October 10, 2010

Dreams Stranger than Fiction

"Stranger than Fiction" (2006) is an okay film. At one level it is a love story about a nerdy tax inspector and a coffee shop owner. The tax inspector that lives for numbers and punctuality, that lives his life in a fastidious, perfectionist, a-sensual fashion wakes up to the world of cakes and kisses and he dives, into the sensual world. In this movement he is aided by the was-once-a-bit-of-a-nerd, coffee shop owner that dived herself, many years before, out of law school in the sensual-world-more-important.

At this level "Stranger than fiction" has the hallmarks of many a love story, where the impediment to love lies in the character of one or more of the protagonists. Love stories with nerdy heroes and heroines are not few in number. I enjoyed "A New Leaf"(1971) starring botanist-nerd Elaine May, and cynic Walter Matthau, athough this film tracked the movement towards love of a cynic rather than a nerd. There are perhaps even more love stories about cynics meeting their match and taking the plunge, such as "When Harry met Sally"(1989) and "Wedding Crashers"(2005). Cynics and nerds have this in common: they both don't know how to do that loving stuff. Other love stories feature a Briton, who in Hollywood are all both cynical and nerdy, such as "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Nottinghill," which feature Hugh Grant becoming aware of his mojo. Upping the brow-level perhaps there are love stories about idealists taking the plunge, such as "Wings of Desire (Himmel Uber Berlin)", its naff remake "City of Angels," and "The Legend of Nineteen Hundred," although in the latter case the idealist sticks with ideals rather than love.

At the same time however, "Stranger than Fiction" crosses genres, and adds a irreal, crazy, almost Matrixical alterity; the hero of "Stranger than Fiction" finds that he is the hero of a woman's novel. We see the (female) novelist fretting over ways to kill him off.

The hero eventually tracks down and meets the novelist but reading her book, he decides to run with the story, and in front of a bus to his nemisis, at which point the novelist decides to make the accident, no longer accidental, non-fatal. At this point, in her words, the love story takes that sensual realistic dive into the world of the little things. The taste of coffee and lipstick, the brush of someones eyelashes accross your cheek. Rather than the grand design, rather than the objectives, and conclusions of works of great fiction, the hero and his novelist choose the everyday.

Dead interesing.  But what of dreams?

At the same time I was watching a program on Japanese television about a lady that gave up the everyday to pursue her dreams. At 50 or thereabouts she says that we all have dreams but usually we give up on them and opt for life. She describes dreams (by that she means goals) as a bomb that we carry with us, and that most people, caught up with the everyday allow it not to explode.

At the same time again I found myself watching the concluding song to "Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat" wherein we are told, "Any Dream Will Do." This recently the title of a reality TV series to find the next incarnation of Joseph on stage.

All very confusing. Is love a dream? Or does it present us with the real world? Is choosing love a cop-out or a higher ideal?

A recent survey by a student I know found that there is a strong correlation between honesty and romanticism. An unexpected result?

Posted by timtak at October 10, 2010 06:30 PM