Cinema Review: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

first-official-still-from-the-alan-patridge-movie-130261-a-1363280638-470-75

DIR: Declan Lowney WRI: Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham, Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons DOP: Ben Smithard ED: Mark Everson DES: Dick Lunn Cast: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Felicity Montagu, Sean Pertwee, Simon Delaney, Simon Greenall

If you were to analyse it from a critical standpoint, you would have to come to the conclusion that the history of British TV comedies transferring to the big-screen has been rather patchy. While there have been plenty of successes down through the years – the various films by the Monty Python crew being obvious examples – there have also been plenty of failed attempts to embody the spirit that was initially captured in its original format.

2002’s Ali G Indahouse was a misfire, and as recently as last year, we had Keith Lemon: The Film, which featured prominently on the ‘Worst Of 2012’ lists for many notable film critics.

Whenever films of this nature are released, there is always a huge amount of expectation from the loyal fans who helped to make the television series so popular in the first place, and it is no surprise that they are met with such derision when the finished product falls below the standards that were originally set.

The same sort of anticipation surrounds the arrival of Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan’s most celebrated creation, to the silver screen for the first time in the intriguingly titled Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, which finds the narcissistic Norwich broadcaster hosting Mid Morning Matters alongside his trusty ally, Side-Kick Simon (Tim Key).

Unlike films like Bean (the first of two cinematic outings for Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean), Borat and Bruno (the latter two proving more successful for the aforementioned Sacha Baron Cohen), Coogan and his team of writers have resisted the temptation for sending Partridge to America (and thus making this a ‘fish out of water’ tale), and have instead kept him in the familiar terrain of his home city.

Indeed, much of the film (which is perfectly paced and constructed at 90 minutes) takes place within the confines of the Norfolk Digital Radio station, which is being re-branded as ‘Shape’ by a new multinational conglomerate. As a result of this takeover, late-night Irish DJ Pat Farrell (played by our own Colm Meaney) finds himself surplus to requirements, and after receiving his P45 from the station, he arrives at an office party armed with a shotgun, and proceeds to keep the employees of the station (and some members of the conglomerate) hostage.

Despite initially fleeing the scene, Alan Partridge is forced to re-enter the station, as he is the only person that Farrell is willing to speak to, and as a media frenzy starts to develop around the siege, Partridge finds himself thrust back into the media spotlight, with the former Knowing Me, Knowing You host only too willing to capitalise on a unique opportunity to boost his flagging profile.

Along with the return of the titular character, Felicity Montagu is also back as Partridge’s long-suffering assistant Lynn Benfield, while Simon Greenall’s Michael The Geordie has progressed from being a hotel worker and petrol station attendant in I’m Alan Partridge to the position of security guard at Norfolk Digital.

Side-kick Simon was also established in the recent web-based Mid Morning Matters mockumentary series, and with these much-adored characters back in the saddle, there is plenty for Partridge devotees to love about Alpha Papa. The wit and humour of his TV incarnations have also remained intact, but the filmmakers have worked overtime to ensure that they aren’t simply re-capping old material, and have made a film that is accessible to punters who have limited knowledge of a character that has been in the public domain since 1991.

By now, Coogan is so comfortable in his role as Partridge, that it doesn’t even seem like he is acting. He has shown in his other work (particular under the direction of Michael Winterbottom) that he is a fine actor with plenty of range, but this is the one role that he will always be remembered for. The new additions to the cast all adapt to the environment with a great deal of gusto, none more so than Meaney, who has to hold his own as a jilted, dinosaur Disc Jockey.

The former Star Trek star isn’t the only Irish involvement in making of Alpha Papa, however, as Wexford native Declan Lowney (who is best known for his work on Father Ted) is in the director’s chair, and there is also a supporting turn from Simon Delaney as one of the special forces operatives who are aiming to bring the siege to a satisfactory conclusion.

With jokes and set-pieces coming thick and fast at the audience, it is unsurprising that not everything in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa comes off in the way that you might hope, and though a huge effort has been made to ensure that the style of the film is cinematic, there are still some televisual touches to the overall product.

However, Coogan and co-writer Armando Iannucci (who has past form in transporting a TV series into the medium of cinema with The Thick Of It spin-off In The Loop), as well as the remaining three contributors to the finished script, have far too much affection for the character of Partridge (and indeed for the city of Norwich itself) to let their guard down, and with many quotable lines – “I am siege face” being one of the memorable – as well as some moments of genuine poignancy, Coogan & Co. have managed to deliver the goods on a project that had been in the pipeline for close to a decade.

Daire Walsh

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details) 

90 mins
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is released on 9thAugust 2013

 

Share

Real Time Updates on IFTA Awards RTÉ Broadcast

The IFTA awards were broadcast from 9:40pm on Saturday, 11th February on RTÉ 1. Film Ireland’s Gordon Gaffney and Michelle Cunningham were on hand with all the news, interviews with winners, exclusive photos and backstage gossip.

00:04 Full list of winners:

BEST FILM – The Guard – Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez Marengo, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe (Reprisal Films / Element Pictures)

DIRECTOR FILM John Michael McDonagh – The Guard (Reprisal Films / Element Pictures )

SCRIPT FILM John Michael McDonagh – The Guard (Reprisal Films / Element Pictures )

ACTOR – FILM Michael Fassbender – Shame (Momentum Pictures)

ACTRESS – FILM Saoirse Ronan –Hanna (Universal Films)

SUPPORTING ACTOR – FILM Chris O’Dowd – Bridesmaids (Universal Pictures)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS – FILM Fionnula Flanagan – The Guard (Reprisal Films / Element Pictures )

GEORGE MORRISON FEATURE DOCUMENTARY AWARD Bernadette; Notes on a Political Journey- Lelia Doolan, (Digital Quilts)

SPECIAL IRISH LANGUAGE AWARD Corp + Anam – Paddy Hayes (Magamedia)

ANIMATION The Boy in the Bubble – Kealan O’ Rourke (Igloo Films)

PHILIPS SHORT FILM AWARD Foxes- Lorcan Finnegan (Lovely Productions)

INTERNATIONAL CATEGORIES

INTERNATIONAL FILM Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (StudioCanal)

INTERNATIONAL ACTOR Ryan Gosling – Drive (Eclipse Pictures)

INTERNATIONAL ACTRESS Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs (Parallel Film Productions)

TELEVISION DRAMA CATEGORIES BEST DRAMA, IN ASSOCIATION WITH BAI, Love/Hate – Suzanne McAuley & Steve Mattews (Octagon Films)

DIRECTOR TELEVISION DRAMA David Caffrey – Love/Hate (Octagon Films)

WRITER TELEVISION DRAMA Stuart Carolan – Love/Hate (Octagon Films)

ACTOR – TELEVISION Aidan Gillen – Love/Hate (Octagon Films)

ACTRESS – TELEVISION Ruth Negga – Shirley (Prospect Cymru Wales)

SUPPORTING ACTOR – TELEVISION Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Love/Hate (Octagon Films)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS – TELEVISION Denise McCormack – Love/Hate (Octagon Films)

CRAFT / TECHNICAL CATEGORIES (FILM / TV DRAMA)

COSTUME DESIGN (FILM / TV DRAMA) Consolata Boyle – The Iron Lady (Eclipse Pictures

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY (FILM / TV DRAMA) Seamus McGarvey – We Need To Talk About Kevin (Artificial Eye)

EDITING (FILM / TV DRAMA) Isobel Stephenson – Love/Hate (Octagon Films)

M.A.C MAKE-UP & HAIR (FILM / TV DRAMA) Lorraine Glynn / Lynn Johnston – Albert Nobbs (Parallel Film Productions)

ORIGINAL SCORE (FILM / TV DRAMA) Brian Byrne – Albert Nobbs (Parallel Film Productions)

PRODUCTION DESIGN (FILM / TV DRAMA) Anna Rackard – Stella Days (Newgrange Pictures)

SOUND (FILM / TV DRAMA) Albert Nobbs – Brendan Deasy, Niall Brady, Michelle Cunniffe, Steve Fanagan (Parallel Film Productions)

CRAFT & TECHNICAL CATEGORIES (TELEVISION)

DIRECTOR TELEVISION Gary Keane – The Writing in the Sky (Real Films)

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY TELEVISION Peter Robertson – Waterways (Tile Films)

EDITING TELEVISION Ray Roantree – The Ashes of 9/11 (RTÉ)

SOUND TELEVISION The Writing in the Sky – Killian Fitzgerald/Aza Hand (Real Films)

TELEVISION CATEGORIES

CHILDREN’S / YOUTH PROGRAMME

The Importance of Being Whatever – Martina Niland & David Collins (Accomplice TV)

CURRENT AFFAIRS / NEWS Prime Time Investigates: The Home Care Scandal – Adrian Lydon (RTÉ)

DOCUMENTARY SERIES Waterways – Stephen Rooke (Tile Films)

DOCUMENTARY The Blood of the Travellers – Liam McGrath (Scratch Films)

ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME Mrs Brown’s Boys – Brendan O’Carroll & Justin Healy (BBC / RTÉ)

FACTUAL PROGRAMME The Only Viking In The Village – Anne Heffernan & Bernadine Carraher (Mind the Gap)

REALITY PROGRAMME ICA Bootcamp (Independent Pictures)

SPORTS Eamonn Coghlan – Man on a Mission – (Motive Television)

IRISH FILM BOARD RISING STAR John Michael McDonagh

23:44 So that’s the IFTAs over for another year, what was your highlight?  What didn’t you like?  Feel free to comment below.

23:42 Element Pictures’ The Guard picks up Best Film. No surprise there.

23:40 John Michael McDonagh wins again, this time Best Director Film for, of course, The Guard.

23:37 A stunning Olivia Tracey presents Best Actor Film IFTA to Michael Fassbender for Shame. Dedicates his award to his sister Catherine. He told us afterwards that he has spent the last 5 months listening to his own voice thinking I’m such a boring guy and I talk a lot of shit.

23:24 A genuinely surprised Fionnula Flanagan picks up the IFTA for Best Supporting Actress Film. She told us afterwards she had been thrown out of the Abbey School, soon after she was walking down the street and met the director of The Abbey Theatre, he told her to try out forA n Tríal in the Damer Hall on St Stephen’s Green. She got the part and it was her big break.  Also she felt she was in good company as Peter O’Toole was also thrown out of  the Abbey School.

23:11 It’s the RTÉ Guide Television Moment of the Year award voted for by the public presented by the lovely Laura Whitmore.

It’s the Shams goal to qualify for the Europa League.  I’m a Sligo Rovers fan, they are called Shams we are called Rovers.

23:09 Special Irish Language Award goes to Corp agus Anam.

23:08 Also Ryan Tubridy is not very fond of twitter, saying that there are a small number of very loud people on it.

23:06 Barry Murphy with some better jokes and timing presents the Best Reality Programme award. ICA Bootcamp wins it.

22:58 Ryan Tubridy to present Best Enteratinment Programme.  Gordon is crossing his fingers for Hardy Bucks.

No, Mrs Brown’s Boys storms to the win Best Entertainment Programme.  Speaking to us afterwards Brendan O’Carroll said he was bored until he won.

22:55 Armand Assante to present Best Actress in a Lead Role Film. Saoirse Ronan wins, her Dad Paul picks up the award after a short amusing delay. He had to answer the call of nature he told the audience which unfortunately didn’t make the broadcast.

22:50 Also well done to Lorcan Finnegan the director of Foxes, that won the Philips Short Film Award.

22:48 Brian@waxiebanjo tweets for us to spare a thought for all the film & tv professionals who are out of work/didn’t work in 2011.  Indeed Brian, well said.

22:45 Passionate speech from President Michael D Higgins as he introduces Fionnula Flanagan to receive her Lifetime Achievement Award.

Speaking to us afterwards she said very moved by the President’s speech and generous words from her peers.  Those she liked working with over her long career include Brendan Gleeson, Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman and Jim Carrey.  Also she is in Dublin working on Lance Daly’s new film Life’s a Breeze.

 

22:28 Dana Delany presenting the award for Best Actor in Supporting Role Film.  Nice use of word ‘Filim’ too.

Good man Chris!  Chris O’Dowd is Best Actor in a Supporting Role Film.  Speaking afterwards Chris said ‘I haven’t won anything since UCD best kisser of 1998’. He also told us he tried to convince Kristin Wiig to have the premieres in Ireland instead of London and that he had done loads of things that he would happily never talk about but Bridesmaids is something to be proud of.

22:20 Best Current Affairs and News, Fair City’s Aoibheann McCaul and Aoibhin Garrihy to present.

And the winner is Prime Time Investigates: The Home Care Scandal wins Best Current Affairs and News.

22:17 Brendan O’Carroll to present Best Documentary Series. Do you find him funny?

Waterways wins.  Producer Stephen Rooke’s Saving the Titanic features in the Spring 2012 Issue of Film Ireland out now.

22:09 Colin Morgan up to present the award  for Actress in a Lead Role Television.

It’s Ruth Negga for Shirley. All shy and gorgeous. Speaking afterwards she said wished she was funny and eloquent but she was not she was nervous. She heard rumours that Shirley Bassey really liked Shirley. Good for her!  Also she doesn’t want any more singing roles as she can’t sing.

22:07 Not many people laughing at that Russell Brand ‘joke’ there.

22:05 Director of Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rupert Wyatt to present the Irish Film Board Rising Star Award, no stranger to these shores as he shot The Escapist here a few years back.

22:01 Our host for the evening Simon Delaney getting stuck into the crowd, in a good natured non-Ricky Gervais way.  What did you think?

21:35 So the show is over, stay tuned here for updates once we leave CCD.

18:43.  Ok that’s us done for now.  The ceremony is kicking off but don’t worry there won’t be any spoilers from us, we will have full reports and more photos from 9:40pm.

18:42 Leigh Arnold excited at having a big night out at 7 months pregnant.

18:40 Michael Fassbender and Chris O’Dowd..just after a big man hug.

18:31 Bridesmaids’ Chris O’Dowd with fiancé Dawn Porter.

 

18:29 Brian O’Driscoll & Amy Huberman …very stylish.

18:28 Roz Purcell with the Irish Masterchefs Nick Munier, left, and Dylan McGrath, right.

18:11 Brendan Gleeson delighted with the success of The Guard.

18:08 Ahh! It’s Michael Fassbender…we got up close.

18:03 Roz Purcell showing us her purse!

18:00 The Hardy Bucks are here!

17:57 It’s a super smiley Bill Cullen! ‘It doesn’t matter what you wear it’s what you say’, a direct quote.

17:56 CSI’s AJ Buckley talks about his Irish roots.

17:47 Kathryn Thomas, looking very stylish. But who is yer man in the background?

17:46 Lady of the hour Fionnula Flanagan is ‘honoured’ by the lifetime achievement award she’ll be receiving later.

17:36 Dana Delaney looking glamorous in Prada, she told us in not so many words that she turned down the role of Carrie in SATC. That’s Sex and the City to the lads.

17:31 Miriam O’Callaghan in a Marion Murphy Cooney dress, looking as elegant as always.

17:21 Dublin actor Brian O’Byrne , best known for his role as Fr. Horvak in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby.

17:18 Brendan O’Carroll on the red carpet, he said he is a member of Mensa.  Is he joking or not?

16:04 Early birds gathering to catch a glimpse at the stars that will be arriving from 4:30pm.

 

 

Share

Simon Delaney to Host the 9th Annual Irish Film & Television Awards

Simon Dellany, host of the 8th Annual Irish Television Awards

The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) has announced that Irish actor Simon Delaney will return to host the 9th Annual Irish Film & Television Awards. This is Simon’s second successive year hosting the IFTA Awards Ceremony, which will broadcast from Dublin’s landmark Convention Centre (CCD) on Saturday 11th of February at 9.30pm GMT.

Commenting on hosting the IFTAs in 2012, Simon Delaney said:

‘I am so proud to be hosting the IFTAs again this year. There’s a lot to be proud of in the Irish film and television industry and what’s being achieved, and I think that’s what makes the IFTA night so special. We are all working to promote our business internationally and the IFTAs are our international calling card, we can stand behind this event and say, ‘look at this room, look who we have here, this is our creative industry – this is Ireland!

“People are already asking me what have you got up your sleeve for this year? We raised the bar last year with such a different show so expectations are now even higher for the IFTAs in February – so, no pressure! All I can tell you is that IFTA 2012 will be something very special!”

Áine Moriarty, Chief Executive of the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) welcomed Simon back to the Awards team by saying:

‘Simon was a terrific host last year as he is so well-loved by his peers and the public alike. He’s great to work with, such a professional and good fun too – so we’re delighted to ask him back. He’s had a busy year working on projects both in Ireland and the US and he’s always a proud supporter of the work produced by his fellow Irish actors and filmmakers. No doubt Simon will lead the way on the night with his impeccable charm, wit and mischievous, entertaining sparkle – we’re looking forward to it.’

The nominees for the Irish Film & Television Awards will be announced on Tuesday 10th of January 2012 with the Awards ceremony taking place on Saturday, 11th of February at Dublin’s CCD – broadcasting on RTÉ One at 9.30pm.

Share

An Interview with the Star of 'Zonad', Simon Delaney

Zonad

Zonad is the latest offering from Dublin brothers John and Kieran Carney. Produced by Element Pictures and featuring Simon Delaney in the guise of an alien visitor inflicting his wicked ways on the fictional town of Ballymoran, it is an irreverent and silly romp that makes no apologies for its farcical style. Shane Kennedy talks to Simon Delaney about the film.

‘Zonad’, the idea, has been around for some time, having been shot originally as a short film in 2003. While that short achieved semi-legendary status, the truth, as ever, is a little more prosaic.

‘It was an idea that came up about eight years ago, with John and his brother Kieran. It was really just an idea – it never saw the light of day. There was no clear vision of what it was going to be. Tom (Hall) had just gotten a new camera and wanted to play with it. There is one scene with Cillian Murphy drinking a glass of milk, that has survived but that’s the only part of it that anyone has ever seen. So we were talking about different things, possible projects and someone said, “well what about Zonad?” So we said “yeah, let’s do it”.’

Having worked with writer/directors John and Kieran Carney on the critically acclaimed Bachelors Walk, the shoot was something of a Bachelors reunion. Delaney enthuses about the experience and the Carney brothers’ open-minded approach to direction.

‘It was great working with the Bachelors Walk crowd again and Zonad was a fun film to work on. The guys have a great way of balancing work and fun, and still getting the job done. There is leeway in terms of where it can go within the shoot, while making sure that the thing gets done. If I’m left alone I’ll end up playing with a plug socket or something, but the work still has to be done.’

With a stack of ITFA nominations and one gong under its belt, Zonad has received plenty of positive pre-release publicity.

‘Getting nominated for six IFTAs was great, with Brian Byrne winning one for the soundtrack. He did a fantastic job, it’s almost like The Quiet Man. With Janice Byrne, it’s her first film straight out of acting school and she gets nominated for an IFTA – brilliant. We never really expected to win Best Picture, for example, but there really is no such thing as bad publicity.’

The affable Dublin actor is typically good-humoured when musing on the effect that jumpsuit might have on an unsuspecting audience. ‘It was hard work, getting in and out of that suit every day. I think we might have scared a few people at the IFTAs with the clips that were shown. There might have been a few salmon dinners not quite finished that night.’

With the success of John Carney’s Once at last year’s Oscars®, it has been said in some quarters that shooting a low-budget sci-fi comedy set in rural Ireland is something of a risk for a director whose stock is currently high stateside. Delaney, however, is confident that Zonad can be a success on both sides of the Atlantic, despite its seemingly limited ambition.

‘It’s going on general release here on Paddy’s day. We want the film to do well here in Ireland, firstly. We think that it has a chance of being successful beyond Ireland too. If you look at the top ten films in America at any one time, maybe 5 of those will be comedies. There is always an audience for silly, screwy comedy. On the back of the success of Once, there is every chance that there is an audience out there that might not have existed before. John Anderson of (New York based) Variety magazine gave it a five star review. He loved it. So we’re ambitious for Zonad.”

In terms of what Zonad is trying to be and what they believe it can do, Delaney is as self-effacing as ever.

‘It’s a mad comedy about a bloke who pretends to be an alien so he can get drunk and chase girls. Nothing more than that. It’s not going to change anybody’s life’.

Zonad goes on general release on March 17th

Simon Delaney can currently be seen in Roy, on RTÉ 2 and in Stones in His Pockets at Dublin’s Olympia 9–12 March.

Share

Test Screening in Dublin

Interested in movies? If so email nell@elementpictures.ie for a chance to attend a previewed test screening of a new Irish comedy starring Simon Delaney in Cineworld, Parnell Street at 6.10 on Monday 1st September.

As this is a test screening they are ideally looking for males between the ages of 17-25.

Share