Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Cock And Bull Story

The word "regret" is not big enough to cover situations like this one: recently a deranged Chicago man threw knives, and, eventually, his own severed penis at the police officers who came to arrest him. Apparently, his brand-new physical problems can be dealt with relatively easily, according to the urologist they consulted. There no word on what mental disorders made him believe that his severed penis was an effective weapon in close-quarters combat, nor was the officer assailed with the flying member quoted on the experience of having one bounce off of his bulletproof vest.

In other penis-related news, I just saw Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story, a new comedy by director Michael Winterbottom and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce. (The two have apparently had some kind of falling out, and so the film is credited to the pseudonym Martin Hardy. ) It's an extremely enjoyable movie-within-a-movie, and no, I wasn't kidding about the penises, which are ever-present in the story. Every review of this movie appears to include the phrase "famously unfilmable novel", undoubtedly because the book itself has no plot. Boyce has gotten around the problem by not taking the novel at all seriously, exactly as the original author did.

The movie stars Steve Coogan, who was also fantastic in Winterbottom's 2002 movie, 24 Hour Party People, which is about the Manchester music scene over two decades, from punk to the rave scene. It's required viewing for Joy Division or New Order fans. Party People is a similarly open and inventive movie like Tristram Shandy, in the sense that the actors frequently broke the fourth wall to tell the audience something relevant. For instance, some of the punk rockers who had actually been there will sometimes confide after a filmed scene that they had no memory of that scene actually happening in their lives.

In Tristram, the open feeling works to give a sense of how a midlevel actor might experience his life while making a movie: showing the demands on him as well as his generosity, his selfishness, and his frequent ridiculousness. In Party People, the effect works to give the audience more information about the era and the people, more perspective on the plot, and sometimes more naked enthusiasm, since the movie makers themselves were keen fans and proud Mancunians.

It's like viewing hypertext, or — I hesitate to say it — a blog.

In short: good stuff. Check it out.

(news story via Blonde Justice)

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