The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Candy, Cola, and Corn (Popped); The Science of Sleep

The Science of Sleep should’ve been titled “Waiting for Kauffman,” mainly because while watching this film one is struck with one unmistakable thought: when is Charlie Kauffman to come in and save this gorgeous but unsatisfying film from itself. Unfortunately like Guffman, Kauffman is also a no-show.

It’s this lack of Kauffman that makes The Science of Sleep such a frustrating experience. Because we all know that somewhere out there Charlie Kauffman is living and breathing, probably holed up in a fortified compound in the Hollywood Hills, alternately hating and loving humanity and effortlessly oozing brilliance. And Michel Gondry isn’t there to direct his savage and twisted visions. Which is a true shame, because Gondry and Kauffman, the team that produced Human Nature and the finest movie of the past several years, Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, NEED to be working with each other. In fact, if I were president of the United States that might be my first decision: forcing Gondry and Kauffman to sit down in a room together somewhere and explain to one another exactly how much they need each other.

In describing the plot: the word mind-fuck is the first adjective that springs to mind. A convoluted and tangled mess of ideas, Gondry weaves through the courtship of a man named Stephane (Gabriel Garcia Bernal) and his attempted romance with a woman named Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). While trying to court Stephanie, Stephane is also forced to cope with the difficulties in moving to a new city (he has just moved to Paris), a boring and stultifying job and a very strange living situation that he has found himself in. Through it all, Gondry tries to make points about the concept of memory and the serpentine ways in which it snakes through each person’s consciousness.

If this sounds similar to the plot of Eternal Sunshine, that’s because it is. Except whereas with Eternal Sunshine, Gondry was able to utilize Kauffman’s ability to create nuanced and heart-breaking characters while still keeping the plot coherent, The Science of Sleep seems un-focused and rambling, prone to bouts of self-indulgence. One never gets a true sense of Sleep’s protagonists nor does one ever know what drives them. In fact, you never really know why you should even bother caring about any of them for them.

The problem is that in writing the easiest thing to do is be purposely obtuse. It’s much harder to craft something provocative, nuanced and complex, while simultaneously keeping viewers engaged and cognizant of the plot., Eternal Sunshine may not have been the most straight-forward movie, but one never lost sight of what was going on, despite the plot’s innumerable twists and turns. In Sleep, one is never sure exactly what’s going on and while that’s an interesting concept to ponder (particularly when taking into account the complexities of memory), one gets the sense that this would’ve been a much better short film than a feature.

That being said, only one thing in particular makes The Science of Sleep worth watching: the visual genius of Michel Gondry. There might be no more creative director in the world today than Gondry, the man who rocketed to fame on the strength of his surrealistically stunning work for artists like Bjork and the White Stripes. If anything, Science of Sleep is a showcase for Gondry’s brilliance, as he creates a unique world, filled with stunning shots, Harryhausen-esque claymation, and just a generally dazzling kaleidoscopic array of images.

But ultimately, judging from this film, Gondry’s genius seems to behind the camera, not holed up in some Hollywood hills manse writing draft after draft after draft. And that’s where Kauffman comes in. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get this band back together: phone calls, e-mails, maybe even group therapy like Metallica did in that documentary they did a few years back. Either way, it needs to happen. And soon.

Rating: C+


Del the Funky Homosapien: Like Kool Keith Except Less Crazy and Much Better So you'll all have to forgive me for not liking Kool Keith. I just don't. Sorry Ian. I suppose that's why I never got into Del the Funky Homosapien, since everyone always compared him to the Black Elvis. I suspect this is what happens what you have the greatness of Dan the Automater behind the boards. However, Rap-Up sent me to cover the Del show last Friday night and I was very impressed by Del, as you can see here.


The Round-Up

I don't know how I've slept on this blog for so long, but definitely check out Just Sayin', as fine a compendium of hip-hop, sports and pop culture as you'll find on the Internet.

Speaking of things, I don't know, I'm not sure why everyone in the Internet music world is so hard on Kasabian. They might be a bit derivitive but they've got some catchy tunes. I'm not saying they're brilliant or anything, but I think these guys should be cut a little slack, especially when their lead singer is so goddamned funny in his interviews. Plus, according to Turn Up the Sun, they're awesome live.

Check out the Onion AV Club's list of the 19 Greatest Midnight Movies,
including none other than Passion of the Weiss film of the year, Idiocracy, which is certain to be a cult classic in the very near future. And if you haven't gone to see it yet, Sexy Results has another rave review of the film, as does Slate.

In other mankind is doomed news, Pancakes and sausage on a stick? WTF

Luckily for humanity, we do have Neil Young and the Aquarium Drunkard who has posted an unbelievably excellent live show from ol' Shakey back in 1971, where in addition to being all-out awesome, he talks about his then-new unreleased album, Harvest.

Also check out Crock Tock's list of the 10 Greatest Grateful Dead Songs.

And lastly, the Hold Steady in the NY Times, discussing their epic new album Boys and Girls in America.

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