While writing down, trying to compile a list of the best films I have seen made in the last ten years, it becomes very easy to forget films which, at the time, stood out. One person who never slips my mind though, is Charlie Kaufman.
So effected have I been by his films, that his writing has changed my view not simply on films, but on creativity and even life itself. Here is someone widely acknowledged as constantly pushing the boundaries. Whether its Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry behind the camera, each of these films is essentially a Charlie Kaufman film.
The first time I became aware of his work, was about 4 or 5 years ago. I remember hearing from friends on its release, that “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” was not a “Jim Carrey” film, and advised that this was not something worth watching. A year later a friend had it on dvd, and convinced me I should watch it. I remember sitting there, mesmerised by its complexity, the fascinating concepts, the sheer beauty of it all. It was unlike anything I had ever come across, but at the same time felt so connected. The film swept me away, taking me on a journey unlike anything I had experienced. As it finished I could feel the emotional impact it had had on me, something you rarely have the opportunity to experience this deeply.
Now this was long before Kaufman had exploded to where he is now, within my own group of friends anyhow. From here I bought Being John Malkovich, and Adaptation. Malkovich again simply blew me away, the strange lives of the characters, the surreal story, the quiet genius of it all. Adaptation struck me in a different way. I didn’t feel like I had with Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine, but instead this film left me pondering exactly what it was Kaufman had created. His work untill this point had at least been comprehendible, but when you start dissecting Adaptation you realise just how much further Kaufman can go.
Last year I finally had the pleasure to see Synecdoche New York, Charlie Kaufman’s directoral debut and a film I had waited forever to see. I would safely say, that this is in fact his best film yet. A masterful film which is both surreal and relatable. It was an experience I never wanted to end. Not because it was enjoyable or entertaining, (though it is both these things to different degrees) but because this film deals with so many things on so many levels, there is so much here to get your mind into, that at times it can seem overwhelming. Not only is this Kaufman’s best film, but a likely candidate for film of the decade.