Watch the First Trailer for Michael Winterbottom’s ‘The Look of Love’

Personally, I have always found director Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan to be a perfect pairing. After their successful collaboration with 24 Hour Party People, the two made the tragically hilarious The Trip, and now soon see the theatrical release of their latest, The Look of Love. After opening at Sundance to mild reviews, the film will open next month in the U.K. but we’re still waiting on a U.S. date. Starring Coogan at the iconic Paul Raymond, the film follows the life of the British nightclub owner/adult magazine publisher  who was nicknamed the “King of Soho” back in the 1950s and ’60s. He stars alongside Anna Friel, Imogen Poots, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, and David Willams in the film that finally has been given a proper trailer thanks to the Guardian

The official synopsis for the film reads:

After starting his show business career as a mind-reader in a cabaret act, Paul Raymond went on to become Britain’s richest man and a modern King Midas. With an entrepreneurial eye and a realisation that sex sells, he began building his empire of gentleman’s clubs, porn magazines and nude theatre – provoking outrage and titillation in equal measure.
Raymond’s personal life was as colourful as his revue shows. His marriage to Jean, a nude dancer and choreographer, ended in a difficult divorce when he met Fiona – a glamour model who became the famous pin-up star of his magazines and shows. His daughter Debbie was the true love of his life, his business partner and heir to his empire – until her tragic and untimely death aged 36. Three weeks later Raymond was named Britain’s richest man and his fortune put at 1.5 billion

Check out the trailer below.


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British Television Comedies You Should Be Streaming On Netflix Right Now

I’m always shocked by people who can find nothing to watch on Netflix Instant. Do they not know that all seven seasons of Bobby’s World are on there? (Side note, Netflix: I know I like cartoons, but you’re way off your game.) At any rate, it’s worth mentioning that a lot of the top-shelf stuff without subtitles on offer are British TV comedies. And many deserve a try!

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Spaced — One that most people have already seen, but any fans of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright movies (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) needs to burn through this whiplash-happy sitcom about would-be artists.

The Inbetweeners — Low raunchiness about teenage schoolboys trying to get laid, done with surprising wit and that expertly clammy awkwardness and humiliation the Brits do so well.

Peep Show — Sort of like if two of The Inbetweeners grew up and shared a flat, only in addition to hearing the awful things they say aloud, you can hear their foulest, innermost thoughts.

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Black Books — A tour de force of a drunken performance from Dylan Moran (also of Shaun of the Dead) as a chain-smoking, bad-tempered and cruelly misanthropic Irish bookstore owner in London.

That Mitchell & Webb Look­ — Top-notch sketch comedy from the duo behindPeep Show. You’ll wonder how you ever sat through SNL.

The IT Crowd — Another from the creator of Black Books, this time about the basement-dwelling tech geeks at a corporate behemoth. A passionate and convincing case for the lately unfashionable three-camera sitcom in the 21stcentury.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret — An underappreciated project from David Cross (co-starring a Bluth-esque Will Arnett) about a hapless American bluffing his way into the worst trouble England can offer.

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Snuff Box —WARNING: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Let’s just say if you think stuff like Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! is sick and twisted—and could stand to go a bit further—you’ve found the right show.

The Trip — Was a series, now condensed into a delightful film. But then anything that leaves Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon alone on camera together is must-watch.

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London Opening: Roganic

With his Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume having scored significant screen time in the new Steve Coogan flick The Trip (during which visit the comedian does a positively brilliant Ray Winstone impersonation), Simon Rogan arrives now in fashionable Marylebone with the wind decisively at his back. But his latest foodie mecca Roganic (get it?) actually has an pre-ordained expiration date: he plans to close it up in just two years time.

As you might have guessed, the menu worships at the altar of ingredient purity, with Rogan’s rustic, organic British menu going as far as to even feature seemingly unpronounceable edible plants (chenopodiums, anyone?). Five course and ten course menus resound with glorious Englishness, the verbal poetry of such items as Cumbrian Herdwick Hogget or Seawater Cured Kentish Mackerel veritably rising to the delectability of the dishes themselves. The Warm Spiced Bread comes, naturally, with buckthorn curd and smoked clotted cream. Jolly good!

Interiors are stylishly but quite understatedly modern, so as not to distract from the culinary ecstasy. And indeed, you are rather assured a dining experience that is positively … Rogasmic.

Summer Movie Reviews: ‘The Trip,’ ‘The Devil’s Double’ & ‘Project Nim’

The Myth of the American Sleepover David Robert Mitchell’s directorial debut begins when Maggie (Claire Sloma), one of the film’s four teenage leads, decides to skip an end-of-summer sleepover party to chase after an older boy she likes. The camera then cuts to Rob (Marlon Morton), who’s looking for a girl he saw in a grocery store earlier that day, and then to Claudia (Amanda Bauer), who’s taken Maggie’s place at the all-girl soiree. Finally, it settles on Scott (Brett Jacobsen), a high school senior whose recent breakup has him contemplating the meaning of life. Nothing really happens in the film: there are no moral lessons, no life-altering revelations. There is, however, something familiar about the group’s adolescent vulnerability, which can be felt in the actors’ clumsy, monotonic delivery. Mitchell hired real kids instead of pros, and it shows. Whereas John Hughes understood that high school was still recognizable under a Hollywood shellac, Mitchell knows that you don’t need good lighting or a Glee star to create something authentically emotional. —Cayte Grieve

Project Nim In Project Nim, Academy Award–winning filmmaker James Marsh (Man on Wire) turns his camera on Columbia University in the 1970s, when an animal language research group tried to close the book on the nature-versus-nurture debate. Marsh’s exposition-heavy documentary introduces audiences to an infant chimpanzee named Nim Chimsky, the subject of what amounts to a real-life version of The Truman Show. We witness a diapered Nim curiously exploring the complex human world—and his caretakers’ optimism about his initial linguistic progress. As the years pass, however, disagreements within the group proliferate in tandem with now-adolescent Nim’s increasingly unpredictable and violent behavior, which eventually forces the project’s premature termination and Nim’s return to the primitive cages where he was born. Project Nim is an important testimony to the often cruel cost of science, and a telling reminder that chimps and humans aren’t so different after all. —Rory Gunderson

The Trip In this gorgeously shot but otherwise spartan comedy, director Michael Winterbottom sends his two leads, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon—playing exaggerated versions of themselves—on a road trip through picturesque northern England. Coogan has agreed to review a half-dozen upscale restaurants for The Observer, an assignment he initially took to impress his foodie girlfriend. But when she abruptly returns to America, he reluctantly invites his actor friend (Brydon) to take her place. Coogan plays a frustrated thespian entering midlife, hoping to land more meaningful roles while easing his pain with weed and women. Brydon is an able foil as the somewhat annoying friend—happy family, successful career—who becomes more likable as his unwavering optimism infects his recalcitrant partner. Over the course of 100 minutes—culled from a six-part BBC series—the duo exchanges insults, compares impersonations (their Michael Caine battle was a minor YouTube hit last year), and samples some of the finest cuisine ever prepared in the British Isles. It’s a buddy comedy, a road movie, and food porn all rolled into one. —Victor Ozols

The Devil’s Double An unfortunate resemblance to Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday (Dominic Cooper), forces Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia (also Dominic Cooper) to serve as the loathed progeny’s body double in Lee Tamahori’s The Devil’s Double. Under looming threats to his family’s safety, Yahia consents to plastic surgery, dental work, and a wardrobe makeover that casts him as Saddam’s “third son,” a carbon copy of Uday, a coke-snorting sadist with a murderous temper and a habit of preying on underage girls. A respectable and level-headed man who first told his real-life story in a 2003 memoir, Latif’s is the only voice of reason in an otherwise trigger-happy, amoral world. —Nadeska Alexis

Steve Coogan on Gentlemen’s Clubs, ‘The Trip,’ & Fighting with Co-Star Rob Brydon

The average American has a tough time identifying Steve Coogan by name alone. Based on some arbitrary polling I conducted on the streets of Los Angeles, most people pretend to know Coogan’s name, then gaze off into the hazy June horizon in search of a face. When I offer “wild British director in Tropic Thunder who has his decapitated head tongued by Ben Stiller,” most people experience a flash of recognition. A few mention Booty Sweat and start giggling. This is comparable to someone from across the pond attempting to identify, say, Steve Carell and settling on “that bloke from The Daily Show.”

Coogan is a comic legend in the U.K., most notably thanks to the long-running series of BBC shows based around his Alan Partridge character, a pompous radio DJ (he’s also won three BAFTA awards). This is how Coogan’s career has been divided by the Atlantic: experimental comedy superstar in the United Kingdom; quietly memorable supporting character in studio comedies in America. This summer is no different. You can currently see him starring as a slightly soused version of himself in Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip, a layered comedy buffet meant for those finely attuned to British humor. Later this August, he’ll play in the Weinstein Company’s Our Idiot Brother, in which he supports Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel — probably as “the British guy.”

It’s easy to imagine that the dual nature of Coogan’s career might leave him inwardly discontented (it’s an existential/career conundrum gestured at in The Trip to great comic effect). In fairness, there have been a few tabloid brawls over his personal life, mostly pertaining to sex, drugs and, oddly, Courtney Love. But when he took the time to talk with me about The Trip, the differences between British and American comedy, and whatever happened to his decapitated head in Tropic Thunder, Coogan’s upbeat humor and intelligence signaled that he’s rocketed into the next stage of an already-fabled career.

Last week, it was announced that you would be starring as Paul Raymond, the British billionaire porn baron, in a biopic about his life, directed by long-time collaborator Micheal Winterbottom. Congratulations. Thanks, we haven’t started preproduction on it yet, but we have a script and it’s something I wanted to do for a long time. Micheal Winterbottom liked the idea and Matt Greenhalgh [writer of Control, the film about Joy Division] has written a pretty good script. It will be fun and, most importantly, it will be different.

What type of research will you be doing for it? Well over the past few weeks, we have gone to what I can only describe as Gentleman’s Clubs to try and soak up that sort of male-only constructed objectification of women that we personally find repugnant and horrific. But because we’re so dedicated to the project, we put ourselves through the pain of seeing some women take off their clothes at these table-dancing clubs. Finally, we have got those over and done with and out of the way, so that we can go on with our wholesome lives.

How dedicated. Well, you know, it’s all about the method.

What’s the primary difference between British and American humor? Americans don’t like the idea of revealing weakness, and if they do it’s very muted. Americans don’t like losers, while British really like losers. Americans like winners. Even if a person screws up, they basically have to be a winner at the end of the day. I don’t think Americans like looking at ugly people, either. Everyone has to be very good looking. That is, unless they are really interesting or it’s an old person—then they can be ugly. However, the upside is that you Americans try to look inside yourselves, understand yourselves and what makes you tick. We don’t do that in England. We’d rather kill ourselves then have any type of psychoanalysis. The upside is that we express affection for each other by taking the piss out of each other and mocking each other. We don’t really say “I Love You” in England. That’s why we’re oppressed emotionally. But it makes for better comedy, I think, when you’re ruder to each other.

A lot of American comedy, namely The Office, has been influenced by British comedy. Are Americans finally catching on to the British sense of humor? Maybe. But a lot of that has to do with what works. A lot of what plays in America has to do with number crunching and the bottom line. In Britain there’s still a nationalized institution like the BBC, which is government owned and takes risks, experiments with comedy and programs in general, even if they don’t make lots of money. No one watches it but we still put it on TV because we think it’s good. In America, if someone’s not being paid, it gets the bullet.

So how did The Trip come about? Michael and I have worked on a couple movies together, like 24 Hour Party People and Tristam Shandy, and he asked me if I wanted to do this thing. I told him I didn’t really want to do it, because I didn’t think it had legs. But he finally convinced me and I think he’s pulled it off quite well. It depends on how you view the movie, I suppose. It was conceived as both a TV series—with six half-hour episodes where we visit a different restaurant in each one—and as a ninety-plus minute film, which takes excerpts from each restaurant and sews them together into a narrative. It was Michael’s idea that Rob [Brydon] and I could improvise together and use versions of our personalities to examine more universal topics of middle-age, career identity, and male friendship.

Does Rob really annoy you in real life as much as he does in The Trip? Yes, he does annoy me. Not quite as much in the movie, but he does annoy me. I’m being really honest here, not even facetious for the sake of comedy. That’s the brutal, honest truth. I mean, you constantly read these interviews with actors going, “Oh he’s so great, he’s so talented” and they never say one tiny negative thing because they’re all moving in this PR machine. I always want to say “Really? When you worked on the movie everyone was fucking great? I don’t believe you. You’re lying. Say something real.” What we did with the movie was we exploited that by making Rob even more annoying and making me even more pretentious and self-important and affected and neurotic and unhappy. We shot it over five weeks, which meant we’d occasionally have a genuine disagreement at dinner or when we were driving to set, and we’d try to remember it and slip it into the film. There were actually times where Rob would have to tell me to stop speaking, to save it and wait for when the cameras were rolling.

The film ends on a lonely note. Is there a part of your character — or you yourself — that regrets giving up the family life for fame? I think what the film tries to get across through my character is that my success is a poison chalice, as it were. I’ve made a Faustian pact or I’ve lost my soul in exchange for success in my career. Or something. I don’t think there is a moral judgment here — people make choices throughout their lives and there is no right way or wrong way to be. It deals in shades of gray. At the end of the film I end up in a beautiful bachelor pad with no friends and no girlfriend. In truth, I live in a larger house that’s a bit more rambling, and I’ve got a family. A dysfunctional but authentic family life.

Ben Stiller makes a hilarious cameo in The Trip, poking fun at your times working together in American films. We communicate with certain regularity and keep threatening to do something close and collaborative together. I think he admires what I’ve done in my career, and I’ve always respected what he has done with his work. What I like about Ben is that he never dials in a cynical performance, even in his commercial work. There’s something cerebral. He manages to do the Holy Grail of comedy — walking that fine line between appealing to a wide audience, yet keeping it smart at the same time. I’ve never been able to pull that off, except maybe on one of Ben Stiller’s movies and maybe once or twice on British TV. If I’m lucky I get cool people liking me.

Whatever happened to your fake, decapitated head from Tropic Thunder? I don’t know, and I really should have asked if I could keep it. I have photographs of my then-11-year-old daughter holding it, which I’ve got to put on the wall, because as far as father-daughter photos go — her holding my severed head and smiling — it doesn’t get much better. In fact, I think I’ll frame it and put it on my work desk. Whenever I’m feeling vulnerable I can look at it.

How do you come up with your characters and do different impressions? The God’s honest truth is I started out twenty-something years ago doing impressions on stage, and it got me in the door in the business. But once I was in the business, I hated it. I mean, you hear a good impression, and you might think it’s a little funny, and then a part of you thinks “That guy’s a fucking jerk.” I hadn’t done them for years until we did The Trip, and it kind of worked when I was doing it under the guise of an indie arthouse movie. But when I go on TV and they ask me to do impressions, it takes everything in my power not to be an asshole. Of course, the irony is if you were to go to a party with me, one drink in and I’d be doing impressions for everyone.

You’ve settled down recently from your younger, wild days — except for the Paul Raymond research, of course. Of course, yes.

Do you think that’s affected how you perform in comedy? Yes, yes is the answer. People who are actors, if they are any good, put their own experiences into what they do. I had some rough times with the tabloids, and I’m angry with them and a little angry with myself. But in truth, the old cliché is if it doesn’t destroy you it makes you stronger. This is never more true then when you’re creative. Years ago I would have been overly concerned with people thinking bad things about me. As you get older, you realize that you want to use the faults, the inconsistencies or what have you, to do something interesting. And it doesn’t matter if people think you’re a jerk.