Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2006)

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story: 2006, dir. Michael Winterbottom. Seen Oct. 25, 2005 at The Paramount (Austin Film Festival).
I tried to read the book Tristram Shandy a few years ago. I remember taking it to brunch at Z Tejas downtown, back when I liked to go out to brunch alone every weekend. It was one of the few times I sat at a table and not at a bar; I guess my favorite bartender at the time wasn’t there. Or maybe the bar was just too crowded that day.
I remember, also, that it was one of the few times I strayed from the gloriousness of the breakfast quesadilla, my favorite brunch treat at Z Tejas. (The corned-beef hash is pretty good too, though.) I had the Navajo tacos, on someone’s recommendation. I didn’t like them much at all. The fried spinach thing just weirded me out. It was not a successful meal, although normally I’m quite fond of Z Tejas … the one downtown, that is. The north location, although closer to our house, has abysmal acoustics and I nearly lose my voice if I try to hold a conversation in there.
So perhaps that fateful brunch affected my opinion of Tristram Shandy. Admittedly I thought the book would be a straightforward narrative comedy like Tom Jones. I had no idea what I was getting into. All the digressions started to annoy me. Were we ever going to get to the character’s birth? I finally gave up in frustration, perhaps a quarter of the way through the book. I realized that the whole point of the book was to be one long series of digressions, but I still wanted some linear action of some kind, and I never could motivate myself to finish the book. I suspected that the narrator never would get past the birth.

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I’m “actually” doing this … my way

I can’t stand internet memes. I think they’re dumb. I hate reading entries that are nothing but list after list with no explanation or story attached. I became particularly annoyed with them during Holidailies because so many participants relied on that kind of entry on slow days.
Having said that, Pooks tagged me for a meme for screenwriters, and I fear that if I refuse, she might stop blogging entirely. And I’m quite enjoying her site. Also, it’s related to movies and movie writing in some way, so it does fit in with the general theme of this site.
Therefore, I will attempt this here meme thing, but I’m doing it my way, with my rules. I will not resort to single-word lists. Also, do not think that the rest of you can tag me with your little memes. I do not intend to do these things more than once every six months, so this is it until July.

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Serenity (2005)

Serenity: 2005, dir. Joss Whedon. Seen on DVD (Dec. 30, 2005).
I heard a lot about Serenity even before its release, because I have many friends who are loopy for anything touched by Joss Whedon. They were terribly excited that a movie was being made from Whedon’s science-fiction TV series Firefly. Serenity had a lot of sneak previews in select cities long before its release date, presumably to build up word-of-mouth. What it did was confirm to many of us non-fans that Serenity would appeal strictly to fans. The trailers we saw in theaters provided further proof—it appeared that if you weren’t familiar with the TV series, the movie was not for you. (The low box-office numbers for the film prove my theory that the marketing campaign backfired.)
However, my friends who went positively ga-ga over Serenity assured me that the movie was not just for fans, that they’d brought along this person or that one and every single person just loved the movie even if they had never heard of Firefly (except perhaps as Rufus T.’s last name). My boyfriend and I were skeptical at first, but eventually we succumbed and rented the movie on DVD.
It turned out we had been right in the first place: we found Serenity to be dull and flat and even annoying, and I suspect that it relied too heavily on the audience already knowing something about the characters. We had no idea who these people were, if they were new for the movie or regulars on the TV show, but we never learned much about them and some of them never showed much depth.

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The Producers (2005)

The Producers: 2005, dir. Susan Stroman. Seen Jan. 2, 2006 at Alamo Lake Creek.
I’ve had music from The Producers stuck in my head since we saw the movie on Monday night.
However, the song stuck in my head is the version of “Prisoners of Love” from the end of the 1968 film, not from the recent musical adaptation/remake. We don’t have a term yet for a movie adapted from a Broadway musical adapted from a movie, although my boyfriend thought of the perfect word to describe the film: unnecessary.
The Producers is one of the most unnecessary movies I have seen in the past year, the other one being the remake of The Bad News Bears.
I can only assume that these movies aren’t made for people who have seen (and like) the original films. Filmmakers, studios, and/or distributors assume that the audience will be a younger crowd who has heard of this movie title in a vague sort of way—in the case of The Producers, as a highly successful Broadway production with charismatic movie stars in the leads. Therefore, no one sees a problem with lifting scenes and dialogue wholesale from the original movie, trimming out some of the best lines, reworking others to make them more contemporary, and re-creating these beloved bits so that they are pale shadows of the source that will cause people who like the original film to wince.

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2005 in (cinematic) review, part two

Read part one of this entry first, which covers January through June 2005. This entry lists the films I saw in July through December 2005.
I also noted the films I saw at various festivals: aGLIFF, Fantastic Fest, and Austin Film Festival.
It’s difficult to say how many films I actually saw in 2005. However, more than 100 films are listed in these entries. I think that’s an acceptable number. I admire people who plan to average a film a day throughout the year, but I would have even more trouble writing about all of them, not to mention that I also enjoy getting out into the fresh air once in awhile.

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2005 in (cinematic) review, part one

Everyone is posting lists of their top ten (or five, or 15) 2005 films. I thought I might want to make some lists myself, but first I needed to remember which films I actually saw in 2005. The great advantage of reviewing or just writing about movies on a weblog like this is that theoretically, I would have a record of every movie I saw and even when I saw it.
For the first few months of the year, I wrote at least a summary review of nearly every movie, even the number of films I saw at SXSW. Somewhere in the long, hot, overtime-filled summer, I started slipping. I used my Netflix list and my stack of ticket stubs to help me figure out what I saw and didn’t write about, but a few movies may have slipped through the cracks. And while I know I saw Bright Leaves on PBS, I can’t figure out exactly when (it wasn’t the first viewing in August).
Still, I managed to pull together a fairly thorough list of all the movies I saw in 2005. I’m dividing it into two entries because it is so long. The films marked with an asterisk are movies that had a U.S. theatrical release in 2005, although in a few cases “theatrical release” means “a couple of nights at Alamo Drafthouse” or even “an airing on PBS.” It’s more difficult than I realized to determine what was released in 2005 and what was not. (The list actually includes a few 2006 releases, which I saw at various film festivals.)

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