FlixChatter Review: The Trip To Greece (2020)

It’s been 10 years since the journey of two actors, Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, who embarked on a tour across UK’s finest restaurants and engage in amusing banters. At the time, it started with Coogan, who was asked by The Observer to do the project, but when his girlfriend backed out, he ended up taking his friend Brydon instead.

I remember quite enjoying that film, which felt like an experimental film by Michael Winterbottom with basically two people bantering while being served sumptuous meals at five-star restaurants and staying in fancy hotels. I guess your enjoyment of the film depends on how you feel about the actors themselves, which I happen to find amusing. I do remember in my super brief review of The Trip To Italy, that I had gotten tired of their schtick and their endless impersonations of other actors, thus I skipped The Trip To Spain.

Now, a decade has passed, and somehow I was intrigued to see both actors reunite, as they traveled from Troy to Ithaca following in the footsteps of the Odysseus. One thing I realize is how much of a snobbish jerk Coogan can be. I guess I have known that for some time, but here he’s quite insufferable as he mentions how he’s won numerous BAFTAS, blah blah blah… which makes Brydon seems far more affable by comparison. I wonder if that’s intentional, but it’s quite off-putting at times even when Brydon deliberately poke fun of his pomposity. One scene in particular highlights that, that is when Coogan ran into a Greek national who did a film with him a few years ago and he didn’t bother remembering his name even though he re-introduced himself. Brydon called him out on it, which was quite amusing.

The two actors talk about Greek history/mythology once in a while when they’re not busy doing impersonations (which is still amusing at times, but does get repetitive). I do enjoy British’s sarcastic humor and there’s plenty of that in this, but what’s different this time is there is a sad incident that gives the film a poignant layer. I won’t mention about it in details, but let’s just say that towards the end of the film it became a journey of grief for one of the characters.

I guess watching this film during a pandemic while most of us are under stay-at-home order feels like a vicarious experience as the Grecian scenery is truly drool-worthy. I do think part of the charm of this movie is the gorgeous cinematography and stunning landscapes. Seeing the bustling restaurants and people enjoying their vacations certainly make me so eager to see the world once again.

I’m glad I watched this movie and there’s certainly plenty of things to enjoy. As it says on the poster, this fourth ‘Trip’ movie is the final course, which means it’s the last of the series. I have to say it’s good that it’s the last one, as it’s on the verge of overstaying its welcome. The finale ends on a poignant and hopeful note, which I think is a proper farewell to the two friends’ decade-long odyssey.


Have you seen The Trip To Greece or other ‘Trip’ movie? If so, I’d love to hear what you think!

Weekend Viewing Roundup + The Two Faces of January (2014) review

Well last Friday was the first weekend of Spring but Winter’s still not done with us yet as it was the Winter Wonderland again Sunday night. I didn’t think the snow was going to stick but here’s what my neighborhood looked like as I left work this morning! I do love those snow-covered branches!

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Skipped the cinema again this weekend, but rented a few things from Netflix: Shaft (the 2000 version with Samuel L. Jackson – review upcoming) and The Two Faces of January. Apparently The Phantom of the Opera (2004) w/ Gerry Butler and Emmy Rossum is now on Netflix streaming so of course I had to rewatch that again. In fact, I also watched half of the 2006 BBC Jane Eyre w/ my dahling Toby Stephens. Wintry night in is meant for viewing indulgences 😉

RoyalDeceitOh, on Thursday night also rented what’s supposed to be a Danish re-telling of Hamlet called Royal Deceit. I couldn’t believe how horrible it was, it’s simply ghastly in terms of direction, script (if you can even call it that), production design, as well as acting. I only saw it because of the stellar cast: Gabriel Byrne, Christian Bale, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Tom Wilkinson AND a young Any Serkis (this was apparently his film movie), all of them were absolutely wasted in one cringe-worthy scene after another. I honestly thought the cast might’ve lost a bet or something to star in this movie, what a criminal waste of talents! If I were to rate it, it’d get a big fat ZERO reel as there is nothing redeemable about it.

Anyway, here’s my review of …

 The Two Faces of January

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A thriller centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who flee Athens after one of them is caught up in the death of a private detective.

This film seems to have the making of a great psycho thriller, given that it’s from the writer of great mystery thrillers The Talented Mr Ripley Strangers on a Train. I haven’t read Patricia Highsmith‘s novel, but I’d think the book might’ve been more exciting. It has its moments but it suffers from a rather sedate beginning and sluggish second act before it finally picks up in its third act.

I haven’t seen Viggo Mortensen in anything new in a while so it’s always nice seeing him here, playing an older, elegant businessman Chester Macfarland traveling with his young wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst). Mortensen is a solid actor and he does a great job here, but I find myself drawn to the tour guide/con-artist Rydal (Oscar Isaac) with his brooding good looks and dark, enigmatic eyes. There’s a palpable sexual chemistry between Isaac and Dunst, and Isaac also has some great dramatic scenes with Mortensen, especially towards the end.

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The breathtaking cinematography in Athens and Crete is practically a character in itself and it serves as a fine distraction during some of the film’s slower parts. The finale’s foot-chase scene in Istanbul was stylishly shot and that’s definitely the most exciting part of the entire film. Iranian director Hossein Amini made this film with a Hithcockian flair to it, and the use of light is quite dramatic, especially in the night time scene in a Greek ruin. Apparently this is Amini’s feature film debut so that might explain the uneven tone, but I think he did a pretty good job for a first timer and I’m curious what he’d do next.

I think the strength of the film lies in Mortensen and Isaac, and the film’s main conflict is ultimately between these two. Mortensen convincingly displayed the jealousy and paranoia that constantly haunted Chester, whilst Isaac’s character couldn’t seem to shake his lust for Colette that sucked him deeper and deeper into this dangerous predicament. I’ve been a fan of Isaac for some time and I sure hope he’d get more leading roles as he’s got such an effortless screen magnetism.

Given the intriguing plot and the cast, this could’ve been a really compelling and riveting noir thriller. As it is now, the film dragged in parts and felt longer than its 96-minute running time. It’s also hard to care about the unlikable characters, even if there’s a hint of redemption in the end. But overall I still think it was well-worth renting, especially if you’re a fan of Highsmith and Hitchcock and/or any of the cast.

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So did you see anything good this weekend? If you’ve seen The Two Faces of January, I’d love to hear what you think!