A Tale of Two Movies

Yesterday Val and I watched each of our two Netflix rentals…well, she mostly talked on the phone to her sister and organized the documents folder on our computer during my movie. I thought both movies were very good, yet each disappointing enough in their own ways that I couldn’t go higher than four-out-of-five stars for the flicks.

My selection was Ryan Fleck’s Half Nelson, starring Ryan Gosling. I have to agree with several of the film critics here – it’s an excellent performance for Gosling, and one which I hope propels him into more high-caliber roles. The abundance of expert hand-held photography right to my taste as well, particularly since it’s used during many essentially still shots. Two of my favorite parts, however, are the scenery (I have to find out where in NYC this is located just for my curiosity) and the music which both serve to drive the point home that Gosling’s character is barely floating along in his depressed world when he isn’t in class making a difference to middle school students.

Unfortunately for me, the ending is really rather abrupt – we have seriously a two minute scene to close out the barely-existent story. And speaking of that near-non-story – I felt through much of the film that I was simply watching events happen rather than a narrative. Call me old-school in that sense, I suppose. Overall, though, as my 4/5 suggests, I did enjoy the movie a great deal.

Valerie’s movie was Stranger Than Fiction, a story about a story, where the main character really exists and finds that the author is writing his life and imminent death. Will Ferrell plays quite well in this movie, as do Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. The movie is filmed quite a bit better than I’ve come to expect of comedies, including a rather creative shot inside an articulated bus, and an excellent use of info-graphics to punctuate the lead character’s obsession with numbers.

This, too, disappointed largely because of the ending. There is such build-up and significance placed around the ending by the movie itself that when it finally arrives, it feels more like slowly letting the air out of a balloon rather than popping it. I found this unfortunate as the build-up was handled quite well. Again, however, I enjoyed this movie enough to give it 4/5. I hope this indicates a better direction for Will Ferrell in the future, though we can’t be too sure with Blades of Glory and Semi-Pro in the future.

One thought on “A Tale of Two Movies

  1. I really enjoyed Stranger Than Fiction. Will Ferrell was to this movie as Jim Carey was to Eternal Sunshine, except Stranger Than Fiction wasn’t quite as brilliant.

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