Posted on 12/10/06 12:02 AM
Saw two films yesterday, which is actually the first time I've done that in quite some time (my Nacho/Prada marathon was waaaaaay back in July), and I kinda enjoyed it. While this "marathon" was seperated by about 6 hours, still, coming back to the same theatre twice in one day is always a trip...
Anyway, on to the films!
Stranger Than Fiction
Without mincing words, I can safely say that this film is a dream. It is impeccably written, with a wonderful mix of humor and pathos, with some great story moments. So rarely does a film so effortlessly capture lightening in a bottle that any film lover would be hard pressed to pass up such a wonderful experience. Will Ferrell is a dream as the subdued Harold Crick. He proves once again that truly comedic actors can handle drama like the best of them. Emma Thompson is her typical brilliant self (anyone who doubts her genius should be required to see her turn in Mike Nichols' Wit, which, I must say, floored me). Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, and the newly effervescent Maggie Gyllenhaal all pull in fantastic turns that never detract from the story. It is a solidly produced piece of cinema, with such an easily digestible story that it's almost too good to be true. Instead of presenting its audience with a complex story and an equally complex explanation in order to justify the story, the writer instead keeps things simple by basically allowing its characters to become firm believers in the films own mythos. They never question why things are they way they are, and in turn, the audience never feels like it has to either. They exist in a world where such an insane notion is a possiblity. We don't know that at first, but by films end, we are firm believers as well. Add to that a wonderful soundtrack, some clever special effects, and some incredible production design, you have a film that simply pops. It is a shame it has been foreshadowed by such great fare as Casino Royale, but such is the life of the small comedy. One would have hoped in the era of Little Miss Sunshine, such a smartly written original comedy would succeed at the box office, but alas, even Will Ferrell doing something new doesn't have the drawing power we believed he had only a few months prior. Still, we have to remember that box office returns mean nothing to a truly great film, for a truly great film will inevitably defy that. The most underrated classics eventually find their way onto top 10 lists, and they are soon studied by future filmmakers, those who are bound and determined to make quality cinema that is just as challanging as it is entertaining. I can safely say that this film is the reason I'm stressing myself through film school, and if I can ever reach this level of sheer cinematic brilliance, I'll consider my trek a success. Until then, I just hope that this film finds a life on DVD, so that more and more films of this calibre don't fall between the cracks, and all of those fantastic high concept films that get purchased but never made soon find their way on the fast track. I normally don't give a film a rating, but I feel like this one deserves a hearty 10/10, because man alive, I've never enjoyed myself so much at the movies.
Oh how I wish there were more films like Stranger Than Fiction!!! While absolutely beautiful in execution (from the cinematography, which is stunning, right down to the actors), the film is ultimately too syrupy sweet for the cynical filmgoer to appreciate. I can see this film being a huge hit, because it really made the entire audience I was with swoon with absolute delight. It is not with its genuinely funny moments (thanks in part to the brilliant Jack Black, and the equally as comedic Kate Winslet, my new celebrity crush), but it is so chock full of sappy one liners and cliché character moments that its incredibly difficult not to groan. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy myself for the most part. Like I said, it's funny, and it means well, and I can't harm it for that. It doesn't try to be politically relevant, or socially aware. It lives within a dream world, where Hollywood is a wonderful place to work, and England is so incredibly gorgeous that even a jaded Angelino can find love there. I guess what this movie taught me is that widowers get the most play (but only if they have two adorable girls to drag around), and no matter how large you are, being able to embarrass even Dustin Hoffman in a video story can help beautiful British babes love you. *sigh*...Don't see this if you're not in love. You'll hate it, and wish you could just slit your wrists at the very notion of this film. However, if you have someone you love, and that love runs incredibly deep, go with them to this film. Put your head on his or her shoulder and just enjoy that old time romantic feeling that comes from the annual Christmas Rom-Com. I believe even the most jaded of filmgoers can like this film. But, as for me, I had enough problems with it not to want to see it again. It honestly felt like I'd overdosed on maple syrup. But, if that's your thing, then have at it, because it is an incredibly sweet film, that, as I've said before, means well.