Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

In my ongoing quest to try to take some time off while also gearing up to write something new, I hiked up the hill today to go see Stranger Than Fiction. In case you haven't heard about it yet, the basic idea is that a man realizes that he's a character in a novel when he starts to hear a voice narrating his life. Meanwhile, a novelist struggles with a bad case of writer's block when she can't figure out how to kill off her main character.

I loved this movie. It's going on my list to buy the DVD as soon as it comes out because I found it very inspiring. I'm not sure how well it would play to people who don't make their living writing novels, but the other people in the theater were also laughing out loud, and we couldn't all have been novelists. It really said a lot about life and about writing, while also being sweet, romantic, funny, heartbreaking and entertaining. And yes, it made me cry.

Let's just say I'm very glad I write comedy and haven't yet killed a character because otherwise I'd be in big trouble if my characters figured out what I was doing to them. My people have magical powers, so that could get interesting. Fortunately, I write first person, so I kind of get to hide behind Katie, and she shouldn't be aware that anyone outside her head is narrating her life. She'd just think she's talking to herself.

My one complaint is that I think they could have done better than Will Farrell in the lead role. He plays everything he does as if he's the Tom Hanks character in Big, the child trapped in a man's body (who's generally more childish than any real child would be). That naive/innocent man-child shtick didn't work so well for me here. Instead of hiring a comic for this role, maybe they should have gone with an actor better known for playing dramatic roles. While the meta stuff about the story was funny, the character and his life weren't funny, and the trademarked Will Farrell childish temper tantrums were a distraction. If they had to get a comic, I think Steve Carell could have totally rocked this part. Even when he's playing characters who look silly to us, he plays them with a sort of gravitas, like he's treating them as dramatic roles.

I came out of the movie all inspired to write. So I immediately came home and baked bread (I can write later, but I might not be allowed inside my parents' house tomorrow if I don't bring bread with me). Speaking of tomorrow, I'll be heading over the rivers (Trinity and Sabine) and through the woods to my parents' house for Thanksgiving, and I probably won't be checking in here before I leave, since I want to get out of town before traffic gets bad.

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