Charlie Kaufman

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Year: 2004
Directed By: Michel Gondry
Written By: Charlie Kaufman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of the most interesting films I have ever seen, if not the most interesting. It is like no other movie ever, a true original delivered by one of the most out of the box writers out there.  Charlie Kaufman is on another level when it comes to writing – he is a genius.  This movie is a great example of how imaginative and different he is; it is such a crazy movie. He is more known for his other films like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, but this has always been my favorite of his films, with Adaptation being an extremely close second. On the DVD cover Peter Travers of Rolling Stones magazine is quoted describing this movie as “A smart, sexy, and seriously funny comedy.” That leads me to wonder if he actually saw the film.  I would hardly call it funny at all much less describe it as “a seriously funny comedy.” This movie is about love and loss, pain and heartache, and the emotional roller coaster relationships tend to be.  I find myself having difficulty trying to categorize it because it is so different than everything else. I considered leaving it as a lone “uncategorized” film before settling on just creating a new category for “love story,” but never once considered placing it in comedy.

This movie is more like a journey than a story. It’s a journey through the mind and memory that is made perfectly.   Charlie Kaufman really outdid himself with this one, and Michel Gondry did an excellent job funneling Kaufman’s ideas onto the screen. I am not familiar with Gondry but this movie alone makes me interested in anything else he has ever made.  He had a great cast to work with on this film as well.  I have always been a fan of Jim Carrey’s efforts to take more serious roles and I think this is his best one. He does an excellent job in this movie and he deserves more recognition for the role.  Opposite Carrey was Kate Winslet, who is such a wonderful actress.  She is beautiful even with those awful colors died in her hair and she brings her talents to the screen in top form.  She is probably one of the most natural actresses I have ever watched and she has the ability to really bring a character to life in unique ways.  Kirsten Dunst is on hand in this movie as well with a great scene where she is braless in a tank top.  I have always admired Dunst, although I think her greatest performance was her first one, when she was a little girl in Interview with a Vampire. Dunst doesn’t do enough movies of late and that is a shame, I have liked many of her films.  Elijah Wood was trying to distance himself from the role of Frodo Baggins around this time to avoid being typecast but I think he made a mistake choosing this one.  He plays such a creepy guy that I think it hurt his image. He then went on to play an even creepier guy in Sin CityI think Tom Wilkinson brought a lot to the film with his role as the doctor who specializes in erasing unwanted memories. Mark Ruffalo did a decent job but nothing distinguishing and I haven’t figured out quite what people see in him as an actor.

This movie has such an interesting story and we can all relate to it.  Who hasn’t been through a messy break-up they would love to forget.  Who hasn’t lost a loved one and been overwhelmed by the grief and heartache? When Carrey’s character finds out what his ex has done it hurts him, he feels the pain of that loss and can’t live with it.  He decides to go through the same procedure and realizes in the middle of it that he made a horrible mistake.  When we exit relationships the reasons for the break-up are the freshest things on our mind and it seems like erasing them would be an easy decision.  It comes with a cost though, Carrey soon gets to the memories that made him fall in love with Winslet and he isn’t willing to sacrifice those. He desperately does everything he can in order to save the love of his life from being erased but ultimately fails, sort of. I think the overall theme of the movie is that true love finds a way, and it does as we see.  Sometimes certain people belong together.  Relationships are a rocky business and they can sometimes take all our strength to persevere.  I think it takes an understanding of that in order to make a relationship work, and all too often people aren’t lucky enough to figure it out.

This movie taught me a lot about love, and even more about relationships.  In an interesting way it has always had a strange ability to make me fall so much more in love with my wife and that makes me appreciate it even more.  This movie doesn’t hold a spot in my favorites of all time but I do think it is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen.  I love this movie and encourage anybody I can to see it.  I know very few people who have seen it though so I would like to take the opportunity to encourage anybody that reads this to go out of their way to see it.  It starts off kind of slow but quickly turns into something completely different, it is an awesome movie that is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ah, finally. We get to my list of all-time favorite movies. This is in my top five. I love this movie with all of my heart. I asked myself what I would say about this strange, original movie and here is what I think. I am not a huge fan of romantic comedies. I don’t really like the same ol’ same ol’ storyline that you can practically predict. Instead, I like the movie that shows what love is really like. This movie is a love story, but not in the classic way. It is a love story in a true way. The way that real love is nuts. You do things you never thought possible when you are in love. Love is absurd and makes people nuts. This film shows that.

This movie always makes me love Ryan more than I already do. I know how we were at first. All crazy in love. If there were such a technology such as memory erasing, we both would have done it already. But, in my heart I know without doubt we would find our way back together, somehow. It’s sappy, but it’s true. I love this movie so much because it reminds me how much I love Ryan.

Of course I think you should watch this film if you haven’t already. It is clever and witty and includes all the little details that make a movie worth watching and re-watching.

NEXT MOVIE: EuroTrip (2004)

Adaptation

Year: 2002
Directed By: Spike Jonze
Written By: Charlie Kaufman, Susan Orlean

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is an interesting movie, interesting in a peculiar way.  In that peculiar way it may be one of the most interesting films I have ever seen.  The story is so unique, so different and original, being very well made doesn’t hurt either.  The way the story changes when Donald joins his brother writing his script is very clever.  Apparently this film has fooled many by its format because while it appears to be nonfictional at times it isn’t, just a really wild idea that works like magic.  Donald Kaufman does not exist, nevertheless he was still nominated for an Academy Award along with his brother Charlie. This is a movie that was so good that even a fictional character from the story got nominated for an oscar.  Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, and the “Kaufmans” were all nominated for this film but only Cooper won. I don’t know why Spike Jonze was shunned, but I don’t think his lack of a nomination really matters, he made a great film.  Nicolas Cage is fantastic in this movie.  He may make a lot of stupid movies, but for every other dumb movie he makes he makes one worth remembering.  Meryl Streep is a great actress and she makes an incredible transition throughout the film.  I have never really cared for Chris Cooper, but he is a great actor.  Of all the roles he has played this is the one I actually like.

At a glance this looks like a movie that you would never want to watch.  It’s about a guy writing a screenplay based on a book about flowers.  In hindsight I don’t really know what it was that got me to watch this movie for the first time.  It is a surprising movie, and whatever the reason I’m glad I did. It’s a smart and clever movie, I immediately fell in love with it and remember thinking Charlie Kaufman was a mad genius.  I credit Kaufman and not Jonze because while I like Jonze I will always associate him mainly with that damn Fatboy Slim video “Praise You.” That video was the annoying song of the month that MTV chose to wear out 1998, and I just thought those people dancing in the mall were so weird. I don’t know if I still consider Kaufman a genius but he was thinking at genius level when he wrote this screenplay, and I hope that sometime in the future he can again show us something this exciting.  This movie is more than worth your time and if you give it a chance you will see what I mean.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of my favorite films on the movie rack. I am a huge fan of weird and twisted movies that are way outside of the norm. I feel like I can relate to the people in this world that find themselves weird and insociable. On most occasions, I feel myself forcing through conversations with people just because I am am an awkward person. Charlie Kauffman in this film (who is played by the great Nicholas Cage, not taking into account his latest run-ins with the law) is a crazy, mad scientist screenplay writer and we get to hear his inner monologue the entirety of the film. Through this I feel like we understand the agony he feels over writing this screenplay. He even thinks to himself, “Why did I choose to write a movie about flowers?” He eventually learns that he must add in some character change, some drama.

Meryl Streep is another person that is fantastic in this movie. Recently, I have begun to really take an interest in her. I haven’t ever had anything against her per-say, but recently she has impressed me with her roles. In this one she is the character change. We see her in the beginning as this straight-laced New York writer and she spends her nights over wine with her friends poking fun at the redneck that cultivates flowers. She eventually becomes entangled in the story and search for the Ghost Orchid and through this she changes and becomes someone different.

If you can let your mind go while you watch this and let it take you on ride of the story you will love it. It isn’t for everyone, but it has my vote.

NEXT MOVIE: Airheads (1994)