Colm Meaney

Alan Patridge

Editor’s note: Kate’s review of Alan Partridge originally ran during last year’s NYFF, but we’re re-running it as the film opens today in limited release. For the small subset of cinephiles who have long hungered for a major motion picture that places Steve Coogan’s moronic broadcasting character Alan Partridge into a situation resembling the Brendan Fraser-starring 1994 comedy Airheads, Alan Partridge is so perfectly tailor-made for their desires that it’s actually somewhat frightening. (It also doesn’t seem like an actual possibility, but clearly someone thought this was a good idea, or else the film wouldn’t even have been made.) Coogan has played Partridge for over twenty years now, with the character first appearing on the radio program On the Hour in 1991, and then serving as the centerpiece of his news broadcasting spoof show, The Day Today, which aired on the BBC for one brief seven-episode season back in 1994. Since then, Partridge’s dim bulb reportage has taken him from radio to television and back again, with Coogan’s portrayal of the criminally boring and weirdly entertaining disc jockey and television presenter continuing to be one of his most enduring and reliable comedic creations. Of course it’s about time he got taken hostage.

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Everyone remembers where they were when they first heard that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. I was in third grade, under the creepy Catholic tutelage of Sister Hermina (she refused to die!), and the lesson on Lincoln’s presidency had come to dramatic and shocking conclusion. Granted, those aren’t the words I would have used to describe it at the time, but I do recall feeling frustrated, confused, and angered at the tall, bearded man’s death. So why open a film review with a reference to a grade school history lesson? Because the film in question, Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, feels like a two-hour lecture on some of the very same material. Viewers learn about the coordinated assault against Lincoln and two members of his cabinet, the capture and conviction of those responsible, and their subsequent hangings for the crimes. While the material here is more detailed than the lesson taught by zombie nun it’s also presented dryly, without any real energy, emotion, or drama, and very much in the spirit of a made-for-television movie. It doesn’t help matters that Redford uses his directorial lectern to include some incredibly unsubtle and politicized comparisons to our own modern day battles between personal freedoms and national security.

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Robert Redford has directed a movie starring James McAvoy, Robin Wright Penn, Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Danny Huston, Stephen Root, Colm Meaney, Toby Kebbell, and Evan Rachel Wood. That should be enough to cause excitement. The Conspirator tells the story of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the ensuing police action and trial of the conspirators – including Mary Surratt, who became despised by an entire country. She was guilty until proven innocent. Check out the intense trailer for yourself:

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grades four new films: Get Him to the Greek, Splice, Marmaduke and Killers.

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Kevin Carr takes a look at this week’s movie releases, including Where the Wild Things Are, Law Abiding Citizen and The Stepfather.

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