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Feel like revisiting Eternal Sunshine? Cinephilia & Beyond takes a look back at the film, and it's a great piece with some old interview excerpts with the cast and crew, a stack of stills from the film and behind-the-scenes clips, even Leigh Singer's Eternal Sunsets video that I posted recently, and Eliot Rausch's brilliant What I Have To Offer--the short film adapted from Charlie's BAFTA lecture.
Having heard his friend complain about her boyfriend for what seemed to be a hundredth time, French artist Pierre Bismuth asked her if she would erase him from her memory if such an option was at her disposal. He soon passed this idea to his friend and filmmaker Michel Gondry, who liked the sound of it and discussed it with Charlie Kaufman, with whom he worked on Human Nature. From a simple discussion in a cafe, therefore, sprung out a film that many believe to be one of the very finest produced in this century. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a heartbreaking yet beautiful, insightful and above all hopeful movie about love, memory and loss, is literally unlike anything we’ve seen before or since. [...]
A solid box office success at the time of its release and the Academy Award champion in the Best Original Screenplay category, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a film you cannot cut out of your heart once you let it in. A monumentally important screenplay. Dear every screenwriter/filmmaker, read Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind[...]
One small thing jumped out at me, probably of interest to no one else: a snippet from an interview with the film's editor, Valdis Oskarsdottir. Years ago, someone sent me a link to a foreign-language article (Icelandic? can't remember) and they told me there was an implication in there that Oskarsdottir's experience on the film wasn't 100% fun, that there was some tension. Later, Oskarsdottir emailed me herself and said that was a poor translation. So now here's this excerpt from a different interview:
What was your dynamic in the editing room?
He isn’t the most patient man I know. He couldn’t sit still. Sometimes he’d sit on the sofa in the editing room behind my back and talk—I couldn’t hear him because I was working, and he’d get really pissed if I wouldn’t answer him. Sometimes when he was talking I’d stop and turn around and miss what he’d said, and he’d say to the producer ‘I hate it. She doesn’t answer me and then she rolls her eyes.’ And I was like, ‘How can he see that? He’s behind me!’ It took a while to explain to him that when I was working, I couldn’t hear him.
Would you work with him again?
No, I don’t think so. And I don’t think he’d ever want to work with me. (Source)
Big thanks to Cristian for the find!Add a comment
When Charlie Kaufman was just a Charlie Kaufman, as opposed to the Charlie Kaufman, he emailed Tom Noonan:
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I made a movie called “What Happened Was” in 1992 and it won ‘Best Film’ at Sundance and it was relatively popular.
Charlie had seen the movie back in the early 90’s when he wasn’t really Charlie Kaufman yet and he wrote to me, a couple different e-mails because I was a pretty available person and he began communicating with me and was very complimentary about me, the movie and loved it.
Then we stopped writing, time went by and “Being John Malkovich” came out and “Adaption” [sic] and Charlie, in an interview, was being asked who his influences were and he generally talked about me which was very gratifying.
Over time, because he was talking about me a lot, we ended up meeting and became friends at which point, he reminded me he had written an e-mail to me years earlier.
Charlie and I were friends basically through my work and were friends for more than a decade before he casted me in “Anomalisa,” the play, in 2005. (Source)
Here's a great supercut of Charlie's work, and I just noticed it goes for about 7 1/2 minutes. Talk about appropriate! It was put together by Leigh Singer, and it's great.Add a comment
Here's an interesting one. This interview between Charlie K. and Jason Solomons starts on a bit of a downer...
I venture, for a film as depressed as Anomalisa, nominated in the animation category, winning an award might have seemed, well, counter-intuitive.
"No, it would have suited us to win, believe me", he retorts about his remarkably realistic stop-motion animation, which follows a miserable motivational speaker in a soulless Cincinnati hotel. "There's nothing pleasant about losing, especially after we'd been through a long process of continued losing throughout the awards season. But it makes it worse when you've created something like Anomalisa and then Woody the Cowboy and Buzz Lightyear are on stage introducing your category at the Oscars."
... and then gets a little uncomfortable when Solomons tries hard to connect Charlie's work to his Jewishness, despite Charlie's obvious skepticism:
The mention of Woody Allen leads to my inevitable question of Jewishness in his work. "I don't know what you're talking about," is Kaufman's snap response and I can't tell if he's joking, at all. "I mean, you know, I am who I am," he continues, stuttering a bit, and playing with his beard. "I was raised sort of Jewish but secular, you know, I'm not from a religious family, but certainly Woody Allen was very important to me growing up, but then so was Monty Python, and I don't think any of them were Jewish?" (Source)
I can understand where Solomon's coming from--he's writing for the Jewish Chronicle, after all--but Charlie's irritation is just as understandable.Add a comment
Here's a great interview on 52 Insights with Charlie and Duke, covering a lot of different topics. A few little snippets:
Has sleep deprivation ever helped you in your work?
KAUFMAN: No, it doesn’t help me. It makes me sour and angry. I’m not any of those things right now but it could turn on a dime so be careful.
Okay I’ll try to be nice.
KAUFMAN: The first day we came here we had to do a thing at the BBC. They have these glass security doors that swing shut and we were walking in a line and I was the last one, I wasn’t paying attention and I guess the guard didn’t notice that I wasn’t through. It’s glass so of course I don’t see it and it smashes me directly in the face. That was a bad day. And I was already in kind of a bad mood.
KAUFMAN: With the BAFTA speech, I knew I was going to be doing it and I really wanted to stop myself from doing it in a self-serving way. I spent months trying to get through that whole, “I’m going to be impressive to people” thing, which is the natural tendency when you go on stage anywhere. You want people to like you and think you’re smart or whatever. But I tried to not do that, and if it was affective it was because I was saying, “I’m not going to do this. I’m going to try to be useful.”
So moving forward would you say that you have a challenging relationship with Hollywood?
KAUFMAN: Challenging? It’s a hate-hate relationship I have with Hollywood. I don’t like the business aspect of it but I need the business aspect to get things made. I’m writing a novel at the moment because it doesn’t cost anything, so maybe that’s another way I can do what I want to do. I don’t know what my future is in Hollywood. (Source)
Thanks to Ari for the heads up!Add a comment
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I have a backlog of links to post. I'll get on it.
Charlie and Duke will be appearing at the SoHo Apple store for a Q&A on March 7. You can log into Apple to reserve a spot, but something tells me those spots will disappear quickly.
Join directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson for a discussion and Q&A about their inventive masterpiece, “Anomalisa.” Love, laughter, and loneliness align in this stop-motion work of art, which was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Animated Feature Film.” “Anomalisa" will be available on iTunes. (Source)
Details at the link!Add a comment
Michael and Lisa have an awkward encounter in the hall:Add a comment
Zadie Smith has a really great essay on the New York Review of Books site, where she talks about those two animated films (mostly Anomalisa) and that philosopher guy.
By aesthetic coincidence that evening I had a date to see Charlie Kaufman’s new movie Anomalisa, with my friend Tamsin, a professional philosopher, a Nietzsche scholar by trade, but not averse to the odd Schopenhauer reference, should a layman—or woman—try to force one upon her. [...]As we walked to the movie theater we considered the idea that all Kaufman’s movies have been somewhat Schopenhauerean, in the sense that they concern suffering in one way or another: the experience of suffering, the inevitability of it, and the possibility of momentary, illusory relief from it. This relief tends to arrive, for Kaufman, in the form of a woman (although these women are almost always the cause of much suffering, too). I thought of Catherine Keener, as Maxine, in the film Being John Malkovich all those years ago, ravishing in her white shirt and pencil skirt, offering a schlumpy depressive—a classic Kaufman protagonist—fifteen minutes’ relief from his suffering:
ERROLL: Can I be anyone I want?
MAXINE: You can be John Malkovich.
ERROLL: Well that’s perfect. My second choice. Ah, this is wonderful…. Malkovich! King of New York! Man about town! Most eligible bachelor! Bon Vivant! The Schopenhauer of the twentieth century!
Now, that last line was cut from the film, but I can take a hint. “It had puppets in it,” Tamsin noted, as we took our seats, “And this one’s all puppets?”
“All puppets.” (Source)
Thanks to Tram!Add a comment
The 35th annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon went down last Monday afternoon, at the Beverly Hilton. Here's this year's class photo. Can you spot Charlie?
Clicky to embiggen.
I've enlarged him, behind the cut. Also, visit Hollywood Reporter for the full rundown on who's who in the photo, and an even larger version of the pic.Add a comment