Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

I got to see this movie last night, and really didn't know what to expect. You always suspect that most writers secretly want to write a novel about being a writer, which was parodied in the original novel. And so to stay true to the spirit of the book the filmmakers take a brilliant step and make a movie about making a movie based on the bizarre, 'unfilmable' book.

With this we get to see the actors playing versions of themselves, with the lead actor, Steve Coogan (trying to shake his role as Alan Partridge) is especially good at conveying a particulary British combination of pompousness and pathos that you're never quite sure is entirely just acting.

The rivalry between the two lead actors, with them trading subtle barbs as Their respective importance to the movie comes into view also makes for some of the funniest moments.

Of course it happens that no one on the set except for one assistant has actually read the book, as you see Coogan being given some pre-prepared sound bites to use for an interview about the movie, like "the book was post-modern before there was a modernism to be post about".

This reminded me of the movie from last year that Don MacKellar did, Child Star, which was also a self-referential take on movie-making, with that one using a fictional ill-thought-out action movie about the U.S. President being rescued by his son. It makes sense that a British metafilm would use as its subject a movie based on yet another 19th century novel, with most of the people on the set not 'getting' the satire, and thinking that the battle scene and the love story must be the most important scenes to film and devote resources to.

Getting to see Stephen Fry playing himself was probably my favourite part. He's been turning up in interesting places lately, like as the voice of the book in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie and as a psychic in the movie about Peter Sellers.

This probably isn't a movie I'd want to buy and watch over and over again but it made me laugh, and there was a lot of understated bits of brilliant satire that make this a really good watch.
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By al - 9:41 AM |

Comments:
What'd you think of Hitchhiker's? I'm instantly biased. Which means I would sign a petition to have Ford revive the Prefect nameplate. Hey. It worked for VW.

Marvin (BBC) and Simon Jones's cameos were a nice touch. Mos Def was spot on as Ford. Could have done without the typical Hollywood love thing but can't blame it on the screen writer now can I? If only you could make a big budget film full on Brit - and get it by the suits...

Onward to Red Dwarf.
 
I loved it, actually. And yeah, the story was different, but the other three versions were different from each other in various ways as well. In this one Arthur Dent became a little more heroic which I really didn't mind, after four times around maybe the fellow learned a thing or two.
 
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