June 26, 2013 by Julia
It’s been a while since I listed a favorite film, album, and book; I’ve enjoyed the freedom of writing whatever, whenever too much to stick with any self-imposed format. But things have been a little heavy around here, I suppose? A little analytical/kid-focused/introspective? I have no idea how this blog comes across sometimes. I don’t re-read much after posting – it’s like hearing your own voice on a recording. Which sucks, unless you’re British or Morgan Freeman.
Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, released 2004, starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, and Kirsten Dunst
To me, this movie has all the perfect elements. Depth, quirk, beauty, humor, character development, love, originality, realistic relationships, and a satisfying ending that manages to bring everything full circle without being trite. The premise is weird: after a bitter fight, free-spirited yet compulsive Clementine (Kate Winslet) opts to have all her memories of her boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey, in his most convincing portrayal of an introvert) erased. Furious and heartbroken when she no longer even recognizes him, Joel decides to undergo the same procedure, in a sketchy-at-best in-home service performed by young technicians. But while unconscious, he realizes that he actually wants to hang on to these vibrant memories despite the bittersweet pain they bring. As his mind protests, each memory of Clementine gets pulled out of his brain, with special effects that are by turns silly, creepy or dreamlike. It’s deeply romantic and the people feel real, in contrast to the surreal concept and film-making style. Written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and Michel Gondry (who also directed), this film is like a kaleidoscope showcasing their unique storytelling abilities. It’s been on my top five list forever.
Album: 10under2 by Jaymay, released 2012
This is what I currently listen to on repeat; it’s ten songs under two minutes (hence the title). I like little gems of songs. Not an extraneous note. I knew I liked it when I could keep it on in the background with the kids around for a warm, folksy ambiance – it hits the mark of musical stimulation without demanding full attention…which can get irritating when I already have two mini-people demanding full attention. But I knew I loved it when I could give it my full attention. While listening to it with headphones I could really hear the details. A dog barks to the beat in the first song, “Lamb.” I mean really – what’s not to love about that? Here are some more adjectives: quirky (yes, I am a sucker for quirk), hypnotic, acoustic, girly, sweet, dreamy, textured, precious.
Listen for the dog barks in “Lamb:”
“Hyenas Go Ha, Owls Go Who?” is like a kids’ song for grownups.
And last, “Eye2Eye,” which is quietly gorgeous. The part that really gets to me is the key change at 1:14.
You can check out the entire album on Spotify. Or, you know, buy it on I-tunes.
Book: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, published in 1991.
Set in the late 1970s on an Iowa farm, this novel, loosely based on King Lear, is chock-full of drama, family dysfunction, and sweeping, gritty atmosphere. When I read it in 2007 (I know the year because I used to have enough time to keep extensive book journals [!!!]), I was intoxicated by the excellent prose and can’t-put-it-down quality of the story. As the Cook family determines what should be done with the farmland that is now worth three million dollars, old resentments and devastating secrets come out into the open; the confrontations between the three sisters and tyrant father are visceral, like powerful storms passing through. Smiley’s writing here has an honest, hard-earned quality to it – I believed in her characters and in the farm life she describes. They have the spark of life. Instant classic, and totally deserving of the Pulitzer Prize it won.
(P.S. Never see the movie.)
(P.P.S. This is me as Clementine from Eternal Sunshine for Halloween in 2006. Extremely dorky, or extremely cool? You be the judge.)