New York Film Festival capsules: ‘Alan Partridge’ and ‘Stray Dogs’

Steve Coogan (oppposite Tim Key) brings his most famous character to the screen in "Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa." Credit: Magnolia Pictures
Steve Coogan (oppposite Tim Key) brings his most famous character to the screen in “Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.”
Credit: Magnolia Pictures

‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’
3 Globes
America has never fully embraced — nor been terribly made aware of — Alan Partridge, the boorishly egomaniacal radio DJ who is actor and writer Steve Coogan’s most famous creation. (After the version of himself he plays in films like “The Trip,” that is.) Newbies need not necessarily delve into the character’s many shows to get lots out of his long-planned spin-off. It’s a thoroughly self-contained episode, where Partridge — a major inspiration on “The Office”’s David Brent — finds himself at the center of a hostage situation. That’s by his own force: Once booted from his own TV show for accidentally killing a guest (plus poor ratings), he hopes to steal back the limelight when his tiny digital radio station is taken over by a fired DJ (Colm Meaney) with a gun.

Quotables inevitably run wild, though the comedy can be a bit too broad. (Coogan almost makes a de-pantsing scene work, but it feels like a desperate bid to placate mass audiences.) At the same time, it’s a bit too modest, setting up a vicious satire along the lines of the great, bitter Billy Wilder film “Ace in the Hole” — in which Kirk Douglas’ journalist exacerbates a mining disaster to milk it for extra press — only to stop before it draws blood. Still, funny’s funny, and most is forgiven when Partridge (to cite one example) callously introduces Neil Diamond as “far as I’m concerned, the real ‘King of the Jews.’”

‘Stray Dogs’
4 Globes
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard anything prominent from Taiwan’s deadpan minimalist Tsai Ming-liang (“What Time is it There?,” “The Wayward Cloud”). His latest at first blush sounds (and even feels) like a work of Importance: a look at the homeless, trying to eke by in an unforgiving city (and later unforgiving urban wasteland). Tsai regular Lee Kang-sheng plays a human billboard caring for two kids. Tsai’s camera stares unblinkingly as he stands in tableaux shots, sometimes amidst terminal downpour and while muttering to himself. Around the hour mark things start getting weird and more traditionally Tsai-esque (albeit without the usual leftfield song-and-dance numbers). Characters shift, multiple women come to the children’s aid and if you think this won’t end with a few career-topping epic long takes, then you’re wrong.


Egypt calls for Gaza ceasefire as fighting rages

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume peace talks, but violence continued unabated.


SpaceX rocket terminated in Texas test flight

A Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 rocket suffered an anomaly shortly after launch on a test flight, triggering its automatic termination system.


MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…


U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…


Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.


Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm


Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.


Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."


3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…


3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.


Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.


Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…


Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…