17 March 2006

CSA (3/5), Tristram Shandy (4/5)

Saw these as a double-feature on Sunday. They have similar non-narrative conceits but each has a unique and uniquely creative approach. CSA is a fake documentary about the United States, and the world, as it would be if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. Tristram is a blend of a making-of movie and of the movie itself, which is based on a book that I am told is just as confusing and complex. At ~90 minutes each, they made for an ideal pairing.

CSA is seldom overly-serious and has many inappropriately hilarious segments. By then end, you're shocked at just how closely those inappropriate segments are to a reality that is only a few decades past. Although it's hard to seriously consider that slavery could still exist in the 21st century no matter the path of history, with lynchings occuring up to the mid 19th century in an America where slavery was ended, CSA seems not so off-kilter. After the movie, I felt that the joke just didn't hold up, even for only 90 minutes, but I've keep thinking about it and enjoying it more. There was much to appreciate and some really very funny comments. Most unprintable here. The several footnotes at the end were invaluable.

Tristram had many subtle comedic turns and yet surprisingly displayed a very honest and human portrait of the main character, played deftly by Steve Coogan. It switches between being a movie adaptation of the book and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie. Coogan, with equal flair from his co-star Rob Brydon, comes across as both neurotically self-absorbed and sardonically self-confident. The frustrating stagnation of any progress in either the movie being made or the story being told is some sort of Sartean hell they're all in, yet one that is not so bleak and contains more slapstick than anguish. Very sweet and with many worthwhile moments.

Both movies should be re-watched.

[ posted by sstrader on 17 March 2006 at 5:59:37 PM in Cinema ]