Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A cock and bull and other stuff

I really like Steve Coogan and the various Alan Partridge series are some of my favourite sitcoms. I ocasionally identify with Alan Partridge - terminally uncool and socially awkward, with a love of James Bond and Abba medleys.

I also liked Cruise of the Gods, which was a comedy special that Coogan and sidekick Rob Brydon did, involving sad fans of a fictional 1980s sci-fi series called "Children of Castor" (a parody of things like Dr Who and Blakes Seven). So I was all prepared to enjoy Coogan's new film, A Cock and Bull Story, especially as it has been getting rave reviews in the press.

Unfortuantely, I didn't enjoy it that much. It was very clever and played around with narrative a lot, Coogan made fun of his "tabloid persona", his own vanity and jealous of Brydon in a self-deprecating way which was very endearing. He also made much of being stuck in the Alan Partridge persona and wanting to be known for more than that. There were some good jokes in it as well as visual humour (the audience I was with howled with laughter at a joke involving Coogan putting a hot chestnut down his trousers). But it was almost too clever for its own good and already, the postmodernism felt about 5 years old. It was trying to do so much - there's lots of commentary on film-making in there too, and as a result I came away feeling short-changed.

On another topic, I've read the short story of Brokeback Mountain a couple of times and have enjoyed it as a well-written piece of literature, as subtle as the film. If you enjoyed the film, it's worth getting hold of it.

I also finished reading Divided Kingdom, which I mentioned earlier here, a dysptopic novel where people are sent to 1 of 4 zones depending on their personality: sanguine (well-adjusted, happy), choleric (angry), phlegmatic (reflective, peaceful) or melancholic (miserable). The main character ends up illegally travelling round the country, going to each of the 4 zones, in a kind of Gulliver's Travels. It was kind of spoilt towards the end by introducing a psychic element into it, but I enjoyed it all the same and had that kind of sad feeling you get when a book is over. Doing so much travelling around the UK at the moment, I can understand the idea that different places embody "personalities", as do the people who live in them. Lancaster, or at least the bits I go to, is very phlegmatic - all those people studying with lots of conscientious liberal and green voters. The bit of Bristol I live in (Clifton), is much more sanguine - all happy people wandering about, partaking of leisuresly coffee shops and yoga classes without a care in the world. On the other hand, London, which I used to work in - is very choleric - shamelessly capitalist, glossy, fast, ambitious, and occasionally vicious. While East Durham, where I grew up, is melancholic - a place depressed by the closure of the mining industry and the defeat of the trade unions, with swathes of people on incapacity benefit. It makes you wonder about how living in different places can actually change you. I also have a theory, which I admit is utterly insane, that places actually choose people to live in them (you could probably also say that certain types of people are attracted to certain types of places, so it becomes self-perpetuating). I think that's why I've never been able to live in London for very long - the city automatically rejects me after a few weeks - I just don't have the outlook for it.

2 comments:

Reluctant Nomad said...

London has hundreds of different personalities living cheek by jowl and, often, multilayered like a schizophrenic. It is what makes the place so fascinating and awful in turns.

I love the place but am so happy not to live and work there.

matty said...

I just want to meet a girl just like the one in Nighty Night!!!

...Oporah announced that her US network will be airing the second series -- but it will be cut dramatically. Ugh! Amazon.com UK will be calling!!!

Didn't Steeve Coogan produce Human Remains? Yet another brilliant Brit comedy! Our comedies suck.