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In 1965, Polish artist Roman Opałka hung a 196 × 135 cm canvas in his Warsaw studio. In the top left corner he painted a tiny numeral 1, then a 2, and so on until he had filled the canvas with numbers. Then he put up a new canvas and continued where he had left off. He called these images “details”; all of them had the same size and the same title, 1965 / 1 – ∞.
He vowed to spend the rest of his life on the project. “All my work is a single thing,” he said, “the description from number one to infinity. A single thing, a single life. … The problem is that we are, and are about not to be.”
At the start he painted white numbers on a black background, but in 1972 he began gradually to lighten the black with each detail, saying that his goal was “to get up to the white on white and still be alive.” He expected that this would happen when he reached 7777777 … but at the time of his death, in 2011, he’d got only as far as 5607249. (Source)
Here's an old interview that I don't think I've posted before. It's from the tail end of the Synecdoche press junket, and Charlie talks with Walter Chaw about some things I haven't seen him discuss before. It gets pretty deep.
FILM FREAK CENTRAL: Talk to me about the rapture of language.
CHARLIE KAUFMAN: You pick something very difficult for someone who's very tired. (laughs; long, thoughtful pause) Oh gosh. You know. Obviously I'm very interested in language, I use it in my work and I realize that... I've come to the conclusion that it isn't the thing. You know. It isn't the thing it describes. It can't really in most cases get close to the thing. I'm always trying to write in the chaos of experience as opposed to at a distance. I'm not interested in having perspective in the things that I write about--I'm interested in writing about them from where I am. Because that's always where you are. You never have perspective. You aren't really telling a story, you're never telling a story, story's what happens ten years down the line looking back.
So you begin with what you don't know?
(laughs) It's true, it's really backwards from the conventional wisdom of what you're supposed to write. You're never supposed to write about something that you don't have that distance from. It's weird. But we never live in that place from which we write about: it's always a fiction. I noticed a few years ago as I was going through a depression (voice drops) that was really serious that it was completely non-verbal. I couldn't explain it. I couldn't talk about it. The only way I knew that it wasn't happening anymore was that I could talk about it--then I could describe it and say that this was what my depression was, what it felt like. But at the same time that I could do it, I realized that it was completely unrelated to the experience of being in the middle of it, which was not in any way a verbal experience.
Does that frustrate empathy?
I was having this conversation recently with Amy Pascal at Sony, we were talking about this story that I wanted to try to find the place, even though language is used, where the language is not. I wanted to find that truth. Which is a very hard thing to do I guess because we communicate in language and just in our interactions we're limited to communicating to each other in language. I guess in that sense, I don't know if that addresses your question, but those are the kinds of things that I worry about in my writing. (Source)
And if you're still wondering what was happening in Synecdoche, New York, here's a quote where Charlie seems to address it more directly than usual: "I wanted to externalize his interior world which, I think, is what dreams do."
Thanks to Julie for this one.
This is really cool, but if you're interested, you should get in quick.
Alamo Drafthouse has announced “Meet Me in Montauk,” a celebration of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind featuring a screening of the film in Montauk, outdoors, on the beach, in bed.
[...] The special event will be happening on August 12, and along with with aforementioned screening, attendees will participate in a tour of the various filming locations, each with photo ops and beach activities. After that, as the stars come out, fans will head to Gurney’s Resort where they can watch the film snuggled comfortably in a bed provided by Casper mattresses. [...] Plus, everyone will get a replica of Clementine’s iconic orange hoodie from the movie.
[...] If you want to attend this screening, tickets will go on sale at a random time next Friday, August 4. You’ll have to stay tuned to the Birth.Movies.Death Twitter account (@bmoviesd) to find out when. Seating for this event is “super limited” so if you have any desire to attend this screening, you’ll want to act fast. (Source)
And here's a trailer for the event:
Lionsgate has set a March 1, 2019, release date for the science-fiction adventure “Chaos Walking,” starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley.
Doug Liman is directing while Allison Shearmur and Doug Davison are producers. The screenplay will be written by Patrick Ness, Charlie Kaufman and John Lee Hancock.
The film is based on Patrick Ness’s “Chaos Walking: The Knife of Never Letting Go,” a book that was published in 2008 as the first in a trilogy. It is set in a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts. (Source)
More plot info at the link. Meanwhile, Hollywood Reporter adds a fourth writer to the mix while leaving out Ness and Hancock:
Osar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman worked on the script for Chaos Walking, as did Jamie Linden (Money Monster). (Source)
This is despite Charlie saying last August "I'm not involved with that any more. I did the first draft." I have been confused about his involvement in this film (is he writing it? is he not? is he co-writing it? did he do a couple of drafts and now he's no longer on board?) for a looong time. No idea how much of the film will be Charlie's work, but it seems like we can confirm that some of it is?
I don't know what it is about March, but that's when A.V. Club's Mike D'Angelo and The Conversation's Bruce Isaacs each independently posted great analyses of Eternal Sunshine's closing scenes.
When I first pitched Scenic Routes, back in the summer of 2009, one of my big selling points was the idea’s sheer inexhaustibility. Over the past seven and a half years, I’ve analyzed 175 scenes, yet barely scratched the medium’s surface[...]
“I should finish by writing about one of the great movie endings,” I immediately thought, and just as quickly, I knew exactly which one it should be.
[...]It’s never been clear to me whether Kaufman views these two characters as admirably quixotic or ludicrously self-deluded. Maybe it’s a bit of both. Director Michel Gondry repeats the final image of Joel and Clementine running in the snow, creating a loop. (This isn’t in the screenplay, which just ends on Clementine’s “Okay”—the most baller move I’ve ever seen in script form.) That suggests an infinite repetition of the same mistakes, though the implied pessimism is offset by Beck singing “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime” on the soundtrack. Regardless of what was intended, I can’t help but perceive these lovers’ renewal of vows, so to speak, as intensely romantic—and not exclusively in the lovey-dovey sense. Maybe it resonates less strongly for those who believe in an afterlife. (Source)
And here's the Isaac piece, which comes with the video posted below:
The film is about memory, desire, love and loss. In this scene, Isaacs focuses on what he calls two “cinematic gestures” in the closing sequences of the film.
The scene features Joel Barish (played by Jim Carey) and Clementine Kruczynski (brilliantly portrayed by Kate Winslet) as they realise their relationship is doomed but still worth pursuing.
It is, says Isaacs, a beautiful and deceptive sequence that includes one of Jim Carey’s finest moments on screen. (Source)
Bonus: couple of weeks ago, the Medium Jump podcast had a look at Eternal Sunshine.
A while back, Charlie was scripting an adaptation of The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first book in Patrick Ness' YA trilogy, Chaos Walking. In 2014, though, Variety reported that Charlie was out and Jamie Linden had taken over the writing. Now, Deadline are talking as if Charlie's still on board:
Doug Liman has backed out of directing Warner Bros’ Justice League Dark, the film that was to be a cog in the studio’s DC Universe of movies. The move is not surprising, as Liman’s schedule is officially tied up for the time being: As we reported, Lionsgate is moving forward with the Daisy Ridley-Tom Holland movie Chaos Walking based on Patrick Ness’ YA novel, with a franchise play being eyed and Liman at the helm. It is now in preproduction and is currently on offer at the Cannes market, and Liman is moving along with it.
[...] Ness is co-writing the screenplay with John Lee Hancock and Charlie Kaufman. Allison Shearmur and Doug Davison are producing. (Source)
I suspect they're wrong, but it could be that Charlie's now re-attached. In August last year at Karlovy, Charlie said "I'm not involved with that any more. I did the first draft." (That's an hour-long video. He talks about Chaos Walking around the 45:45 mark. The whole clip's worth watching if you've never seen it!)
Game show host, writer and possible CIA assassin, Chuck Barris--played by Sam Rockwell in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind--has died at age 87. From the New York Times:
Mr. Barris died of natural causes, said Paul Shefrin, his publicist, according to The Associated Press.
[...] The book [Confessions] got only a smattering of attention, but it caught some eyes in Hollywood, and in 2003, after many delays, a film version came out, directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell as Mr. Barris. (Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay, embellishing Mr. Barris’s tale.) The film brought Mr. Barris, by now in his 70s, a fresh round of attention and endless variations on the obvious question: Was it true? Mr. Barris generally played coy, delivering elliptical answers that neither confirmed nor denied. The C.I.A. was more direct: various spokesmen said Mr. Barris had had nothing to do with the agency. (Source)
Everything, a new game for PS4, is the creation of David OReilly, the artist behind Mountain (a 'mountain simulator') who also did some work for Spike Jonze's Her. The game's 11-minute trailer, reminiscent of something Charlie might come up with, makes a pretty great short film by itself. The voice-over comes from a lecture by British philosopher Alan Watts.
Everything is an [sic] narrated sandbox in which everything you see is a thing you can be, from animals to planets to galaxies and beyond. Travel between outer and inner space, and explore a vast, interconnected universe of things without enforced goals, scores, or tasks to complete. (Source)
Reviews are just starting to come in, and Polygon gives it 9/10.
Bonus trivia gleaned from Wikipedia: in 2008 OReilly created a series of hand-drawn animated Youtube videos about a character called Octocat.
In an interview he said "I wanted to try experimenting with the Youtube audience and Microsoft Paint. The story for Octocat came to me by reading the bible word-for-word backwards'. (Source)
Thanks to Garrison!
Clicky clicky. What does this mean? How firm is this October 3 date? (My guess: probably not firm. Possibly even Charlie is reading this thinking OHMYGOD WTF OCTOBER, I SHOULD GET STARTED ON THAT. But I'm usually wrong about things.) Is the title of the novel actually Untitled Charlie Kaufman? Because that would be Kaufmanly. It's not likely, I know.
The book isn't listed on Amazon or the other usual places, but I'll be sure to make an excited post when it is.
Big thanks to Patrick on our FB page!
This is good. Says Mashable:
John Malkovich was disturbed to find upon a recent visit to johnmalkovich.com that someone was already being John Malkovich.
The actor, who moonlights as a fashion designer, had wanted to use that address to promote his new eponymous clothing line.
But it turned out someone had beaten him to the punch and the domain was home to a knock-off fashion brand illegally using his name and likeness.
Despite the ongoing legal headache that ensued, Malkovich volunteered to spoof the ordeal in a new pre-game Super Bowl ad for the website-building company Squarespace.
In a bizarrely meta twist, Malkovich actually had to seek legal blessing from the rights holders of Charlie Kaufman's Being John Malkovich for the ad itself, which makes implicit reference to the famously weird film.
"If you think about it, it's kind of crazy, kind of outrageous," Malkovich said. "I have no problem [with the film, in which he appeared], but I also understand what it means to have one's name under the control of other people and, in some cases, being used for purposes that I might not be so supportive of." (Source)