Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (7/10/12)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindMovie One Hundred Sixty Three

In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a couple decides to have a procedure to have the other erased from their memory after their relationship goes on the rocks but things don’t go quite as they planned.

After taking an unplanned trip to Montauk, shy, tightly-wound Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) meets Clementine (Kate Winslet), a free spirited woman with bright dyed hair. The two form an instant connection. Later on, after the relationship has soured, Joel finds out that Clementine has had him erased from her memory and decides to have the same procedure to erase her. After things do not go as planned during Joel’s procedure, more is revealed about Joel and Clementine’s relationship through Joel’s memories as another man, Patrick (ElijahWood) tries to take Joel’s place.

After watching Being John Malkovich, I decided to watch another of Charlie Kaufman’s films, this one directed by Michel Gondry. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kaufman’s unique sense of humor and penchant for odd stories that are also touching. Joel and Clementine’s relationship is something I certainly identified with, I see a little of myself inside Joel and I’ve known girls similar to Clementine. The procedure to erase certain memories from one’s mind is a very interesting concept that will likely leave you wondering if you would have anyone erased and why.

One thing I’ve found turns people off of Eternal Sunshine… is Jim Carrey. While comedians in serious dramatic roles is not always a good thing, in this case it works quite well. Joel is a somber, serious individual but we do see him joking around too. Carrey is almost totally subdued here and does quite well, perhaps even outshining the always fantastic Winslet. When the film begins to come to its climax near the end, and things begin to get a bit weird, Gondry’s direction really shines. He’s a director I’ve never been overly impressed by but Eternal Sunshine… works well with him at the helm.

I absolutely adore Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but it’s not a film I could watch very often. That’s not to say it’s depressing or sad on its own but it stays with you long after the credits roll. As a Kaufman film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind infinitely smart and charming and weird but it ranks among one of his best and maybe his most accessible.

I give it 5 Clementine’s hair colors out of 5.

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Being John Malkovich (7/10/12)

Movie One Hundred Sixty Two

A puppeteer takes a part time job in an unusual office and finds a portal that allows the person see what it’s like Being John Malkovich.

Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is an out-of-work puppeteer living with his wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz). He decides to get a job and lands one on the 7 1/2 floor of a building in a strange office. There, he meets Maxine (Catherine Keener) and immediately falls for her. One day while filing, Craig discovers a boarded up hole in the wall and decides to venture inside. The hole, he learns, puts him inside John Malkovich’s head for about 15 minutes before dumping him onto the New Jersey turnpike. After inviting Maxine and Lotte to also try being Malkovich, things get even more bizarre and John Malkovich himself gets involved.

To call Being John Malkovich a weird film is certainly an understatement, but the film is also incredibly sharp and funny. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is one of the most talented minds writing for film and his style meshes with director Spike Jonze’s perfectly here. Kaufman has such an odd sense of story and humor and Jonze captures this perfectly in Being John Malkovich as well as Adaptation. It has been too long since I had seen the film and I had forgotten how absolutely hilarious it is. It’s so deliciously absurd but it works so brilliantly.

John Cusack and Cameron Diaz are both almost unrecognizable in their roles here, Diaz more so. While I have a special fondness for Cusack, in Being John Malkovich his role just seems made for him. John Malkovich really shines here as well and it’s hard to picture any other actor in his role after watching the film. Some of the camera techniques used are also brilliant, particularly when someone is inside Malkovich. Even if the humor doesn’t strike you, the film may still be interesting and enjoyable, but the dark sense of humor is critical here.

As a recently released Criterion Collection film, the Blu-Ray for Being John Malkovich shines. I had always hated something about the previous DVD transfer of the film, it always seemed too dark or something. The Blu-Ray has remarkable clarity and picture quality, not to even mention the sound or extras. As with all Criterion releases, the entire package is the definitive version of the film to view or own. Being John Malkovich is one of the stranger films ever released, but I enjoyed it immensely.

I give it 5 John Cusack and Catherine Keener marionettes out of 5.

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