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I sat in the editor’s chair, off and on, for about 10 years. It would have taken me just about that long to come up with this: a music video comprised entirely of audio cues from Pulp Fiction. Enjoy!

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Ever heard of a Real Doll? I beg you not to Google it, especially if you are at work. A Real Doll is a shockingly lifelike…partner…for lonely men. You might recall they made one of Kelly Carlson on FX’s demented “Nip/Tuck“…though it’s a wonder they had any silicone left over from making the actual Kelly Carlson to construct a doll! Anyway, forget everything you may know (or suspect) about these dolls, because it’s not that kind of story.

In Lars and the Real Girl our shy and painfully backward hero lives a life apart. He is an enigma to his co-workers, the folks at church, and even to his brother and sister-in-law, who live in their inherited home while Lars chooses to sleep on a cot in the garage. One day UPS unloads a crate at the house, and that evening Lars announces he is bringing a guest to dinner. Smash cut to stunned relatives staring at Lars seated at the dinner table next to a sex doll…a doll he considers real in every way.

The town shrink advises his family, co-workers and the townsfolk play along in hopes of helping Lars work through and shake this delusion. That commitment, and the healing that ensues play out in ways that constantly surprise us, because it never gets weird or hokey or over-the-top. The script by Nancy Oliver (Six Feet Under) is subtle, sweet and hopeful and truly deserving of its Best Original Screenplay nomination.

Lars is played by Ryan Gosling, seen previously in his Oscar- nominated turn as the strung-out teacher in “Half Nelson.” Other prominent names include Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson, actors who typically play pent-up, tightly wound supporting characters in pent-up, tightly wound little independent films. This, along with the bleak Canadian winter, really sets a stark tone for the proceedings. The sterile isolation of the picture’s opening presents a startling contrast to where Lars and the entire town eventually end up. Maybe too startling to be entirely believable (and not all the film critics were on board) but I found myself gladly going along for the ride.

Bottom line: A film about a guy who falls in love with a sex doll…that you could recommend to your mother? I’m as surprised as you are. So, get thee to a video store and rent the hell out of it!

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I think it’s unavoidable; whatever it is you do for a living, you observe others doing the same thing and you judge. I once had a friend who was an architect, and every building we would pass was too busy, too vertical, too…glassy-and-stony, and so on. One guy was a bartender, and the last place you wanted to be with him was a bar in his off-hours. “Geez, could you put MORE tonic in that, you hack!?”

With me it’s movies and TV. Long before I wrote for a living, I had spent 15 years in video production. So I am always noticing lighting, shot composition, camera moves, etc. Trust me, this is not a point of pride. It’s sort of an OCD thing that too often takes away from the experience.

When watching a film on a Friday night, I tend to drive people around me crazy with arcane observations (often accompanied by rewinding the DVD to illustrate) about some aspect of story structure. I once had a fantasy about doing film reviews for some alt-weekly somewhere. But you need to live somewhere large enough and cosmo enough to get early screenings. Sorry friends, Charleston is not that place.

Also, I tend to be very forgiving. I “get what the director was trying to do,” even if I don’t love the results. Real critics are paid to take a stand, however bitchy. I suppose, as Mr. Burns lamented on The Simpsons, I’m too nice.

Anyway, a small (!) circle of friends does take pity on my film affliction and asks my opinion from time to time. So I make mental notes when something really stands out, and once in a while I may share them with you. Tune in tomorrow!

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