Long strange trips and spooky tales

Paris Can Wait

Save your airfares and still see all the pretty bits of France from Cannes to the Seine? Sure, cinematic travelogues may not be the same thing… But at least in Eleanor Coppola’s dramatised road trip – in which Anne (Dianne Lane), the neglected wife of a hot shot movie producer (Alex Baldwin), gets to go on a grand tour of the country’s top sites and Michelin-rated bistros with a romantic Frenchman (Arnaud Viard), there’s the added frisson of suspense… Why does his car breakdown at remote and impossibly pretty picnic spots and not on some hideous autoroute? Why does he keep running into ex-girlfriends? And need to use her credit card? When will they get to a hotel that only has a single room with one double bed? The answers hardly matter in a film so enchanting, slyly surprising and ravishingly gorgeous to look at. And if you really need to ask any of them in the first place, maybe book that flight instead. PG from July 20. ★★★1/2

The Trip To Spain

After the last Trip (to Italy, Steve Coogan and Rod Brydon’s second after the Lakes) it was pretty clear sequels were in the bag. When will they get to Australia? Surely Michael Winterbottom’s unlikely hit series will stretch to our shores, though it has to be said – this is cinema’s oddest franchise. And what a formula! Two middle-aged blokes slicing each other up with their razer sharp wit (not always amicably), trading pop culture anecdotes spiced with duelling celebrity impressions (Mick Jagger doing Michael Caine – this is getting tricky) and then having sing-a-longs in the car. How could that possibly work? Maybe because both are so effortlessly hilarious, producing the sort of uncontrolled laughter that will have tears rolling down your checks. That said, some of the other bits, like Coogan having his professional vanity pricked once again, the ruminations on ageing and male pride have probably reached their limits, and the culinary porn on display this time around almost seems perfunctory. But fans of the first two won’t be disappointed, and anyone new to these very strange road trips is in for a delectable treat. M from Aug 3. ★★★★

A Ghost Story

“Well, I’ve never seen anything like THAT before!” my friend exclaimed after the preview. Was she thinking of the fact that its biggest star Casey Affleck spends most of his screen time hidden under a sheet, barely moving? Or that long interminable single take of its other art-house superstar Rooney Mara greedily devouring a large pie and then puking? A Ghost Story astonished audiences at the recent Sydney Film Festival, just as it has stunned critics the world over. The official synopsis of David Lowery’s strange tale about a man who haunts his grieving wife makes it sounds like pretentious festival twaddle (“a cosmic journey, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence”), and yeah, well, ok… It’s unique for sure, audacious too – difficult (maybe), but totally fascinating, entrancing and hypnotically watchable throughout. As to what it all means, I dunno… There may be a clue there in a dinner party guest’s extended (and very funny) monologue about the fate of humanity after the collapse of civilisation. Whatever, I’ll happily go along a second time to try and find out. M from July 27. ★★★★

Reviews – Russell Edwards