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Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story

3.3 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (DVD)

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 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.

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Michael Winterbottom is no stranger to literary adaptation. Both Jude and The Claim were drawn from works by Thomas Hardy. Nor is the versatile filmmaker a stranger to the post-modern romp, like 24 Hour Party People. In that paean to Manchester’s music scene, Steve Coogan was Factory honcho Tony Wilson. In Winterbottom's take on Laurence Sterne's digressive The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, the prolific helmer combines literature with lunacy and brings Coogan back as the titular character--and then some. Coogan doesn’t just portray the 18th century squire, but his father Walter and insecure actor "Steve Coogan." It's a film about the making of a film, effortlessly shifting between Tristram’s tumultuous birth and his frustrated adulthood--bogged down in the writing of his life story--and between fiction and (what appears to be) fact. There are no end to the worries on and off the set: Coogan worries his heels aren't high enough, Rob Brydon worries his teeth are too yellow, and Coogan's girlfriend (Kelly Macdonald) worries she isn't seeing enough of him. It may sound like Spike Jonze’s Adaptation, but in spirit, it more closely resembles Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones. Coogan and his co-stars, particularly Naomie Harris as the ultimate film nut, Gillian Anderson as the American brought in to boost the project's profile, and Brydon as Tristram’s Uncle Toby are as game for the challenge as their fearless leader. Consequently, Tristram Shandy isn’t just one of Winterbottom’s best films--it's one of the year’s best. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • Extended interview with Steve Coogan conducted by Tony Wilson (24 Hour Party People)
  • Deleted scenes
  • Scene extensions
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: July 11, 2006
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EOTFBW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,074 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Edelman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 16, 2006
Format: DVD
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.
Read more ›
4 Comments 68 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
"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!
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Format: DVD
How do you film a story about telling a story? You nest it in a film about making a film, then bring in elements from the offscreen life of its star, Steve Coogan, until you've created this Russian doll effect, each story distinct but similar in shape. It's a great idea, but the film works a little too hard at being clever, and some powerful questions about celebrity, autobiography, and the nature of stories take a back seat to making the next witty narrative jump. Coogan and his co-star Rob Brydon are enjoyable to watch, and there's a winning low-key quality to the production that makes you feel like you're on the set watching everyone make it up as they go along. I wish more movies took risks like this, even though I found myself admiring it more than enjoying it.
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Format: DVD
I found this film to be hilarious. It is first and foremost a comedy about making a movie based upon the life of Tristram Shandy in the 17th century. But it is great fun and highly entertaining. I must admit it is not typical main-stream humor from the USA but is the more subtle, ironic, understated humor from Great Britain. Steve Coogan is great in the lead role as himself as an actor taking the lead in this mismanaged production while trying to balance rivals, directors, assistants, a girlfriend with a new baby. Steve Coogan is superb as he displays all his human weaknesses and vulnerabilities and petty concerns. Steve is tortured by his co-star, played perfectly by Rob Brydon, and their rivalry is so funny that I found myself bursting out laughing at their interactions. Brydon is perfect as a character actor who has an instinct for finding the vanity, insecurity, character weaknesses of the leading actor, played by Coogan, and exploiting them in a relentlessly persistent manner. All of the actors are shown as themselves and as the parts they play in the film. The entire cast was outstanding and of the highest quality. Keeley Hawes, Shirley Henderson and Kelly Macdonald are all great. Shirley Henderson with her odd little voice and facial characteristics and gait is always on top of her game as she is here playing the role of the Shandy maid in the film they are trying to produce. Jerem Northam, Stephen Fry, and Greg Wise are all exceptional talents playing supporting roles in this film which makes it just that much more rich. Gillian Anderson plays herself as the big star brought in to add an entire romantic theme to the film and she is such a good sport even when she sees the final product is not up to expectations.Read more ›
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