26 November 2006

Movie review: Stranger than Fiction

My friends and I saw "Stranger Than Fiction" last night. I had been wanting to see it ever since Des highly recommended it. From Des's blogging, I know we have the same taste in many things - cats (tabby), co-workers (silent or non-existent) and jewelry (handmade). So I figured I could trust her on movies, and I was right.

I don't think this will be a popular movie, though. Like "Adaptation," this is a thinky comedy, not a laugh-out-loud comedy. Will Ferrell plays the lead with a perfect bland blankness. Emma Thompson sort of annoyed me with her neurotic novelist routine, but maybe I'm just sensitive at how writers are portrayed.

But Dustin Hoffman slayed me. It was obvious that he was having a ball with the part, and it was just so much fun to watch him go.

It's not a movie you "get" all at once. All day today, little realizations have been bubbling up to the surface and delighting me. Those are the kind of movies I like and am willing to shell out the $9.50 for the privilege of seeing on the big screen.

In other movie news, I watched "The Lake House" and "Therese" this weekend on DVD.

"The Lake House" was ok, despite being one of those time-travel things that make me scratch my head and have to try and count on my fingers..."ok, he was back then and she was in the future but he met her but how could he have met her because it was 2 years before..." Time-travel always messes with my head.

My sister saw it too and she agreed that if she started getting magic letters from the past or future in HER mailbox, there would be a lot more "Holy Cats!" and "What the Hell?" and general yelling going on before she started just standing there calmly mailing letters through time like Keanu and Sandra Bullock did.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, Keanu has NOT learned to act his way out of a paper bag yet.

And "Therese"? I rented it because I have always been fascinated with St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus. For a non-Catholic, my love of some saints (Anthony, the Simeon Stylites) is pretty strange. But it is easy to like St. Therese, with her simple, beautiful message of love and devotion.

So I rented the movie, which is less a dramatic piece than a press release for Catholicism. Total waste of time. Therese is little and pious and good. Her family is pious and good. Then she grows a bit older and is pious and good. Then she gets sick and is pious and good.

Her sister goes to a convent, which is good news for the pious and good family. Are you sensing a theme?

Anyway, after about 40 minutes of total piousness and goodness, I turned it off to watch the cutthroat bastards on Top Chef, which is not, unlike Therese, approved by the Vatican. But the plot is a lot stronger.

22 comments:

kat said...

I will go see this based soley on your recommendation: Ebert and Roper be damned! I do like Will Ferrel and I can take Hoffman in small, subdued doses. I hope to enjoy it. If not then you owe me $8.50!!!

wordgirl said...

I thought "Stranger than Fiction" looked quite good. This weekend, I watched "Syriana". We had to be the last two people in the lower 48 who had never seen it. Powerful and disturbing. Tonight? "STrangers with Candy".

Marcia said...

I can't wait to see Stranger than Fiction. Thanks for writing such a good review of it! Now I'm really chomping at the bit to go.

Mignon said...

Wait, Adaptation was Funny?? Oh, I know - because of Nicky Cage's perm, right? I must say it made me feel very sad and confused, deep in my tummy. But I DO want to see Stranger than Fiction very badly. So so badly.

And I also watched The Lake House this weekend. I came away thinking Keanu needed a tan and seemd much more appealing on a speeding bus.

Elizabeth said...

IFC is showing "Office Space" right now, which is the universe's way of reminding me to come read your blog, right? I have a hard time wrapping my head around time-travel movies too, and I thought Lake House was way too implausible. Plus Keanu and Sandra had ZERO chemistry.

I'd like to see Stranger Than Fiction, so thanks for the review. The critics HATED "Deck The Halls", but my kids want to see either that or "Flushed Away". I'll take a story about Christmas lights over one with claymation rats in sewers any day.

lildb said...

I wish we had the time/funds/babysitter so we could see a movie in the cinema. so I'm jealous to the point of it being a little bizarre that you got to see a movie, but especially Stranger than Fiction. And glad to hear you liked. Dying to see it.

Meanwhile, I saw something relatively new last a few nights ago; we watched The Constant Gardener. It's been on rotation in my head ever since. It's really a wonderfully complex story. And so well acted. And filmed. Very good.

mothergoosemouse said...

I rarely want to see a movie enough to go to the theater - I'm a cheapskate in that way - but "Stranger Than Fiction" has piqued my interest. Thanks for the review!

super des said...

Did I recommend this? That would be silly because I haven't seen it yet. I do want to though. Maybe if I actually make it to the theaters some time, I will see this one - based on my own recommendation?

julia said...

I'm anxious to see this movie, too. I love Emma Thompson. Will Farrell makes me want to rip my ears off and gouge my eyes out, which concerns me a bit.

SUEB0B said...

Hm Des...maybe it was Jonniker who recommended it. I know it was someone I like very much LOL. At least you got link love - woo hoo.

Mignon - when you realize that Adaptation is all about breaking every single rule the screenwriting advice dude gives, then it becomes hilarious. "No deus ex machina!" and then at the end, the deus ex machina swoops down. THAT's what got me. Otherwise it didn't make a lick of sense.

leahpeah said...

i loved loved loved it. i'm going to go again before it leaves the theaters.

Jenny said...

If I started getting letters from the future there would be a whole lot of "So hows the stock market going?" questions peppered throughout.

Also, I'd ask if Paris Hilton was still popular. Because I'm shallow.

guinness girl said...

I loooooooved Stranger Than Fiction. Seriously, it's my new favorite movie! :)

TB said...

Thanks for the review. I really want to see this movie. I'm looking forward to seeing Will Ferrell in more of a thinking man's role.

Heather B. said...

I love Dustin Hoffman in his not obviously funny, but really hilarious roles (I heart Huckabees, comes to mind). I also loved Stranger than Fiction and love Top Chef. Which means that there's a lot of love going around.

Oh and Betty? She's the most cutthroat of them all. Loathe her.

MrsFortune said...

I loved the movie! I reviewed it and recommended it, too. Dustin Hoffman was fantastic. The only weak spot, I thought, was Queen Latifah.

Top Chef? I'm so into it. :-)

happy and blue 2 said...

Stranger Than Fiction sounds really good.
And I'm going to rent Therese next time I want my company to leave,ha,ha..

SUEB0B said...

Heather B - totally agree about Betty. Classic snake-in-the-grass. At first she had my sympathy as one of the gals, but no more.

My money is on Ilan, Cliff or Sam. Probably Sam.

sheryl said...

I also loved Stranger Than Fiction.

I thought Adaptation was hilarious for the same reasons you give, and even funnier when I think the twin never existed.

gossamer said...

I also liked Stranger than Fiction, and even blogged about it. I liked Emma Thompson as the neurotic writer--too believable--the neurotic part. But Dustin Hoffman did take the cake.

But, I am the queen of off-beat films.

Suzanne said...

I really want to see the new James Bond movie. I recently was brainwashed into thinking that Caniel Craig, despite having a serious downer of a mug, is incredibly sexy. (This goes back to your "who do you find sexy?" post from a while ago...)

And wordgirl - I just saw Syriana also. I have never, however, seen ET.

roo said...

I just saw Stranger Than Fiction Monday night-- after work with a friend. It was really wonderful. I heartily second your review.

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