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.
How HER Helped Me Fall In and Out of Love
(Author’s Note: What follows is the first, or second if you count the essay on my father, entry in an infrequent series of personal essays I’ll be writing under the category of Art Imitates Life, which, I hope, is fairly self-explanatory.)
Sitting here, it’s almost a little strange thinking about just how resonant Her was for me. I do not doubt that there were others who were connected with the film, and I suppose that’s one of the many successes of Spike Jonze’s love story. From its ability to examine on how we live now to its focus on how we love now, Her does so many things right. And one of them was help me fall in and out of love with the same person.
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.
My 13 Favorite Films of 2013
I’ve already made two lists this year (one with superlatives and one with three films I never need to see again), but I made another one because masochism is the new black.
Here are my 13 Favorite Films from 2013:
Kyle’s Superlative Year in Film: 2013 Edition at The Moviola
I realized it was almost the end of the year about a week and a half ago. And I began to panic. Little beads of sweat began to form on my forehead as I looked at the list of films I still had to watch. My original plan was to cram as many as I could before making my year end list. But, after some advice from a Twitter friend, I decided, “Eh, I’ve more than made my quota, I can take it easy and watch what I want to watch now.” By quota, I mean by my Masochist Quota. Because I feel like I’m always playing catch up with every other cinephile out there, I feel the incredibly masochistic need to watch at least 365 films a year. And watching that many (usually more) drains a person. (I’ve hit 516 films so far, not including rewatches.) I don’t have my license, so I don’t see that many 2013 films. I mostly see rep and archival stuff via Netflix, my library, etc. But this year, I did see a bit more. While I believe I have enough to make a reasonable top ten list, I decided to do something else. Silly superlatives! It’s more fun, a little more unorthodox, and does not require sleepless nights and valium pills to get me through eighteen other films I still had to watch.
Read on at The Moviola for my List of Film Superlatives for 2013!