Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

I hate it when a trailer for a great movie is all wrong. Who edits these? No one would ever be interested based on this random montage of clips. And that other one gives too much away. The one I’m imagining could work for the theater, TV, or radio. This would be my ideal splicing:

Narrator: This is a story about a man named Harold Crick and his wristwatch. Harold Crick was a man of infinite numbers, endless calculations and remarkably few words. And his wristwatch said even less…

*             *             *

Queen Latifah: I’m Penny Escher. I’m the assistant your publishers hired.

Emma Thompson (the Narrator): The spy.

Queen Latifah: The assistant. I provide the same services as a secretary.

Emma: I don’t need a secretary.

QL: Then I will have to find some other way of occupying my time.

Emma: Like watching me like a vulture in case I get distracted, because they—the publishers—think I have writer’s block, isn’t that right?

QL: Do you have writer’s block?

*             *             *

Narrator: And although this was an extraordinary day—a day to be remembered for the rest of Harold’s life—Harold just thought it was a Wednesday.

Will Ferrell: “Harold thought it was Wednesday.” Did you hear it?

Lady at bus stop: Who’s Harold?
Will: I am.

Lady: Don’t worry, Harold. It’s Wednesday.

*             *             *

Will: Dave, I’m being followed.
Tony Hale: How are you being followed? You aren’t moving.

*             *             *

Linda Hunt: Mr. Crick, you have a voice speaking to you?

Will Ferrell: No, not TO me—ABOUT me. I’m somehow involved in some sort of story, like I’m a character in my own life. But the problem is that the voice comes and goes, like there are other parts of the story not being told to me. And I need to find out what those other parts are before it’s too late.

*             *             *

Emma Thompson: Is there any way to see the people who aren’t going to get better? …I’d like to see, if at all possible, the ones who aren’t going to make it. You know, the dead-for-sure ones.

ER nurse: I’m sorry, are you suffering from anything?

Emma: Just writer’s block.

*             *             *

Dustin Hoffman: “Little did he know.” That means there’s something he doesn’t know, which means there’s something you don’t know, did you know that?

*             *             *

Emma Thompson: I’m not in the business of saving lives; in fact, just the opposite.

*             *             *

Will Ferrell: Ten seconds ago you said you wouldn’t help me.

Dustin Hoffman: It’s been a very revealing ten seconds, Harold.

*             *             *

Queen Latifah: I will gladly and quietly help you kill Harold Crick.

*             *             *

Dustin Hoffman: …The last thing to determine conclusively is whether you’re in a comedy or a tragedy. To quote Italo Calvino, “The ultimate meaning to which all stories refer has two faces: the continuity of life, the inevitability of death.” Tragedy, you die. Comedy, you get hitched.

*             *             *

Maggie Gyllenhaal: Listen, I’m a big supporter of fixing potholes and erecting swing sets and building shelters. I am MORE than happy to pay those taxes. I’m just not such a big fan of the percentage that the government uses for national defense, corporate bailouts and campaign discretionary funds. So I didn’t pay those taxes. I think I sent a letter to that effect with my return.

Will Farrell: Would it be the letter that begins, “Dear Imperialist Swine”?

*             *             *

Dustin Hoffman: Have you met anyone recently who might loath the very core of you?

Will: I just started auditing a woman who told me to get bent.

Dustin: Well, that sounds like a comedy. Try to develop that.

*             *             *

Maggie Gyllenhaal: Go home, Harold.

Will: OK… You made those cookies for me, didn’t you? You were just trying to be nice and I blew it. This may sound like gibberish to you but I think I’m in a tragedy.

*             *             *

Kristin Chenoweth: So can you tell us the title of the book you haven’t written, yet?

Emma Thompson: I’m calling it Death and Taxes.

*             *             *

Will: I may already be dead, just not typed.

*             *             *

Will: Karen Eiffel, my name is Harold Crick; I believe you’re writing a story about me.

Emma: Is this a joke?

*             *             *

Emma: …It’s a book about a man who doesn’t know he’s about to die and then dies. But if the man does know he’s going to die and dies anyway, dies willingly, knowing he could stop it then… I mean, isn’t that the type of man you want to keep alive?

 

Winter’s Bone (2010)

I had the pleasure of watching an advance screening of this pearl at a film festival. Afterwards, a local musician spoke about the making of it. Deep in the Ozarks, lies a population—like a country all its own—sprawled out among the craggy terrain. Fiercely protective of their own, it took years to earn the trust of the community in order to craft a novel based on their way of life.

Most of the supporting cast and extras are locals, and the homes and clothing are indigenous to the area. Lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence (virtually unknown at the time of its release) had to learn to hunt & skin squirrels, to chop firewood and to fight. Her character must find some evidence of her meth cook father, for whom there is an arrest warrant. He’s missing—either in hiding or dead—but “like a dog digging after a Winter’s bone,” as the old Appalachian expression goes, she must find some enough proof to satisfy the authoritys, who are about to seize her family home where she takes care of her ailing mother and two younger siblings.

Waking Ned Devine (1998)

Old Ned Devine bought the winning lottery ticket! Unfortunately, he died from the shock of it. His friends decide to cash in his ticket; after all, that is what their dearly departed friend would’ve wanted. Unfortunately, they must fool the man from the lotto who’s coming to verify Ned’s identity. Word travels fast in a rural village so they must enlist the help of a few others and eventually, the entire town.  Fortunately, there’s more than enough money to go around when split amongst them so everyone agrees… except for mean old Lizzie Quinn. Unfortunately, she’s determined to make good on her threat to rat them out.

Parkland (2013)

I’m always wary of a movie with a plethora of seasoned actors; it has the potential to feel like a required class, in which Hollywood’s upperclassmen sit around chewing scenery. In this instance, I was pleasantly surprised. The true unsung hero, however, is the screenwriter, who not only chose to focus on overlooked perspectives of JFK’s assassination (a story that’s threadbare from handling) but who also prepared a medium through which the stars could best showcase their craft. Texas’ historically underappreciated hospital finally gets its moment in the sun.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

It would be too simplistic to summarize the plot as a group of childhood friends trying to make sense of the world they grew up in that, until recently, seemed altogether normal. However, that’s exactly what it is. This bittersweet story is set against the backdrop of hypothetical circumstances that in no way seem like Science Fiction because they’re not entirely far-fetched. If Society embraced what most of us would casually assume were advancements, the ethical ramifications would undeniable for those necessarily considered expendable for the sake of convenience. It’s easy to admit to unethical practices when looking back at History, such as war against villainy, but effectively looking forward requires the precision of a timeless story of love and friendship.