetings with Steve and improvising Partridge material. You have ten minutes of absolutely nothing and finally you get a great line and feel terrific for the rest of the day. And Neil would say to me the next day, “you realise that was in series two of I’m Alan Partridge, don’t you? I just didn’t want to say in the meetings.” 90% of the time it’s me, Neil and Steve in a room and Armando if he’s around.

Neil: He’s a sort-of godfather. He’s very good at anchoring things back to the Partridge essence. So, if you take too much of a divergence, he’ll close that road.

Rob: With Mid Morning Matters, which were self-contained 12 minute episodes just in the radio studio, we would write a script, take it in, pull it apart with Steve and rebuild it again. But sometimes we start from scratch with Steve in a room. Both times the process is the same, really. You start talking about the joke and why it doesn’t work and then try and improvise ways to fix it. And you have to sort-of do that in an Alan voice.

Neil: Even if you did the best Partridge impression in the world, it’s still going to be rubbish because you’re doing it in front of Alan Partridge.

Rob: But you have to go halfway because otherwise it’s not clear if it’ll work. Sometimes Steve will be “doing Alan” and then he’ll say something like “last night I saw a great episode of Air Crash Investigation,” and you haven’t realised he’s back as Steve. You’ll start writing it done and he’ll say, “Oh, no. That was me.”

Neil: On the day of the shoot, we’d often have to write fresh scripts! Everything we’ve ever done with Steve kinda goes like that. Even when they did I’m Alan Partridge in front of a live audience changes were being made right up until the last-minute.

Rob: And you have to buy into that or you’ll get spat out the other end. I remember on the first day of anything we do Partridge-wise, any new cast or crew just goes a bit pale. There’ll say, “This can’t be how it goes?” The first day of the film, all the assistant directors were just looking around as we’d be doing a take, then stop, change the line again. Get halfway through, stop, change it again. We were getting to somewhere good, but it wasn’t always set it stone when we started shooting it. The crew were all looking around saying, “Surely it can’t be like this for eight weeks?” They were coming up to Neil and I saying, “You’ve done this before, this is a one-off, right?” and we’d say, “No, no, this is quite a good day, actually.” And it went on from there.

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

Neil: As a writer though, those environments are good though, because you don’t ever become precious about lines. Because you’re writing new lines constantly. Just by its nature, once you start getting into that speed of churn, good stuff gets chucked out when it shouldn’t do. It has its benefits, too, and you come up with some inspired stuff on the day, when you’re there and react to what’s around you on set, but there is some unfortunate wastage. Armando on Twitter at the moment is burning though this 200 page document of unused Alan material. I guarantee that’ll be boiled down from many, many more pages. We’ve probably got more than that each. People ask how many drafts of the movie script did we do and I’m not sure there was ever even in a draft. There was just constantly a swirling cloud of starlings constantly juggling jokes in the air.

Neil: There’s more Mid Morning Matters lined up for early next year. So we’ve got six months. We had the book, the Sky specials and then the movie and I think we lost perspective a bit about what was funny and what was working and what wasn’t.

Rob: I think when you turn up at 6am for a day of shooting on a film and you don’t go home until 9pm and you’re at home doing rewrites until 2am, it’s very easy to think, “Fuck this”. It’s stressful and it’s hard work. But all of it is because we’re fussy and picky about wanting to make it good. It’s painful to do it. Good stuff doesn’t often come out when it’s too easy for you. You should never forget, too, that it’s Partridge. He’s a gift for a writer.

Neil: You hear those stories about American team writing, where you’ve got a ball-breaker sat around a table and it’s very industrial and things get shut down. With Partridge, it’s high pressure and you’ve got to bring your A game and come out with stuff on demand, but it’s always a laugh. It’s a really good laugh.

The rest of this interview detailing how to write comedy can be found at AskMen.com

Hipster Guide to Summer Cinema – August Edition

Hipster Guide to Summer Cinema - August Edition

We’re well into summer now and have experienced two months of quality hipster cinema so far this year. It’s not over yet! There is a whole month left in which to hide from the hellish sun, shelter in the shade of your nearest independent cinema, and fill your face with organic snacks while you watch anything other than One Direction – This Is Us.

2nd August 2013
From Up On Poppy Hill

If there is one studio a self-respecting hipster can actually allow themselves to get excited about it is Studio Ghibli with their array of distinctly non-Disney animated Japanese cinema. The latest from this master studio, directed by Goro Miyazaki, follows a group of Yokohama teenagers whose clubhouse is under threat of destruction as Japan prepares for the 1964 Olympic games. With the rest of the UK still basking in the glow of London 2012 what better than to watch a film where the Olympics are the bad guys?

Only God Forgives
Remember Drive? Remember how classy it was, how amazing Ryan Gosling was, and how sweet Carey Mulligan seemed? Now remember the bit with the head in the lift, and the wrist in the garage? All that tension and artistry punctuated by extreme bloody violence was courtesy of director Nicolas Winding Refn. Well Ryan and Nicolas are back with more tension, more violence, and more neon colours. I’m readying to flinch already.

7th August 2013
Alan Partridge Alpha Papa

The character of Alan Partridge was born in 1992 in the form of the host of BBC Radio 4’s Knowing Me, Knowing You… with Alan Partridge and 21 years later (mathematical!) he finally gets his own feature film. A Radio 4 character in a film? I think we all know that this fulfils any hipster’s requirements. You may need to overlook Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge as that was sponsored by Foster’s and may fall within the definition for the Hipster repellent sin of… SELLING OUT. The trailer makes me laugh every time I see it. Hipsters can laugh right?

14th August 2013
Kick-Ass 2

Should I include Kick Ass 2 in this list? Surely Super is the true hipster superhero film or even the Michael Rapaport-starring indie flick Special if you want to get even more obscure. Regardless of these smaller titles Kick Ass is certainly a different beast to the more established caped crusaders. With Kick Ass we’re not necessarily getting realism but actions most definitely have consequences and there is proper violence, proper swearing, and a comic book you are slightly more likely to have actually read as the source material.

23rd August 2013
Jurassic Park 3D

You can tell I was struggling for films to fill this list when I had to include a 3D film. Jurassic Park is a classic made of pure undiluted entertainment. Where the film truly succeeds is in making dinosaurs look real way before such a feat was commonplace and in making being a mathematician seem sexy. Has any mathematician anywhere ever been as cool as Jeff Goldblum? Plus the lawyer gets eaten as he hides on the toilet, which is satisfying for everyone to watch. If we’re really lucky they might do 2D screenings so we can smugly tell everyone that we are actively not watching it in 3D and pat ourselves on the back. Ever wondered what a hipster dinosaur looks like?

Amanda Seyfried is about to give one of those stark naked “brave” performances as she shakes free of her Mamma Mia! fame and plays a porn star famous for her role in a blue movie all about… erm… ahem… a lady who likes to please. I imagine this as being in the vein of Boogie Nights with a smorgasbord of bell bottom jeans and bare bottomed genes followed by everything going horribly wrong. Nudity and tragedy – the perfect evening out!

30th August 2013
Upstream Color

Words cannot describe how baffled this film left me when I saw it recently. Sadly at some point I will have to find some words that can and write what we call a “film review”. Writer/director/star Shane Carruth has only made one previous film, the indie time travel masterpiece Primer, so expectations are high for his follow-up. All I will say for the moment is that this film does not make it easy for the audience. The plot is (possibly) non-linear and the stark dialogue and mostly silent scenes leave no room for exposition. If you asked me to explain the plot now you would neither understand nor believe me. Truly baffling and just waiting to be embraced by a hipster weary of the straightforward and the mainstream.