"The Comeback" was Lisa Kudrow's 2005 cable series
which did not get renewed for a second season. It comes to DVD tomorrow.
You will find nudity in episodes 1, 8, and 10. Thanks to LC, man from
the future, for the preview.
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
In the mid 18th century, over a span of some ten years, Laurence Sterne
wrote a massive, discursive book in the form of a mock autobiography
called The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. It was
sort of the This is Spinal Tap of its own day, an autobiography
designed to demonstrate the inherent hubris and self-absorption
involved in trying to write an autobiography. Tristram tries to
narrate everything important to his life, starting with events that
happened before and during his conception. There are so many time-shifts and prolix digressions
that poor Tristram barely makes
it to his own birth!
Sterne himself was a learned man, knowledgeable about everything
from classical antiquity to then-modern science, and he was proud to
strut his erudition about any and every subject whenever the mood
suited him. The opaque and rambling Tristram Shandy might have earned
him a permanent place as the world's most famous bore, except for one
thing: he had a sense of humor, and a bawdy one at that. Because
Sterne took lots of pot-shots at the sacred cows of his own era, and
because he loved a ribald laugh, his work was read by a far larger
audience than those who might have been interested in his thoughts
about Cervantes or Rabelais or modern medicine. That audience does not
include me. I was a lit major as an undergrad,
but this one joins Finnegans Wake on the list of masterpieces that
I've never read all the way through, so I can't offer much more
insight. It's in the public domain, so
you can read it for
free, if you care to. If you read a few paragraphs, you'll get
enough of the general flavor to see that its verbosity and
introspection are very clever and literary, and you might enjoy it if
you had the time and patience for such things, but it's not exactly
juicy screenplay material.
"Tristram Shandy is of those
rare works of literature that seem to have been written in the wrong
century. Even as the modern form of the novel was being born, Sterne
was already messing with it: stepping outside the narrative to
address the reader, apologizing for "losing" chapters that later
showed up in their entirety, even including an all-black page to
mourn the passing of one character and a blank page for the reader
to fill in his own description of another. Filming a book that's so
insistent on its own book-ness would seem the very definition of
folly on a director's part."
So, is there a way to make a film of an unfilmable book?
Apparently so. Think about how successfully
Charlie Kaufman did it in Adaptation. Same general idea worked here as
Director Michael Winterbottom
and writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce thought that the best way to
show the genius of the novel was to show precisely why it is
unfilmable, so this movie is not actually a film adaptation of
Tristram Shandy, but a mockumentary about a group of people trying to
make a film adaptation of Tristram Shandy. "Oh, God," you must be
thinking, "not another damned self-referential film about the
filmmaking process. Hasn't that been done to death? And isn't it a
subject that nobody gives two shits about anyway, unless they actually make
movies?" I thought about that, but I think it worked here,
just as it worked in Adaptation, because it was not done to
philosophize about illusion and reality in the moviemaking process, or
any similar sophomoric and hackneyed cracker-barrel ruminating, but to address the inherent
difficulty in translating the book into cinema. By doing it this way,
the screenwriter was able to use the filmmaking characters to discuss
and debate which elements of the novel have been discarded or
retained, and why. Of course, the beauty of it is that some of the
book does translate well to film (Shandy's comical birth, for
example), so the writer of this film was able to use those scenes from
The chit-chat about the novel and the film business was interesting
enough, but the parts I liked best were the exchanges between actors
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon when they were playing themselves. I don't
know if these scenes were tightly scripted, improvised, or a
combination of the two, but the two men proved very able at spoofing
themselves and especially at roasting each other. One must give an
especially sharp-angled tilt of the hat to Coogan for taking every nasty
salvo fired by Brydon, returning fire, and even
spoofing his own tabloid-friendly hijinks with Courtney Love by
having the fictional Steve Coogan caught in an uncomfortably similar
scenario. Nobody can say that Steve Coogan isn't willing to do
anything for a laugh. Particularly after they've seen him naked and
upside-down in the womb of Tristram's mother. If you're thinking of
hiring this guy, rest assured that he'll give you everything he's got.
If you are wondering whether this film is for
you, a very telling fact is that there was an extremely wide gap
between the near-unanimous critical approbation and the less
enthusiastic perceptions of average moviegoers. Rotten Tomatoes says
Tristram is off the top of the critical scale, with 90% of critics
recommending it, but Yahoo voters only vote it a C+, even though Yahoo
has a softball system in which C+ is quite a low score. (Deuce Bigelow
is rated a B-!) You may conclude that it can be considered a highbrow
movie. You may also conclude that many
of the inside jokes will be lost on you if you are American (lots of
British media references), or not very fond of the deadpan English
style of dry wit, or just not interested in vintage English
As for you culture vultures, I have only one real reservation about offering
a totally unreserved recommendation for those of you who do enjoy
adaptations and English comedy. The film seems repetitive.
As I watched it, there were moments when I thought this film was a
complete delight, but then there
were other times when I found my mind wandering because the script
seemed to return to the same ideas again and again. When the cycle
Coogan and Brydon insulting one another, it was fun, but there were other
times when it just seemed to be moving in a maddening circle.
But when it's good - it's genius!
Another fun list to debate:
The 20 Greatest Movie
Characters of All Time.
I notice they didn't mention Sam Hell from Hell
comes to Frogtown.
From our "explaining the
last reference" department:
Tom Lehrer's page in the
"Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" was one of his
From our department of
"People who take Tom Lehrer seriously" ...
Poisoned Pigeons Fall Like
This is quite a good
article from The New Yorker ...
"Can Wikipedia conquer
"Lindsay Defies Warnings,
Parties In Las Vegas"
A Movie Juice satirical
review of Miami Vice, which it calls "Colin-oscopy."
Scientists find "biggest
thing in the universe."
- It is 200 million
light-years wide, narrowly eclipsing the old
record held by Keith Olberman's ego.
The thirty-eight great states
of the USA - an
idea with some merit and no practical application.
- How weird is this
statement? "I live in the state of Alamo, but
come originally from Mohawk. I have also lived
in Biscayne, Hudson, and Superior."
AXIS OF EVIL FLOODED WITH
... Kim Jong-Il 'Very Picky' About Filling Open
- Right now it is pretty
close between Venezuela and Mel Gibson
Lindsay Lohan's mom
demonstrates the fine parenting that made Lindsay
what she is, and
will undoubtedly keep her from changing!
Jay Leno's thoughts on Bill
Clinton being gay
Weekend Box Office Results
for July 28-30, 2006
- With no real champion,
no must-see event movie in any category, the box
office fell to $114 million for the top twelve.
It had been in the 140s the previous two weeks.
It did manage to eke out a narrow edge over last
year, but that was only because it happened to
match up with a slump week last year as well!
(Last year's three new releases, featuring the
megabomb Stealth, all finished below $15
- There isn't much chance
it will fall below last year in the uopcoming
weeks. Virtually every new release bombed last
August, and this year still has a few that may
- The worst news of the
week was that The Ant Bully tanked. The biggest
positive surprise came from an unlikely source,
John Tucker Must Die, which was dismissed by the
critics, and given a lukewarm marketing effort,
but exceeded all expectations and almost matched
its budget on opening weekend.
Superstar: The Karen
- With Barbie dolls as
the actors, this cult flick portrays the life of
the singer and her battle with anorexia. IMDB
says it has been banned in the USA.
Two clips from 13 Tzameti,
the intense Russian Roulette thriller
The trailer for Material
Girls - the new comedy featuring the Duff sisters
Another spectacular NASA
photo of the Martian surface
Gibson sorry for conduct
during DUI arrest
- Apparently he is
apologizing for a drunken "barrage of
- Apparently he is going
head-to-head against Tom Cruise for the "most
hated celebrity who used to be loved" award
Stephanie Seymour - 38 years
old and the mother of four children - still looks
great in a bikini
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Return to Paradise (1998)
Return to Paradise is a top-notch thriller based on the French film
Three guys on vacation in Malaysia team up for the usual young man's
pursuits: women, fun, beer and cheap hash. They have a bicycle accident
with a rented bicycle and throw it into the jungle, and this seemingly
minor incident starts an incredible sequence of events. Two of the guys,
Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) and Tony (David Croft) return to New York, but
Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix) remains to work in a wildlife refuge. When
leaving, Sheriff throws a surplus brick of hash in the trash.
Cut to two years later. Sheriff is a limo driver, and picks up Anne
Heche, who has an agenda. It seems Lewis had been visited by the owner
of the bike and the police, who found his hash and the brick in the
trash. He has been in prison for two years for trafficking, and is due
to be hanged in two weeks, unless Sheriff and Tony agree to come back
and share the responsibility, in which case everyone will do three
years. If only one goes back, it will be six years each. The film is
basically about this choice of saving a friend's life by putting
yourself in harm's way, or turning your back on him. The story becomes
more complicated when Sheriff and Heche become an item, and there is a
serious sub-plot with an over-zealous newspaper reporter hungry to cover
Rotten Tomatoes says 88% of the reviews were positive, including all
the top critics. Ebert rates it 3.5 stars, and Berardinelli 3 stars. I
agree. I found it a well-made, engrossing film that made its points
without being heavy-handed. The story is excellent, the performances
top-notch, and it is a nail-biter start to finish. The only question is,
why haven't I heard of it before now? The box office was only $8.29m,
despite the sterling reviews. I don't understand why this film didn't
find more of an audience. Perhaps it was the lack of a feel-good
Hollywood ending that turned the popcorn crowd off, but I found that a
major strength of the film.
This is a strong C+, but evidently not for everyone.
IMDb readers say 6.7.
Anne Heche shows her breasts
from the side in three scenes, however, one of them was cut clearly to
remove some nipple exposure, so I am guessing they had some MPAA trouble
on this one.
Monique Parent in "Love Street"
Monique Parent in The Witches of Breastwick