To Feel “Right”

While I’m also not familiar with the book, I thought it was interesting that the film showed the process of filmmaking and of adaptation with a variety of figures /aspects of filmmaking in constant struggle.  Specifically the actor’s world appears to be a major focus with Steve Coogan as the main storyline. How might the actor choose to adapt a character (the whole shoe thing) or a director push for a character to be played? I found it comical that Coogan’s suggestions/comments seemed to be based on what the assistant Jenny said who was extremely knowledgeable about film and had read Tristam Shandy. I thought it was interesting that the film also juxtaposed Tristam Shandy’s father/the story of Tristam’s birth with Steve Coogan’s experience filming on set with a visiting wife and young baby of his own.  Was this the same baby acting (or supposed to look that way)? In addition, it highlighted the difficulty that films experience with budget/producers and with that the struggle of many minds coming together to make an adaptation that feels “right”.  The questioning of the battle scene’s re-filming, placement, and overall need seems to serve as a point of contingency for everyone. One woman who I believe was the costume designer was even seen crying presumably out of frustration in an early look at this scene, and its absence is questioned again at the final screening.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I took the film ending to expose that the entire film-within-a- film is also within the overall film (does that make sense?).  Basically,  being a film within a film a second time. Steve Coogan and Kelly Macdonald say an awkward goodbye, him noting, “I thought you were wonderful by the way”.  It seems the two are merely acquaintances and this final screening is of the movie we just watched. She later adds in the hallway celebration, “I always forget how short I am”. Clearly, she must have been shown on screen, as the movie we just watched played for them. In addition, Rob Brydon notes, his Al Pacino impression “in the car scene” and Gillian Anderson is annoyed that she spent two weeks filming only to see a small portion of herself on screen.  I wonder what purpose this serves for the adaptation and the commentary on the process of adaptation as a whole. Why should it be revealed to be wrapped up in the larger mockumentary film? If my take on it is correct, than the producers still wondering why the battle scene is missing happens in reference to the mockumentary film that we saw for most of the film. Even then, it is considered important to show the actual scene. With the earlier screening, someone notes that the battle scene is not meant to be funny but as a real battle scene. Coogan points out it could be comedic due to the cheap budget look (and never like Braveheart), yet the answer to why it is not included in the final cut is because it wasn’t funny. I also found this telling of the extra layer to the film-within-a- film at the end.

 

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One Response to To Feel “Right”

  1. Marie Mosot says:

    I think the reason we see the wrap-up, the actors and crew members as “themselves” reacting to the film we just saw (the film within the film and the film itself), is because that’s part of the filmmaking process, which the film tries to show.

    What’s really interesting, though, is that when the screening ends, the title card tells us that it’s the end of reel 6. Reels run roughly 20 minutes in length each, so what the actors saw was 120 minutes of film (6 reels x 20 minutes each). Usually, if reels have to be labeled as such, they’re rushes or raw footage, but we presume that they watched what we watched – not rushes but an edited film – because they’re commenting on it in the lobby (Gillian laments her virtual absence; there’s no actual battle scene; etc.). However, the film we just watched in its totality is only 94 minutes, so just over one reel of footage was cut. This is just common practice and good editing, but the filmmakers speaking to the director and screenwriter note the absence of certain scenes. They note material that was edited out, yet we are led to believe that they just saw what we saw, 94 minutes as opposed to 120. They note an edited version that hadn’t existed yet… but that in fact exists because we the audience are watching it :D It’s the image of the ouroboros again, of the snake eating itself.

    I don’t think the title card mentioning “Reel 6” is a throwaway detail because as the film shows, the smallest of details are taken into account and given great attention when making a film, whether such concerns are carried through or significant or not. The height of “Steve’s” shoes, for example – it doesn’t matter how tall he is in the opening shot because he starts in long shot and there’s no one else in the scene with whom he can distinguish his height! Though he makes a half decent case for its contribution to his character, the fuss over it is meant to show “Steve’s” vain ego and the minute details that filmmaking concerns itself with, expands beyond meaningful proportion, and can easily dismiss on a whim.

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