Nebraska (2013)

Family is complicated, as is small town interpersonal politics. The addition of fame and a potential fortune amplifies tensions that crescendo towards a battle for personal pride. When a hapless salesman realizes his boozy old father plans to travel cross- country to claim a non-existent prize based on a misunderstanding, it’s becomes clear he’s just […]

Maudie (2016)

A well-meaning online discussion caught my attention: “Name a thoughtful non-romantic gesture by your significant other.” As if the two are mutually exclusive. Kindness and simplicity are vastly underappreciated. Often, excessive public displays of affection hide shallow, insecure relationships. Now we have social media to facilitate overcompensation. In contrast, those with the least appreciate it […]

Grace is Gone (2007)

When military personnel are assigned to a far-away tour, the loved ones left behind know there’s a chance they might not return. But awareness of the hypothetical doesn’t prepare anyone for reality. How do you tell your daughters their beloved mother is never coming home? How do you accept it yourself?

Return to Me (2000)

It’s unfair to judge a movie strictly by its genre; if you’re that highbrow, why bother to watch it? I’m not normally a fan of romantic comedies but I liked that this one wasn’t based on stalking or manipulation, neither of which are cute or funny. I also appreciated that it wasn’t about strangers believing their […]

Harold and Maude (1971)

How does a burgeoning screen writer turn his Master’s thesis into a full length motion picture? Set it to as many Cat Stevens songs as possible. And if there aren’t enough, have him write more. I’m hesitant to classify this as a comedy but not because dark subjects, such as the fleetingness of mortality, can’t […]

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?

 

The Truman Show (1998)

What was ahead of its time—many people dismissed the premise of a TV studio adopting a child, around which a reality show would be taped, as ridiculously exaggerated—may now seem trivial or irrelevant. The lengths to which The Entertainment Industry will go for an audience (not to mention advertising, including product placement) always surprise us for some reason. In light of the births of current celebrity babies—the mothers of whom take future brand identity into consideration when naming them—it might be wise to revisit this movie and consider the impact of a scenario that’s not likely to be hypothetical for much longer.

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.