In preparation for this weekend's release of Charlie Kaufman's latest movie, Anomalisa, I’ve been rewatching ALL THE FILMS (six films) written and directed by the critically acclaimed, eccentric screenwriter (and sometimes director). I saw most them in the theater as they came out, and felt okay about them—but this time, as I’m watching them, I’m noticing all this nuance I never saw before. Am I coming around to Charlie Kaufman? Am I just stoned? Of course I’m stoned. Weed is legal now.
So I’ve been watching the Kaufman films stoned and I love it. Have you guys tried this? I think I GET Charlie Kaufman in a way I never have before! All you Blogtowns are invited to smoke along with me and get into the comments your their similar insights/freakouts!
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Most of Eternal Sunshine takes place inside the head of Joel (Jim Carrey) as he's having his memories of his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) erased. It was Kaufman's attempt to write something similar to science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, but without it being based on any specific Philip K. Dick story. During the procedure, the sleeping Joel begins to realize he doesn’t want to lose his memories of Clementine and tries to hide her in his subconscious.
Eternal Sunshine is Michel Gondry’s second shot at feature-length directing. He's come a long way since Human Nature (golf claps). This is also the second collaboration between Kaufman as a screenwriter and Gondry as a director. It's interesting to note that Kaufman, Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth are co-credited for the story.
• Even though it was released in 2004, no one in Eternal Sunshine has a cell phone and they’re all wearing bootcut pants. I think this movie takes place in the '90s or Portland at anytime since the '90s.
• We’re about 17 minutes into the movie before the opening credits start. Those are some late-ass credits.
• Every little thing Mark Ruffalo does is magic. Come for the Kaufman script, stay for all the Mark Ruffalo dancing. The best part in this film is Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst smoking pot on top of Jim Carrey when they're supposed to be working. Honestly, I could buy the entire story of this movie as just set-dressing for the Ruffalo/Dunst background romance! I’m much more engaged with them, but I'm also glad we don't learn more about them. Every thing about Ruffalo/Dunst (Duffalo? Ruffadunst?) is perfect.
• Is this the film that led to seapunk? The variance in Clementine's grown-out dyed hair is the most likable thing about her character. Because there are so many memory-related time jumps, I'm left trying to measure time by Clementine’s hair colors. That's genius.
• For the past decade I’ve been dealing with my guilt over not liking Clementine. I feel like I’ve had her as a roommate before. She has too much stuff and stained our bathroom with her endless extravagant hair maintenance. Then she still demands half of the partial deposit we get back! I can’t decide if she’s a well-drawn character or if it’s just that most of this story takes place inside Joel’s head. This is mostly Joel’s version of Clementine.
• My hypothesis: I blame Gondry. When Kaufman and Gondry collaborate, Gondry’s view of women overtakes Kaufman’s. When a film is just Kaufman, the women characters have much more agency. I still really love you Duffalo, I mean Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
TOMORROW is the last day of the Kaufman Movies Stoned blog! Come back, because I'll be getting stoned and watching Synecdoche, New York! It was wonderful! It was AWFUL. I finally learned how to spell Synecdoche!