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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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:spoilers:  

I almost lost it in the final sequence in the house by the beach when you realize that Joel is going to lose all memory of Clementine. \"Soon this will all be gone. What are we going to do?\" \"Enjoy it.\"  :cry:

this part got a really emotional reaction from me, too. because, memory erasure technology or no, isn't that life? it's difficult for me to conceive that my relationship with my beloved will eventually come to an end when one of us dies, and that sometimes translates itself into resistance to commitment--sometimes i'm tempted to get out while i can, so i don't have to deal with losing the most amazing person i've ever known. that exchange between joel and clementine, the beach house and his memories literally crumbling around them, jolted me: what do you do when you know that your beloved is on his or her way out? you enjoy it. you savor, and you cherish, and you be in the moment, which is all you can really do anyway.

that's why this film really worked for me, technical aspects and cinematography aside (although those harmonized with the story to make the film a success, i'd argue): even though memory erasure isn't currently a possibility, there was something SO TRUE about the relationship between joel and clementine, and what happens when you lose the love of your life. i saw the film with my boyfriend, and our rocky, erratic history is such that we briefly entertained replacing "i do" with "okay" in our future wedding vows. wink.gif i was particularly struck with the fact that the hallway scene follows both of them having heard the ABSOLUTE WORST one of them had to say about the other. it is such a strong, realistic, mature portrait of love--a combination of magnetic, almost fated romantic attraction, and a deliberate choice to spend one's life as a flawed, often irritating person with another flawed, often irritating person. that just rang so true for me.

i am certainly in the throes of post-weekend-with-the-boy bliss, so i apologize if this evaluation of "eternal sunshine" is more personal than people here usually get. but the film made me feel so known, and so hopeful (knowing full well that kaufman would shrug his shoulders at that assessment). i found it both incredibly tragic and incredibly delightful: much like true love itself. brilliant, brilliant. i really can't rave enough.

-kate

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Kebbie,

you had a similar experience to a friend of mine, who told me this morning how she loved the film. Later, I realized part of the reason it washed over her so much strongly is that she is at a place where the relationship she is in needs hope, knowledge that despite the ways they've hurt each other and the ups and downs and breakups and such that there can be hope.

Being a film about memory and emotions (among other things) I find that fitting.

I love the interplay of humor, such as the scene where Joel takes his items into the clinic and briefly sits next to the poor woman who is waiting to get her memory wiped of her dog.

And this seems this has been resolved, but i wanted to add my 2 bits, that I agree that Joel went to the clinic to have his memories mapped and they did the actually wipe in his home...and I also agree that the finally scenes on Valentine's and the day after follow the memory wipe, rather than are part of it. I have to confess to feeling rather clever for figuring out that we were going to loop back to the opening scene before the film actually did. I know, not too clever. But it felt good...

There was quite a crowd at the 9:45 showing we went to last night, and it was a good crowd to sit among--the kind of audience that responds the right way to the movie at the right moments.


O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn!--John of the Cross

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So... you wouldn't agree with Movieguide... that it's "a miscast, ill-conceived work ... one movie dream we wish we could forget..." ? :wink:


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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So... you wouldn't agree with Movieguide... that it's \"a miscast, ill-conceived work ... one movie dream we wish we could forget...\" ?   :wink:

man, they just get stodgier all the time, don't they?

ahem.

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Well, it's no Gods and Generals, but few movies are.

It could be, if the right money changed hands.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

J Robert

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man, they just get stodgier all the time, don't they?

Heh... sometimes I wonder if they enjoy any of the movies they see. The non-Nascar ones I mean.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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And for something really interesting, a poster on another board revealed the original ending Kaufman came up with.

The original screenplay ends on a much more downbeat note: 50 years into the future Clementine enters Lacuna to have Joel erased for the 15th time (although she's unaware of the previous 14 erasures). It hits home the idea that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it, which is a big theme of the original screenplay. I like the movie's ending better, that being happy \"for a while anyway\" is still better than not experiencing anything at all.
Did anybody notice anything about the last scene of the movie? The scene is Joel and Clementine on the beach, but the scene looks like it is in an infinite loop. They are kind of running/skipping down the beach but then the shot jumps back to the beginning and they keep running/skipping down the beach. If you aren't paying attention, it just looks like an extended shot that fades out, but I think (and I may be wrong) that it is a shorter shot that is repeated a couple times and then fades out. Did anybody else notice this? If this is the ending, does this mean that Clementine actually does have her memory erased many times after this?

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It does loop a few times and then fade out. I wasn't quite sure how to interpret. I suppose with this sort of film it is fine to think whatever you want to about it!


O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn!--John of the Cross

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I've been thinking about this film for a few days, always a good sign. One thing I've been musing over is how this is basically a high concept film, but distorted in the echo chamber that is Charlie Kaufman's twisted mind. Instructive that one of the filmmakers (I forget which) mentions Groundhog Day in Jeffrey's interview. I thought of Groundhog Day as I watched, thinking they were contemporary fairy tales of the same ilk. Though Groundhog Day remains high-concept, slick and conventional. And not as agonizingly, personally felt. The darker look here was appropriate, though I hear Prins complaints that this is an ugly film. Part of it may have had to do with those depth-of-field tricks, which I suspect required low lighting. And I both liked and disliked the bizzare sequence of Joel Barish as a little boy. (At least the part with Jim Carrey in jammies.) In some ways, it seemed like a scene that would have played better described in a novel than visualized in a film, kind of like bad film adaptations I've seen of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Indeed, I was thinking of how the easy flow between real world / dream was one of the closest gringo evocations of magical realism I've seen. The chase through the corners of Barish's mind was brilliant, breathtaking, one of those "Wow, nobody's ever taken me here before" experiences. Even though I didn't love Adaptation or Being John Malkovich, I'm loving the ongoing self-analysis of Charlie Kaufman. I hope he continues (or people who make/fund his stories let him continue) to break further free of conventional narrative and relinquish the need to justify his breaking down the wall between "real world" and metaphor and take us to new places.

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: The darker look here was appropriate, though I hear Prins complaints

: that this is an ugly film.

To be fair, I'm relatively confident that this was more due to the projectionist than due to Gondry et al., although because of a dying furnace I didn't have a chance to go to another theater and test my theory.

Full review/essay will be written today or else I'll be in trouble with the Spring Hill Review.

Dale


Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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mike_h wrote:

: The chase through the corners of Barish's mind was brilliant, breathtaking,

: one of those "Wow, nobody's ever taken me here before" experiences.

Stuff like that keeps reminding me of that scene in the sadly under-rated Osmosis Jones in which the lethal virus (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) inside Bill Murray's body hides in what looks like the space behind a movie theatre's screen, and it turns out he's in some weird library of bad dreams (the inhabitants of Murray's body come to this theatre to watch his dreams as they unfold in Murray's mind). The experience rattles the virus, who exclaims, on escaping, something like, "This cat was sick before I ever got here!"

Granted, those are dreams, not memories, but still.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Late to this discussion.

Wanted to toss out a different reading of the ending.

[spoilers]

The thing that my wife and I talked about after seeing this unbelievably poignant film (look for my review tomorrow) is the ambiguity of the ending. While we were walking out I turned to her and said: "How do you feel about them not getting back together?". She replied: "What are you talking about? They did get back together." Discussion ensued.

All that really happens at the end is they repeat to each other what they learned from the tapes. That they don't work well together and they have really hurt each other. All they say to each other in response is "Okay!"

Take from that what you will, the film closes on the loop of them running on the beach together.

So putting all of this together we could read the ending this way: The ending is ambiguous. The last scene we see them talking together after they have heard the tapes and realize that this is the very same thing that is happening to a thousand other people that have also had their tapes mailed back to them. Do they get back together? Do they not get back together? We don't quite know, because all they do is say "Okay!" and acknowledge to each other that what happens to them as a couple isn't the point. The point is that through this experience some incredible healing has happened to them, just like it will happen to a thousand other people who have listened to their tapes the same day.

And the last scene is a cipher, a sort of sign that stands in for the entire film. From that scene you catch a fleeting glimpse of a time when everything makes sense, when everything fits together. Whether it is a memory of Joel's just being replayed at the end, or if it is actually her and Joel running on the beach together because they have gotten back together after listening to the tapes is a moot point. The film simply wants to take us full circle: peace - the discordance of fractured memories - peace.

So I don't know if I have articulated this well or not, but this is how the film struck me. Definitive Top Ten material.

Oh, and the other thing that struck me is just how incredible tender this film is. Get this: Kate Winslet never takes off her clothes. How often does that happen? There were so many spots where in Joel's memory she could have been nude, or they could have engaged in sexual activity. But it never happens. It is just surprising how sweet and tender his memories of her are, and none of them are explicitly sexual.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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All they say to each other in response is \"Okay!\"

Huh? All they say is "Okay!"? What about "Wait!"?

I'm not sure what "Okay" you have in mind, but the "Wait!" in the hallway, as I see it, is the climactic action of the film, representing Joel's refusal to succumb, at least for the moment, to fatalistic resignation that their relationship is doomed from the start.

I think the ending is ambiguous in that it's neither optimistic nor pessimistic, since we don't have any clear indication whether Joel and Clementine's relationship will last this time.

I think the ending is hopeful (not optimistic) in the sense that the characters hope, and we are allowed to hope, that although the obstacles and pitfalls between them will surely become issues again, this time they may overcome them. I also think that in making the characters' choice not to give in to fatalism, the film possibly suggests that we always have a choice, that these things aren't simply written in character or destiny. But all of that is an interpretation.

What I don't think is very ambiguous is that they do get back together again. I don't remember the scene in the hallway supporting another reading. I think your wife is right.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Huh? All they say is \"Okay!\"? What about \"Wait!\"?

They say "Okay" after he says "Wait" and they talk for a moment.

\"Wait!\" in the hallway, as I see it, is the climactic action of the film, representing Joel's refusal to succumb, at least for the moment, to fatalistic resignation that their relationship is doomed from the start.

That seems right on.

I also think that in making the characters' choice not to give in to fatalism, the film possibly suggests that we always have a choice, that these things aren't simply written in character or destiny. But all of that is an interpretation.

Well, at least it is a good interpretation. This film really requires a bit of interpretive legwork, thankfully.

What I don't think is very ambiguous is that they do get back together again. I don't remember the scene in the hallway supporting another reading. I think your wife is right.

Well, she usually is right. But I was awfully struck by how I assumed the negative while she assumed the positive.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Well, she usually is right. But I was awfully struck by how I assumed the negative while she assumed the positive.

For a still-running debate on the subject, see the thread at this forum. (I am arguing the hopeful view.)


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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First, I'd like to state that this post has much more to do with Jeffrey's interview with Kaufman and Gondry than the actual film, although I do hope to tie in an interpretation of the film. I hope this post will not be out of place in this thread.

I saw this last weekend with my friends Kevin (who a few of you met at C'Stone last year) and Dave. Kevin hate, hate, hated the movie and I've been hard pressed to come up with any real defense of my love of it. He found it to be quite unoriginal and to paraphrase him, "I knew exact lines of dialog forty minutes before they were said." I'll admit I was disappointed (as I find that I have been with all of Kaufman's films) with where the script went and most of the jokes were blatant, even cliche. I don't find any of his films to be as "deep" or "intellectual" as most critics and casual moviegoers seem to. This one in particular seemed rather obvious to me. In fact, that might be exactly why I liked it so much -- I could have written this. That, and the fact that I'm interested in the subject matter which allows me to give probably too much slack to the movie.

I related very strongly to Jim Carrey's character and the whole idea of the ending of the movie where he and Winslet's character consider trying a relationship despite what they know of each other. But now I've just seen Woody Allen's Annie Hall and his monologue at the end of the film isn't so dis-similar in theme from this film's ending, "We keep getting into relationships for the eggs." I did find myself emotional stirred by Eternal Sunshine... and that always makes me a bit less critical (Glory is one of my favorite films because every time I watch it Broderick and Washington's characters always move me to tears -- this despite the fact that as SDG correctly pointed out, I believe on the old board, that the film is manipulative).

But what has stuck with me this week and has plagued my thoughts has been an idea that was brought up in Jeffrey's interview with Kaufman and Gondry.

“Walker Percy talks about how pictures can steal our memories. Our obsession with archiving our memories in images has the unfortunate result of making us focus on the pictures instead of dwelling on our memories. I was thinking about that watching this film and the idea of memory erasure.”  

“Are you talking about Message in a Bottle?” he responds, surprised.

“Yes.”

“What a great book. The chapter about the Grand Canyon...\"

“That’s it!” I’m surprised that he knows exactly what I’m talking about. “And Sam Phillips has written a song that branches off from that called ‘Taking Pictures.’”  

“Oh really?” Kaufman’s wide awake now, perhaps glad to be talking about something besides the movie.

So, of course, I bring it back to the movie with another question. But he moves right past the question to discuss a different idea he’s excited about. “There’s a problem. When you’re writing and you’re trying to envision a scene, it’s best to base it on life. But then so much of what you think about life is based on what you’ve seen in films and television shows.

...

Kaufman agrees. “Taking pictures can also be an aggressive act. I know people who will take them to be sort of separate and superior to a situation.

“One day I borrowed a camera. I was very self-conscious, and I was at an airport and I was waiting for the person that I was traveling with. I went around taking pictures, and suddenly I wasn’t self-conscious anymore. And I never take pictures, but I felt like I was in a different position now.”

Gondry’s nodding enthusiastically. “That’s true. Like when you are in a scary situation… I went in a helicopter, and I was hanging out on a harness with a camera, and as long as I was taking pictures I never had any fear. And as soon as the film started running out and I was waiting for them to give the camera back, I was in a panic. It puts you in a different state of mind.'

First, a tongue.gif at Jeffrey for being so predictably wonderful and bringing up Percy and Phillips. I haven't read Message in a Bottle yet but I'll be tracking it down now.

This exchange immediately brought to mind some thoughts from essayist, novelist and art-critic John Berger who I had just been reading. First, about the aggresiveness of picture-taking, from his essay Photographs of Agony, Berger writes,

The word trigger, applied to rifle and camera, reflects a correspondence which does not stop at the purely mechanical. The image seized by the camera is doubly violent and both violences reinforce the same contrast: the contrast between the photographed moment and all others.

But now, the idea that truly fascinates me, the relationship between photography and memory -- from Uses of Photography:

I want to write down some of my responses to Susan Sontag's book On Photography. All the quotations I will use are from her text.

...

What served in place of the photograph, before the camera's invention? The expected answer is the engraving, the drawing, the painting. The more revealing answer might be: memory. What photographs do out there in space was previously done within reflection.

...

Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does.

'A photograph is not only an image (as a painting is an image), an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stencilled off the real, like a footprint or a death mask.'

Human visual perception is a far more complex and selective process than that by which a film records. Nevertheless the camera lens and the eye both register images -- because of their sensitivity to light -- at great speed and in the face of an immediate event. What the camera does, however, and what the eye itself can never do, is to fix the apperance of that event. It removes its appearance from the flow of appearances and it preserves it, not perhaps for ever but for as long as the film exists. The essential character of this preservation is not dependent upon the image being static; unedited film rushes preserve in essentially the same way. The camera saves a set of appearances from the otherwise inevitable supercession of further appearances. It holds them unchanging. And before the invention of the camera nothing could do this, except, in the mind's eye, the faculty of memory.

I am not saying that memory is a kind of film. That is a banal simile. From the comparison film/memory we learn nothing about the latter. What we learn is how strange and unprecedented was the procedure of photography.

Yet, unlike memory, photographs do noot preserve meaning. They offer appearances -- with all the credibility and gravity we normally lend to appearences -- prised away from their meaning. Meaning is the result of understanding functions. 'And functioning takes place in time, and must be explained in time. Only that which narrates can make us understand.' Photographs in themselves do not narrate. Photographs preserve instant appearances. Habit now protects us against the shock involved in such preservation. Compare the exposure time for a film with the life of a print made, and let us assume that the print only lasts ten years: the ratio for an average modern photograph would be approximately 20,000,000,000: 1. Perhaps that can serve as a reminder of the violence of the fission wherby appearences are seperated by the camera from their function.

A few notes:

1. Roger Donaldson's otherwise forgettable 1992 thriller White Sands provides us with two memorable antagonists: Mickey Rourke's rogue CIA agent who is bent on creating evil for democracy to battle, and Samuel Jackson's corrupt FBI agent who early in the film explains to Willem Dafoe the static nature of photographs -- just seeing a picture tells one little or nothing of the events preceding it. Ultimately, of course, Jackson's character brings about his own demise through misjudging the appearance of his situation.

2. In the special features of the DVD of Stanley Kubrik's Dr. Strangelove... there is a documentary, The Art of Stanley Kubrick: From Short Films to Strangelove, in which someone mentions how Kubrik loved to use narration to further the story.

3. I went recently to the Museum of Art in Philadelphia with my aforementioned friend Dave. He wanted to see the display they currently have of Manet. After that we browsed around a bit and I was struck by a thought. Now, by no means am I a scholar of painted or sculptural art. I hesitate to make any statements or criticisms about it because I have no working knowledge nor much critical or aesthetic training in those fields. However, thinking about Berger's words on photography and looking at the painted portraits, my thought was this:

Photography has not taken the place of the painted portrait, it is a mere substitution for it. While photography might capture the literal image of the subject it negates the relationship between the artist/cameraman and the subject. The painted portrait is a piece of work that is created over time. The artist must relate to the subject and record his response to his senses. In this way he is not limited by his visual sense, his record of the subject may be influenced by his audible sense, by touch, by smell, and dare I add, by taste. In this way he creates a portrait that, if he is a skilled artist, is true in a metaphorical sense if not in so much a literal sense as the cameraman's picture might be. The average Joe today looks at a photograph as real or true in a way he does not look at a painted portrait.

This, of course, brings to mind -- or to be honest -- is adapted from, a quote by Marcus J. Borg from Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, "...modernity has led us to be preoccupied with factuality -- with scientifically verifiable and historically reliable facts. Indeed, modern Western culture is the only culture in human history that has identified truth with factuality. We are "fact fundamentalists": if a statement isn't scientifically or historically factual, it isn't true."

Now, I'm sure this idea isn't original, it is I believe implied by Berger himself and I'm sure has been stated by others. But it struck me as a "Eureka!" moment when it gelled in my mind.

But now consider, if you will, a family vacation. The father, the mother, and the children are standing on the boardwalk along the beach. The mother suggests they take a picture and the father inlists the services of a passerby to point-and-click the camera.

Berger goes on in his essay to point out a distinction about photographs replacing memory. They can also serve to help recall memory. I am not presently concerned with that. There is nothing to guarantee in this example that this picture will in the future serve as a replacement for a memory or as an instrument with which to recall a memory. For the mother it may well be used as an instrument of recall and for the three year old son as a memory -- or at least something with which a memory is built.

What concerns me about this example is that instead of actively creating a memory (flying a kite, walking, talking, building a sand castle), this family is instead substituting action for capturing an "instant appearance." Taken alone -- in and of itself -- this example says little, but apply it to the culture, to society and societal trends and I believe it takes on a disturbing meaning.

This brings me back to Berger's essay and an interpretation of Eternal Sunshine...:

Has the camera replaced the eye of God? The decline of religion corresponds with the rise of the photograph. Has the culture of capitalism telescoped God into photography? The transformation would not be as surprising as it may at first seem.

The faculty of memory led men everywhere to ask whether, just as they themselves could preserve certain events from oblivion, there might not be other eyes noting and recording otherwise unwitnessed events. Such eyes they then accredited to their ancestors, to spirits, to gods or to their single deity. What was seen by this supernatural eye was inseperably linked with the principle of justice. It was possible to escape the justice of men, but not this higher justice from which nothing or little could be hidden.

Memory implies a certain act of redemption. What is remembered has been saved from nothingness. What is forgotten has been abandoned. If all events are seen, instantaneously, outside time, by a supernatural eye, the distinction between remembering and forgetting is transformed into an act of judgement, into the rendering of justice, whereby recognition is close to being remembered, and condemnation is close to being forgotten. Such a presentiment, extracted from man's long, painful experience of time, is to be found in varying forms in almost every culture and religion, and, very clearly, in Christianity.

I think there are a few lines to draw between this and Eternal Sunshine... -- I have an interpretation that I very seriously doubt Kaufman intended, but would like to think he might appreciate.

At the end of the film, Carrey's character finds one piece of his life with Clementine that he must have missed earlier. What is it? A drawing. For story purposes it could have been a picture -- in fact, in a way, a picture might have been expected from any other filmmaker. The nature of Kaufman's characters has always been introspective, very personal, very much focused on the individual as compared to the masses. So, of course Carrey finds something that is very personal -- something he drew. It couldn't have been anything so objective, so disconnected as a picture. Similarly, it couldn't have been any mere object. It had to be something personal, something internalized. A drawing is perfect. He had to relate to Clementine, internalize her, in order to draw her. It's not so much important that he drew her with the body of a skeleton. It is important that he took the time to draw her. He had memories of her, active memories; not just something to recall memories.

I am inclined to view this film on a cultural or societal level. Carrey and Winslet are fighting, not a mad scientist, but themselves in the midst of a culture that places little emphasis on the individual and all the aspects that make up the individual. This culture is concerned with facts and figures, numbers and pictures and maps of people's minds. Memories are not important, which is to say, the metaphysical is not important -- the magic of relationships, the truth of the metaphor, the idea of a greater meaning.

I know that's all a stretch, but I think it fits. Sorry about the length. smile.gif


"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Photography has not taken the place of the painted portrait, it is a mere substitution for it. While photography might capture the literal image of the subject it negates the relationship between the artist/cameraman and the subject. The painted portrait is a piece of work that is created over time. The artist must relate to the subject and record his response to his senses. In this way he is not limited by his visual sense, his record of the subject may be influenced by his audible sense, by touch, by smell, and dare I add, by taste. In this way he creates a portrait that, if he is a skilled artist, is true in a metaphorical sense if not in so much a literal sense as the cameraman's picture might be. The average Joe today looks at a photograph as real or true in a way he does not look at a painted portrait.

Great stuff DA. I really resonate with your reading of the film, which was such an extremely personal experience for me.

Bazin talks about film initially through talking about the difference between painting and photography. (And thus film criticism was born.) In The Ontology of the Photographic Image Bazin talks about how photography as a technology has freed the other arts (painting, sculpture, etc...) from having to be tools of realism. Photography in a sense cheats death by preserving the historicity and actuality of a moment, a person, or a scene whereas paintings are always interpretations or actual experiences of these things. Photographs stand in for the objects they represent as signs that participate in the reality of what they depict.

While you were having Sontag and Berger thoughts during the film, I was having Bazin ones and we ended up at the same place. Here is a person (Joel) who is wading through the "paintings" of his past and trying to turn at least one of them into a "photograph."


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Guest Russell Lucas

That is a great post, Darryl. The film really has a lot to say about the flaws and strengths of memory and the physical objects that make it easier and harder to remember things. The Dunst character (names already escape me!) gives former patients their cassettes to "remind" them why they underwent the procedure, but those cassettes are terribly unreliable summaries of a person's character. People talking about their exes post-breakup are awfully jaded, and most reasonable people who listen to a friend vent about their spouse/romantic interest know to take a certain degree of it with a grain of salt. Similarly, reconstructing a relationship through photographs and mementos can't yield a wholly true picture of all that happened and was felt because it relies on the tangible. Our internal memories are the best things we have.

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Barbara Nicolosi strikes again!!

- - - -

"

A THING OF BEAUTY IS" AN ETERNAL SUNSHINE

I am going to take a hiatus from blogging for Holy Week, but because I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind this weekend, I am going to push the start of the hiatus until just after I can write a rave here for this film. I'll be quick because I have to get to the stupid gymn which I hate before work.

The film - which will achieve cult status for its style and insight - slams the cinematic coffin on the Sexual Revolution. I was thinking to put together a talk based on three films from three different periods of the Sexual Revolution. (Good grief! can't we come up with a more apt name for the last forty years of this hedonistic nightmare? How about the Sexual Devastation? Or if it has to be "revolution", how about "The Sexual French Revolution"? I mean, it was as big a mess as that travesty in the name of liberte egalite fraternite... "Monsieur, eh, can you not make, eh, the amor and not the guerre, s'il vous plait? Or, eh, we will, eh, cut off your head, oui?")

Love Story starts the cycle with its sham requirement that "Love means never having to say you're sorry." The legacy of that piece of dialogue idiocy, is that a generation and a half of people went around killiong their relationships whenever the inescapable need for "sorry" came in to it. The deformed thinking seems to have run like this:

A) "Love means never having to say we're sorry." That is, when you meet "your perfect soul-mate" (ewwwwwwwww retch! retch!), it will be the person who never really offends you (such that, you know, repentance would be required), and whom you never offend (such that, you know, you should have to ask forgiveness).

cool.gif My lover and I do nothing but end up sinning against each other.

C) We mustn't be in love....Let's end it.

The next movie in the cycle is The Ice Storm. This movie takes a look at people who are ravaged by being in the first decade of the Sexual French Revolution. Even in just ten years, it is already a failure, leaving people stripped and isolated, with nothing certain except their own isolation. The people in this movie are trapped like in an addiction - loving it an hating it, but basiocally not seeing any other way to live. So, they drug themself and end up deadening every emotion except cynicism.

Flash forward to 2004, and we have Eternal Sunshiine of the Spotless Mind - a new cinematic thesis for the folks who are stolidly rejecting the anti-lifestyle of the Baby Boomers. Prof. Mary Ann Glendon (HERO! HERO!) at Harvard has noted that the "Y" in Gen Y could stand for "Yearning." Played perfectly by perennially underestimated Jim Carrey, and the so much better than Titanic , Kate Winslet, the film follows a Gen Y couple who make it through the following syllogism:

A) I love you.

cool.gif You hurt and bore me sometimes.

C) Maybe being hurt and bored is part of love? I forgive you.

It's really, really astounding. The culture is working its way out of the pit, folks! I almost couldn't believe my eyes.

The film is about a couple who attempt to use a material method to root our something in their spiritual level. How stunning is that?! Is there anything that has exemplified the Baby Boom more than the way they have engaged and worshipped the material and ignored, subjugated, and fleed from the spiritual?

All through the film I kept hearing in that head a line someone said to me once in high school, that becasue of my particular wounds, just stuck: "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it is yours. If it doesn't, it never was." I think this film asks the question, is letting go of love even possible? Once it has you, you can't escape it...

There is a lot of great technical stuff in the film: great structure, emart writing, beautiful cinematography, wonderful acting. The supporting characters are also great - and all add something to the central theme. So, Kirsten Dunst, plays a Gen Y'er who, uncovering the lies and selfishness of her Boomer former boss and lover (played by Tom Wilkinson,...because, I guess, Bill Clinton, was unavailable to play himself), ends up rejecting nihiolism and cynicism and makes a heroic truth-affirming choice.

It's a very smart and encouraging film, without any noticeable quantity of the crassness in which Boomer filmmakers generally couch (and so, obscure) their insights.

Two thumbs up for Eternal Sunshine. A must see for those who wait expectantly for the better Day.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I watched this with a friend today. One thing he said that stuck with me was that in the beginning of the memory erasure, we see the reality of their relationship. It dwindled into arguments and retaining old presuppositions with each other. As the movie progresses, you see that the beginning of their relationship is filled with the usual idealism that couples start out with.

Combined with Barbara Nicolosi's comments about this being the "anti-sexual revolution" movie and I think I have gained a whole new appreciation for this film. Just wonderful.

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If anyone wants to read the interesting first draft of this movie, click here. Much of the movie is there, but there is a different beginning and ending.

EDIT: Actually, it's a pretty revealing look at how different the movie would have been using this script. The events are there, but some are extended quite a bit more than what we see in the movie. This script is less subtle than the final product.

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Or maybe it got hit by a truck.

Don't jump to conclusions.


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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