I have an annoying recurring habit of hero worship. I don’t know why. I’ll get it into my head that someone I admire is perfect in every way, and will defend them to extremes for no good reason. I do this with all sorts of people I don’t know that much about. I’m then disappointed if something happens to tarnish my opinion, and feel cheated. It’s awfully strange. I’m conscious that I’m affected by public perception, too. If director x is widely regarded as being good – and it only takes a well written phrase on a random website to convince me of this – then I’ll decide that he/she is in fact very good and I should evangelise about his/her films. It’s bizarre, and I’m trying to stop myself doing it.
Charlie Kaufman is an excellent example of this. He’s a screenwriter and apparently is very highly regarded in the industry. I picked up on this at some point and even before seeing any of his films thought of him as ‘very good’. I then saw Being John Malkovich and didn’t like it all that much. Still, my opinion didn’t change. Am I weird or what. A year or so ago I watched his next film, Adaptation, which I thought was excellent. Thing is, was I influenced by my prior opinions of the writer, however unjustified they may have been? I don’t know. I still think Adaptation was great, but I don’t know how to separate the two things in my head.
Just to confuse the issue, I saw Confessions of a Dangerous Mind – written by Mr Kaufman – and thought that was great too. Then I found out that Mr Kaufman wasn’t at all happy with the changes that had been made to his script, and didn’t like the way the film turned out. So then I wondered whether my opinion of the film would change based on this new information, and if it did, am I completely and totally nuts? I sometimes get so wrapped up in nonsensical thoughts!
Last night, however, I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which was absoloutely wonderful. It was everything I like about movies. I’m sure that, although my brain defaults to ‘I like Charlie Kaufman’, I would have loved the film anyway. It was delightful from the first frame and I adored it. I watched it again this evening with Mum and Dad, and it seemed much shorter. I can only think of two other films that seemed to go faster after the first screening: Gladiator and Donnie Darko, which are two of my favourite all-time films. So that’s probably an indication of what I really think. Maybe. Anyway.
So I still like Charlie Kaufman. I know nothing about him other than that he writes films, some of which I really enjoy. He’s cool, though. Argh.