While I’m fan of Kaufman’s work (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Anomalisa, et al) and admire a writer’s attempt to pry open the meaning of self, this film makes nebulous look adamantine. Characters swimming in vagaries of subconscious angst. All that. And…no.
A story can’t be all dreams and poetry and philosophy because there’s no place for the reader to hang their hat. Definable characters are needed. Without them, we’re nothing.
There’s supposed to be something like three stories, right? Boy Meets Girl. Boy Kills Father. Boy Gets Old. Whatever the number of seminal narratives, it’s all derivatives of derivatives now, exemplified by Jordan Peele’s ballyhooed Get Out. While the film is a compelling attempt to address the hypocrisy of whites pretending not being racist, the story mashes up Scream, Being John Malkovich and Driving Miss Daisy and is plodding at best.There is no character development nor even plot, nothing to consider in the individual, except that we’re just derivatives of derivatives of ourselves.20th Century Women, ironically this year’s choice original screenplay at the Oscars, represents more laziness, offering moronic short-hand for finding truth in accepting our silly old selves. Quirky, they call it.Both films fall into a blithering tradition, initiated by heralded auteurs with such films as Breathless, Easy Rider, and The Last Picture Show. Rather than offer an arc or delve into the intricacies of character, these films offer things to look at, moments to be consumed, and then we’re needing more.
Advertisers want to give us answers, all of our confusion beaten into sell-able pulp.
Christian Dior selling purses.
Movie trailers are the same.
Baz Luhrman’s “The Great Gatsby”
All of it so simple and pornographically direct. The failure is in their intent, attempting to answer everything, give our lives a clear, cohesive narrative, when it is just the opposite.
Spike Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich”
Real questions don’t do well under the spotlight; they wilt and are never clear. Sudden and enigmatic, they only offer a glimpse, making us stop and think, “Wait. What was that?”
5. Being There (1979, Hal Ashby) Chance watches cartoons in a limousine.4. The Thin Red Line (1998, Terrence Malick): American soldiers walk by a local in Guadalcanal.
3. Punch Drunk Love (2002, Paul Thomas Anderson): A car crashes in an empty street.2. The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols): True love is realized…and then what?1. Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972, Werner Herzog): In the end, only monkeys are left for the revolution.