Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

* * * *

Will Ferrell is the new Jim Carrey. Except better. Ferrell has proven to be more consistent with Old School, Anchorman, and Talladega Nights (not to mention countless cameos) than Carrey ever was in his prime during the 90s. Now, with Stranger than Fiction, Ferrell has scored a great performance in a dramatic role just as Carrey did with the Truman Show. Marc Forster, the director of Finding Neverland, has created a movie that appeals to almost anyone. As can be expected from Farrell, there are scenes that make you laugh out loud. But what may surprise you is a plot that twists enough to keep you riveted, and a narrative that tugs at your heart. The great story is brought to life by a phenomenal cast. Maggie Gyllenhaal lights up the screen as Ferrell's love interest, Dustin Hoffman is electrifying as a professor, Emma Thompson is brilliant as a neurotic writer, and Queen Latifah holds her own as the writer's assistant. As mentioned above, Ferrell shines brightest as a character completing an arc both funny and touching for the first time. The script may be too deep for some, but this is one of the most original movies I have seen in years. Stranger Than Fiction was great in the theater and looks to be one of those movies that is better a second and third time at home.

Good For: a date, existentialists, general movie watchers

Bad For: mean people

The Gallery
The Economist: * * *
The Surfer: * * *
The Film Maker: * * *

The Good Shepherd (2006)

* * *

The Good Shepherd looks like it has all the ingredients to be a great movie; good cast, legendary director, government conspiracy story, and no explosions. But the movie is a disappointment thanks to average performances and a way too long, way, way, way, too complicated storyline. Matt Damon is far from bad as one of the first agents in the CIA, but also isn't anywhere near his performance earlier this year in The Departed. The story has its twists and turns that keep you briefly intrigued, but at times you may miss what is happening because you are trying to decipher what you have just witnessed in the previous scene. I sincerely believe you either have to be a history major or have lived through this time period to fully comprehend the entire story. Deniro's character is much more enjoyable than what he has done behind the camera, and a cameo by Joe Pesci was a high point. Angelina Jolie and Alec Baldwin are both capable but have been better. John Turturro, a favorite, stands out as Damon's assistant. Overall, the film would probably be much more enjoyable as a book. If you're a fan of Deniro, Damon, or conspiracy films, it is worth checking out. Otherwise, you may have better ways to spend three hours.

Good For: Deniro fans, history buffs, very intelligent people

Bad For: people who don't want to think at movies, someone with limited time

The Gallery
The Economist: * * *