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January 2, 2004


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

It doesn't open until March, but it's already time to start bouncing up and down about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (movie website here.) Despite mixed feelings about the last 1/3 of Adaptation, we generally love writer Charlie Kaufman, and this new movie, shot in NYC, about memory, love, loss, and manipulation of identity and perception is my #1 most anticipated movie of the new year.

First: the title. It's taken from a poem called "Eloisa to Abelard" by Alexander Pope, which is about the unrealized desire to forget a former lover. It also shows us all that Charlie Kaufman is a big smarty-pants, despite all the "fat, miserable, pathetic" chronic masturbator stuff from Adaptation. Kaufman seems to have a fixation on this poem: ADM points out that John Cusack's sidewalk puppet show in Being John Malkovich is about the same characters from the poem, who are more commonly known as Heloise and Abelard.

There are also some interesting things about the director, Michel Gondry. He has primarily done music videos in the past, and a DVD retrospective of his work was released this summer in a series that also included videos by Spike Jonze, who directed two of Charlie Kaufman's other screenplays. Gondry's videos include several by Bjork, like the "Human Behavior" one where she is running around the woods with a giant bear and big flying insects, "Star Guitar" by the Chemical Brothers, and "Fell in Love with a Girl" (the Lego one) by the White Stripes. He also directed Human Nature, also written by Kaufman, which was reportedly pretty bad, though it does feature a really hairy Patricia Arquette. Gondry also reportedly gave the idea for this new movie to Kaufman when he agreed to direct Human Nature: Kaufman wrote the script, then brought it back to Gondry, who describes the story as "very geometrical."

Perhaps Kaufman's work is especially well-suited to imaginative directors of music videos who can work with themes of fantasy and transformation. Let's just hope his next director is not video director Chris Cunningham, also of the DVD series including Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, or else Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) will have to play all the parts, like that terrifying "Come to Daddy" video. Shudder.

categories: Movies
posted by amy at 10:29 AM | #