Well, next I was going to write a post about the glamour of grammar, inspired by Grumpy Old Bookman.
But then I saw Stranger Than Fiction, and figured the glamour could wait.
You've got to ask yourself, how did this picture get made? A story about a man whose life is being narrated by an unseen voice, which announces that the man is about to experience an "imminent death"? A man who goes to a literary critic for advice on how to forestall his death? Much literary dialogue about literary theory? The unseen voice who turns out to be a...
But no. No spoilers. Not with this one.
Suffice to say, this just isn't regular Hollywood myth.
Yes, it made me cry. At several points.
But it isn't a sad story at all. It's that extremely familiar Hollywood motif about death and resurrection, hijacked from the Gospels, this time (as often) from John.
A beautiful, postmodern, amazing, creative, innovative, non-Hollywood, non-Hollywood myth death and resurrection.
This past Sunday a young man preached that one way to get closer to God was, yes, to come to church every Sunday. He said, "Just think. The ancient Romans tried to stamp out Christianity. They tried everything: torture, ostracism, killing in the arena. To think-- that the only thing that they had to do to get people to stop going to church was to invent shopping malls, football, hunting, and golf."
It got a laugh. It had some truth to it.
Of course, the Romans did invent all those things. Not everything specifically, but the Romans had just as many diversions as we have today.
The reason people went to church back then was because it meant life to them. It meant their entire lives. You go where life is. I think some Jew from Nazareth once said, "Where your heart is, there is your treasure also."
The reason why many of us don't go to church nowadays is because we already have 2,000 years of resurrection embedded in the culture. The Romans didn't have that. Watch the HBO show Rome, which mostly gets it right, to see how desperate those times could be.
We don't reach out for resurrection in church because it is already in our very being. It is in our DNA. It is even in cool, non-traditional, twenty-first century movies.
I'd be selling this movie short, however, if I said it was only about resurrection. It's also about Becoming Who You Are (cheers, party horns, paper hats, confetti), The Deep Heart Beauty of Storytelling (gorgeous strings swelling, flock of birds on wing, frosted cupcake), and Laughin' and Grief (Alice in Wonderland).
It's also about Dustin Hoffman's feet (or his stand-in's feet: I vote for the stand-in, but I think I may be wrong).
It's about Will Farrell's Oscar-worthy performance (standing ovation).
It's about Maggie Gyllenhaal's everything (yes, please).
It's about Emma Thompson's dignity (Hello? Hello? Miss Thompson? I love your work, Miss Thompson! Miss Thompson? Could I get an auto--? I adored you in Dead Again. Hello?)
It's about Living Your Life As If Each Day Is Your Last. Which, I think, is a beautiful discipline, one that I aspire to, one which takes considerable bravery, but one which, after I see a movie like this, seems oddly within my grasp.
The best Christmas movie of the season. Or is that Easter, Anna Pascal?