[Spoiler alert, although I won’t spoil much]
The script for the new Charlie Kaufman film is making the rounds. Steve Carell will play Frank, a Charlie Kaufman-esque writer/director who is on the Oscar track at the beginning of the script. His nemesis is Francis (Jack Black), an online film blogger/commenter who pretty much hates everything and everyone but especially Frank’s work. No one comes out of this thing unscathed. He shines the cruel light of irony on the whole dog and pony show otherwise known as the Oscars, the people who pay attention to them (there is a great debate between Francis and his mom about a typical Academy best picture winner “sweeping” while a more deserving film goes unrecognized. You, dear readers, will recognize the anger in Francis’ online voice as he lays into the Academy. But of course, he looks as ridiculous as they do. Everyone looks ridiculous – everyone is out for recognition, either on a more traditional level – being a famous writer, or on a modern level: you’re a blogger so you receive some sort of notoriety.
The script is brilliant, funny, dead on, sad, depressing but — did I say brilliant? It’s hard to write about it without feeling like you’re trapped inside it. Kaufman’s best flms do this to you. You feel trapped inside them and sometimes you can’t ever feel free of them. Kaufman has been able to bend the lines between reality and fiction – Adaptation and Being John Malkovich are two films that bend in and out of the art (and actors) we consume and the film’s reality, which is supposed to be our reality. In truth, you never know where you are exactly.
The film is “set to music” but it really reads more like a musical, with funny songs throughout. I’m wondering how this will be used.
Finally, I wanted to read the script not to spoil the movie for me (reading them early almost always does) but because I’d heard it was about bloggers and I was anxious to start in with my daily self-loathing ritual. But thankfully, it isn’t a script that seeks to point fingers. The whole game of what we all do very day is laid out for all to see.
In the end, it’s a wonderful thing that there is a Charlie Kaufman at all; a writer who has absolutely elevated the original screenplay to its own art form. We will all have to wait and see how it all turns out. Anyone who watches it, though, will think twice about getting upset about the Oscars, leaving hateful comments anonymously, and the importance of “winning” in the game of judging art.
I’ve been actively writing about Charlie Kaufman since the beginning of his career and my own website. Being John Malkovich was released the very year I started my site, 1999. I’ve been championing him for 13 years. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was practically a religion here on Awards Daily (then Oscarwatch). I’ve even met him a few times, gone to q&a’s with him. What’s funny is that when you’re on this side of things you never think people like Charlie Kaufman see you. You don’t think they listen to you or even know you exist. But Kaufman has been paying attention. He’s watched how our tiny worlds have evolved, how we talk to each other – and he’s spent time thinking about the motivations of people, the way our interactions create imaginary relationships.
One of the funny things he does is have Francis (and others) always saying something is “racist” and “I want my two hours back.” I love how he repeats these words because these things to repeat themselves in long panning echoes. I feel fortunate to be writing about film, and living in a time, when Charlie Kaufman is making movies. What a privilege. What a trip.
I’m be curious to see how critics and bloggers respond to it. Read more about it over at First Showing.