We finally saw Michael Winterbottom’s Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story the other night and recommend it heartily. You already know it’s about the making of a film based on Laurence Sterne’s 1759 experimental and reputedly unfilmable The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, nine volumes about starting to write the life story of Tristram Shandy. Although Tristram Shandy, the movie, starts, it faithfully doesn’t have a proper beginning, and even though it stops, it doesn’t have an ending either. It’s funny that way. But the whole middle is heaven. It’s one big delicious conceit, and we’re surprised that no viewer or reviewer has mentioned that wholly half of that conceit lies in the soundtrack. When the film occasionally gets to the business of starting to make the film of the book, set in the 18th century, the music is lifted from Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, the ultimate in gorgeous 18th-century novel adaptations (and one that actually tells a story). When the cast and crew are bickering about the accuracy of their teeth and whatnot in the film they’re making, the music comes directly from Nino Rota’s bubbly score for Fellini’s 8 1/2, the ultimate in contemporary making-of movies. The genius of it all is so wonderfully obvious, we’re amazed to be the first to point it out.
(Oh, and this is just a non-sequitur movie mashup.)