Friday, June 6, 2008

Back in Action: Inside Out

I told myself that this summer I would watch a bunch of movies and read a ton of books and then write reviews or quasi-essays on favorites because that's something I like to do and it felt more constructive than simply selling hot dogs. It's safe to say I've watched a lot of movies (16) and read a lot of books (4) so far in the summer but I've done a poor job of really projecting my thoughts concerning them. I've journaled a lot but my journal is often incomplete thoughts where as a blog forces me to at least make sense out of a sentence. That's where I am currently.Movie: Adaptation

As of right now, I believe this to be my favorite movie of the summer. Why? Mainly due to it's fantastic twisted plot line. And I don't use the term "twisted" in a demented, serial killer way. More like a "this story is so crazy and the writer created so many levels of reality that I don't know what to do with myself" type of way. Charlie (and his fictitious brother, Donald) Kaufman wrote this movie. (Charlie also wrote Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, if that gives you an idea of the style.)

In a nutshell, the movie is about Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicholas Cage) and his twin brother Donald (also Nicholas Cage) and Charlie has to write a script based off a book called The Orchid Thief (who's author is played by Meryl Streep). The book, The Orchid Thief, is about a man in Florida who hunts down endangered flowers and steals them (this character played by Chris Cooper).

Now the script is based off of real events in Charlie's life (with some events exaggerated) but what I love about the movie is Charlie's conflict on how to write this script. And how it actually reflects the real Charlie Kaufman's conflict of how to write this script. I know, confusing ... but that's kind of what I enjoyed about the movie.

Part of the conflict Charlie goes through is the use of cliched material versus the striving after truly original ideas. Example: Charlie has a twin in the movie, Donald. This Donald (who, in real life, isn't real but is credited to co-writing the actual script ... and got an Oscar nom) wants to get into the screen writing business and tries to write a script but uses tired out ideas which the character, Charlie, tears to pieces. One of the ideas Donald has is of a serial killer who has a multiple personality disorder and in the end, the audience realizes he is the serial killer, the cop, and the victim. Cliche and over the top, no doubt. Watching Adaptation, you're suppose to look down on this overused trick with a superior air.

But, the real Charlie does this with himself by adding a character twin in the movie that has all of these old ideas that make money but the character Charlie wants to maintain artistic integrity. Thus, real Charlie displays his conflict over trying to write a screenplay that maintains artistic originality while connecting to the audience at the same time - and gets there by using an overused method. But he's self-referential about it. He mocks the device and yet uses it in his movie. Which in the end, makes me love how he used the overused device (really, he made it original ... sort of) and love Charlie Kaufman.

That's all I'm going to write. Nicholas Cage gave a surprisingly good performance. Chris Cooper won an Oscar for his role. And Meryl Streep is her usual self (I'm annoyed by her despite her great acting).

I just wanted to write out a little bit on this movie. And I did that. I feel satisfied. Watch the movie if you're bored or like creative scripts.

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