Based strictly on the amount of time I spend standing naked in front of a full-length mirror and weeping, I'd say that if my life were a...

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Based strictly on the amount of time I spend standing naked in front of a full-length mirror and weeping, I’d say that if my life were a book it would be “The Sun Also Rises.” But IRS auditor Harold Crick’s (Will Ferrell) problem is that he can hear the narration of the book that is his life, and the narrator (Emma Thompson) mentions he’s going to die.

I’d initially avoided “Stranger than Fiction” (Sony, PG-13, $28.95) for some excellent reasons:

1. I’d had my fill of too-clever reality-twisting stories in the Charlie Kaufman mode (“Adaptation,” “Being John Malkovich”).

2. Harold yelling at his narrator doesn’t look much different from the oblivious goofballs who walk around talking into hand-free cell thingies like hobos with nicer clothes.

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3. The death of IRS auditors — even lower than meter patrol personnel on the list of People No One Is Happy To See — isn’t much of a blip on my tragedy meter.

Boy, was I wrong about at least one of those. It’s a choice home video find, with a screenplay by Zach Helm that has an emotional (if obvious) core that Kaufman’s stuff lacks, nothing but good performances (including Dustin Hoffman as a lit prof helping Harold and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the auditee he falls for) and creative onscreen graphics that illustrate Harold’s state of mind.

Patience Rewards Cheapskates: Fans of “Breach” and “The Good Shepherd” looking for vintage Cold War intrigue need A&E’s repackaged “Secret Agent AKA Danger Man: The Complete Collection.” Listing at $149.95 and selling for $99.99 at Amazon.com, it’s a fraction of the previous size and cost ($359.96 by my figuring) of the individual releases. It’s also smart — if slow by today’s standards — and stars one of the coolest cats alive, Patrick “The Prisoner” McGoohan.

Now back to the mirror.

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259 or mrahner@seattletimes.com