Friday, June 27, 2008

REVIEW: Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction
Just Watched:
Stranger Than Fiction

My Rating:
5 Stars

You know, I don't suppose you really know whenever you're going to taste something truly marvelous for the first time: whether it be some new cuisine you've never tried, a book you'd never read, or a movie you've never seen. Sometimes those marvelous tastes have hype behind it; but usually the best, most marvelous tastes are the hidden gems that you discover almost by accident. And so it was the latter with this film.

Given the truths I just highlighted, I struggle with the idea of endorsing this film. Because I know that my enjoyment was so satisfying that my praise will be so effusive to the point that it might spoil the experience for those of you who haven't seen it yet. But I can't help it. I enjoyed it so much.

I defer to Wikipedia for a brief story introduction:

Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is a dull auditor for the Internal Revenue Service who is awakened alone each morning by his wristwatch. He is a compulsive counter and an obsessive time-saver. One day, Harold begins to hear the voice of a woman who is omnisciently narrating his life.

Harold's relationships are almost entirely with numbers, and with his watch that helps him keep track of time (which, to him, is just a number). Until, upon beginning to hear the woman's narrative voice, he is sent upon a journey of existential discovery that ultimately enriches his life.

Because one of the main characters of the film is a writer, it gives the actual screenwriter a lot of liberties to play with. For one, the movie makes you toy with the idea back & forth of whether Harold Crick will end up living or will be forced to die. It is a fun trip, and unlike another movie I saw the other day, the ending was supremely satisfying in tidily tying up all of the loose ends.

(BTW, the other movie: No Country For Old Men. The ending ruins the whole experience. It was worse than The Sopranos. Seriously, it was that bad.)

There's really nothing to criticize with this film. The writing is dazzling. The acting is pitch perfect from every player. And the pacing is just right. There is a little pre-marital funny business that I obviously think could have been scripted in a more innocent way. But it also wasn't overwhelming.

I fear saying any more. I've said what I hope will wet your appetite. Get your wife to add it to the Netflix or Blockbuster queue. And I think you'll be glad you spent part of an evening watching this one. Five Stars.


Jordan said...

I find your praise interesting to say the least. My wife and I watched this a little while back and both disliked it. I think I gave it 1.5 stars on the rating scale. I am glad that you enjoyed it, but I just didn't get it.

Aaron said...

No Country For Old Men was, without question, hesitation, comparison, or competition, the absolute best movie of 2007 in my opinion. Loved it.

The ending is PERFECT... if you realize that the movie is not actually about Llewellyn Moss - Josh Brolin's character. Nor is it about Anton Chigurh, Javier Bardem's character. The entire focus of the movie is, instead, on Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Tommy Lee Jones' character, and his reactions to the escalation of violence in his territory.


The death of Moss and the escape of Chigurh both underscore Bell's feelings of incompetence and futility in the face of the new evil that comes. When Bell visits his uncle, he gets some very sage advice: "It ain't all waitin' on you. That's vanity." The evil is coming, and Bell cannot stop it anymore than he can stop the change of the seasons. He simply has to step aside and let the new faces - whoever they may be - handle it as best as they can, and hopefully accept that he'll be alright. That's what the VERY end is for - his discussion of his dreams. His father, preceding him in death through violence brought about by his job, has gone on ahead to blaze the trail. Bell knows that he will be alright. He has lived longer than his father ever did, what more can he ask?

I LOVED that movie.

Aaron said...

But then, I'll also gladly admit I've got a total man-crush on the Coen Brothers, so my opinion might be slightly skewed. Check out Miller's Crossing sometime if you've not.

III said...

One thing I've begun to learn in the last few years is that each person has particular taste & their own set of criteria by which they judge a movie. This was especially impressed upon me with my room-mate in Abilene. He loved movies as much or probably more than I did -- he was even a film major at one point in undergrad, and it may have been part of his degree at Indiana University. But our taste in movies was so divergent that we could have just about come to blows over it. It became almost laughable, to the point where if I didn't like something I didn't even have to ask -- I knew that he adored it. And vice versa.

And so its pretty evident here that I don't see eye-to-eye with you guys. I liked Stranger Than Fiction, and I definitely don't have a Coen Brothers man-crush.