For reasons of my own, I pay more attention to the films that I watch than I did in times past. I always look for the flaws in them, trying to reason out just why a movie pissed me off. And that's because almost every movie I see does piss me off. I expect something to which I've devoted at least two hours of my life to be a pleasant experience. Not to mention the effort involved in seeking the film out, and the money in the form of labor expended to earn the funds with which I paid to see the film in the first place.
I expect a movie to be good, and not to be a complete waste of my time and sweat.
Generally, though, the movies that I watch are not very good. Most of them, to use a term I often utilize in the company of friends, totally suck ass.
However, Carole and I were in one or another shop recently. (There aren't as many stores as there once were, but still a good many, so I've forgotten which one.) I noticed a big display of films that were selling for bargain prices, and one caught my eye. It was a Will Ferrell movie called STRANGER THAN FICTION. I knew only a very little about it, from a couple of the film's movie trailers. I knew that it starred Will Ferrell, who I quite like, even if most of his movies are silly tripe; and I knew that the plot involved a man whose life is being "written" by an author who plans to kill him off, and that he can hear her narrating his life and eventual death.
It's a very silly plot. Very silly. But for some reason it appealed to me, so I tossed it in with the other stuff we were buying and ended up purchasing it for $3.00. That's not a lot of money, even for a laborer like me. I only had to work for a few minutes to earn the pay to nab that DVD. So I wasn't out a ton of sweat equity.
Then, I went about viewing the film. I waited until a lazy day in the midst of a fortunate three-day weekend. That made the viewing all the more relaxing. And I liked the movie. I liked it quite a lot. The plot was, of course, silly. But that's okay. I'm always willing to suspend a certain amount of disbelief when viewing a fantasy or moral fable. All that I ask is that the rest of the tale continue to follow that certain silly lack-of-logic throughout. I cannot abide a cheating plot. And, pleasantly, I found that this movie, once having established its silly and bizarre fantasy, followed it jot by jot to a sweet and tearful ending.
I liked that. I liked that it was packed with a humanity and sweetness one is likely never to witness in this world. That's what I paid for, in a way. And all along the viewing I kept being surprised by so many things. The dialogue was funny and true and grim and realistic. The players were fine--there were actors I hadn't expected to see and those whose work I have enjoyed in earlier performances (Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenall, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson).
More than that, though, I found it to be a writer's movie. All along that thought kept appearing. This is the perfect writer's film. The plot was contrived, as all plots are, even the best and most mundane of them. There's a consciousness driving everything, nothing at all as in real life. The visual effects were so clever--again a contrivance that was witty without being too intrusive (or too funny for complaint when it otherwise would have been too intrusive). As a writer I found the whole experience to be quite more fun than anything I've seen in a very long time. It was, in almost all ways, a perfect movie for a writer to see.
Three years late, I know. But here's to a really wonderful movie.
STRANGER THAN FICTION.
Damn. How about that?
(Oh, yeah. It was written by some brilliant fucker named Zach Helm.)