I have this recurring dream where I make lame comedies ...Last week was a really, really good one for movies — you had your “Borat“, your “Flushed Away“, your “Sleeping Dogs Lie“. All strong, interesting and genuinely creative films. And all very funny, too.

This week, there’s one: “Stranger Than Fiction“, a lovely little bit of surrealism that stands as the sort of mainstream cousin to Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” — or, possibly, what those films might have been if they’d been made by a mainstream director.

I’ve never really enjoyed anything else Marc Forster has made — “Monster’s Ball” is posturing crap, “Finding Neverland” is competent but entirely uninteresting and “Stay” is an overly digitized mess — but this one’s just about perfect. It’s charming, it’s funny, it’s quite moving, and it doesn’t even matter that the trailer reveals a crucial plot point. Just see it.

Everything else, you can miss. Here are the quick-n-easy summaries:

Conversations with God“: Remember that “Simpsons” episode where Homer skips church to watch the football game, and God drops by for a chat? This is a lot like that, only terrible.

Driving Lessons“: Julie Walters dives fully into the role of a drunken, egomaniacal actress (apparently patterned after Dame Peggy Ashcroft), but the movie around her is kind of a slog. Oddly, Walters has no rapport whatsoever with her co-star, Rupert Grint, despite having played his mother in several “Harry Potter” movies.

A Good Year“: Russell Crowe plays an asshole banker who learns to be less of an asshole when he inherits a French chateau and gets to know the wacky locals. Oddly, he’s much more convincing as an asshole.

Harsh Times“: And speaking of assholes — “Training Day” screenwriter David Ayer makes his directorial debut with this jittery study of two jacked-up idiot friends (played with impressively misplaced commitment by Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez) who tool around Los Angeles making trouble. Ayer thinks he’s remaking “Taxi Driver”. He ain’t.

“The Return” was not screened for critics, so I’ll be catching that later today. The trailer makes it look a lot like “Carnival of Souls”. Hmm.

Lame Duck, Empty Suit

Really, nothing I write is going to be funnier than this pictureI haven’t had the chance to watch last night’s “Daily Show”, but please, for the love of god, tell me they did something on the President of the United States acknowledging, almost cheerfully, that he’d lied to the press last week.

Crooks and Liars has the video here.

Gotta say, though, it wasn’t the admission of the lie that I found most sickening — it was the way Bush admitted it, patiently explaining to the assembled White House press that he had to lie about keeping Rumsfeld on in order to make those pesky reporters stop asking about whether he’d be keeping Rumsfeld on: “The only way to get you onto another question was to give you that answer.”

It’s these moments, when he lets the mask of geniality slip and reveals just how much he holds the rest of us in contempt, that are so crucial to the understanding of the Bush presidency and its relationship to the American people.

Jon Stewart’s rhetorical question — “Do they think we’re retarded?” — is funny, but it’s just a little off the mark. The truth is, Bush really does believe he’s the smartest guy in the room.

Explains a lot about the last six years, doesn’t it?

One in 250

That’s not a political calculation, but the number of dental anaesthesias that fail to take, according to my dentist.

He told me this as we were sitting in his office, wondering why I still had sensation — oh, such exquisite sensation — in my lower jaw.

Dental appointment rescheduled. Tooth still broken. I repeat, for posterity: It can always get worse.

On the upside, it looks like the American people finally decided to put the brakes on the whole going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket thing, so that’s nice.

Adrienne Shelly

Unbelievable ... that's the word, all rightI was shocked to learn, over the weekend, that Adrienne Shelly — best known for her work in Hal Hartley’s early films “The Unbelievable Truth” and “Trust”, but also a filmmaker in her own right — had been found dead in a TriBeCa apartment, an apparent suicide.

I’d met her at a couple of Toronto festivals, and while you can never really know anyone from a casual conversation in a crowded hotel corridor, she just didn’t strike me as the type to end up that way; she was just too centered. (Check out her appearance in Rosanna Arquette’s documentary “Searching for Debra Winger“, if you have a chance.)

Anyway, it turns out it wasn’t suicide after all; a construction worker has been charged with second-degree murder in her death. Ray Pride’s eloquent summary can be found here.

So, um, yay. I hope the New York Post runs a correction.

Borat Conquer America

In his country there is no problem whatsoeverBorat” make big surprises on American boxed office, coming in at #1 for the weekend despite playing on barely a quarter of the screens of its closest competitors, “The Santa Clause 3” and “Flushed Away“.

This is huge. And if the movie maintains its position — or picks up additional speed — when Fox widens its release this weekend from the current 837 screens to an expected 2500, who knows where this could go?

Sacha Baron Cohen would make glorious Oscar nomination …

When Worlds Collide

HeroesRolling Stone gets New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd to interview Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Read it here.

Precisely two years ago, I wrote a Starweek piece that suggested “The Daily Show” might prove to be the secret weapon that turned the 2004 election for John Kerry — think of all those red-state kids, newly eligible to vote, who’d gone off to college and discovered the program just in time for the election.

Ah, well. Better luck this time.

Breaking News

Again I am in your facesI’m appearing on CTV Newsnet this afternoon to discuss “Borat”, and whether it signifies the destruction of all we hold holy, or something.

Not sure whether it’s going out live or being pre-taped for later broadcast, but if you turn on your TVs at 3:15 EST and wait, you’re bound to see me sooner or later.

You can also stream it at this link, apparently.

I Like Verymuch

You tired of this image already, yes?Is “Borat” the best movie of the year?

Maybe not, but it’s up there — not only does it upend every expectation we have about what constitutes effective moviemaking, but it also has more to say about the reality of America (and Americans) than any other film on our screens.

Also it’s so funny it might induce hypoxia. And it has a naked wrestling sequence with three distinct acts. Niiiiiice.

Other movies opening this week:

Boynton Beach Club“: A movie for people who really, really like watching TBS.

Flushed Away“: The Aardman animation studio goes digital, with results so faithful to its previous Claymation productions that several critics don’t appear to have realized this movie’s made entirely of bits and bytes. It’s not “Wallace and Gromit” … but then, what is?

Sleeping Dogs Lie“: Bobcat Goldthwait spent so much time in other people’s crappy comedies that he’s learned what not to do when making his own; yes, the DV aesthetic is atrocious, but the sweetness of Melinda Page Hamilton’s remarkable performance gives the movie plenty of sunshine. Too bad they changed the title; “Stay” was a lot more appropriate.

Due to a combination of really annoying factors — late print, throbbing tooth, rapidly disintegrating family — I managed to miss “Babel”, but you can find Chris Atchison’s review here, if you’re curious. I’ll try to catch it over the weekend.

Make. It. Stop.

Your three o'clock is here ...So I’m sitting in the “Saw III” screening Saturday afternoon, running my tongue along my teeth — as you do — and I think, “Huh, that feels a little sensitive.” And I thought no more of it.

Cracked tooth. Infected nerve. By Tuesday afternoon I was gobbling Advil like M&Ms and regretting having gobbled actual M&Ms earlier in the week, since all those hard candy shells can’t possibly have been good for my poor, weakened enamel. (Damn Halloween and its seductive advertising materials.)

Anyway. I’m now gobbling Tylenol in addition to Advil, and popping three antibiotic horse pills a day in the hopes of clearing the infection long enough for my dentist to be able to assess the state of the tooth.

Next Wednesday.

How’s your week been?

My other other gig.