13 November 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

You have to see this movie. I don't know who "you" might be, but whoever "you" are, "you" need to see this movie. If you are a writer, you will laugh with the "that's exactly how I think!" moments. Like - and I am censoring myself so that I don't give anything away - like the author trying to figure out the ending. An assistant comes in, sent by the publishing house, ready to use whatever method necessary to bring on the ending, but the author knows that the ending isn't up to her. She has to find it. Or how the writer researches her books. Or when a character gives a manuscript to a literary prof to read, and the prof says yes, I'd love to read it, while throwing down the mss and returning to his book. But, but - you could see this in the character's eyes, in his stop ready to turn back and beg - please read this now. Tell me what you think. Tell me now. This is exactly how I feel every time I give anyone anything of mine to read.
If you aren't a writer, this will give you a glimpse into our lives (and shows us writers that not everyone thinks like us - hard to believe, I know). One of the best scenes (in the beginning, so I'm not really giving anything away): the writer stands on the edge of her desk, on the edge of a skyscraper in her mind's eye, to know what it feels like to jump to your death from a very tall building. The assistant walks in bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. What on earth is this writer doing? "Doesn't everyone image what this is like?" the writer asks. "No!" the assistant says. "No!" my husband repeats. "What?" I think. Of course everyone does. What does the free fall feel like? What are your last thoughts? Are you still alive when you hit the bottom? How do you overcome that fear right before jumping? Do you pee yourself mid-air? Do you change your mind and want to live when it's already too late? But, my husband says in agreement with the assistant, not everyone thinks this way.
Huh.
I loved this movie. My husband enjoyed this movie but says I can't be a writer anymore. Too weird. Many laughs. Great cast - Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, and Queen Latifah. Very funny.
Typically, when I talk about movies, I talk theology or philosophy or something. So here you go: This movie demonstrates the power of story. Careful, writers, you possess heavy responsibility (which reminds me of James' warning to teachers in his letter). That whole mightier-than-the-sword pen. And, the movie is existential. Can't say anything more than that without giving away the ending.

Another good movie? The Prestige. I recommend that as well. Great acting. Stellar acting. Good twists. A good flick all around.

I'll be gone this week at a theology conference to exercise those theological chops. As an added bonus, I get to see my best friend, who lives many, many miles away.

18 comments:

Jeanne Damoff said...

I've been looking forward to seeing that movie. It's not showing yet in Dinkytown, USA, but when it comes, I'll be on it like a duck on a June bug.

Meanwhile, I'll just hang out here on this building ledge--er, the top of my desk, pondering suicide and other happy thoughts.

Have fun at your theology conference. My 23-yr-old daughter majored in theology. She wrote her senior honors thesis on Dostoevsky, exploring the idea of Alyosha as confessor. She's also a pianist/guitarist/singer. And she's funny. You two would probably have a lot to talk and laugh about, and I want to be invited if you ever do.

Michelle Pendergrass said...

I haven't even watched Rent yet. LOL

Christianne said...

Loved this review, Heather! I have been waiting with bated breath for this movie to come out. I didn't realize it had. It figures that I would find out on someone's blog before I found out in "real life."

Since I'm in Chicago and have a free evening tonight, maybe I will treat myself to this flick.

I hope you're enjoying the theology conference? Where is it at? What's it about? How fun for you to see your best friend. I moved from CA to FL in June and well know the treasure of a weekload with a kindred spirit. I envy you in this moment. :)

Jeanne, your daughter sounds like she's right up my alley, too. Would love to hear her thoughts on Alyosha!

L.L. Barkat said...

So, I guess the film is called Stranger than Fiction? (Forgive me, but I'm a little sheltered... another writer reality.)

Jeanne Damoff said...

Christianne, based on your profile, you and Grace would have even more in common than I mentioned here. (And so would I, for that matter--hopefully we'll get to chat some day.)

If you're serious about wanting to discuss Alyosha with her (or Dostoevsky or Russian lit in general) e-mail me at damoffj at yahoo and I'll hook you up. She would love it.

Jeanne Damoff said...

P.S. to Christianne. I haven't met many people who've read A Severe Mercy. Amazing book! Also, I love your profile picture. :)

Heather said...

I loved A Severe Mercy. Great book.
And I need to meet your daughter, Jeanne. A theologian, a musician, and into literature? Hmm. Sounds like someone I just might like. We should have a big conference just for people who want to meet each other. We could have discussion groups and "late night chats" and speakers and everything.

L.L. Barkat said...

To Heather's last comment... or, we could all meet at Mount Hermon this spring. :)

Dineen A. Miller said...

I guess you really liked the movie. LOL! I'm really looking forward to seeing this one. Can't decide whether to see it with hubby or my writer's group. I'm sure you can understand that dilemma.

I agree, Prestige was great. Very well done. Hope you're having fun with your buddy!

Jennifer said...

I want to see this one, too, but don't get out too much, so I might just have to add it to my Netflix list.

Christianne said...

Thanks, Jeanne. I've been wanting to get to know you more, too. And I think I will take you up on your offer for e-mail to get in touch with your daughter.

Ah, A Severe Mercy. Kirk and I are still making our way through it (his first time, my third). It still amazes me how much God revealed about my heart to me when the first time I read it I hated it.

Oh, and thank you for the word about my pic. :)

One More Writer said...

I agree, Heather. I loved this movie, although I feared the ending the whole time--and ended up loving it. Of course Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, etc. do a great job bringing the story to life.

I do wonder, though, if the general population will get it. Writers get it. Even readers get it. But so many are neither.

Jeanne Damoff said...

Yes! Let's all meet at Mount Hermon this spring and have a late-night chat jam-session music-and-gab-fest-o-rama!

A Severe Mercy is such a great book for couples to read together. George and I read it in the 80s. We were living in Lynchburg, VA, which is where Sheldon Vanauken lived and taught at Lynchburg College at the time. We never met him, though. According to his friends, he was reclusive and eccentric.

I thought of that book the other night. Company was due to arrive and I was busy in the kitchen preparing food. I called George's name to ask him to turn on the living room lamps and some cool music, but he didn't hear me, so I gave up, feeling somewhat disappointed that our guests would arrive to a drab atmosphere. About ten minutes later I walked out in the living room and the lamps were on and mellow tunes flowed from the stereo speakers. He'd done it on his own. It was a very Van-and-Davy moment for me. :)

Christianne said...

Very cute story, Jeanne! :)

Robin said...

The whole concept of this movie intrigues me...maybe I'll get lucky and make it over the holidays....gee, even luckier, and it'll be a girls' night out...hmmmm....

Jeans Pants said...

You named 2 movies I've been dying to see

nathan said...

Hmmm, I would have thought you might have wanted to exercise your theologian’s ‘chops’ deconstructing this movie. Seems to echo some of Aquinas’s pontificating free-will and predestination. Regards.

Anonymous said...

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