No, I am not going to be rehashing all BBC-or-otherwise produced versions of Jane Austen, the Brontes, Oscar Wilde, or videos of that nature. Maybe I’ll do that some other time.
I’m more interested in discussing and promoting Stranger Than Fiction, Black Books, and other short video clips to all the literary junkies out there.
Stranger Than Fiction is a 2006 feature length film starring Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, and in probably his first almost-serious role, Will Ferrell. Four people’s lives converge in this dramedy centering on Will Ferrell and his wristwatch.
One day, Will Ferrell, an IRS accountant, realizes his life is being omnisciently narrated. He cannot communicate with the author’s voice, and so when the voice says, “Little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death,” Harold Frick (Will Ferrell) gets a little upset. He ends up seeking help in various ways, finally coming to Dustin Hoffman’s character, a university professor who has basically built a career upon deconstructing the phrase “little did he know”. Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) advises Harold to figure out whether he’s in a comedy or a tragedy, and thus try to identify the author. Enter Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson). She’s a well-known reclusive author struggling with writer’s block. She’s also the voice narrating Harold’s life. Though Harold hasn’t always loved his life or lived it to the fullest, recently his life seems to be looking up: he’s pursuing hobbies, spending more time with a friend/coworker, and starting to date a law school drop-out baker (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who is a sweet and spirited character (and also incredibly sexy with her half-sleeve tattoo and anarchist attitude). Harold doesn’t want to die, but can there really be any other way for Karen’s latest book, Death & Taxes, to end? At the end of the day, measuring the two columns side-by-side, will Harold be living in a comedy or dying in a tragedy? A must-see for all fiction fans.
My only complaint about Black Books is that it’s only 18 episodes. At three seasons, six episodes a season, that’s really not enough to satisfy my craving for Bernard, Fran, and Manny. Bernard Black is an Irish curmudgeon who owns a used book shop. Fran is his best friend who owns the shop next door, and Manny is an ex-accountant turned part-time bookshop employee. Besides being witty, hysterical, and wise, there are so many great bookshop moments, and at 20 minutes an episode, you can watch one just about any time for free on Hulu. Watch a intro compilation on YouTube here.
The rest of the videos are funny book-related eye-and-ear candy. Enjoy!
Portlandia: Did You Read?
For anyone who’s actually worked in a bookstore: