(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
(#41) The Trip
Comedy • dir. Michael Winterbottom • 2010 • UK
One thing there plain isn’t enough of in movies: sightseeing. No, really. In the overwhelming majority of mainstream films, plot is the be all and end all. We get characters speaking scripted dialogue in the present tense. We get disruption followed by struggle followed by resolution. We get franchises, sequels, and prequels. And in an endless, self-repeating loop we get taken on an EMOTIONAL JOURNEY. All of which is great in Casablanca, but much less so when you’re choosing between 10 screens of shit at your local multiplex. Just so long as the bean-counters are happy: same-old narrative filmmaking is the proven best bet for selling popcorn, and shooting in a studio is generally cheaper and more cost-effective (imagine doing your job in a different place everyday).
As its name usefully suggests, however, The Trip shows how every once in a while an enterprising filmmaker is fond of doing something different. Like, say, taking us on actual journey, for the shear, enhancing pleasure of it all. Most other films stick rigorously to the convention of the quick establishing shot. You know the drill: story moves to a new location and for a second we get a nice, wide-angle view of it. Before characters start speaking again in said new location, and we’re up-close and personal. What a con! Place is always secondary to story – no matter if it seems many times more diverting. The Trip is different. It dares to have just enough plot, and makes room instead for charm, spontaneity, wit, introspection, curiosity, and wonder. And the honest, funny, unhurried chemistry of its two leads, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing exaggerated versions of themselves in the course of – how simple! – a restaurant tour of northern England. It truly is amazing how liberated films can be when freed from the obligation of storytelling. They can slow down and race by all at once.