I complain often (including here and here) about the stupidity of the scripts underlying movies and TV. Fabulously intelligent and scintillating writing rarely characterizes popular entertainment. This irritates me because, the success of certain dumb shows to the contrary notwithstanding, I don't think people are as stupid as most programming would indicate and it's offensive to be treated as if we are. I also think the more you expect of people, the more you get, and that it is not necessary to pander to some demeaning notion of the lowest common denominator.
The Wire is, in my opinion, in an extraordinary class by itself on TV, and for every snappy moment on an old Frasier or Will & Grace episode, there are hours of lame, idiotic and often sexist garbage. Or at least I assume there are, by virtue of the bad shows I've seen and the ads for others I TiVo through, which purport, I presume, horrible as they are, to be the best parts of the shows they're peddling. Similarly, movies are too often characterized more by explosions, scantily-clad women and unpleasant vocabulary choices than by scintillating writing.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I came across Stranger than Fiction, a beautifully and perfectly written movie. Who would have imagined that a movie starring Will Ferrell would be intelligent, poignant, gripping, thought-provoking and still vividly occupying my mind two days later? (It also stars Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal, so there you go, but still...Will Ferrell??) The movie is about writing, which of course appeals to me, but it's also about what life should be compared to what it often is. And I challenge you to watch it without needing to bake cookies as soon as possible after you finish. It's a glorious movie, with amazing performances (including by the aforementioned WF), striking visuals, and a script that absolutely crackles with brains, humor, charm, and depth. See it immediately, if not sooner.