About Fran Parker

Fran Parker is the reviewer of 5 buck movie or at least inexpensive movies on DVDs, etc. There may be other reviewers along the way.

Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction - cover - Click on image to go to Amazon's Stranger Than Fiction page

Stranger Than Fiction – cover – Click on image to go to Amazon’s Stranger Than Fiction page

Stranger Than Fiction is an amazing, unique, quirky and surprisingly excellent movie. A friend of ours, Adam aka @ross549 gave a DVD to us of a movie we had never seen before. He gave us the DVD not because he didn’t like the movie, but because they got a Blu-Ray version of the movie and didn’t need the DVD version any longer. That movie was Stranger Than Fiction. It became one of my favorites for many reasons.

First, Stranger Than Fiction showed a side of Will Ferrell that I never realized existed. Yes, I know comedy is as hard to do as any other genre of movies and it takes great talent to do comedy, but I found that there was just much more to Will Ferrell’s abilities as an actor; Will Ferrell was much more versatile than I ever imagined. I knew of Will Ferrell from the mid-70s on Saturday Night Live, and had seen a few of his zany comedy movies, but this Harold Crick was a much deeper character than any role I had seen him become before.

Second, the combination of a fantastic cast including; Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah and Maggie Gyllenhaal was magical.

Third, it was so unique of a concept for a movie!

Fourth, I am a sucker for a comedy that is also a bit of a drama, with romance and fantasy thrown in for good measure!

OK, some stats on this movie from Amazon:

Product Details:

Actors: Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, Maggie GyllenhaalDirectors: Marc Forster
Writers: Zach Helm
Producers: Aubrey Henderson, Eric Kopeloff, Hans Ritter, Jim Miller, Joseph Drake
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Subtitles: English, French
Dubbed: French
Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
PLEASE NOTE: Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called “region-free” DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: February 27, 2007
Run Time: 113 minutes
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (430 customer reviews)

The movie came out in theaters in the United States on 10 November 2006. IMDb gives it a rating of 7.7/10 Stars and even though it came out in 2006 in theaters and 2007 on DVD, it is on the rise.

IMDb Storyline:

Everybody knows that your life is a story. But what if a story was your life? Harold Crick is your average IRS agent: monotonous, boring, and repetitive. But one day this all changes when Harold begins to hear an author inside his head narrating his life. The narrator it is extraordinarily accurate, and Harold recognizes the voice as an esteemed author he saw on TV. But when the narration reveals that he is going to die, Harold must find the author of the story, and ultimately his life, to convince her to change the ending of the story before it is too late. Written by the lexster

Everything from the opening credits to the end held my interest and kept me right on the edge of my seat. This movie is unique, quirky, amazing, and so well done. This was Will Ferrell’s first so called ‘dramatic’ role and he did it so well, I really expect more from him in more dramatic and heartwarming roles.

There were many wonderful reviews of this movie at Amazon and I can’t list all my favorites here, but here is Amazon’s review by Doug Thomas:

Much was written about Will Ferrell’s first “dramatic role” as Harold Crick, an IRS auditor who begins hearing a voice narrating his life. But Stranger Than Fiction is hardly a drama. However, what Ferrell does–like Jim Carrey before him in The Truman Show–is handle a toned-down character with genuineness and affection: you believe he is this guy. Crick leads a lonely life filled with numbers and routines. While at first he considers the voice a nuisance, Crick decides more action is needed when it speaks of “his demise.” Enter Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), who takes on the absurd notion with revelry, trying to find out what kind of book Crick’s life is leading. It turns out that the voice Crick is hearing belongs to Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson), a very real–and troubled–author who is writing a book in which Crick is a fictional character. As usual with these things, the stuffed shirt learns to live a better life–Crick even falls for one of his audits, a brash baker named Ana (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Marc Foster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) has the right tone for the film, using great urban scenes (the unnamed city is Chicago) with interesting visualizations of Crick’s world of numbers. He also directs Ferrell, Hoffman, and Gyllenhaal to their most charming performances (plus Linda Hunt and Tom Hulce pop up in two funny scenes). Ferrell succeeds in being a romantic lead you can root for; a scene where he eats Ana’s freshly baked cookies is totally delightful without a hint of sarcasm. Screenwriter Zach Helm has two personal traits with his story: like Crick he followed his heart (he stopped rewriting scripts and only worked on his own) and like Eiffel, the final results are not a masterpiece, but good, and entertaining enough. Britt Daniel of the band Spoon worked on the dynamite soundtrack.–Doug Thomas


And just two from the multitude of reviews by regular movie viewers like you and me:

Literature, Taxes, Death And Cookies–A Difficult Concept Is Executed With Originality And Precision

By K. Harris

The idea of “Stranger Than Fiction” appealed to me the moment I first heard of it. Harold Crick, played by Will Ferrell, wakes up one day and hears a voice. An omniscient narrator is relating his life with precision and no one can hear that voice but himself. It turns out that the voice is Emma Thompson, playing a famed author who is actually writing a novel about a character named Harold Crick. And it’s the same Harold Crick. What is being put down in fiction is also concurrently happening in real life. It’s a tricky concept, one that I felt might be impossible to pull off effectively. Well, not only does “Stranger Than Fiction” pull it off–it succeeds grandly as a surprisingly thoughtful, amusing, and moving contemplation of life. For Harold must immediately confront his mortality when the narrator informs him/us that he will soon die!


Very Very Funny . . . And Odd

By N. Burt

I loved this movie. It is funny and odd, but it has a lot of heart to it. The writing is so good that my friends and I thought at first that it must be adapted from a larger work, such as a book. The characters are that well crafted and the story that unique. These are not things most comedies bother with at present. Now, I’m calling this a comedy, but it will pull on your emotions a bit. Its all worth it though. The acting is great, which is not unexpected given the cast. If you love movies and are looking for something kind of different and original this is a good way to go. A really fun film to watch.

There was a really good TIFF Screening review on the movie by grissomsbutterfly1013 (Canada) on September 10 2006 about 2 months before it came to theaters in the USA:

Saw it at The Toronto International Film Festival and it was well done. Original storyline, fantastic performance from Ferrel, Thompson and Hoffman. The most moving performance from Will Ferrel I have ever seen is within this film. The storyline some may believe to be too far fetched at first to take seriously, but in the end it does work. What makes the film work the most are the brilliant performances from Ferrel and Thompson. Without these two- the film couldn’t have been pulled off! I recommend this flick to anyone looking to laugh and cry and then laugh again. It was a truly brilliant film. 10/10 (Hoffman and Ferrel were too kind to shake hands and greet the fans inside the screening as well.)


Couldn’t have said it better myself! Awesome movie. If you enjoy unique concepts in heartwarming and funny movies with a great cast, you may also find that Stranger Than Fiction becomes a favorite movie of yours as well.


RIP: Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine, Who Won an Oscar for Hitchcock’s ‘Suspicion,’ Dies at 96 – NYTimes – Dec 16, 2013

Passed away December 15, 2013

Joan Fontaine added by Bob Hufford at FindAGrave.com - Click the picture to go to FindAGrave.com's page for Joan Fontaine and see the other beautiful picture posted by Bob Hufford there as well.

Joan Fontaine added by Bob Hufford at FindAGrave.com – Click the picture to go to FindAGrave.com’s page for Joan Fontaine and see the other beautiful picture posted by Bob Hufford there as well.

(NOTE: Removed the one from Wikimedia as it was removed from there and no longer available)

Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941)

Rest in peace, Joan Fontaine

(also known as Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, younger sister to Olivia de Havilland. My heart goes out to Olivia de Havilland who at 97 survives her younger sister)

EDIT: Corrected the NYTimes article link

RIP: Peter O’Toole

Peter O’Toole, Star of ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ Is Dead at 81 – NYTimes – Dec 15, 2013

Passed away December 14, 2013

One of his best all time movies, which I love, Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Posted Image

Rest in Peace Peter O’Toole!

My heart goes out to his family in this time of great loss.

RIP: Tom Laughlin aka Billy Jack

RIP: Tom Laughlin aka Billy Jack

Tom Laughlin, star of ‘Billy Jack’ films, dies at age 82 – The Blaze – December 15, 2013

Passed away, Thursday, December 12, 2013

Billy Jack (1971)

Posted Image

Just one in the Billy Jack Collection of movies

Rest in peace “Billy Jack”

One Tin Soldier Rides Away

My heart goes out to Tom Laughlin’s family in their time of great loss.

Winter Holiday Movies

I posted the following to start off a discussion at ScotsNewsletter Forums:

White Christmas (1954)

Bing CrosbyDanny KayeRosemary Clooney. etc.

Posted Image

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Chevy ChaseBeverly D’AngeloJuliette Lewis, etc.

Posted Image

A Christmas Story (1983)

Peter BillingsleyMelinda DillonDarren McGavinScott SchwartzJean Shepherd (narrator), etc.

Posted Image

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Edmund GwennMaureen O’HaraJohn Payne, etc.

Posted Image

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Voices of: Billie Mae RichardsBurl IvesPaul Soles, etc.

Posted Image

That’s just a start … what other Winter Holiday Movies are out there that you enjoy?

Some of the members brought up a bunch more, check it out. I also added a few more in there. ;)

And boy did the SNF Highlanders come through!

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

A Christmas Carol (1951) aka Scrooge (1951)

A Christmas Carol (1984)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Scrooged (1988)

Frosty the Snowman (1954) and Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

Diehard (1988) and Diehard 2 (1990)

Love Actually (2003)

From Countdown Until Christmas:
Posted ImageNew Christmas Movies for 2013
Posted Image2013 ABC Family Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas
Posted Image2013 Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas
Posted Image2013 ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas

Gotta see WALL-E to see EVE and WALL-E with solar decorations holding hands

Wall-E and Eve Celebrate Christmas - Binary Moon UK

Wall-E and EVE Celebrate Christmas – Binary Moon UK – Click image to go to blog post

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

Lists of Christmas Films (Wikipedia):
Lists of Christmas films include:
List of films relating to Christmas
List of made-for-television and direct-to-video Christmas films
List of theatrical Christmas films

You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Shop Around The Corner (1940)

And a great list of Favorite Winter Holiday Themed Movies
in this Ropes of Silicon article by Brad Brevet
including one of our all time favorites:

Gremlins (1984)

Trading Places (1983)

Holiday Inn (1942)

The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

And a few more here:
Best Christmas Movies of the 1940s – 10 Ten Reviews

The Little Crooked Christmas Tree (1990)

A Christmas Carol (1999)

An American Christmas Carol (1979)

I know we didn’t get them all! There are tons of them! And more are likely forthcoming in the topic at SNF (Scot’s Newsletter Forums) here (oh, yeah, definitely been more from SNF), but if you can remember any we missed, please post them (if possible with IMDb links) in the comments, and I will add them to the list! Also got a few from Eric’s Cabin in the Woods forum. Thanks all!

Enjoy the Winter Holiday Movies!

Fast & Furious’ Paul Walker tragically died in a car crash

Paul Walker dead at 40: ‘Fast and Furious’ star killed in fiery car crash – Daily News

Paul Walker

Paul Walker

“Him and his buddy, his brother in arms at heart just decided to joyride, take a spin. Something we all do. We’re all car enthusiasts,”said Antonio Holmes, who said he was a friend of Walker’s.

“We’re all here driving, enjoying each other, and God must’ve needed help.”

Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker dies in California car crash – BBC

“It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organisation Reach Out Worldwide,” the statement on the actor’s Facebook page said.

“He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We… are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.”

Fast and Furious Actor Paul Walker Dead in Porsche Accident – KRON4

Posted Image

Tweet from Paul Walker’s Official Account

It’s with a heavy heart that we must confirm Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident…MORE:http://t.co/9hDuJMH99M – #TeamPW
— Paul Walker (@RealPaulWalker) December 1, 2013

‘Fast and Furious’ actor Paul Walker dead after car crash – EW

“Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans.  We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family,” a rep for Universal said in a statement.

Actor Paul Walker dies – CNN

Along with Vin Diesel, the 40-year-old Walker has been one of the stalwarts of the “Fast & Furious” movie series, characterized by its racing scenes and attractive cast.


The box-office success of the first film in 2001 fueled sequels. The series’ sixth installment came out earlier this year, topping the Memorial Day weekend box office.


At the time of his death, Walker was working on the seventh film of the franchise, with a scheduled release date of 2014.

Such a tragic loss … my heart goes out to Paul Walker’s family and friends – including his friend that was driving at the time of the crash. His friend also died in the crash and has family and friends who will miss him as well.

It is a great loss to those of us who love the franchise (Fast & Furious). We can just imagine how hard this was for Vin Diesel and everyone else that have been working with Paul Walker all these years. My heart goes out to all the folks that are are part of the Fast & Furious franchise and lost a piece of their family when Paul Walked died today.


As a close, I would like to quote the Roman’s Grace over the meal at the end of Fast & Furious 6 – I somehow think it fits:

Father thank you for the gathering of friends, Father we give thanks for all the choices we’ve made because that’s what makes us who we are, let us forever cherish the loved ones we’ve lost along the way; thank you for the little angel, the newest addition to our family, thank you for bringing Letty home, and most of all thank you for fast cars!

Rest in peace, Paul Walker…you are missed.


EDIT: Added Roman’s grace over the meal at the end of F&F6.

Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors

Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors – MyPassionIsBooks Blog


Check out the article at MyPassionIsBooks about this wonderful list of authors that have had movies made of their books!

The top 25! And Stephen King hit Number 1! Congrats Stephen King!! And to all the great authors on this list!

Happy Birthday Dame Agatha Christie

Happy Birthday Dame Agatha Christie – MyPassionIsBooks Blog (Reblog)

From the Wikipedia article on Dame Agatha Christie:

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie – Wikipedia

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was a British crime writer of novels, short stories, and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best remembered for her 66 detective novels and more than 15 short story collections, most of which revolve around the investigations of such characters as Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple and Tommy and Tuppence.

I started reading the Queen of Crime‘s books when I was a young teen and thoroughly enjoyed her works.

Today, Septemeber 15th is Agatha Christie’s birthday anniversary. She has been gone these long years now since January 12th 1976, and the world has felt her absence. Rest in Peace Agatha Christie!

Agatha Christie’s books have been read by billions!

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly four billion copies, and her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the Bible, as the world’s most widely published books.[1] According to Index Translationum, Christie is the most translated individual author, and her books have been translated into at least 103 languages.

Time to dust off some old Agatha Christie … maybe Murder on the Orient Express with our old friend Inspector Hercule Poirot would be just the thing.

Might also enjoy watching the Murder on the Orient Express movie gain too – which is still 7.7/10 Stars on IMDb.

Murder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) By Agatha Christie - AmazonMurder on the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) By Agatha Christie – Amazon

Or maybe better yet, my all time favorite, And Then There Were None.

And Then There Were None By Agatha Christie - AmazonAnd Then There Were None By Agatha Christie – Amazon

Rest in Peace, Agatha Christie!

Those of us who love to read, particularly crime and detective stories, will never forget the wonderful contributions by the Queen of Crime, Dame Agatha Christie.

Rest in Peace Agatha Christie!

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland (2004)

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland, Best Picture of the Year, with Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie and Dustin Hoffman

I recently had an opportunity to again see this wonderful film that still garners a 7.9/10 Star movie at IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes still gives it 83% rating, and the audience an 84% rating.

I hadn’t seen it since probably 2007 when I watched it with a neice and nephew (my brother’s children) while spending some time with them one day. It was a totally amazing story and film. Seeing it again recently with my Jim was a special treat as I could focus even more attention on the actual story than while visiting with the children who had already seen this movie so many times because they loved it and own the DVD.

I found the part of J. M. Barrie aka, Sir James Matthew Barrie, played by Johnny Depp was one of his best roles (and that is a really hard call because I love every movie I have ever had the pleasure of watching Johnny Depp perform). You can see them all at his filmography because there are few listed that I haven’t enjoyed!

I can say the same thing about Kate Winslet’s part as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, as it is certainly one of two particularly favored parts that Kate Winslet has performed including her role as Rose DeWitt Bukator on Titanic (was Titanic really done back in 1997! Wow! I love that movie too. That movie is still the definitive telling of the story in my mind).

The Llewelyn Davies boys are portrayed by Freddie Highmore (Peter), Nick Roud (George), Joe Prospero (Jack), and Luke Spill (Michael).

The interaction of J. M. Barrie and the boys was nothing short of amazing. I can’t say enough about the empathy between James, and the boys and their Mother, Sylvia. Several of their names were actually used in this precious fantasy story, Peter Pan.

According to Wikipedia:

Finding Neverland is a 2004 semi-biographical film about playwright J. M. Barrie and his relationship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan, directed by Marc Forster. The screenplay by David Magee is based on the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee. The film was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Depp’s portrayal of J. M. Barrie, and won one for Jan A. P. Kaczmarek‘s musical score.

The story focuses on Scottish writer J. M. Barrie, his platonic relationship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, and his close friendship with her sons, who inspire the classic play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.

And by Rotten Tomatoes,

Following up his critically acclaimed Monster’s Ball, director Marc Forster took on this biography of playwright James Matthew Barrie, the scribe who penned the children’s classic Peter Pan. Johnny Depp stars as the turn-of-the-century writer as the film follows Barrie as he struggles to write and have his play produced while he cares for his down-on-their-luck neighbors who inspired the story in the first place. J.M. Barrie’s Neverland also stars Dustin Hoffman, Kate Winslet, and Julie

And IMDb,

The story of J.M. Barrie‘s friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan. The movie details the experiences of “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie, which lead him to write the children’s classic. He got to know four children who have no father. Drawing from his time with the kids, he writes a story about children who don’t want to grow up.

I have been in love with the story of Peter Pan since I was a child and have read the book several times in my life. Seeing this movie again, just reinforces my love of the story of Peter Pan, and it’s roots so much. I think J. M. Barrie would be pleased. Because of this movie, I simply had to devour most everything I could about the real life characters he used as the inspiration for this wonderful story.

J. M. Barrie, thank you so very much for one of the best rides a book can give to young and old alike in mind, spirit and soul. Peter Pan, has led to so many wonderful retellings as well as to great stories like this heartwarming and inspiring movie Finding Neverland.

What a joy it was to get to see this wonderful movie Finding Neverland inspired by the real life interaction of J. M. Barrie and the boys who were the real inspiration for the timeless book Peter Pan. I spent the movie in turn laughing and crying and feeling such human warmth from watching this movie. Life in their day was hard, but this movie also showed how any life, no matter how short, could be experienced with joy, imagination, positive expectancy in life, love, and most of all without having to grow up.

Thank you to J. M. Barrie, David Magee, Marc Forster, Richard N. Gladstein, Nellie Bellflower, Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Radha Mitchell, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman (also in Hook by the way), Freddie Highmore, and the other boys, as well as all the other supporting roles who were all responsible for this movie and it’s success. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world…

Some other sources for Peter Pan, and Neverland:


Neverland – Wikipedia

Peter Pan (1953)

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie – Project Gutenberg

Peter Pan – audio – Librivox