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The Trip to Spain

Originally conceived as a TV show, the ‘Trip’ movies have been popular. An edited version of the third series, ‘The Trip to Spain’ utilises the talents of comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Portraying fictionalised versions of themselves, they travel the best restaurants in Spain in the guise of doing culinary reviews for the Observer newspaper. Their third co-conspirator is director Michael Winterbottom who uses skills for documentary-style filmmaking to good effect.

‘The Trip to Spain’ is almost like the premise for ‘Seinfeld’. Whilst the latter was a ‘show about nothing’, the former is basically a loose collage of amusing incidents full of ab-libbed lunacy. Their style of humour may be an acquired taste as the movie rests firmly on their shoulders. The comedy doesn’t always hit the mark but there are more hits than misses. Coogan as the arrogant lonely egotist and Brydon as the easy-going family man are a strange but amusing combination. They work well together as often hilarious sparring partners.

Fans of previous entries will appreciate how far both men have come. As the series ages, so do they with their experiences defining how they look at themselves and life in general. This has an impact on their latest journey as they reflect on where they’ve been and where they want to go. Whilst it’s clear they are playing heightened renderings of their personas, the quieter moments have as much impact as the comedy. Family and career issues weigh heavily on both men with these uniting them.

‘The Trip to Spain’ is enlivened by the locations and Winterbottom’s smooth direction. He wrings much from gorgeous locales with the cinematography wonderfully showing off Spain’s beauty. Coogan and Brydon clearly have a great time walking amongst the locales and dining on mouth-watering food. Foodies of all ages will enjoy the treats on display making it advisable not to see this movie on an empty stomach.

The quirky directorial flourishes and consistently amusing humour make ‘The Trip to Spain’ a trip worth taking. There’s no need to have seen the other instalments although fans of the series should enjoy this just as much. Another trip with this duo wouldn’t be unwelcome with the culinary comedians affable companions most would enjoy as travel-mates.

Rating out of 10: 7

Atomic Blonde

With so many superhero comic-books being turned into movies these days, you could be forgiven for feeling ‘comic-book fatigue’. Add to that are adaptations of graphic novels which are adult in tone. The latter is more interesting as it allows film-makers to further push the envelope in creativity and action. Based on the 2012 graphic novel ‘The Coldest City’, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is certainly filled with violent spectacle little seen elsewhere. It’s also a solid thriller with all involved diving into the story’s frenetic energy with imaginative gusto.

Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is a talented MI6 spy dispatched on a dangerous mission. It’s the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and Lorraine is sent to investigate the mysterious killing of an undercover agent. Working with Berlin station Chief David Percival (James McAvoy), Lorraine uncovers a ruthless espionage ring. Determined to protect the West’s intelligence operation, the duo face their foes with lethal force.

Directed by David Leitch, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a very enjoyable ride. A full-throttle blast of pure action, it’s a great showcase for Theron who has always been a very versatile performer with remarkable range. Here she is in full ‘action-chick’ mode with her character kicking villainous behinds with the best of them. Theron throws herself into the role and portrays her character’s determined spy well. She is well assisted by McAvoy’s shady performance with their co-stars making their roles more than one-dimensional architypes.

Whilst the action scenes are incredible, ‘Atomic Blonde’ succeeds due to its successful evocation of the era. You truly feel you are in the late 80’s and a part of an important moment in history. The real clips of the Berlin Wall’s demise interweaves well into the ‘reel’ narrative as the clock ticks towards getting the job done. The retro music soundtrack is pleasing to the ears and the film never lets up in providing a ton of dazzling stunts.

‘Atomic Blonde’ is a lot of fun. Female heroes are important and Theron capably ensures her role is added to this pantheon. Although ‘franchise fatigue’ can be wearying, one wouldn’t mind seeing another instalment featuring ‘Atomic Blonde’s feisty character who never refuses to take no for an answer.

Rating out of 10: 8