Stranger Than Fiction Review- Turner Schmidt #questusreviewus

Stranger Than Fiction is certainly a strange movie, and is about as close to a book as a movie can get considering the fact that the whole movie is narrated in the exact same way that a book is (I definitely understand why it was picked for this class). It is about an IRS auditor named Harold Crick (played by Will Ferrell) who has OCD. He pays extremely close attention to his watch, making sure that he does everything at the exact same time for the exact same amount of time each day. One day, he begins to hear a faceless narrator narrating his entire life which begins to drive him crazy. Also, at the same time, his watch begins to malfunction, and when he asks a stranger for the time, the narrator mentions that that act would result in his “imminent death.” In searching for answers as to who this narrator is and about his death, he meets Jules Hilbert, a literary professor. Jules tells him to figure out whether his “story” that the narrator is narrating is a tragedy or comedy, to which he decides it is a tragedy based off of his interactions with a baker, Ana Pascal, who he is both auditing and attracted to. Eventually, he finds his author, Karen Eiffel, who he learns has drafted his death already. Afraid to read the draft, Harold gives it to Jules to read, who proclaims that it is a masterpiece and says that he must let the ending persist, claiming that death is inevitable. At the end, Eiffel decides not to kill Harold, and instead has his watch destroyed, which was basically its own character throughout the movie.

First of all, Will Ferrell was a strange pick for the lead of this movie. I’m used to seeing him in movies like Stepbrothers, Elf, and Anchorman, so when I saw him in Stranger Than Fiction, I wasn’t particularly pleased. Seeing him as a sad, lonely, and frankly not very funny character was a bit of a bummer to me personally, which kind of put a damper on the movie at first for me. But, he eventually grew on me as the movie progressed, and by the end I was ok with his kind and loving character, especially once he sang that song at Ana’s house. Really, his whole relationship with Ana made him a much more likable character. Looking back on it, his transformation from the strange OCD hermit to the kind person he was in the end was heartwarming.

One thing that bothered me particularly was the humanization of the watch. I didn’t like that the writers tried to make it into some sort of “character” that had a mind of its own. I guess that it helped the ending come together, but I think the watch could have been less of a focus in the movie.

I did enjoy the whole narration bit of the movie. Many movies are narrated, but not in the way that this movie is- it really was meant to sound like a book rather than pure movie narration. Not only that, the whole concept of the movie- that Harold could actually helplessly hear his narration, was an interesting concept to explore. I think it would be interesting to read a book where the characters in the book could hear the narration of the book, although that might start to get extremely confusing. It would have also been humorous to hear the narrator from a comedy book narrate his life, or really just have a narrator that was positive and would say something like, “Then, Harold bought a winning lottery ticket” or something like that. Perhaps that would have been a better use of Will Ferrell as a main character- having the narrator be a comedic one.

The one thing that really bothered me about this movie was the fact that his death was so inevitable. Just because Jules said that the ending was a masterpiece, it meant that Harold had to die in the way that Eiffel wrote it. Really? This is a human life we are talking about. Surely just because a book’s ending is a masterpiece doesn’t mean that someone actually has to DIE. It would have been much more realistic in my mind if Eiffel didn’t even hurt Harold in the first place. But, I guess it makes for a good ending. In my eyes, it was just a silly that just because Jules thought it was a masterpiece, Harold had to die.

All in all, I give this movie a 4 out of 5 stars. Perhaps if the narrator was comedic, this movie could have been a major hit. It would have been hilarious to watch a funny narrator put Will Ferrell through a bunch of funny scenes. Regardless, the plot and characters of Stranger Than Fiction were interesting, and it was a good watch.

Amazon Review: The OA, by Turner Schmidt

If you can handle a show with an interesting concept but somewhat confusing organization, then Brit Marling’s first season of The OA is right for you. This Netflix Original is about Prairie (otherwise known as The OA) and her troubling and strange life story. She grew up in Russia with her father where she experienced a near death experience which blinded her. She was then subsequently put up for adoption and later adopted by an American couple. She decided later in life to run from her adopted parents while blind, in search of her Russian biological father. On her return home to her adopted parents seven years later, Prairie had full eyesight, and an extremely troubling story to tell to a select few.

While missing, Prairie was (allegedly, according to her telling) kidnapped by the evil Dr. Happ, who was obsessed with studying near death experiences. In order to study his obsession, Dr. Happ kidnapped and enslaved people who had near death experiences and put them through countless near-death experiences in order to study what happened after death. Along with Prairie were a handful of other enslaved people who Dr. Happ was studying. Through their numerous trips to the afterlife and back, Prairie and her other enslaved friends picked up a series of movements that when put together, had the power to heal, send people to other dimensions, and (spoiler alert) stop school shootings. After Dr. Happ caught on to the movements and learned them himself, he freed Prairie, leaving her with the mission of teaching a group of friends in her hometown the movements in order to free her friends that were still trapped by Dr. Happ, or worse, in another dimension.

One of the main components of this show was time and how it was broken up. We learned all about Prairie’s story of kidnapping and enslavement through her telling of her story to others- the show was not played out in chronological order, but rather through a series of flashbacks that could sometimes leave viewers confused. Especially at the beginning of the show, viewers had absolutely no clue of what is going on. But, as the show progressed, everything became clearer until the end, when most questions were answered and the plot began to make sense. I believe that the structure of time in this show was a double-edged sword. On one hand, the breakup of time and the confusion that came with it kept viewers interested and invested in the show, wanting to find out what happened to Prairie and why she brought together a strange group of people to tell her story to. On the other hand, the confusion due to the breakup of time could make viewers disinterested and annoyed.

Another component of the show which bothered me particularly was how silly the dance moves were that Prairie learned in the afterlife. Up until the first dance moves, I was invested and interested in the show. But once Prairie started doing the movements, I immediately lost interest. Really? Of all things she could have learned in the afterlife, she learned those silly dance moves that had magical powers? The dance moves had me rolling my eyes and shaking my head. As I watched them for the first time, I cringed the entire time, and the last scene of the show pretty much ruined the entire thing for me due to the dance movements.

Lastly, I thought the concept of the show, near death experiences and the afterlife, was a very interesting topic to explore (although I didn’t like that the dance moves were what came out of the afterlife). To me, the afterlife is the number one biggest mystery in the universe, which is really what kept me invested in this somewhat confusing show. Hopefully the next season of the show will get rid of the dance moves and explore the afterlife in a more mature and less silly manner.

All in all, I give The OA a 3.6 out of 5 stars. The topic of the show was interesting and the characters were deep and well developed, but a few flaws such as the order of time and the silly dance moves could deter viewers from watching. Hopefully the second season will have a less confused sense of time and ditch the silly dance moves in favor of a deeper look into the afterlife.

#TheOA #neardeathexperiences #review #english #netflix #afterlife

The Man of the Crowd Review #questusreviewus

Do you like mysterious and intriguing short stories? Perhaps you enjoy people-watching? Or maybe you are visiting a large city soon? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then The Man of the Crowd by Edgar Allan Poe is the right story for you.

The story begins with an unnamed narrator in an unnamed café in London observing the passing crowd, noticing particular features of both individuals and masses of people. As he continues his observations of the people on the street, he notices one man in particular who holds an expression of which he has never seen before. This feeble, old man fascinates the narrator, who quickly leaves the café hoping to learn more of the peculiar man by following him.

Throughout the night and into the next day, the narrator follows the old man through busy streets, side streets, and shops, taking the same route many times, and usually walking very fast. In the end, the narrator is wildly amazed by the strange old man and stops following him, concluding that the old man is one of “deep crime” who “refuses to be alone,” naming him “the man of the crowd.”

I highly recommend this story because of how it changed my perception of people that usually go unnoticed. One thing I have observed growing up in Washington, D.C. is the amount of creepy and odd people that roam the streets, especially at night. They are always there, but I never put much thought into them. Instead, I just pass them off as more of those unnamed city dwellers. When reading about the man of the crowd, it made me wonder what it would be like to follow some of those people that I often see on the streets of cities. Would they walk all night and into the next day too? How many of them are dangerous criminals? Or were they looking at me asking themselves the same questions? Whatever the answers may be, The Man of the Crowd is a story that raised my awareness of the countless mysterious souls we are surrounded by, and their possible outlandish behaviors.

If you are looking for a story that will possibly change your attitude towards people who you generally pass off as “just more city dwellers” then The Man of the Crowd is the answer. It has the power to change your perception of people you often don’t think much about, and will also quite possibly make you a bit more cognizant of the fact that some of those people are more dangerous than they appear!

#themanofthecrowd #mysterious #oldman #crime #edgarallanpoe #watchout #peoplewatching #cities #london #scary