Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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One of the things I love about Tumblr (and believe me that list is dwindling everyday) are the gifsets that go around. There have been countless gifsets of films I’ve never heard of before that people I follow reblog and I think “That movie looks interesting. I’ll need to add it to my to-watch list.” But then there are some of those films that I just see everywhere and it gets to the point where I say “GOD I NEED TO SEE THAT LIKE RIGHT NOW OKAY RESERVING IT AT THE LIBRARY.” I guess you know by now that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was one of those movies :)

I checked this movie out today and watched it with my mom right when I got home. I’ve always been a fan of Kate Winslet, I guess I feel like I can relate to her somehow, but Jim Carrey is not usually my cup of tea (expect for The Truman Show).  But god, he surprised me! I never knew he could play dramatic roles so well! It took me a few times to remember that he was mainly a comedian, not a dramatic actor. He takes on a completely different look: slumped over posture, unshaven, quiet, unsure, distraught, and desperate. Not usually what comes to mind when I think of Jim Carrey. I’m so glad he played this role; I’m not sure the story behind it but I think this film made me respect his work and ability much more. (However, Carrey does have a few brief moments to bring out his funny side.)

I guess one of the nice things about watching a movie with someone is that you can talk about it as it’s occurring and sharing thoughts and opinions. I was worried my mom wouldn’t like this movie at first (she can classify these films as “weird”) but nonetheless she wanted to see it and was really into it. Talking helped quite a bit throughout the eradication process :).

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Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in one of Joel’s memories

On the topic of the removal of Clementine from Joel’s memory, I thought that was all thought out and shot so well. My favorite being the way they portrayed the paths of the memory: unadorned, grey hallways with just enough light to lead Joel and Clementine to his next memory. It’s so fitting with the idea of memory and even more so with Joel because of his personality.

The shooting of this movie, the use of close-ups and the hand-held camera feel, was perfect for achieving the idea of reality and human emotion. Jim Carrey definitely benefitted from this whereas otherwise I don’t think his performance would have been as powerful or moving.

The story is completely unique and touching. The idea of clearing a person from your memory sounded perfect to me, that is until I saw Joel’s idea. It’s more of a whim, as Clementine says that’s what it was for her, and that the full realization doesn’t come until after it’s completely gone. There are the goods and bads of a relationship and sometimes the bads overpower the goods to the point that we want nothing to do with it. Clearly there were real reasons that Clementine wanted to forget Joel; loosing your identity and being changed by someone is very unsettling. But as the movie points out, there are and will always be problems and it takes work.

What I loved was that through this horrid thing, Clementine finally gets to see who Joel is and learn about his early life. Joel is able to appreciate the things that he didn’t before. He sees just what sentimental value they held and the quirks of Clementine’s personality that he loves . And to see them crumble and disappear. Memories are the one thing that no one can take from us; that is expect for the dancing naked and stoned Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Mary (Kristen Dunst).

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Kate Winslet when Joel and Clementine listen to the tapes.

I’m still not sure what to think about the ending. After seeing the potential of a brand new relationship, it about killed me when Clementine got Mary’s letter. But then again, it was bound to happen. If you look closely, their two meetings are fairly similar expect for the pieces of Joel’s now destroyed memories. At some point they were going to realize their problems and difficulties. But they’re still a clean slate, and aware of the past, and perhaps they can do things to better amend it.

Memories of people shouldn’t be zapped away by the click of a button. Not only can the bad ones go away, but also some of the good ones. But really the bad ones don’t go away; they’ll find a way back and haunt you even more than before. What you’re left with is still that yearning for a certain someone, which cannot be destroyed.  Life is reality and reality isn’t perfect. It’s just one of the few things that I have to keep reminding myself. This movie opened my eyes to a different point of view and a way of analyzing the good and the bad of memories. Follows is the quote that the movie’s title comes from:

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot
The world forgetting, by the world forgot
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d

Rating: ♚♚♚♚♚

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Jaws (1975)

There is nothing like rewatching a movie, especially a favorite movie. After my first viewing I watched it at least three times, but I’m afraid I was too concentrated on one actor (Roy Scheider) to focus on the events of the movie. A few weeks ago my friend and I decided to have a movie date and she mentioned she hadn’t seen Jaws yet but knew I loved the movie; so naturally that’s what we watched.

I’m pleased to say that she did enjoy the film and I myself found a whole new appreciate for it. I’m not quite sure of the overall criticism among film critics but for those who say it’s overrated I absolutely disagree. When my film teacher told the class that we were going to watch Jaws I was kind of biased. I remember thinking “Well it’s Spielberg and everyone loves him so he’s probably a bit overrated.” Well, I was proved myself wrong, at least for this picture.

I’m sure everyone’s familiar with the story. When Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) discovers that a shark was responsible for the death of a teenage girl, he tries to shut the beach down to prevent any further attacks. However the mayor of the town, Vaughn, persuades Brody against shutting down the beach. The beach does not shut down and sure enough there are two attacks that day. Soon Hooper, a shark specialist, comes to help Brody as well as the local shark catcher, Quint. That’s a very brief summary but if you’re interested for more of the plot I suppose wikipedia or IMDB would be the best place to look!

I’ve always thought that the first half of the picture is better than the second; it seems the first half brings so much and heightens the suspense and intensity so high that by the time the second half comes, it depreciates a little and doesn’t seem to carry that same degree of suspense and intensity. I’m not saying that there aren’t great moments or shots in the second half,  just that it doesn’t fully live up to what was expected.

But back to about noticing new things! I appreciated Spielberg’s before but even more so now; and the editing as well! For example, the scene at the beach after Brody tries to close it, Spielberg does a great job on giving equal shots of different people at the beach. We’re like Brody: on high alert something is going to happen but unable to say anything. However since we’re the viewer we’re shifting back and forth trying to see who will be the shark’s victim. I also love the shot where Vaughn is trying to talk to Brody but Brody isn’t paying attention. Vaughn is on the right, somewhat overbearing but there is a soft focus around his face, thus directing our attention to the swimmer on the left.

Attention focused on the swimmer to the left of Vaughn.

Continuing about the mayor, he was another person I paid more attention to. I’ve always viewed him as the “big bad villan” but in a few of the scenes, especially the conversation between Hooper and Brody, he looks very concerned yet still decides to keep the beach open.

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I’m still not a fan of him or will I ever be but I now wonder if he did actually care for the people of his town.

Now for the second part of the film. I picked up on some things that I missed before, such as Brody’s glasses being knocked off, discovering the tanks, and how much of an outsider he was to Hooper and Quint. There is one specific part where I found the pacing and rhythm of a few shots very effective. Something on the boat starts to break and eventually snaps; this is done in three separate shots showing different pieces. It shows the knob then you hear a snap, another one, snap, another one, snap. It’s done in a sort quick “1-2-3” then completely snaps off.

Spielberg’s use of the Panavision is wonderful too! The shot that struck me the most was when Quint is on the edge of the boat trying to shoot the shark. It gives the shot of very great sense of depth and perhaps is a hint to the viewer that it is not going to be easy getting the shark.

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The shark in the very upper left corner while Quint is on the bottom right.

The last point I’ll touch on is Quint’s USS Indianapolis speech. I wasn’t fond of Quint beforehand. He came off very conceited and proud, however this speech changed my opinion, and especially in this viewing. I remember being completely absorbed in his speech. It’s interesting for one (I never knew about the USS Indianapolis until this film) but it is also the way Quint tells it. He instantly lowers his voice, looks down more, and somewhat mumbles; it’s all very sincere and honest. As my friend pointed out it’s also very realistic. So I give Robert Shaw major points on that piece.

Of course the greatest moment is when Roy Scheider says, “Smile you son of a-” and then blows up the shark. While it is a very triumphant moment, my favorite is when Brody and Hooper are swimming back to shore; it’s just very sweet and you can feel their relief and happiness.

My opinion of Jaws hasn’t changed and I don’t think it will to be honest. There is so much in the directing that I admire (I didn’t even mention the shark’s point of view but I think that’s obvious :) ). Another thing to take into consideration was the shooting of this film. There were so many variables that affected the shooting: the weather, the lighting, the town they used, tension between cast members and crew, and, of course, the shark. In my opinion it could have been so easy to mess this movie up but Spielberg made it work very well.

So if you haven’t seen Jaws I highly recommend it!