Stranger Than Fiction

I don't intend to review Stranger Than Fiction. (This is a review.) I'm not going to tell you to go see it or not, I only want to reflect on some things I noticed.

Eccentricity seems to be one of those very few things that can really makes a fictional world work. When I read Dickens' London, I skim the characterizations off the top, but I enjoy reading every one of those 50-odd chapters because of the things that happen. When I watch Monty Python skits, I try to ignore the fact that these people are doing nothing important and focus on what's funny about the nonsense.
I don't think that this eccentricity is only important in comedy, but I do think that unintentional laughter is a dangerous thing in a tragic drama. then again, Shakespeare's tragedy has a share of funny lines. Eccentricity is important, in any case.

Stranger Than Fiction seems to base all of its characters on eccentricity. Eiffel (the writer character) is funny because she does that thing with her cigarettes, and because she looks really bad for the bulk of the movie. (I think that Emma Thompson is one of the more beautiful actresses working in Hollywood, but she really does look like she's had writer's block for a while. It's only really scary because I know how that feels...) Dustin Hoffman's character is constantly doing something weird; whether it's his bare feet or the constant acquisition and consumption of coffee.
Crick (the "protagonist") isn't all that funny when he acts like a robot. That's the focus of the story, the part Eiffel is always talking about. When he goes on an out-of-character rampage, that's only slightly humorous. When he says "because it's where I keep all my stuff!" or picks the beat-up old surf (or "seafoam")-green strat from the guitar store, that's funny. It's also real.
So, I think that the funniest parts of a movie will always be peripheral to the plot, and they will always be there in scenes that really grab you and make you feel right.

I should note that while it is eccentric and peripheral to show an out-of focus room full of old men showering, it is not funny.

Also, I think that the screenwriter was confusing anarchy with solipsism when Ana says that it wouldn't make sense to go to an anarchist meeting. Anarchists like to hang out; that's what skateboarding and punk rock are all about. They don't like organizational structures, but they have "meetings" all the time. Solipsism isn't even all that anti-organizational, though it is very hard to have an intelligent discussion with someone who thinks you're a projection of his imagination. (And the slogan "Solipsists Unite!" is more ironic if you think about the isolationist implications.)

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