Jeff Abberley

Jeff Abberley

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Wah-Wah Review


OK
The obvious risk with autobiographical films is that audiences just might not in the end be interested in the same sort of story that the filmmaker wants to tell about himself. So it is with Wah-Wah, written and directed by Richard E. Grant, who based it on his own childhood growing up in Swaziland in the years leading up to the end of British rule - Grant might want to focus most on the film's dysfunctional (though fun in its own way) family and its effect on his young stand-in, but viewers may be left wondering what's going on outside that melodrama. It's a big world out there, and Grant only gives us teasing glances at it.

The boy at the center of everything is Ralph Compton, 11 years old in the film's preamble, in which he watches (once literally, from the back seat) as his mother Lauren (Miranda Richardson) screws a married man and then takes off with him. The divorce proves ugly and Ralph is sent off to boarding school, leaving his devastated father Harry (Gabriel Byrne) behind, fending off the occasional advance from local females. The film starts properly three years later with the return home of Ralph, this time played by Nicholas Hoult, sprouted quite a bit from his About a Boy days. Ralph comes back to find Harry just remarried, this time to an American stewardess he's known for six weeks, Ruby (Emily Watson). She's a breath of warm air, waltzing right into this snobbish little colonial backwater and immediately breaks practically every one of their thousand little etiquettes - night and day to the waspish, scathing Lauren. But yet it's not enough to keep Harry from hitting the bottle hard. Harry drinks, Ruby frets, Ralph fumes, and occasionally Lauren returns just to stir things up to an even higher pitch.

Continue reading: Wah-Wah Review

Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story Review


Very Good
At one point during Michael Winterbottom's shambolically hilarious Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film about trying to film the legendarily unfilmmable 18th century novel, Steve Coogan says to a reporter that the wonderful thing about Laurence Sterne's book (which he obviously hasn't read) is how ahead of its time it was, that it was "a postmodern novel... before there was a modernism... to be post of." It's a throwaway line in some respects, but it's an excellent example of the layered absurdist humor that abounds within its wonderfully loose format. This is a film about ego, the fatal inability of people to plan their lives, and the delirious chaos of the creative process. It's also about what utter jerks movie stars can be, God bless 'em.

Sterne's novel is a big old mess and has never been quite accepted in the literary canon. Published in nine installments over a decade, it's a subplot-mad, diversion-crazed bildungsroman where the narrator - Shandy - can't even get past describing his own birth by the end of the book, due to his tendency to go off on tangents. Along the way it packs in satires of contemporary intellectuals like Pope and Locke and plays with the novelistic form, including even having one page printed entirely black to represent sorrow at a character's death. They try that in the film, but then realize it's not quite so interesting for audience.

Continue reading: Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story Review

Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story Review


Very Good
At one point during Michael Winterbottom's shambolically hilarious Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film about trying to film the legendarily unfilmmable 18th century novel, Steve Coogan says to a reporter that the wonderful thing about Laurence Sterne's book (which he obviously hasn't read) is how ahead of its time it was, that it was "a postmodern novel... before there was a modernism... to be post of." It's a throwaway line in some respects, but it's an excellent example of the layered absurdist humor that abounds within its wonderfully loose format. This is a film about ego, the fatal inability of people to plan their lives, and the delirious chaos of the creative process. It's also about what utter jerks movie stars can be, God bless 'em.

Sterne's novel is a big old mess and has never been quite accepted in the literary canon. Published in nine installments over a decade, it's a subplot-mad, diversion-crazed bildungsroman where the narrator - Shandy - can't even get past describing his own birth by the end of the book, due to his tendency to go off on tangents. Along the way it packs in satires of contemporary intellectuals like Pope and Locke and plays with the novelistic form, including even having one page printed entirely black to represent sorrow at a character's death. They try that in the film, but then realize it's not quite so interesting for audience.

Continue reading: Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story Review

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Jeff Abberley Movies

Wah-Wah Movie Review

Wah-Wah Movie Review

The obvious risk with autobiographical films is that audiences just might not in the end...

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story Movie Review

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story Movie Review

At one point during Michael Winterbottom's shambolically hilarious Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,...

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story Movie Review

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story Movie Review

At one point during Michael Winterbottom's shambolically hilarious Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,...

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