(struggling with the chords to "I Could See The Dude", but he'll get there eventually)
After the inaugural meeting of the Matador Movie Club to see Mission Of Burma's 'This Is Not A Photograph' a couple of months ago, we reconvened to check out our beloved Britt Daniel's contributions to the soundtrack of 'Stranger Than Fiction'. The Spoon mainman was working with Brian Reitzell on the score, who also worked on Sofia Coppola's 'Virgin Suicides' and 'Lost In Translation' with Air and Kevin Shields. That man is so hip and trendy, even knowing who he is makes you feel like you're Piers Martin. Aside from instrumental snippets of 'My Mathematical Mind' and 'I Turn My Camera On', the new Britt pieces are unobtrusive in the same way as Kevin Shields' were in 'Lost In Translation', and just as lovely. It should be noted that a flattering comparison to the quality of Kevin Shields' music is just about the highest praise I can offer.
As for the film itself, the Matador Movie Club give 'Stranger Than Fiction' a cautious thumbs-up. Mike and Lucy had problems with the film's ending, and we were all a bit perplexed at how Maggie Gyllenhaal would ever find Will Ferrell attractive (but, having said that, who is good enough for Maggie Gyllenhaal? She's awesome). The Kaufman-esque plot of a man discovering that he is actually a character in a book that is being written that will end with his tragic death isn't really exploited for all the brain-warping potential that idea has; in fact certain ideas that are central to the plot at some points (the narration, the fact that Crick cannot control his own fate) are bandonned at others. But maybe we're being too critical of what is actually a very much above-average comedy – it does have Maggie Gyllenhaal in it, after all, and it's nice to see Emma Thompson in a dramatic role again. Dustin Hoffman was…Dustin Hoffman, and Buster from Arrested Development was in it as well, proving conclusively to me that no matter what role he takes from now on, he will always be Buster from Arrested Development (I mean that affectionately). Marc Foster's direction seems shaky, to be honest, there's no massive tonal shifts or anything, but there are certain points where the film forgets that it's a comedy – but maybe that's meta and intentional. But despite our misgivings, 'Stranger Than Fiction' is a sweet little film that you'd have to try very hard to dislike. With a wicked soundtrack, natch.
The Matador Movie Club's third outing will actually be an office screening of R Kelly's opus magnus 'Trapped In The Closet'. My critical faculties generally leave me around the point in part one where R Kelly sings 'I quickly tried to put on viiiiibrraaaaaatttte'. Slays me every time.