March 23, 2004
Eternal Sunshine

I remember after Adaptation came out there was this ludicrous backlash.

It was as if everyone, at once, got cool, and started saying: "Well, it's ok, but it's no Ali: Fear Eats The Soul or nuthin'." It irritated the shit out of me. I mean, to follow this straw line of reason: Ali is a masterpiece by a genius at the top of his game. Adaptation is nutritious bubblegum at best. But the thing about such an argument is, most people, if they came across Ali, would change the channel during the first scene, the one in the bar where the young Arab stud meets the old German lady and they hit it off. Nowadays, people simply wouldn't care. So, really, Ali, brilliant as it is, fails to register. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, on the other hand, is infinitely right for the time. I'm just not prepared to hear people shoot it down for lack of dimension given that The Passion is number one at the box office. Sunshine is also no Ali, but it's nothing if it isn't healthy. And more to the point: it's appeal is broad. Everyone knows some quirky girl with blue hair, and they all want to see where a film is headed when she meets an introvert on a train. Take me! the audiences scream, and they're totally rewarded for going there.

The casting of Tom Wilkinson as Howard was supremo. He was the father in In The Bedroom, a film where the most awful thing in the world happens directly to him, so it made great, continuative, sense to see him as the inventor of memory-erasure. I was glad to see Mark Ruffalo return from his awesome debut in You Can Count On Me, because I feared Jane Campion has extinguished his career. I'll admit I hated seeing Elijah Wood, because I've absolutely had it with Hobbits, but I felt this peculiar bit of emotional perversity [I know he's a cool, accomplished, great enough young man] worked to the film's advantage. By the end, due to Elijah's arch, which pertains to his utter lack of substance, and to how he has everything like way way way too easy, I was down-right happy he'd been cast.

All the people are talking about who is better at adapting Charlie Kauffman: Jonze or Gondry, Gondry or Jones. To me, it doesn't matter. I liked Human Nature (Gondry) more than Malkovich (Jonze), and Eternal Sunshine (Gondry) more than Adaptation (Jonze). But I liked Adaptation more than Human Nature, and I'm sure I'll like whatever Kauffman writes next, which Jonze, if the pattern continues, will direct, more than Eternal Sunshine. Thing of it is, Kauffman's figured a way to make the subject of human identity palatable for people and he gets better with every script-play. So - if you ask me - people should just be grateful and leave it at that.

Posted by at March 23, 2004 09:25 AM
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