Tuesday, February 27, 2007

February 27th Log

2006, Marc Forster, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

Relying on its charming performances and clever script, Stranger Than Fiction is an enjoyable film. The film centers around Harold Crick a man who is searching for the author/narrator of his own life. His seemingly non-existent life suddenly changes with his impulse to change and take chances. Stranger Than Fiction is about these little moments and decisions of life, but it is also essentially about the process of writing and creation. However, the strength of the film is that it avoids dwelling on its ideas of the writing process and centers on the characters and most importantly on the endearing moments that make these characters such universal figures. What I really admired about the film is how it emerges itself into a rather sweet romantic comedy. The film has a personal aspect of its writer that easily recalls the work of Charlie Kaufman, but under the light-hearted direction of Marc Forster, Stranger Than Fiction relies more on its charm. Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal are wonderful together and Emma Thompson is always reliable. Stranger Than Fiction reminded me more of a cheerful Woody Allen in the sense that it uses the creative process, comedy/tragedy, human relationships and sensibilities all as a source of its characters. You could probably nit pick at flaws, but the pure enjoyment and intelligence of this film is reminiscent of some of the old classic Hollywood romantic comedies.

1941, Michael Powell / Emeric Pressburger, United Kingdom

1st Viewing, DVD

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger make up one of the greatest writer-director teams in the history of cinema. Together they made 19 feature films under there trademark ‘Archers’ name. 49th Parallel is the first film the British duo made together and it ultimately was the first of two films Powell and Pressburger were nominated for Best Picture (The Red Shoes being the other). Pressburger won the Academy Award for best Screenplay with this film. The 49th Parallel is a good and important film, but one I would not consider among the best from Powell and Pressburger. Today it stands a bit more dated in its propaganda slant, but the Powell-Pressburger magic gives it something to hold on to. They have a way of making films that bring out the pure imagination of cinema and filmmaking. The performances are a bit overdone (specifically from Laurence Olivier), but this is exciting and extravagant filmmaking, which can be viewed as propaganda but also has a twisted sense of sympathy for the Nazi enemy. 49th Parallel features some of there trademark ‘artificial realism’. They are filmmakers that create universes and somehow that seems to make the whole idea of this film more intriguing as wartime propaganda, or as a thriller. Powell and Pressburger just know how to make a film and though they would later go onto to make far superior work, 49th Parallel is well worth viewing.


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