Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Charlie sitting by a typewriter

After John Malkovich and Synecdoche, the only decent thing to do was to watch Adaptation. It's writing about writing, about Charlie Kaufman writing the film itself. He lies around the place with a blocked head, trying to find the inspiration to adapt the book he's been commissioned for. If Malkovich is where all the big ideas are, this shows how hard it is to invent them. Is it cheating to write about yourself writing, rather than thinking of a 'proper' new film? Maybe. It's self-indulgent, but he gets away with it. It becomes about different views on screenwriting, and how that effects the film. At first he wants to write a screenplay where nothing much happens, and we watch that. Then he's told to make the ending an 'event', so we get murder and crocodiles and swamps. Everyone's acting out his meta world that he can change and manipulate. His brother Donald is having an easier time, writing a script about multi-personality killers and car chases. Charlie looks down on this. Like in Synecdoche, he's trying to make a film about everything at once, about trying to find some existentially truth. Or, he's making a film about trying to make a film about everything at once. When he succeeds he can write something focused about portals into actors minds, when he's stuck he has a bit of a crisis and grabs for everything at once.

I know how to finish this script now

Being John Malkovich is still the best. Adaptation is about the writer's block that comes from trying to write something as good as it. It's a film for writers. Nicolas Cage does a good job of looking extremely anxious through the whole thing. You probably won't sympathise with this strange and awkward man if you're not a writer. It might be a warm up for the madness that comes later.


  1. I’ll watch anything with Nic Cage in. ANYTHING. Even The Wicker Man.

  2. I thought this film was pretty brilliant.
    It's definitely my favourite Kaufman script and one of Cage's finest performances....

    Nice write up as well, you make some interesting observations!

  3. Drake - I admire you dedication to Cage.

    Jack - An Oscar nominated performance. It's always worth getting fat.

  4. This movie sounds great, I've loved all the movies I've seen with Cage in them and any movie about a writer always piques my interest. Mildly interesting? I think not... More like extremely unbelievably interesting!

  5. I like films about writing. I like to see people staring at blank pieces at paper.