Monday, September 18, 2006

Charlie Kaufman

I haven't seen all of Kaufman's movies, but I think I have seen his best three. Those are Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. The other two, Human Nature and Confessions of a dangerous Mind, haven't received very favorable reviews from people I generally trust ( Although I did really like the Bjork music video "human nature" that Michael Gondry directed). Anyway, of the three that I have seen my favorite must be Eternal Sunshine. My friend Chris would be supremely disappointed to hear me say that. But, the fact is, I loved it. As you may know, this one was directed by Michael Gondry and the other two were directed by Spike Jonze. And, although I really like Spike Jonze, I think I am more in tune with Gondry's style. I found Eternal Sunshine to be very imaginative and very profound. What a brilliantly way to show how we shut out pain. But, without the pain where does the joy come from. Kahil Gibran said something like this in The Prophet and it has always been something I have tried to embrace. I have often thought about how to portray this idea in a movie and I think that Spotless Mind did as good a job as can be done. There are other themes in the movie as well that I really enjoyed but I'll leave it at that. In addition to the "moral", I thought all the actors were terrific. (I think Jim Carey should only do Drama). I really liked the art direction which is signature Michael Gondry. And I am not upset at all that it won best original screenplay. (It didn't really have much competition except maybe The Incredibles).
I don't know if I like Adaption or Being JM better. They both have things that I really like about them and they both have things I don't like. With Being JM I was blown away by the randomness of the story and I loved it. I really like John Cusack and Catherine Keener but I can't stand Cameron Diaz! I think she was completely miss cast for the part. Which is really sad because I think she was supposed to be the empathetic character, not John Cusack, and I really hated her so it was hard for me to feel anything at the end of the movie. Also, I have never been able to look at John Malkovich the same since. Adaptation had an all around great cast and it did some great stuff with story telling and following the rules in screenwriting and all that. So much so that I am not entirely sure I understand it all. I need to watch it again. The problem is that I don't really want to watch it again. That is my problem with both Spike Jonze movies. After watching them I felt like I needed to wash. Maybe I am the only one that feels that way, and I can't really point out what makes me feel it but there it is. While I am watching them I am completely enthralled and taken by the uniqueness of the story but afterwards I just feel kind of ... yucky. Maybe that is good because it is something different but it doesn't make me want to watch it over and I think these movies should be watched over.
All in all I really like all three movies quite a bit, but Michael Gondry's style is more suited to my tastes. And I am really excited about his latest movie "The Science of Sleep". I think it looks fantastic. If you haven't seen a preview go to then go to quicktime and look it up in Movie Preveiws. I think it is worth taking a look at.


Blogger Drew said...

I think adaptation is brilliant and fun to watch again and again but I had to edit it quite a bit. There are so many paradoxes and ironic events that it is astounding. However this is really only a gimmick because the real reason I can watch it again and again is the way I feel about the chrarcters. I can identify with Susan Orlean, and John Laroche, and Charlie. Each of thier struggles make a compelling story on thier own. I don't think Spike Jonz got enough credit for the dramatic work in this story. I agree with you that by the end, you feel pretty beaten down, but this film also has more comedy along the way than Sunshine which I appreciated.
For me, Sunshine is a brilliant short film with a cool half hour music video in the middle. Showing someone running from thier own memories is a profound idea but it lingered too long and didn't leave me wanting more. I do think Jim Carrey was fantastic in it and a perfect argument for the "less is more" philosophy.
I couldn't finish Malkovich because it got too perverse for me if I remember right.
I saw "The Science of Sleep" at Sundance last year. I kind of felt like it was a two hour music video but certainly unique and fun with an overwhelming bit of brilliant creativity. It never hit any profound notes for me. Overall I thought the parts were greater than the whole.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

I love Eternal Sunshine and Adaptation. Eternal Sunshine is easier to watch but Adaptation is brilliant and has more going on as far as story and plot and originality. But I think I liked Eternal Sunshine even more because I really got caught up in it. The sequences of Jim Carrey racing through his mind to try and hide/find Kate Winslett didn't get old. I liked how for each new sequence the art direction was a little different. There's a lot of little art direction details in that one that are cool.

Also David Cross is hilarious in his brief moments. There's a part when he's sitting in a love seat and holding this huge dog across his lap. I've laughed very hard at the bizarre image each time I've seen the movie.

Being John Malcovich and Human Nature were both good but not great.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind doesn't really seem like a Charlie Kauffman film to me - maybe it's because he himself doesn't like it. Supposedly he hated the way Clooney directed it.

Kauffman's next film is a "Horror" - although he's made it clear in interviews that he's not feeling bound by the genre and he's wanting to do something that's really scary and unnerving but not what people typically think of or see at the movie store when they think of that.

Spike Jones was going to direct but did 'Wild Things' instead so Charlie Kauffman is directing.

on a fan website - - there's a link to a review of the script of his new film, "Synecdoche." The reviewer pretty much worships his script - i haven't decided if this is good or bad news yet. i just don't my expectations to raise to high before the movie comes out.

2:43 AM  
Blogger benji said...

I think intellectually I am really drawn to Adaptation. On the emotional level, I am drawn toward Eternal Sunshine. Malkovich was awesome for it's time and was great because of it's total randomness but I think we all agree that Kaufman has now surpassed that, rendering it somewhat obsolete. Human Nature bored me. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind did as well. I am really looking foward to Synecdoche. I read a review of the script on aintitcool:
don't know if that's the same one you're talking about Jordan.

4:28 PM  

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