Synecdoche, New York by Charlie Kaufman – Considering critics have compared it to Beckett, Proust, Kafka and Woody Allen, it was probably a given that I would like Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut. It doesn’t hurt that I find Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to be utter genius and the screenplay of Adaptation to be one of the most mind-blowing and innovative ever. I was not in the least disappointed by this movie despite my immense expectations. The words that come to mind in describing this film, however, don’t at first seem incredibly positive: it’s emotionally-disturbing, disorienting, agonizing, troubling, alienating and overall painful. But the true and sincere emotion that this multi-layered film evoked in me more than made up for the pain and discomfort of the viewing experience. Plus, Kaufman does manage to work in a view laughs and visual gags (often at our pitiful and pitiable main character’s expense) for levity’s sake. All this said, I can’t really recommend the film to anyone but myself. It’s not a particularly enjoyable experience, and the movie’s sentiments can very easily hit as clichéd or pretentious or simply irrelevant if you are not the type of person that spends a lot of time reflecting on subjectivity, art, isolation and regret. Still, I was moved in a strange and unpredictable way by Kaufman’s epically subtle and cerebrally tender work.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – I know I’m a bit late to the game, but I finally picked up this novel and fell in love with it. As a Smithie, I believe it’s obligatory to have read this iconic and metonymic work by one of our most famous alumna. It is likewise obligatory reading for any self-reflective, self-deprecating, depression-prone, slightly counter-culture, literary young woman (look no further than 10 Things I Hate About You). So, I realize how clichéd it is to say that I’ve fell in love with the book, but I found the novel extremely touching and true. Plath captures so perfectly the universal inner workings of depression and her own downward spiral toward self-destruct that I sometimes felt like it was me she was describing on the page. It’s tragic and it’s touching, especially given the inevitable end of Plath’s real life story, but the simple elegance with which Plath writes is inspiring. And each moment, we sit by hoping that Esther Greenwood will find a way to get out from under that bell jar, because if she can do it, we can too.
Musique: “Eye Know” De La Soul