Mar 12 2010

Article XVIII – In Which My Title is Pretentiously Based on a Poem

Yes, this looks like an independent film

Well, it’s official. As of publishing, this column is legally able to buy porn and cigarettes.  On the internet, you see, weeks = years, so this week, Impossible is 18 years old. WOOOOOOOOO!!! Party time!  Send all your voting rights porn and cigarettes donations to the good people at Two Film Geeks.

Ah, who am I kidding? No one will send me money.  And if you did, the moderators would steal it for their drunken wino make out sessions podcasts.

This week I get to cover my first “Indie” movie.  Independent movie – for those of you not up on your film lingo.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind also has the honor of being the longest titled movie I’ve reviewed to date.  Man, this thing is just breaking records left and right.  And quit whining, you in the back. Avatar isn’t an indie film.

Okay, this movie is 108 minutes long and was directed by a Frenchman.  No, this isn’t going to become a thing for me – it’s just a coincidence.  It was written by a man who should do more science fiction more often – Charlie Kaufman – and stars Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey.  Any basic information I’ve forgotten?  It came out in 2004?  Alrighty, all that good stuff is out of the way.

Explaining the plot of this film may or may not reveal too many things you may or may not want to know about it – so if you don’t want spoilers, go back and read my review for Bride of Frankenstein then meet me back here next Friday.  The film centers on a procedure performed by Lacuna, Inc. that is able to give selective brain damage to effectively erase unwanted memories.  We follow the process through Joel’s head as he has Clementine (who has already erased him) stricken from his memory.  Of course, this brings up a lot of moral and ethical questions all while exploring the feelings of love and hate and betrayal and the pain and joy of relationships.  But, to be fair, a lot of things do that.  Like toothpaste.

I do believe that for the moment, this is going to be my only chance to explore Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman as science fiction filmmakers.  Kaufman is someone who works a lot with the blurring between reality and fantasy, but for my distinctions, this is the only specifically science fiction film.  Gondry’s style is something well suited for science fiction as well, but he also works in that nebulous area between fantasy and reality.  They both seem to like to work within the confines of the mind and deal with perceptions of reality.  In this film, those interests turn into a piece that ends up using science as the vehicle for selling the characters and the story.  And by vehicle I mean a super sweet Kawasaki Ninja Motorcycle – sleek and dangerous.

And this is the key to the film.  While the idea of erasing memories drives the plot and the characters, the focus is ultimately on the emotions and reactions to the machine.  Innovative filmmaking aside, the real beauty of this film is in the script.  Even without that artistic flair and independent feel to it, this film would still have “it.”  Throw 200 million dollars behind this (why?) and you would end up with a film that was incredibly different, but still just as good.

This is what my nightmares look like.

Looking back, I’m beginning to realize that this review might just turn into a lot of blocks of text with me talking about how wonderful and great this movie is.  This isn’t what you’ve come to expect from my columns.  This isn’t what I’ve come to expect from my columns.  So – the rest is going to be in Italics, so you can take the “review” as ironic, adding your own tone to whatever it is that I say.  I also may or may not bold certain words adding an even more asinine tone to the sentence.  Reader beware.

Jim Carrey and that girl from Titanic do an amazing job.  There’s an awful lot of crying and generally very believable relationship drama going in this film, and the two have such different personalities that their chemistry works really, really well.  It’s actually a little surprising, because Jim Carrey, while an amazing comedic actor, is not really known for his serious roles.  Also surprising is the fact that Clem isn’t played by that abhorrent Zooey Deschanel.  This is an indie movie, yes?  Where is the Zooey Deschanel?

Nowhere in sight, thank God Cthulhu.  The woman can’t act.

One of the greatest things about this film is its great side plots.  Each of the characters has a reason for being where he or she is, and a complete story behind him or her.  Elijah Wood plays a creepy unethical Lacuna, Inc. employee who steals Joel’s belongings and journals to try to step into Clem’s life after she’s had him erased.  Kirsten Dunst plays the naive Lacuna receptionist who has had the procedure done on herself after an affair with the lead doctor.  David Cross even makes an appearance as the friend of both Clem and Joel.  David Effin Cross!  You can’t ask for a more awesome supporting cast of characters.

This part is where the Italics stop, because now I tell you about my reaction (if it isn’t already obvious enough).  I liked it.  In fact, I think this might just be one of the best science fiction films out there, simply because it isn’t treated like a science fiction film.  It’s a relationship fantasy drama/comedy with science fiction aspects to it.  Rather than focus on the science, it focuses on the characters, like all good sci-fi.

LotR forced perspective or giant sink - YOU DECIDE

In fact, there is only one complaint I have about this film: on the first viewing, no matter how perceptive and story conscious you are (like yours truly) – it’s a little confusing, and that can turn people off to the movie.  I know a few people who admitted to not liking the film simply because it didn’t make a lot of sense to them.  This is an unfortunate side effect of deviating from the normal storytelling structures.  Other than that, this movie is damn near perfect.

I realize this column is a little shorter than normal, and you know what, I don’t care.

Feel free to add on your own little snappy 200 words or so.

Just make sure to put down your readers as much as possible and pretend (?) to have an ego and know everything about movies.

Class dismissed.

5 Responses to “Article XVIII – In Which My Title is Pretentiously Based on a Poem”

  • Mitzi Says:

    What. Who finds this so confusing they hate it? They can go to hell and suck it (is that enough of a put down?). Clementine’s hair is SUCH an easy guide, don’t even. And she goes for a variety of colors. Not that it’s hard to tell me with pink hair in high school apart from me with pink hair in college, but… yeah.

    I almost threw a hissy fit at one of my friends recently for putting this film in his top two “Best of the last decade” list bullshit and not giving it the top honor because the characters were “too quirky” and therefore not relatable. Which I completely disagree with. They’re just thrust into quirky situations. Or maybe they ARE too quirky, but his reasons (Joel’s art and Clementine’s hair) were crap. Obviously, I took the thing about hair dye personally, but I still don’t understand how that makes a character difficult to relate to. I can’t draw for shit, but Joel was a normal, pretty boring guy, and therefore I had no problem feeling for him. I don’t watch this movie over and over hoping I’ll understand him or something.

    I don’t know, I’m still mad about that, clearly. And it IS my favorite movie, so I’m just mad all around.

  • James Goux Says:

    My favorite film!

  • Boner Johnston Says:

    Zooey Deschanel (I copied and pasted that from up above.) Is the worst thing that has happened to indie movies since ERROR VARIABLE NOT FOUND.

  • James Goux Says:

    I love Zooey Deschanel, personally. Not the best actress in the industry, but a charming screen presence nonetheless.

  • Colin Says:

    There is a part where it’s totally dark, except a small light around him and her, and then she gets pulled into the darkness, and it may just be one of the heartbreaking moments I have ever seen on film or not on film

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