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April 4, 2004

More Eternal Sunshine

I caught Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last night, but after a long day of grading-for-hire, I didn't have the energy to write a review. I think I'll have to see the film a second time to really give it the attention it deserves (which may mean waiting for the DVD), but I can say that David Edelstein's insight about Sunshine's reworking of the screwball comedy genre for the 21st century captures much of the spirit of the film (the connections to the work of Stanley Cavell also seem promising).

Also check out A.O. Scott's New York Times article, which covers similar territory. I have some more pressing writing to do right now, but hopefully I'll be able to write a full review soon. In short, I really liked this film, and like Shaviro, I think it's screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's best work and one of the more innovative studio films I've seen in a long time.

Update: Two more "Eternal" links. Steven Johnson's Slate essay on brain science and Dereks' review of ESSM, which led me there.

Posted by chuck at April 4, 2004 12:34 PM

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I believe that ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is very far from a screwball comedy; in fact, it shares more similarities with Orson Welles's TOUCH OF EVIL in its structure and thematic preoccupations, and of course, an un-screwball-comedy dourness, IMHO. ~ A man struggles to retrieve his mate from a corrupt authority-figure who plies her with drugs. ...

Posted by: AUSTIN at April 5, 2004 7:48 PM

I think I see the "screwball" point more in terms of the Kate Winslet character, her perpetual talking, the continuing hair color changes, etc.

Still sorting through my reading of the film. To be honest, I may not have thought about the crewball genre w/o prompting, and the film is rather dour in some places, as you point out.

Posted by: chuck at April 5, 2004 10:22 PM

Was revisiting this entry while working on a paper...

I've been thinking about the connection to TOE. Perhaps there is a larger connection to noir that Edelstein's review occludes. Specifcally the pre-occupations with memory loss/amnesia, which is a distinctly noir theme. One classic neo-noir example would be Proyas's "Dark City," with its sci-fi meets Expressionist/noir mode.

Gondry's style in this film (shadowy spaces representing Jim Carrey's UNC, for example) could perhaps be connected to some of the more excessive aspects of Expressionism, too, I think. As with Dark City, the role of a detective/police figure is somewhat reduced, but the connection to TOE is making a lot more sense right now.

Not sure why this clicked all of the sudden...

Posted by: chuck at May 15, 2004 2:04 PM

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