Tonight was movie night. There are lots of choices.
We decided against:
- Borat – conscious decision not to go. It just doesn’t seem appealing, though loads of friends feel otherwise.
- Babel – bad reviews. Helaine said, if you hold a finger over the “l,” the movie becomes “Babe.”
- Casino Royale – maybe later. Excellent reviews. I’ve heard it’s violent, which isn’t Helaine’s cup of tea.
We ended up going to Wallingford to see “Stranger than Fiction,” the new Will Ferrell movie. It’s not a comedy – at least not in the classic sense.
Helaine and I hated… not disliked, hated… “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” There are many similarities between that movie and Stranger than Fiction, yet this movie was thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying.
Will Ferrell isn’t the over-the-top obnoxious guy you’ve come to expect. Queen Latifah isn’t the over-the-top obnoxious woman you’ve come to expect (My skin crawls when I see her Pizza Hut commercials).
Dustin Hoffman has reached a point in his career where he seems to be only playing Dustin Hoffman. He’s perfect at that.
Stranger Than Fiction is “a story about a man named Harold Crick and his wristwatch¹” – or so says the off screen, pleasant, English accented voice of Emma Thompson, in the movie’s first spoken words.
Ferrell plays Crick, an IRS agent from Chicago who hears a disembodied voice narrating his life. He realizes, he is a character in a book. Therefore, his fate is really up to the author.
As the troubled writer, Emma Thompson is more than equal to the task. Her character is troublingly off center with an emotional short fuse. She smokes cigarettes as if she had a grudge against each one.
This is more than a movie of actors – it’s a movie of styles. Ferrell’s apartment, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s apartment, the IRS office – they are all perfectly designed to reflect and amplify those who dwell in them.
Many of the scenes are also annotated with computer generated graphical overlays to reflect Ferrell’s character’s analytical mind. It’s a clever device and well done.
The movie is poignant and sweet. We both cried, though I cried more than Helaine. That’s not saying an incredible lot. We also cry at commercials.
I can easily see multiple Oscars for this movie. Easily screenplay, maybe Emma Thompson, certainly an Oscar for design.
We saw this movie at the Holiday Cinema in Wallingford. We’d never been there before.
The facility itself looked a little frayed considering how relatively new I think it is. However, lack of sparkling ambience was made up for by the theater’s chairs! They’re well padded and rock nicely.
This showing did have the distinction of being the loudest movie we’ve ever been too. I’m not talking about the movie’s volume either.
If it wasn’t people talking, then it was people moving around or just random noises. Maybe they didn’t like the show as much as we did? Whatever the reason, they were restless.
¹ – The watch turns out to be a Timex Ironman Triathlon 46 lap dress watch. I want one.
2 thoughts on “Stranger Than Fiction”
This is definitely on my “must see” list. Thanks for the review.
I’m just curious, though, why you hated Eternal Sunshine…”? (That’s one of my all-time favorite films, and I haven’t yet encountered anyone who didn’t love it.)
See Geoff’s review and then further discussions in the comments after he saw “40 year old virgin” via this search
(the connection to “40 year old virgin”? Catherine Keener is in “virgin” and “Being John Malkovich”, the same screenwriter wrote both “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine”)