Monday, April 10, 2006

Suck It, Guv'nor.

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
2005, UK
Michael Winterbottom
35mm

The English have a very unique style of filmmaking. Rather than taking the path of least resistance, as many national cinemas do, the UK film industry refuses to merely ape the style and form of Hollywood cinema. Instead, they take American films and add a gentle touch of flaming homosexuality, like accenting a severe gray suit with a lavender tie. No matter how gangster the lean, how slap the stick, delivering every line of dialogue from the mouths of pasty, rail-thin fops with accents like Victorian aristocrats with head-colds gives British film a unique flavor, and that flavor is semen. I love British comedy, as well as the English take on the gangster film, but there’s no way to be either tough or manly when you sound like Lord Bullingdon from Barry Lyndon. Tristram Shandy is no different. Here, Michael Winterbottom and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce attempt the grand experiment of filming an unfilmmable novel, and succeed in gaying up Adaptation.

The Terminator, from the British remake of T2: Judgement Day.

And, of course, it’s brilliant, because all great art comes from some form of mental illness, be it depression, schizophrenia, or homosexuality. The film is based on a book that seems so bizarre I’m not sure I believe it exists, despite owning it. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a rambling, wonderfully self indulgent piece of structuralist literature that’s so strange it’s been labelled post-modern by people who learned the term from Scream, despite the book being written in the 1760s. However, about 20 minutes into the film, it stops being about the book and starts being about the movie crew making the film. This is pretty annoying on paper, but fairly satisfying on screen. The book itself is about tangents and unpredictability, so it’s fitting that the film follows the same pattern.

This still from the movie demonstrates that Winterbottom took a very literal approach to filming the novel.

The cast is comprised of a “who’s who” of British actors, a stellar collection of preening queers unmatched even by the most densely cast volume of Priape’s School of Hard Cocks. Steve Coogan stars as Tristram Shandy and himself, no doubt because he jumps at any chance to talk directly to the camera. Rob Brydon, unfortunately from Little Briton, co-stars, along with the black girl from 28 Days Later and that pretty blonde with the horrifically crass Scottish brogue that’s in Extras. The film moves quickly and chaotically, adapting the novel in spirit if not in story, so in its own way, it makes a comment about the very process of adaptation that’s actually quite refreshing to hear. Or rather it would be, if it were intelligible over the mouthful of cock this movie’s sucking.

17 Comments:

Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

How can you NOT be gay with a name like Winterbottom?

12:46 PM  
Blogger Fatman said...

'...gives British film a unique flavor, and that flavor is semen.'

Heh heh heh.

This film could be damn interesting. Winterbottom (Jerk's right. How can it not be a gay film?) doesn't mind the old metafiction-y stuff. 24-Hour Party People was pretty cool in it's narrative structure and we know that he can make a story that shouldn't be interesting into something totally engrossing. Then again, Michael Winterbottom can make something as interesting as sex and make it utterly, utterly dull (ie. 9 songs).

1:58 AM  
Blogger Squish said...

Wow, I never would have thought you'd be into seeing this kind of film. It's that good eh? I might just have to check it out.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Jerk - Chemical castraion. And you're back! We were all getting so worried! Broadzilla almost cancelled her two week vacation.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

fatman - Winterbottom was a good choice for the film. I really enjoyed how we didn't insert himself into the film within a film, which was quite interesting, allowing for a third layer of gayness.

Squish - I actually like all kinds of films. I try to watch almost everything that doesn't star Martin Lawrence.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

No, I'm not back.
Broadzilla's on vaction?
From WHAT?!

12:30 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

From being pithy and cryptic on the internet. It's a difficult job, but somebody's got to neglect to do it very often.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Squish said...

Holy Jumpin' Ash, stop reading my mind... GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

9:05 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I'm not reading your mind. I'm just reading your reviews.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous broadzilla said...

Yes, but I'm back now. Pithy and cryptic, Ash? I was actually aiming for miserable and annoying. I'll try harder.

Jerk, if you quit the ‘Shrine, then so will I. It’s just not going to be fun around here if I don’t have anyone apart from Ash to ignore and occasionally condescend to.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

Quit the Shrine?!?
Are you kiddin, I paid for a full years membership and I'm using it!

Best $3 loonies I ever spent.

I quit bloggin for awhile, but since I have no life I'm back.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I'm glad I'm no longer fun to ignore.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

It's fun to ignore you?
How come nobody told me?

You ok man?
You need some dough?
I can send you $50 or sumthin.
That'd be like......$92 Canuck.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous B-Rian said...

Oh, and I neglected to mention that, despite having had many successful, healthy and wonderufl relationships, I also have a taste for gloriously perverse hardcore fetish porn (such as actually being able to fall back on memories when mentioning Ashley Blue getting squirted on...she's a bit of a one-trick pony though, as she seems far more interested in fisting her own mouth than doing much of anything else)...

Oh, and "Tristram Shandy" was good.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I like you, B-rian. You can stay.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous B-Rian said...

Damn right.

Go Broncos!

My word verification is "Otvih"!

6:08 PM  
Anonymous MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM IS A BLOODY FAIRY said...

BRITISH FILMS ARE LIKE A PLAGUE ON MANKIND, (a sort of hideous virus that must be wiped out), THE STRANGE THING IS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE, (especially out side of england), DONT SEEM TO REALISE THIS PLAIN AND SIMPLE TRUTH, THAT ALL BRITISH FILMS,(and i mean "ALL" british films, without exception), ARE ABOMINATIONS THAT MUST BE DESTROYED, IT DOS`ENT MATTER HOW CHARMED YOU MIGHT BE BY SOME LOAD OF POOFY PANSY WOOFTER POOFTER NONSENSE, FROM A TECHNICAL AND PROFESSIONAL STANDPOINT THERES NO GETTING AWAY FROM THE FACT THAT BRITISH FILMS ARE LAUGHABLE, INEPT, AND PATHETIC WHEN COMPARED TO THE BREATHTAKING MAGNIFICENCE AND VISUAL INVENTIVENESS AND GRANDIOSE BRILLIANCE OF THEIR AMERICAN COUNTERPARTS, SURELY YOU MUST BE ABLE TO SEE THAT, ITS SO FUCKING OBVIOUS. DESTROY THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY NOW !!!

12:57 PM  

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