Volume 75, Number 38 | February 8 -14 2006


Koch On Film

Casanova (-)
Notwithstanding the many negative reviews this movie received, I wanted to see it because it stars Heath Ledger, who performed so brilliantly in “Brokeback Mountain.” In this film, he is in command of his libido and sexual activities and constantly beds the opposite sex.

The film takes place in Venice and the costumes are vintage and beautiful. Because the script is intended to be witty, frivolity is the order of the day. Regrettably, it is wooden and sometimes resembles a Douglas Fairbanks silent movie in its acrobatics. All in all, I found it to be one big bore.

I feel like crawling into the fetal position when I give a film a negative review to ward off readers who don’t agree with my opinion. But it is not my fault. In my opinion, many of the movies being made today should never have seen the light of day.

Tristram Shandy (-)
This is one of the worst movies I have seen in years. I believe the writers and producers of this scam art movie decided to see how much they could manipulate the public so as to receive favorable audience responses. Their vehicle for achieving that goal was to describe the film in the media as very sophisticated and highbrow, thinking that audiences, not wanting to be perceived as dumb and philistine, would feel compelled to say they understood the humor and truly enjoyed it. My movie companions and I did not understand the intended humor nor did we find one scene even worthy of a giggle.

I was taken in by A.O. Scott in his New York Times review. He wrote, “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, a staple of college English Literature surveys, is so widely believed to be unfilmable that you can almost imagine that when Laurence Sterne wrote it in the middle of the 18th century, one of his intentions was to flummox future cinéastes enamored of wigs, breeches and quill pens. This may not be as farfetched as it sounds, since there is something uncannily ahead of its time about Sterne’s novel. In Michael Winterbottom’s Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story — not a movie version of the book but rather a movie about a movie about the book — one of the characters describes the original as ‘a masterwork of postmodernism before there was any modernism to be post.’”

The film brings us on set with the characters engaged in making a period movie. Due to a shortage of funds, they have skimped on the production of a key battle scene and are now figuring out how to overcome that deficiency. The plot for the most part involves competition for attention between the two male leads: Steve (Steve Coogan) who plays the historical character Tristam Shandy and another historical character Toby Shandy played on set by Rob Brydon. (It is a little confusing since it is movie about a movie about a book.) A little sex is thrown in involving Steve’s girlfriend, Jennie (Kelly Macdonald), who comes to the set with their baby hoping for some intimate time with him.

The British actors are not bad, although they cannot compare with the best English actors like Sir Laurence Olivier and Emma Thompson. Don’t waste your time on seeing this film. Stay home and read a good book. I never read the book on which this movie is based, and after seeing this movie, I have no intention of correcting that lapse in my education.

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