Friday One Sheet: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind @ 10

The intelligent, romantic, weird and astonishingly emotional film from Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was released 10 years ago this week. We shall celebrate with many inspired posters for the film below, but first, a brief love letter to the film:

The experience of following Lacuna Inc. a loose small-business that specializes in erasing memories, and two patients, former lovers, who submit themselves to treatment spans is delightfully unclassifiable by any sort of movie genre yardstick. A fascinating take on the first blush of falling in love (twice) is surely one of the best films of the Aughts. It is a bitter romance nevertheless full of hopeful possibility. It is a piece of science fiction par excellence. You can be swept up in the pure entertainment of the movie, or you can dive down the moral rabbit hole. How much right to do have to exert over your own body? Is it illegal to chop off your own arm? Commit Suicide? Erase significant portions of your memory? Should an easy way of absolving oneself of guilt and conscience exist as a business venture (some would argue that most commercial ventures do this to one extent or another!)? Emotion to trump morality, perhaps the ultimate statement on both the cinema, and the human condition. Well done sirs.

Tucked under the seat are many inspired posters for the film.

Would you like to know more…?

A Change of Face for the Leading Man?

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With Hollywood’s once fresh, young faces aging with wisdom, experience and (for the most part) honorable careers, it’s safe to say there are limits to the roles Leo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Ethan Hawke, Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire and their seasoned comrades of this attractive graduating class will be able to snag. This inevitable ‘passing of the torch’ has been in effect since the start.  Would you like to know more…?

Blood Simple. Pauline Kael. Hindsight.

Blood SimpleBrowsing through the massive amount of daily mondo cinema linkage over at the always fabulous GreenCine Daily, one thing that popped out was that The New Yorker recently put up Pauline Kael‘s original review of Blood Simple written at the time of the Coens‘ film debut, February 1985. It’s a fascinating read, one because the length of the review is about 3-4 times longer than most press and/or magazine film reviews these days (Kael can and does get into some of the minutiae of the films matter) and and two because she seems to totally nail the foundation of the Coens‘ idiom, yet fails to actually get (or what she does get, rubs her the wrong way) what makes them so damn enjoyable as filmmakers. I offer you some excerpts below, but encourage any film fan to read the full review (HERE – be sure to scroll down, unless you are interested on what she has to say about Peter Weir‘s Witness).

But [they don’t] seem to know what to do with the actors; they give their words too much deliberation and weight, and they always look primed for the camera. So they come across as amateurs.

[Blood Simple] works best when someone misinterprets who the enemy is but has the right response anyway. (It’s like a bedroom farce, except that the people sneaking into each other’s homes have vicious rather than amorous intentions.)

Coen’s style is deadpan and klutzy, and he uses the klutziness as his trump card. It’s how he gets his laughs.

Blood Simple is that kind of student film on a larger scale. It isn’t really about anything except making a commercial narrative movie outside the industry.

The reviewers who hail the film as a great début and rank the Coens with Welles, Spielberg, Hitchcock, and Sergio Leone may be transported by seeing so many tricks and flourishes from sources they’re familiar with. But the reason the camera whoop-de-do is so noticeable is that there’s nothing else going on.

Now the Coens‘ filmography does indeed read like a tacky tourist trip through many of the classic genres of cinema (Screwball Comedy, Noir, Gangster, Slacker Comedy), and they’ve certainly managed at least one great American classic (That’d be Fargo, although many would also argue No Country For Old Men, or perhaps Barton Fink). Ms. Kael’s initial write-off seems a bit harsh, perhaps a backlash to the brothers coming so quick out of the gate into high falutin’ cinema circles. Over their 23 year career (Oi, Ethan was only 26 when this film was made) They have married successfully comedy to pathos, style to substance and most importantly, art-film to pop-entertainment. No small feat that.

Discuss.

Defining Moment: The Jazz Singer

Jazz SingerI‘ve decided to contribute a new reoccurring post here on Row Three called Defining Moment. My plan is to give a short mention of moments in film that have had an impact on film as a whole.

The first of that I’d like to mention is Al Jolson‘s first words in The Jazz Singer. The Jazz singer was released in 1927 and it was the first non silent feature movie. Prior to this movie if a movie had sound it came from a gramophone records. Even when it was released with sound there were only a few theatres that were equipped to handle the sound but it became obvious pretty quickly that this was not a fad and soon more and more theatres were equipped.

Al Jolson’s first words which were ad libbed were “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet! Wait a minute, I tell ya! You ain’t heard nothin’! You wanna hear “Toot, Toot, Tootsie”? All right, hold on, hold on…Lou, listen. Play “Toot, Toot, Tootsie”, three chorus, you understand. In the third chorus, I whistle. Now give it to ‘em hard and heavy, go right ahead.”

Its with these words that Jolson and The Jazz Singer ushered in a new era of movies.