Film Preview: “(The Office) David Brent: Life on the Road” (2016) @rickygervais #RickyGervais #LifeOnTheRoad

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This preview was originally published in 2014

news of Gervais’ new project has filled me with excitement, and diarrhoea. 

I’m a huge Ricky Gervais fan. So I’m always excited when there’s news of an upcoming Gervais project. But the news of Gervais’ latest project has filled me with excitement, and diarrhoea. First, I’ll take you back to 2003:

That’s the end of The Office … [my] sort of legacy … So many people in the past have let me down, I think so many of my favourite comedy sitcoms/writers and actors have gone just one step too far. The quality goes down, you suddenly think, I don’t want to see this again, its repetitive or just poor! They have taken the money and run and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want people to say or think that of me.

Gervais talking there. Therefore, the news that Gervais is making a film of The Office, to be called Life on the Road, seems to be proof that he’s getting desperate and really has jumped the shark (Life’s Too Short, anyone?). This movie actually scares me. Is he going to ruin the perfect legacy of The Office? Has he “taken the money and run”?

Gervais is, all due disrespect to the haters, a genius. Fact. The Office alone proves it. Magnificently written and brilliantly acted, Gervais’ performance as David Brent was flawless: every word, every look, every facial twitch was spot on and every bit the equal of, say, Cleese in Fawlty Towers.

But he’s also lazy. And his recent projects have all been characterised by laziness. Life’s Too Short is a cheap Extras rip off, with Warren Davis doing a pathetic and embarrassing impersonation of David Brent; I can hardly bare to watch it, even alone, eyes closed, drunk. And I love Gervais’ collaborations with Karl Pilkington – The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad – but they are, nonetheless, quite lazy too. The formula: Gervais and Steve Merchant chat and take the piss out of Pilkington. Even Gervais’ stand up, funny as it is, has a certain sloppiness to it: think the “Chris Tarrant” anecdote which was the supposed grand finale to Fame. And let’s not mention his lame attempts at being an interviewer: he was too egotistical to act as foil to his guests. Which brings me on to the next point.

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“…the incredible miscasting of Gervais … as a mentally-handicapped man, single-handedly ruined the show”

The one project since Extras which wasn’t lazy, Derek, was self-indulgent. Set within an old people’s home, that show could’ve gone down as one of the most socially relevant, beautiful, brilliant, and important sitcoms ever. But the incredible miscasting of Gervais in the title role, as a mentally handicapped man, single-handedly ruined the show. Gervais just isn’t a good actor. That’s not a criticism, but trite fact. He’s a brilliant writer, stand up, and comic mind. But he hasn’t got the acting chops to portray such a character. And who cast Gervais in that role? Answer: Gervais. What self-indulgence! And self-indulgence and egotism have often attached themselves to Gervais’ projects. If only Ricky Gervais could have gotten over himself.

Therefore, whilst Gervais really is one of my idols (I rank him up there with Sellars, Cleese, Ben Elton, Ianucci, and Linehan and Matthews), I am worried. He can be lazy, he can be self-indulgent. The Office ended so beautifully, so perfectly, the character arcs were so neatly concluded, that an Office movie seems to be asking to fail. It’s like when Only Fools and Horses carried on after Delboy became a millionaire: the character’s journey was already satisfyingly and naturally finished. Continuing it was a bad idea from the get go: and, yes, post-millionaire Only Fools turned out to be an embarrassing, legacy-ruining, let-down.

So Ricky Gervais really is dicing with artistic danger here. There’s no need to bring back The Office. But he is. So he needs to drop his egotism, stop being lazy, and hopefully, he won’t ruin his own legacy. And touch wood, Steve Merchant, who seems to be a marginally moderating influence on Gervais, will be in tow. The only way to do this film is to make something flawless. “Never go back”, they say, “you’re bound to fail”. It’s a law of the universe. I hope The Office movie is the exception to that proven rule.

Watch this space.

References

featured image from http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/06/10/article-0-0064B02900000258-752_468x312.jpg

Derek image from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02191/derek_2191238b.jpg

Gervais quote from http://www.dvdactive.com/editorial/interviews/ricky-gervais.html?post_id=172921&action=report

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/aug/05/ricky-gervais-david-brent-movie-bbc-the-office

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/aug/08/ricky-gervais-swaps-office-pop-stardom-david-brent-film

© 2014, 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

How I Became a Star Trek Fan @startrekcbs #startrekdiscovery

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In this post, I wanna share how I became a dedicated Star Trek fan.

NOTE: this article originally came out in 2017

Ever since I heard that a new Star Trek series (Star Trek: Discovery) was definitely for real actually happening, to be released this year, I’ve been super hyped and also a bit scared — what if it doesn’t live up to my hopes?

As you can tell, I’m a massive Trekkie… Or Trekker… whatever, I don’t care, but that’s for another post. In this post, I wanna share how I became a dedicated Star Trek fan.

I was born in 1984. When I was a kid, back in the dark days when the UK only had four channels and we heard mythical stories about how in America they had FORTY, the replays of the original Trek were always on the telly at weekends. But I never paid attention. It was just another rubbishy show from the ’60s. It barely registered in my consciousness. I much preferred Land of the Giants(!)

Fast forward to age nine-ish. Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Trek reboot, had been running for several years and still I didn’t notice. And then one day, a season five episode came on: Cause and Effect. It involves the Starship Enterprise being stuck in a timeloop; the same catastrophe-tainted day keeps repeating itself. Think sci-fi horror version of Groundhog Day, or the film Triangle, but in space, and with dodgier make-up and production values. I was sold.

I won’t ruin the episode for you. Check it out on Netflix! But it marks the sort of intelligent, mind-bending stories that were par for the course in Trek. Every time a new mindbender or time-travel flick comes out, like Looper, I love it. But I always refer people to Trek.

If you’re new to Star Trek, here’s a few more episodes you might want to take a look at (all currently available on Netflix):

  • The Visitor (Deep Space Nine, series 4 episode 2): another great time-travel episode.
  • Hard Time (Deep Space Nine, series 4 episode 18): the psychology of guilt and suffering.
  • In The Pale Moonlight (Deep Space Nine, series 6 episode 19): the hardship of keeping your principles in war.
  • Trials and Tribble-ations (Deep Space Nine, series 5 episode 6): a good example of the lighter-hearted side of Trek, which pays homage to the original series with some neat special effects.

Sadly, no matter how I wax lyrical about the virtues of Trek, nobody’s buying it. The rubber ears, the dodgy acting, the huge number of episodes where, yes, nothing really happens. Sadly, TV has moved on. There is no Trek that fits modern conventions. For example, series are now limited to around ten episodes a season, there are no “one-off” episodes, and it’s all about moving the plot forward. The closest Trek came to this, and arguably it was instrumental in pre-empting the current trend, was the Dominion War story arc from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (my favourite incarnation of Trek, for what it’s worth).

But now with Star Trek: Discovery, I hope a new Trek for a new televisual era will be born, a Trek that captures the imagination of the young as much as the new Star Wars films have, as much as that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation captured mine some twenty plus years ago.

© 2017, 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://i.ytimg.com/vi/QGsuM31IC-Q/hqdefault.jpg

Film Review: “The Woman in the Window” (2021) #150WordReview

A really good movie, albeit…

Agoraphobic divorcee Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is increasingly losing touch with reality, most of her days are spent staring out of her window and spying on her neighbours. But one day she witnesses her next door neighbour, and sole friend, Jane Russell (Julianne Moore) murdered in her own house. However, when the police check it out, it turns out that her neighbour is well and alive, but is not the woman that Anna knows (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Is Anna crazy, or is there a cover-up afoot? The Woman in the Window is a thrilling mystery crime drama. Off-kilter performances and direction with several twists.

There is a vaguely Scream-esque aspect to the final reveal, but done straight-faced. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Other aspects of the film are slightly derivative. None-the-less, the movie was well acted, logically scripted, and compellingly directed.

A really good movie, albeit one which underuses its wonderful cast.

3/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/still/woman-window-poster01.jpg

Upcoming Movie and TV Reboots: 7 The Best of the Rest #Spoof

THE BEST OF THE REST

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The Fourth Kind (2022… and again in 2026… and again in 2027) 

The idea was just too damn cool. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t.

How we tried to like the 2009 original. That owl idea was just too damn cool. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t. By the way, the reboot(s) won’t be, either. Sorry to break it to you.

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Final Destination (2022)

Same plot as the original… and the sequel…

Same plot as the original. And the sequel to the original. And the second sequel. And the third. Aaaand the fourth. But with new actors. $100,000,000 box office?

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Hitcher (2024)

REBOOT!

The 2007 remake wasn’t that good, so, yeah… REBOOT!

© 2016-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

CREDITS:

Cabin Fever: http://www.dreadcentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Cabin-Fever.jpg

Fourth Kind: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenna-busch/emthe-fourth-kindem-revie_b_342812.html

Final Destination: https://wall.alphacoders.com/by_sub_category.php?id=231695

The Hitcher: http://crypticrock.com/this-week-in-horror-movie-history-the-hitcher-1986/

Labyrinth: http://www.sbs.com.au/comedy/article/2015/11/30/disturbingly-tight-pants-family-movie-labyrinth

Harry Potter: http://aretheyoldenough.com/are-they-old-enough/project/harry-potter-philosophers-stone/

LotR: http://www.androidauthority.com/fellowship-google-free-574980/

X Files:  http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/the-x-files/38483/the-x-files-episode-1-spoiler-free-review-my-struggle

Back to the Future: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28374-back-to-the-future-does-physics-of-martys-time-travel-add-up/

Star Wars Episode I: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/star-wars-episode-i–the-phantom-menace/review/

Left arrow: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c1/Circle_arrow_left_font_awesome.svg/2000px-Circle_arrow_left_font_awesome.svg.png

Right arrow: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/47/Circle_arrow_right_font_awesome.svg/2000px-Circle_arrow_right_font_awesome.svg.png

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Upcoming Movie and TV Reboots: 6 “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” (2028) #Spoof

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (2028)

Following George Lucas’ death in 2027, a respectful period of around six weeks is observed…

Following George Lucas’ death in 2027, a respectful period of around six weeks is observed before the announcement of the most keenly craved reboot in cinematic history: Star Wars Episode I. Time to cut that cancerous mass, AKA Episodes I, II, III, out of humanity’s consciousness, burn every copy, and pretend they never existed. And this plan definitely wasn’t in the works for years behind George Lucas’ back…

Directed by J. J. Abrams’ protégé’s protégé’s protégé who was poetically born in 1999, the year Phantom Menace was released.

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Series Review “Unorthodox” (2020) #NetflixReviews #100WordReview

Powerful

Unorthodox is the story of Esther (Shira Haas), a nineteen year old from a Hasidic Jewish community in New York, who tries to flee her arranged marriage and authoritarian community to build a new life for herself. But will her community, or her husband, let her escape?

Unorthodox is, I believe, the first Netflix series shot in Yiddish, which makes it notable. It’s an engrossing story which paints a powerful picture of a repressive community without ever getting into Judaism-bashing. The limited series was infused with realism.

Powerful.

4/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.kveller.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/unorthodox.jpg

Film Review “The Motive” a.k.a. “El Autor” (2017) #150WordReview #NetflixReviews

Beautifully portrayed by sociopath-on-demand Javier Gutiérrez

Álvaro (Javier Gutiérrez) is a worn-out notary who harbours dreams of becoming a successful writer of high literature and is thoroughly tired of people constantly going on about his successful wife Amanda’s (María Leon) latest novel. “Writing about what you know” doesn’t yield great results when you’re a boring clerk, so Alvaro decides to cause conflict in his own life and the life of those around him in the hope that this will bring better results.

The Motive a.k.a. El Autor (‘The Author’) is a slow-moving, delicate yet thrilling character study. Beautifully portrayed by sociopath-on-demand Javier Gutiérrez (see The Occupant), we can see the cogs turning in Álvaro’s brain by the slightest pause or flicker of the eyes. Gutiérrez brings everything to this highly believable portrayal.

The script, based on Javier Cercas’ 1987 novella, is highly believable. But despite its strengths, this film will not to be everyone’s tastes. There isn’t a lot of “action”, but there is a lot of scheming. Nonetheless, a fantastic movie.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.tvqc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ELAUTOR_CARTEL_800x1143_web.jpg

Film Review “Retribution” a.k.a. ‘El Desconocido’ (2015) #100WordReview #NetflixReview

a 102 minute long white knuckle ride

When Carlos (Luis Tosar) decides to take his kids to school one morning, he imagines that the breakfast time argument with his wife Marta (Goya Toledo) is the worst thing that would happen to him. Little does he know that his car is rigged to a bomb which will explode when they leave the car. But who is this mystery stranger responsible, and what does he want?

Retribution a.k.a. El Desconocido (‘The Stranger’) is a 102 minute long white knuckle ride, a crime-action-thriller so tense that I found myself agitatedly yelling at the screen. Believable, and with good performances from our leads including the stranger (Javier Gutiérrez).

Taut.

4/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://pics.filmaffinity.com/El_desconocido-444971289-large.jpg

Film Review “Wildling” (2018) #NetflixReview

when her daddy is played by the mercurial Brad Dourif, you know things aren’t as straightforward as she has been led to believe.

Anna has spent her whole life locked in a cabin in the woods with her daddy, the last survivors of an apocalypse where the monstrous “wildlings” devoured all of mankind. Now blossoming into teenagehood, she finds herself seeing things in a way she hadn’t considered before. And anyway, when her daddy is played by the mercurial Brad Dourif, you know things aren’t as straightforward as she has been led to believe.

Wildling is a fantasy-horror which does not fit the mould. An unusual film, it not so much twists and turns, as it is surprises us as it wends its way. This film will not appeal to everyone. Why? Its very genre changes as the film goes on; we see the ground shift beneath us and suddenly things are different again. Therefore, being a bit of a genre-bending pic, it won’t be pure horror enough to satisfy some horror fans, nor fantastical enough for many of the fantasy crowd, and it just has too much everyday drama for the first two groups. None-the-less, this is an entertaining, original film which sucks you into its world.

There are great performances from the aforesaid Dourif and his fellow players. Especially good is Collin Kelly-Sordelet who gives a sensitive and believable performance as Ray, Ellen’s younger brother, a quirky outsider himself who is able to connect with Anna. These strong performances are the iron track that this quirky tale runs assuredly on.

Wildling was Fritz Böhm’s first feature length screenplay. He did so well that he’s obviously become a trusted quantity as he will be directing the upcoming Escape Room 2 (2021).

A wonderful tale that, while not everyone’s cup of tea, should be sampled by all.

3/5

© 2020-2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/bp0ZDMa2e85nj5T9Maiv1U4qU0l.jpg

Film Review “Fragile” (2005) #NetflixReview #150WordReview

subpar

A nurse struggling to overcome a recent tragedy starts work at a rundown hospital where an evil presence menace the young wards under her charge.

Fragile features a measured and convincing performance from Calista Flockhart. Sadly, her co-stars don’t quite convince, especially Elena Anaya (nurse Helen) and mandatory mental kid Maggie, Yasmin Murphy.

The story was fairly generic, but none-the-less decently constructed. It’s just that this is something we’ve seen many times before. None-the-less, the “abandoned” part of the hospital has a believably thick and creepy atmosphere, highly believable, and this kept us watching (more-or-less).

Not bad stuff at all, but subpar and fairly forgettable. Better execution from all players and the special effects department is what Flockhart deserved for her performance.

2/5

© 2021 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://horrormovies.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/fragile-2005.jpg