Random Movie of the Week: Stranger than Fiction


5 stars
Since the start of the school year is coming up, I decided to watch a film that was thoughtful, leaving me with Will Ferrell's greatest movie, Stranger than Fiction. I know this is a pretty bold statement, as for Elf fans are probably going to want to burn me at stake, but after seeing truly dumb flicks such as Semi-Pro and Stepbrothers, I firmly acknowledge this film to be Ferrell’s greatest. While it isn’t his funniest, it is Ferrell’s most intelligent and thought provoking film out their. (Sorry Elf fans, it’s just that Elf wasn’t thought provoking at all.)
Released in 2006, Stranger than Fiction follows the story of Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), an IRS auditor who hates his job, deals with everyone hating him (because he is an IRS Auditor) and lives a VERY routine lifestyle. All of this changes when during a seemingly normal day, Harold hears a voice! A voice that not only appears out of nowhere, but seems to accurately narrate his everyday life. At first he thinks he’s crazy, but then he starts to believe that maybe he is part of a story. Unfortunately, the voice says that the end of the story will be his imminent death. This causes him to freak out and eventually seek help from Professor Jules Hilbert(Dustin Hoffman) who’s knowledge of literature is put to use to stop Harold’s death and figure out what type of story he is in. Meanwhile, writer Karen Eifel (Emma Thompson) is trying to figure out how to kill off Harold Crick, hero in her new book, Death and Taxes.
The performance Dustin Hoffman is solid, but Will Ferrell does a surprisingly good job as the guy who knows of his imminent death and decides to finally live the life he always dreamed. It does make you wonder why he has been wasting his time with Semi-Pro and Stepbrothers. Dustin Hoffman’s character is unremarkable, except for the fact that he is great with literature. Regardless, Dustin Hoffman does a good job with the unremarkable character he has been given. The performance that really surprised the heck out me, has definitely got to be Emma Thompson as the writer/narrator of Harold’s life. She makes killing off character seem like a chore, as for her character firmly believes that a death of a certain character must have meaning and beauty.Emma Thompson is so good at this performance, as for she captures the insanity the struggling writer goes through to conquer writer’s block and finally kill off Harold Crick.
What makes Stranger than Fiction so interesting, is that Marc Forster seems to make the film go at a slow pace, but explains everything in such good detail. Examples of this include when the narrator explains: the amount of brush strokes that Harold does while brushing his teeth, the emotional situations he goes through during life, even what it sounds like when filing papers. It’s almost like the world of Stranger than Fiction is just brimming with crucial detail, making this film feel like an actual novel.
Stranger Than Fiction is also very thought provoking, as for it just makes you want to think what you would do in Harold’s situation. It also provokes thought in the different types of literature, and questions the killing of the protagonist in literature. Whether you are interested in literature or not, Stranger than Fiction is the intelligent Will Ferrell film that I have been searching for. Call me crazy, but I actually like Will Ferrell when he is not an idiot, and actually an intelligent man with values. Thank you for proving that you are more than that hick from Talladega Nights Ferrell!



3 stars
Hayao Miyazaki is back with his new film, Ponyo, a film about a fish that turns into a girl. The premise may sound stupid, but Miyazaki uses his "magical" writers, animators, and mind to make this an experience that is cute and unique. Unfortunately, Miyazaki is not perfect, as for the flawed storytelling make this an adventure that is so hard to understand, that kids will have a hard time comprehending what lays before them on the big screen.
Ponyo is not a bad movie by any means, but it is an ultimately flawed if unqiue experience. Ponyo is the story of a fish named Brunnhilde, who after leaving (or escaping) from her father, meets and falls in love with a boy name Sosuke. Sosuke, vowing to protect the fish from harm, renames the fish Ponyo, and develops a special bond between man and fish.

I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully. –George W. Bush
While this may sound like the wierdest part of the movie, then you are wrong as for Hayao Miyazaki’s art style, story and concepts are known for being extremely strange. While they may hold deep meanings, the meanings are usually accessible to children and adults alike. Ponyo is an exception, as for the plot is extremely hard to follow, the message makes no sense, in fact, here is a list of possible candidates.
  • Fish can make good lovers.
  • Don’t disturb the natural balance of nature.
  • Don’t Pollute the Ocean.
  • Ham
  • The Ocean is Evil
  • The Ocean is Magic
Keep in mind that these are some of the possible candidates, as for the film is a code that must be decoded in order to fully enjoy and understand. In fact, the reason I chose these is because the film seems to only mention these things, and not go into thorough detail about them (Except for Ham, as for they go into a ridiculous amount of detail about Ham). I just don’t know what direction Miyazaki is trying to take the film, as for better storytelling and characters that were much more realistic could have gone a long to making this a masterpiece.
The artistic style is absolutely beautiful, which is expected of Hayao Miyazaki, an artist of great skill and experience. While the style does contribute to the oddness of the film, it does distinguish it from other animated feature length films. Each character is given a distinct feature that just makes Miyazaki’s world come to life on the screen.
Ponyo is a film that must be studied before enjoyed. That would be the only flaw that stops it from ever rising above Up, Coraline, or even Bolt. That is not to say that Ponyo is a bad film. It’s a film that if you do manage to understand, will be unforgettable as most of Miyazaki’s work is.

500 Days of Summer



5 stars

500 Days of Summer is a story about love, not an actual love story. Presented with a documentary style, 500 Days is the story of Tom, a man who works at a card company who always believed that he would never be happy until he finds “the one”. It is also about Summer, a woman who does not want to ever be in a relationship, who meets Tom. All of this information is told through the narrator, who successfully gives the movie a documentary like feel. The narrator is a bit creepy however, as for he does give us a lot of information about Summer, giving me the impression that he used to be her stalker.

The premise of 500 Days of Summer is pretty uninteresting, but it introduces a twist that distinguishes it from other romantic comedies. It is not the plot, but the way the story is told that makes it such a unique experience. The story is told through flashbacks and flash-forwards, as for the movie starts at day 488, and then goes back to day 250, where it then goes back further to day 1. The movie never seems to have any pattern, but just shows the most significant dates, meaning that you won’t be going through a detailed 500 day diary of how his relationship went. ( THANK GOD!!!) Other unique points would come from the fact that the film seems to have PERFECT comedic timing, leading to one of the FUNNIEST romantic comedies I have seen in years.

The acting is solid, as for none of the characters are very unique, however,it does well for what it has. The most interesting characters has definitely got to be Tom’s friend, brother and sister, as for they all seem to be just your average movie sidekicks. They usually have little influence on the story, and are just their to make you laugh. (And what a great job the film does at that.)

500 Days of Summer is an experience that many romantic comedies will never match up to. While it does have an interesting premise, the execution is perfect and unique, as for it offers unique story telling, a SHOCKING ending, great supporting characters, and a creepy narrator who successfully give this film a documentary like feel. If you have any humanity at all, please watch and enjoy this movie.

Random Movie of the Week: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington


One of my favorite movies to come out during the golden age of 1939, has definitely got to be Frank Capra’s finest, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Having seen this movie recently, I realized that the timing can’t be any more perfect, for incidents of corruption in our government have been numerous recently(Blagojevich, Stevens, etc). Mr. Smith Goes to Washington scared the crap out of many people, because of it’s depiction of a government that could easily be influenced by corrupt politicians who are in positions of great power. In fact, this depiction scares the hell out of me, as for it shows how fragile democracy is and the results if the power of democracy is abused.

The death of a Senator Sam Foley has governor Hubert Hopper (Guy Kibbee)looking for a new Senator. Unfortunately, his corrupt political boss, Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold), wants him to choose a handpicked stooge while the public wants him to choose a reformer. When he finally makes a decision, he decides to choose Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), a naive and inexperienced Senator, who has the ideas of a true reformer. It is through his experience as a Senator, where he discovers the corruption of the government.
What makes Mr. Smith Goes to Washington such a great movie, is the fact that it accurately depicts corruption in Washington. It also portrays the senate as human beings rather than perfect beings, which really is something that series and films like The Bourne Series, State of Play, and many other political thrillers and dramas would take inspiration from.
For those who are interested in politics, this is a film that you must watch. What makes this such an appropriate film, is the fact that many politicians have been discovered to be involved with corruption. Let this film remind us how fragile democracy is.