Michael Winterbottom?s TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY is a rollicking, inventive adaptation of the notoriously unfilmable British comic novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, written by Laurence... more » Sterne. Crammed with literary jokes and dark humor, and aided by stellar performances by Jeremy Northam, Rob Brydon and Naomie Harris, Shandy?s warped tales reveal far more about himself than any conventional autobiography. DVD Features:
Doris H. from MIDLOTHIAN, VA Reviewed on 2/24/2016...
I knew this was R rated but I didn't expect the sick sexual humor at the expense of a child actor. This happened at about 15 minutes into the movie and I stopped watching.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Barbara C. (woot) from FALLS CHURCH, VA Reviewed on 3/9/2010...
This movie might be interesting to anyone who is not actually hoping to see a film based on the novel Tristram Shandy. As presented it is more about making the film than about the story itself. There actually is no film about Tristram Shandy. Since Tristram Shandy is a very odd book and probably deserves the frequently quoted description of being a book that could not be made into a film, this effort may actually be quite entertainng to many people.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Susan H. (SusanH) from FAIRMONT, WV Reviewed on 1/24/2010...
As an Anglophile who adores all things British, all I can say is that it is 90 minutes I'll never get back. It may be more to other's tastes: a very dry, tongue-in-cheek, movie-within-a-movie, but I found it muddled and the actors' talents wasted. Perhaps I'm just missing the joke-I'm certainly sorry that I didn't like it. Maybe you will....
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Gretchen D. (Gretchendz) from ADA, MI Reviewed on 9/1/2008...
Very strange and very funny.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Very different, and very funny
Michael J Edelman | Huntington Woods, MI USA | 04/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Forget most of what you've read about this movie. It is not postmodern, nor "Pythonesqe", nor any of the other adjectives I've read in user reviews. What it is is a very intelligent, and very different piece of filmmaking that is quite unlike anything you've ever seen. If I had to compare it to any movie in recent history, I'd say it's a bit like "Adaptation", but that film was crude and heavy handed in comparison to "Tristram Shandy". It's also a bit like "This Is Spinal Tap" in the deadpan way it presents some very silly parody.
Imagine a Merchant-Ivory costume drama in which the principal actor suddenly stops, turns to the camera, and tells a Groucho Marx story, And imagine that part way through an increasingly confusing narrative, that keeps movinng forward and back, in fits and starts, the camera abruptly pulls back, and we see a film being made.
From that point on, "Tristram" becomes the story of the attempt to make a film from a very difficult to film novel, with a very difficult cast. The lead hasn't read the book, and is consumed with petty jealosies concerning the main supporting actor. The producers don't want to put any more money into it. And it just gets sillier, and sillier- while never quite falling into slapstick.
In point of fact, as conditions around the film get sillier, the lives of the main characters become more complicated, and consumed by some very serious issues. And yet everything slowly comes togethers, a few people learn a few lessons, and a film is made... although no one seems to ber very pleased with the results. And then, as the credits are rolling, the two main actors are debating acting techniques, in what may be the funniest scene of the entire film.
So what we have here is a very complex film that requires close attention, and perhaps even a little knowledge of literature and history to get all the jokes. This is not simple minded slapstick, and those who prefer that sort of humor simply aren't going to get it. But for veiwers who bring with them the intelligence to apppreciate all the jokes and references, it delivers a very satisfying and laughter filled two hours."
Inspired modern classic
S. King | 03/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brilliant modern take on an early novel. The director captures the premise of the novel: that life is chaos by setting the film in the past and present at once. Brilliant concept and execution. I didn't know what to expect, but thoroughly enjoyed the film and it's cleverness, it's inspired direction and editing and some stellar performances. A joy to watch."
"It was post-modern before there was a modern to be post abo
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To fully appreciate Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, most viewers who haven't read the famous Laurence Stern novel upon which the film is loosely based, will at least need to have an idea of its concept. But I cannot envisage getting into this film with no foreknowledge of both the novel and Steve Coogan's irreverent brand of comedy.
The tone is light-hearted and witty, and the performances are very good, and the period induced first half is an absolute riot, but Michael Winterbottom's latest film might be a bit elitist for most, depending a little too much on parallels to the classic book's structure and the fashionable imprint of Coogan's celebrity. It all presupposes that you're part of the "in" club and familiar with the humor to actually get the joke.
Anyway, for those of us who appreciate films that impertinently skewer the classics of English Literature the Tristram Shandy is mostly a real treat. The film begins with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in makeup, arguing over the colour of Rob's teeth and whether Brydon's part is a "co-lead" or a supporting role.
Coogan is supposed to be the title character, which makes him, supposedly, the star of the picture, but as the story progresses, he becomes increasingly concerned that his star wattage is being taken away from him. But I digress - the first half of the movie involves Tristram's birth as the movie constantly flips backwards and forwards with his father (played by Coogan) trying to meticulously plan his conception, birth and life. Shirley Henderson does a marvelous turn here as a maid trying to get everyone to focus on the birth.
The movie then interrupts Sterne's narrative and switches to the story of the director (Jeremy Northam) shooting a film adaptation of the book, starring Coogan and Brydon. The production is plagued with problems - the period shoes aren't high enough, the costumes aren't quite the correct period, and there isn't enough money for the battle scenes.
The story ambles between scenes of the movie being shot, and scenes of the actors, director, writer, producers, wardrobe people and others involved in the production as they wrangle, flirt and drive each other crazy. Coogan is beset by a sycophantic journalist while being pressured to constantly attend to his lovely girlfriend Jenny (Kelly MacDonald), who has traveled to visit him over the weekend with their infant son.
Coogan's assistant Jennie (Naomie Harris) - a film nut and Fassbinder enthusiast - has a crush on him, and in one-instance, propositions him. The film is shot, then re-shot, with the costumers resorting to tears and the production assistants getting more frustrated and when the film is finally screened for a group of writers and producers, they all realize what a monumental failure they have on their hands.
Luckily American actress Gillian Anderson is available to save the day, and at the last moment gets hauled in for a romantic subplot playing the previously excised Widow Wadman. The film is very clever in its re-imagining of the novel and all the actors are superb with their improvisations and impeccable timing.
Depending on how you feel about Steve Coogan, you might find that his constant banter becomes a bit irritating after a while. Characters seem to come into the film, then leave at random never fully coming into focus. I would love to have seen much more of Gillian Anderson and Shirley Henderson - and even more of the sexy Jeremy Northam.
The film also employs various stylistic devices such split screens, sideswipes and closing irises and of course there's the film within a film concept which as been used before. As a film about the difficulty of making a film based on a book about the difficulty of writing a book, Tristram Shandy is pretty unique.
It's probably a bit of a stretch to call it one of the best movies of 2006 so far, but parts of it are entertaining and it certainly takes us though the coarse and stressed out tumult of the classics of literature and movie making, breaking down celebrity, and focusing on all the obsequious and the nastiness that goes along with it. Mike Leonard July 06. "
Quirky, funny film about film
J. Marren | Glen Ridge, NJ USA | 10/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story" reminded me a bit of an Altman film--it's a story within a story about a novel being filmed--but it's really about the chaos of life. It has a bit of a amateur film feel about it, that draws one into the middle of the making of the film. The film opens with a vignette about the vanity of actors--are my teeth too yellow? do I look good with a big nose? should I get a chin tuck? am I too short? Characters move in and out, and it's not always clear who is who--the agent, the nosy journalist, the moneymen (and women), the history expert, the girlfriend, the pretty assistant, the babies. Some scenes are truly hysterical--all you need to know is that almost all of the Sterne novel happens before the narrator is born, and the filming of the birth is hilarious. This film is not for linear plot types, or those who are bothered by heavy British accents or mumbled dialog. It's sly, quirky--but I liked it much more than I expected to!"
I'm increasingly impressed with Michael Winterbottom
Tim Lieder | New York, NY | 02/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Michael Winterbottom directed one of my all-time favorite "Why aren't more people watching this" movies in 2003 - 24 Hour Party People and since then I've paid attention to every new release. I haven't liked everything he's ever done, but his versatility amazes me. Most artists like to stick to themes and genres. Scorcese does his mobster movies. Ellroy writes mysteries. Michael Winterbottom seems to pick his projects like most of us pick our next choice in reading matter - by closing his eyes and pointing to the next one. He's done science fiction, hard core arty pornography and now he tackles the first metatext with a metatextual movie that should feel stale (who hasn't seen these before) but looks new.
Apparently Tristram Shandy is the first post-modernist book before there was such a thing as modernism. This is Steve Coogan's encapsulation of the book in front of an interviewer half-way through the movie. It's also a book that's supposed to be about a guy's life story, but he's too busy with digressions to get to the birth. The actual movie-within-the-movie is full of references to storytelling conceits and actors (much like with 24-Hour Party People and anyone whose seen that movie will feel comfortable with Coogan narrating the piece and flying off on wild tangents) but that's only about a third of the movie itself.
The rest of the movie is back stage injokes, interviews and Coogan trying to one-up his co-star. The movie begins with a 10 minute discussion of teeth (white, not white, yellow?) and historical accuracy. The battle reenactment specialists work cheap (free in fact) but refuse to do anything that's not historically accurate (good to know that the civil war reeanacters of America have their British counterparts) and Steve Coogan plays up his tabloid image with a tabloid reporter dogging his heels asking for the "new father" interview, and threatening to run the "hooker in a hotel" story if Coogan doesn't deliver. Gillian Anderson even shows up to shoot a scene as the Widow character (originally left out of the production until an interviewer talks about how much he loves that scene) which is passed off as a bad dream on the part of Coogan.
Great supporting roles all around, especially by Kelly McDonald (who I've seen much too infrequently since her debut in Trainspotting) and Naomie Harris (another Boyle alumna) as Jenny, the production assistant who might be the only person on the set to have actually read the book.
I spent a few weeks puzzling over what I was going to say about this movie. It was too good and too weird even as I knew I saw most of these jokes before. Last night I saw Roeper and Ebert and I'm going to have to agree with Roeper and end my review aping his review. The only problem with this movie was that it was much too short."