As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Michel Gondry: je t’aime

Posted by Hedwig on March 19, 2008

I’m not actually supposed to write about Be Kind Rewind yet. Not until May 15th in fact. But my editor (commenter Remko) can be assured: a review this is not. It’s a declaration.

Michel, Michel… I just wish I could live in your head. Share your brain, see the world as you do. I want to be as wildly creative, and have as much fun as you do creating. Making something where first there was only a spark of imagination.

I owe you an apology, too. When I first saw and fell in love with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I gave all the credit to Charlie Kaufman. I empathized with Kaufman, because if Adaptation is to believed, he’s a struggler like I am, a laborer, someone for whom creation is hard, sometimes excruciating, it’s work. Kaufman reassures me that just because I sometimes yell in frustration at dear old Larry because a sentence won’t come out right, doesn’t mean I should give up. I’ll never get to his level, but it’s a comfort, somehow, to know even geniuses can have a hard time.

You, on the contrary, make it look so easy. That’s why at first I didn’t realize that Eternal Sunshine’s script, perfect though it may be, wouldn’t have worked so well if not for your sheer visual inventiveness. That the crazy premise would have looked silly if not for the effects, in-camera, grounded and with a homemade quality but nonetheless full of marvel and a sense of possibility.

I don’t think this really hit me until I saw The Science of Sleep, a celebration of creativity that left me blinking at the brightness and artificiality of the real word, desperately wanting to make something, anything, no matter how imperfect or clumsy, but simply to create something that wouldn’t have been there without me. The feeling faded, alas, but now, with Be Kind Rewind, you’ve done it again.

All I really want right now is to pick up a camera and make a film. Any film. It doesn’t need to be good, or professional. All it needs is to convey the exhilaration of creation. A film without artifice or cool detachment, but a film that shows a passion. An imagination. And since I don’t have a camera handy, I chose to write this, instead.

Be Kind Rewind isn’t a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a mess, it’s uneven, it has long stretches without jokes and an impossibly upbeat ending. But who cares? It’s a movie to fall in love with. A movie to be transported by. A movie for which I humbly thank you.

In a way, you’re the anti-Wes Anderson. I liked Wes Anderson and his films, a lot. But they’re almost clinical in their composition, and Wes Anderson’s coolness is as coolness is “supposed” to be, namely aloof, from a distance, careful not to show too much emotion, wary of being accused of earnestness. It’s not generally considered cool to be engaged, silly, putting everything you want out there without checking first if it’s up to the desired hipness factor. But like Patricia Arquette at the end of True Romance, when I see you in action I feel like sliding you a napkin that says “you’re so cool!” with a little heart under it. Tu es tellement cool, Michel.

Ok, enough drooling. And let’s see if I can hold on to this feeling until script frenzy starts!

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2 Responses to “Michel Gondry: je t’aime”

  1. While I am happy to read this, and am happy you have seen this, it also depresses me.
    I could have seen it at a pre-screening on Feb 14, but couldn’t make it. It is now set for release in SA in May {or late April}. I am sad about that.

    But I look forward to your review, and I should mention that I too am very much in awe of Gondry’s talents, and he has not failed to impress me yet. I have no reason to expect him to either.

  2. cjKennedy said

    That was awesome Hedwig.

    I especially love that you were inspired to make “a film without artifice or cool detachment.” I don’t think you could pay Gondry a higher compliment.

    I think I was inspired by a similar spirit in the film, though not as strongly as you. I saw it under strange circumstances when really it demanded a perfect environment.

    You know I love Wes Anderson, but yeah there’s that cool detachment. As I’ve said elsewhere, that’s how I tend to approach movies so when one sneaks past my defenses and gets under my skin, it’s really a revelation. It sounds like Gondry does that to you.

    I’m getting very bored with snarky hipness and sarcasm and everything being commented upon from above. I’m ready for a few more movies that are simply expressed passions.

    Gondry does that. He’s naive in a way, but it’s refreshing and thoroughly charming.

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