Grandeur Delusions: The Male Protagonists of the Films of Charlie Kaufman
A mild mannered NBC page goes from zero to hero, making hit shows and makings hits at the same time. A slightly schlubby puppeteer struggles both with his art, his lust for an elusive female co-worker, and his fascination with the portal into the head of another man. A self-aware introvert travels back through his most recent relationship and starts to understand the fallacy of his own romantic mind. These three characters do not share the actors who played them or even the directors who guided them, but they do share two things: a writer, named Charlie Kaufman, and a unique sense of delusion. As Freud would put it, a delusion of grandeur, to the extent where such delusions affect the way that each characters’ story is told, in terms of aesthetics and structure. In George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) leads a double life where, by day, he’s producing shows like The Newlywed Game and by night he’s making hits for the CIA; but Barris’s story, told from his perspective, is so bizarre the audience is thrust into a hyper-stylized fantasy where one is not quite able to tell if he is telling the truth. Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich presents “objectivity” as a deliberately absurdist comedy, playing the concept itself and deconstructing the romanticized “genius” in the form of Craig Schwartz (John Cusack). Lastly, in Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) is so deep set in his introversion, that when he finally is given the opportunity to explore his own memories, he is able to see them for what they are. These are tied together by Kaufman’s singular ability to tap into the cult of the genius and deconstruct what that entails through storytelling, as well as each respective director’s ability to channel those ideas through a visual format.
The Masochist’s Guide to Valentine’s Day: A Bunch of Films to Torture Yourself With
We can assume that if you are looking at this list, you are probably single, or in a complicated relationship with your cell phone, or deeply committed to sitting in your bed watching Netflix and crying while holding a pint of ice cream in your left hand. The last thing you turned on was your coffee machine. Your credit card company called you based on five suspicious charges at Munson’s, Godiva, Ghirardelli, Pizza Hutt, and Jelly Belly. (Did I do this? Don’t be silly.) Valentine’s Day is near , and you are left listening to your friends around you talk about their various plans with their significant others, and you put on a brave face congratulating them, when you’re really hoping that they’ll jump in front of a bus or something. (Or, if you’re like me, you’re just very explicit about that last part and don’t bother with being happy for your friends. I know, I’m a horrible person.) Thusly, I took it upon myself to compile a list of great films to allow you to revel in your pain. Because there’s nothing like watching other people live out romances that you keep convincing yourself you will never experience personally. Like any good masochist’s Anna Howard Shaw Day Party, pizza and ice cream are a must as well as a Wi-Fi connection, so you can openly complain about how bitter you are on the numerous social networking accounts you have. Without further ado, here are the best films to torture yourself with on Valentine’s Day.
2012 in Film: #25 – Synecdoche, New York
2012 in Film: #25
Synecdoche, New York (2008) | Directed by Charlie Kaufman
Thoughts: Complex, insightful, and very depressing. Philip Seymour Hoffman is superb.