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Saturday, June 02, 2007

That's Entertainment: Stranger than Fiction

Last night I continued my catching up with the 2006 theatrical releases I never managed to see, and watched the DVD of Marc Forster's Stranger than Fiction. In brief it's a story about the fictional traps we design for ourselves and others, and the need to break free of them in order to find happiness and sanity.

The film playfully blurs the line between fiction and reality and has some literary fun with its characters. Will Ferrell does a great job playing Harold Crick, an IRS auditor who starts hearing a voice narrating the action of his life. Emma Thompson is that omniscient author, Kay Eiffel, and she controls the action — for the most part. She's a novelist with a penchant for cigarettes and tragedy who is desperately trying to invent the proper demise for the hero of her latest story — Mr. Crick.

Dustin Hoffman also contributes a nice turn as an academic with a fondness for Eiffel's work who tries to help Crick navigate through the story and against the odds attempt to achieve a happy ending for himself. All of the main performances are excellent, and the film has a nice life-affirming message about appreciating the little moments that make life special. Even better, it includes one of my all-time favorite songs, the Jam's That's Entertainment, and that a good enough excuse for me to post some lyrics (thanks to The Jam website). The song certainly has a resonance for us big-city dwellers, and the small things that define our lives might not appeal to everyone, but they're ours nonetheless.

That's Entertainment by Paul Weller

A police car and a screaming siren -
A pnuematic drill and ripped up concrete -
A baby waiting and stray dog howling -
The screech of brakes and lamplights blinking -
that's entertainment.

A smash of glass and the rumble of boots -
An electric train and a ripped up 'phone booth -
Paint splattered walls and the cry of a tomcat -
Lights going out and a kick in the balls -
that's entertainment.

Days of speed and slow time Mondays -
Pissing down with rain on a boring Wednesday -
Watching the news and not eating your tea -
A freezing cold flat and damp on the walls -
that's entertainment.

Waking up at 6 a.m. on a cool warm morning -
Opening the windows and breathing in petrol -
An amateur band rehearsing in a nearby yard -
Watching the tele and thinking about your holidays -
that's entertainment.

Waking up from bad dreams and smoking cigarettes -
Cuddling a warm girl and smelling stale perfume -
A hot summers' day and sticky black tarmac -
Feeding ducks in the park and wishing you were faraway -
that's entertainment.

Two lovers kissing amongst the scream of midnight -
Two lovers missing the tranquility of solitude -
Getting a cab and travelling on buses -
Reading the grafitti about slashed seat affairs -
that's entertainment.
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