Eternal sunshine

Monday, January 17, 2005

I am so bummed that my favorite screenwriter Charlie Kaufman was denied yet another award.

He was nominated for a Golden Globe last night for his screenplay of "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind". And he lost! To those dorks who wrote "Sideways". Ok, they have a lot of buzz behind them, but his screenplay was BRILLIANT!!! You've got to be kidding me. "Eternal sunshine" is basically a romantic comedy. Nothing more, nothing less. But he makes it an intellectually challenging experience, wonderfully poignant and endlessly creative. What more could you want?

I suspect he'll be nominated for an Oscar but will probably loose, again. The outrage!

I liked his screenplay for "Being John Malkovich". It was wildly imaginative, almost too much so. I mean you honestly had NO idea where this flick was heading. I LOVE that feeling. Sadly it was nominated against "American Beauty" which I have to admit was superior only in the fact that it created an equally unpredictable tale out of a most ordinary circumstance: a dysfunctional American family. Oh well.

Then came "Adaptation". Now this movie I REALLY loved. It was the most remarkable achievement. This guy adapted a book to the big screen, but he completely reinvented it. And not in the conventional "re-imagining" sense of the word; in the "turned it upside down, destroyed it and then put it back together, transforming it into something completely different yet tightly related to it's source material" sense. I was left speechless. That movie is a narrative gem. The complexity and sheer wit of it's structure (how he includes the details of the original book, his own trials and tribulations adapting it, a homage to Hollywood clichés, his own criticism of conventional stories, etc), it's enough to leave one spellbound. As it did me. Sadly he lost the Oscar for this flick also, and to "The Pianist". Give me a break.

Will Hollywood nominate and again snub Mr. Kaufman? Probably. Will this deter his creative energy? I sincerely doubt it. Cheers to you, Charlie!


  • At January 18, 2005 11:47 PM, Blogger psesito said…

    You know I'm a big fan of "Being John Malkovich", so this comment could be subjective. Nevertheless, I think that "American Beauty" was not a big deal. You need to be really involved in the American culture to enjoy this flick. At least, for me, it was a good movie, but that was all. I already knew the American family from outside, so I didn't discover anything impressive because of this film.

    Being John Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine, in contrast, show broader and deeper circumstances beyond the American bubble. It is harder to express and transmit feelings to people from different times and backgrounds. That is the difference between good art and timeless art, don't you think?

  • At January 19, 2005 2:10 AM, Blogger DramaKing said…

    Ok, first of all, you probably wouldn't know real screenwriting talent if it came and bit you on the asterisk. Nuff said.

    Hahaha. Ok, now seriously, "American Beauty" is a much more interesting story because it touches so many themes and parts from a very common social unit: the family. It handles touchy subjects like pedophilia, repressed homosexuality, child abuse, and all very elegantly. Sure, it's a portrait of modern America and it's values (or lack thereof), but that does not make it any less engaging or masterful. The central theme of the film is quite timeless and independent of culture.

    "Malkovich" on the other hand does not touch so many dark corners of humanity. Granted, it handles some alternative themes; but nothing nearly as profound as "Beauty". It's a great achievement in inventive writing, no doubt about it. But let's be frank, it's easier to make a story interesting if you have weird things happen for no reason. This is what "Malkovich" does in the end. It uses fantasy to make itself a memorable film. "Beauty" uses reality, and makes it just as entertaining and imaginative. From a screenwriter's point of view, which one is harder to do? I think the Academy got it right that time.

    That's just my 2 cents. So you're wrong.



  • At January 19, 2005 3:55 PM, Blogger psesito said…

    I do not agree with you, at all. But art is subjective. Let's be sincere, ‘American Beauty’ "is a much more interesting story" for you; but not for everyone, not for me, for example. Why? Because it is the American point of view. I do think it is a good story because it is showing all these subtle circumstances that American families don't see, but give me a break; it didn't say anything that was not said before. The way it was said? Not bad, but neither spectacular.

    ‘"Malkovich" on the other hand does not touch so many dark corners of humanity.’ It touches one of the most deepest corners, "Who are we?"; that is deeper than "Beauty". Beauty comes after Self-Identification. Anyway, that is not my point. I did understand American Beauty, but it didn't shock me. I think you didn't understand ‘Being John Malkovich’, well, at least from your words: "It's easier to make a story interesting if you have weird things happen for no reason". For no reason? Well, if you didn't find the reason, it doesn't mean that there IS a reason.

    Both are good, but at the end. ‘American Beauty’ will be used to represent American reality, or as you said "it's a portrait of modern America"; ‘Beign John Malkovich’ is just a bit more general and it is a portrait of human beings, American or not.

  • At January 20, 2005 1:22 AM, Blogger DramaKing said…

    The insolence! Why, I never... some people are soooo rude!

    Hahahaha. Ok, time to tear apart your arguments, one at a time, hee hee.

    "Art is subjective". True, I have to concede this one. That still hasn't stopped people from arguing about art. Ever. Nuff said.

    About American Beauty, "I do think it is a good story because it is showing all these subtle circumstances that American families don't see". Ok, "Beauty" is a lot of things, but SUBTLE it is NOT. A film that has several nudity scenes, a gunshot to the head and a son being severely beaten by his father is not showing subtle circumstances, for anyone (American or not). The message it tries to convey, however, is quite subtle. About how fragile, small and delicate "beauty" can be, how it can give meaning to our lives if we can only stop what we're doing and see it. (What exactly does "beauty" mean here? That's up to everyone to find out for themselves... which is quite a nice touch, I think). If we learn to appreciate that “beauty”, we can fully appreciate life. Awwww….

    That Beauty "didn't say anything that was not said before". Neither does any other film, that's no reason to condemn it. Nuff said.

    That Malkovich "touches one of the most deepest corners, 'Who are we?'; that is deeper than 'Beauty'". Ok, well, using your own logic, that is "your" opinion. And guess what? Mine differs. Hehe. What is more meaningful? Well, that's a toughie. Self identity or learning how to appreciate life? We could go on about this forever. Let's just say I'm right and you're wrong, since it's my blog, hahaha.

    "I think you didn't understand ‘Being John Malkovich’". AAHHHH!!! The accusation! The insolence! The brazenness! The impertinence! (I love all the synonyms you can get out of MS Word! hahaha). My comment was from a writer's point of view. To make a story more interesting you can resort to bizarre, fantastic and extraordinary events to move the story forward (as Kaufman did in "Malkovich"), or you can have a boring little dysfunctional family and make it just as interesting and surprising (as Alan Ball did in "Beauty"). Both most likely made their creative decisions with much skill and basis (ok, my "for no reason" comment might have been a bit harsh), but... (isn't there always a "but"? haha) I think it's harder to write what Alan Ball did. That's what my argument really boils down to.

    I don't think "Malkovich" is more general than "Beauty" (according to memory, all the main characters in "Malkovich" are American and it all takes place mostly in the USA... and HELLO! John Malkovich is a gringo! haha). Both messages seem pretty universal. Is one more universal than the other? We can perpetually argue about this also; but like I said before, don't sweat it, you're wrong. :)

    And that's Germy's $0.02.


  • At January 20, 2005 2:29 AM, Blogger psesito said…

    I'm sorry, but you're not going to buy me with this stuff.. "If we learn to appreciate that “beauty”, we can fully appreciate life." I'm more expensive than you can imagine.

    "according to memory, all the main characters in "Malkovich" are American and it all takes place mostly in the USA... and HELLO! John Malkovich is a gringo! haha" - Oh my God! You need a context to tell a story, Mr. Writer... but when you can apply the main message of a story without the context, it is way different than when the context is part of the message. Gotcha?

    "Let's just say I'm right and you're wrong, since it's my blog, hahaha." And I say Boom! That's Germy's Beauty!

  • At January 20, 2005 10:09 PM, Blogger DramaKing said…

    "I'm more expensive than you can imagine"... who are you kidding? You're as cheap as they come. Ha! :P

    Well, just to refute two last things. I do understand that you normally need some sort of a context to tell a story (not always, though). And that you can separate context from theme or message. But then... can't you use this same logic to separate American Beauty's message from it's context? Even though the family (and the title) are very USA, the message is not.

    Second, even though "Beauty" has a rather corny message (yes, I admit it), the movie itself never falls into cheese-o-rama territory. Ever. The fact that the message is kind of corny, and the movie isn't, is another reason why I admire Alan Ball's job here.

    Just my $0.02.


    P.S. "Boom!"? What's THAT all about? Are you trying to blow-up my arguments with sound effects? Hehehe.

  • At January 21, 2005 12:24 AM, Blogger psesito said…

    "You're as cheap as they come"... Have you learned something from my imaginary aunt Chencha? YOU SHOULD!

    "Even though the family (and the title) are very USA, the message is not." The message is VERY USA, but that's not a big deal. There are so many stories where you need a context to really get them (there's nothing wrong with that) and this movie is one of those. The impact that it had was because was an American movie showing the always repeated theme of the “reality” inside the average suburban American family. I repeat, there is nothing wrong with it; but I don't buy it as a timeless and a worldwide work of art where the value of the message can be totally separate it from its context. It is a good American movie, and that's all.

    Just stop trying to make it the best movie ever to win this discussion, you know that is not. Anyway, my last comment is that I can't stand movies trying so hard to be intellectual. For example, the scene where an empty plastic bag blowing in the wind is supposed to impart some deep meaning on the true nature of existence. Sorry, but that is trying too hard. Please, don’t become the typical geek arguing about the deep and intellectual message behind of The Matrix.

    PS. Well, that was more than your two cents.


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