01 December 2008

Thanksgiving Films

OK, so last week the time off afforded me the opportunity to see 2 movies. I made one really good choice, and one really bad one. Actually, I didn't make the first choice (since it was Mikey J's idea), so I really just ultimately chose badly.

Zack and Miri was the good choice (credited to Mikey J). It is a very, very funny movie. We both laughed a lot. Since I know you people do not care enough to read a long review, just let me make the following observations:

1. Jason Mewes is a babe. I didn't just start thinking this. I have always even thought that Jay was really hot (which is weird, cuz that guy would NOT be my type in real life. AT ALL). But I swear that he's actually getting better looking as he gets older.

I don't like to think too much about what is behind my attraction to Jason Mewes, because, if I am honest with myself, it is for all the kinds of reasons that reflect badly on my gender. He is really screwed up. His characters are really screwed up, but Mewes himself is also really screwed up. He is also, from all accounts, a dog (with regard to his dealings with women). But, and this is where I sort of start to hate myself, he seems super, super vulnerable. It is my understanding that he lives with Kevin Smith more than he lives anywhere else--because he needs to be watched over a little, and Smith and his wife provide some sort of stability for him. The point is this--it is that mixture of bad boy/vulnerable boy that makes him sort of irresistible. I know that this is messed up thinking, and part of the reason that we don't have a woman in the White House (because, let's be honest, Bill is an older, puffier, better-educated, Southern Jason Mewes).

All rationalization aside, Jason Mewes is hot.

2. We are getting really old. It is hard to tell from looking in the mirror, but seeing certain other people age makes it impossible to deny. Traci Lords looks OLD. Part of it is hard livin'--I get that. But it still made me feel old.

3. This film requires me to write a sentence that I never expected/wanted to. That sentence is: "Justin Long is a great comedic actor." Seriously. His character is--by far--one of the funniest things in the film. Seth Rogan's reactions to him are equally priceless.

4. It is very, very strange, but also very, very pleasing, when Seth Rogan opens his mouth and Kevin Smith comes out. It's almost too much of a good thing, if you know what I mean.

5. I love Kevin Smith THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS much. I don't care how many unwatchable films he makes. When he makes a good film, I just love him THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS much more.


And then I saw the new Charlie Kaufman film Synecdoche, New York. I should not have done this. I always WANT to like Charlie Kaufman films, both because I sort of believe it is a thing-to-do, but also because, in theory, I like the idea of Kaufman. But in reality, I always either end up mildly disappointed (Being John Malkovich) or downright horrified (Eternal Sunshine*). S, NY is a horrifying movie. If you haven't seen the press, here is the story in a nutshell. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a theatre director who decides to stage an epic piece of avant-garde theatre after his wife leaves him and he receives a MacArthur genius grant. The idea of the theatre piece is to recreate reality--and to that end he casts someone as himself, and as the people (women) in his life and makes art until it kills him (and everyone around him). This takes a very, very long time. Long enough that I seriously considered walking out of the film, and long enough that 3 (smarter) couples actually DID.

Here's the thing. The idea behind the film is cool. The casting is interesting (except for Catherine Keener. I hate her. What is everyone's thing with her anyway?) and Hoffman is really, really wonderful, which is weird, given the fact that I hated his character so much that I wanted him to die, die, die (and the faster the better). Kaufman is smart, and he tries to make smart movies. But I can't stand them.

And I think that I've figured it out. Kaufman is a smart guy who is tortured by the kind of thoughts and the kind of knowledge that smart people are always tortured by. He's aware, self-conscious, thoughtful. And, like people who are these things tend to be, he is miserable because of it. His films are all about the pain of feeling and thinking deeply, about the tedium of obsessive thinking, about the hopelessness of insight.

I don't think I'm as smart as Charlie Kaufman, but I am familiar enough with the challenges of having a critical mind that I don't want to relive it in my art. The cyclical, obsessive thinking of Kaufman's characters only serves to irritate (and perhaps even trigger) my own cyclical, obsessive thinking. This is not therapeutic, nor does it offer any sort of escape. It is an irritant.

Imagine that you are walking around all day with a blister. Worse yet, it is a blister that you have had since you began walking at 11 months. You spend most of your days trying to manage the blister. You baby it--rotate your foot as you walk so as not to aggravate it. You think about ANYTHING other than how much your blister is bothering you. And then once every few years you walk by a store that sells pebbles. And you think to yourself, "I like the look of those pebbles", so you walk in and buy yourself one and then stick it down your shoe. Now you have a pebble in your shoe (and YOU put it there). With every step, you are reminded of the pain you are currently in, the pain that you are ALWAYS in (because even without the pebble you have that damn blister), and the fact that you are to blame for the increased pain you are feeling, because you bought the pebble and stuck it in your shoe.

That's what it feels like to sit through a Charlie Kaufman film.

*I don't get what people LOVE about this movie, by the way. It's nightmarish.


Marcus said...

I don't know where to begin - this is your worst blog ever. Almost every point you made was the opposite of true. "If Lucy Fell" would be disappointed in this blog.

And don't ever admit to liking Jason Mewes. That's dumber than going full retard during Oscar season.

Sometimes you need an editor. Or simply more of my influence. Jason Mewes. Jason Mewes. Get in your car and drive to the nearest confessional.

James said...

I hate Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, too. Not too fond of Being John Malkovich, either. I love Adaptation, though.

Although I cannot defend your love of Jason Mewes, I can defend your right to love Jason Mewes. Love him all you want! You're great! It's like your love of scenes of guys shaving their heads! I don't understand it, but I accept it.

I do have to say, what the fuck were you doing seeing these movies when Transporter 3 is out? That I can neither defend or forgive!

Marcus said...

Okay, the guilt is eating away at me, so here it is...I'm in love with Katherine Keener. She has one of those voices that I just can't resist. So I guess I was too hard on your entire post.

Except for admitting to Jason Mewes love. You can't unring that bell.

edith loves said...

Omg...I love that kristen loves scenes with men shaving their heads. That's one fact I may not ever forget even if I forget everything else about everything.

Although I do tend to like Kauffman films, I completely agree with the fabulous blister/pebble epic analogy. I think perhaps I like his work because, at the end of the day, I'm kind of a masochist.

I also defend the right to love Jason Mewes. In a disgusting kind of way, he IS hot. just imagine if there was a movie where Jason Mewes SHAVED HIS HEAD....oh the bliss!