The Fall

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This is a week of cinematic imagination. Tuesday brought the arrival of Ben Stiller’s journeying remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and this Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since Joel and Clementine raced through his mind trying to hide in memories and avoid permanent erasure. While that film strove to take something from the memory, there are countless films that strive to add to it, relishing in the many ways the imagination manifests, from a little girl’s fantastical journey into strength, to one man’s struggle to break out of a dream. Sadly, Figment isn’t taking us on this journey, but the imaginative movies that follow show the possibilities of the mind – as a childish pursuit, an adult coping mechanism, and a wonderfully idiosyncratic way of life.

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discs see you tomorrow everybody

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. See You Tomorrow Everyone (UK) Satoru Watarai (Gaku Hamada) graduates from primary school with only one certainty. He plans on never leaving the “projects” where he lives. The gated community of apartment complexes also features stores, restaurants, recreation areas and more, and Satoru sees no reason to leave. As the years pass by he watches as his friends move away, he loses the love of his life, and he begins to question his physical inability to set foot outside the projects. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura is no stranger to ridiculously good cinema, and anyone who’s seen Fish Story, Golden Slumber, or A Boy & His Samurai knows that he mixes entertainment and emotion in wonderfully rare ways. His latest lacks a fantastical element or song-related hook, and instead focuses on the presumably stunted life of one man affected by a singular traumatic moment. The first half plays like a loosely melancholy comedy before a shift sets in to up the emotional stakes dramatically, and the result is an incredibly affecting look at the intersection of fate and the life we make of our own will. [Region 2 DVD extras: Introduction, interview, trailer]

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When you watch a Tarsem Singh film, you figure out pretty damn quickly that you’re watching a Tarsem Singh film. The auteur filmmaker isn’t the type to play it safe, and he’s clearly not afraid of polarizing an audience. Even with his modern take on the classic Snow White fairy tale, Mirror Mirror, he goes for an unabashedly childlike and wacky tone – which may not be for everyone. Tarsem’s films are rather similar to his persona: unfiltered, without any hint of compromise. This is the third time I have spoken with Tarsem in the past year, and although heaps of ground can be covered with him in mere minutes, courtesy of his rapid conversational style, it was a real treat to finally have an actual conversation with the filmmaker. Tarsem is one of a kind in terms of his filmmaking and demeanor. Whether you love or despise his films, the man is certainly an original. Here’s what Tarsem Singh had to say about polarization, the goal of not being different for the sake of being different, and the glory days of hanging with the college versions of Michael Bay and Zack Snyder:

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Anyone who’s seen a fraction of Tarsem Singh‘s work knows the man is about as ambitious as a filmmaker comes. Even with last weekend’s wonderfully kiddie Mirror Mirror, he delivered the unexpected, and not only when it came to defying that hellish trailer. But Mirror Mirror‘s ambitions can’t touch what Singh did on The Fall, a project he sunk his own cash into, took 17 years to get made, and shot in over 20 countries. Whether you love the film or loathe it, you can’t deny that isn’t passion. Singh’s name has been tied to a few projects in the past few years, but when recently speaking with him, I had to ask if he’s got another big passion project similar to The Fall which he would love to make. As it turns out, he does:

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Immortals Director Tarsem Singh

One of my favorite experiences at Comic-Con this year was interviewing Tarsem. I was never scheduled to speak with the man one-on-one, and was only meant to participate in the roundtables for Immortals. Luckily, after the roundtables were coming to an end, I noticed Tarsem standing alone by himself. He mentioned how most people find The Fall to be the biggest piece of shit or the best thing ever made, and I fall heavily in the latter, so I decided to tell him that. Tarsem was so receptive to a basic compliment, he gave me an interview on the spot. Whenever a publicist tried to drag him away, he’d basically tell them to buzz off since I said I love The Fall. I left that encounter with a big grin on my face, to say the least. This time around, my chat with Tarsem started off on the same fun note as our previous encounter, but ended on a more disappointing note. Last week when we spoke, I had not seen Immortals. That type of interview is never ideal, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to speak with Tarsem again, who I guessed was knee-deep in Mirror, Mirror. Once he found at I hadn’t seen the film, he demanded the publicist to reschedule… which, unfortunately, didn’t happen, for one reason or another. Currently, I’m left with another hundred questions left I wanted to ask Tarsem. Then again, any amount of time with the fast-talking director is more than appreciated. Here’s what Tarsem […]

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“Coming this fall: an action event from the director of The Cell and The Fall.” Yeah, it still sounds odd to me, too. Once it was announced that Tarsem would be tackling a big swords and sandals epic, it elicited a feeling of both excitement and confusion. As for the exciting part — wouldn’t it be interesting to see how such a visionary can put a spin on this genre and what he could do with an action beat? As for the confusion — isn’t this a big studio picture? With epics such as this, directors have countless people to answer to. But Tarsem didn’t seem interested in answering to those people. This a director that couldn’t have a greater distaste for by-the-numbers filmmaking. As he says below, he’s a polarizing filmmaker. Both The Cell and The Fall received both wild appraise and heaps of venom. Can Tarsem still bring that interesting polarization to a sizable fall release? From the sound of it, yes, he can. When I approached Tarsem to discuss The Fall and wish him luck on Immortals, the very funny and honest filmmaker ended up giving me a quick and unplanned 1-on-1 about not dealing with studio suits, his work ethic with actors, and the methods of Mickey Rourke.

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So it turns out that Alice in Wonderland isn’t that wonderful. If you need some actual wonder in your life, check out these 12 films and put on a record by the Oneders.

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2008review-overlooked

The equivalent of the wallflower you knew in high school that blossomed into a college beauty, here are eleven films that flew under the radar in 2008.

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2008review-editorspicks

As is customary this time of year, it is my duty (and honor) to present you my list of the Ten Best Films of 2008. And in the past year we’ve seen an interesting range of films, have we not?

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2008review-foreign

I’ve been tasked with presenting the Top Ten Foreign Films (and while you may think that some of my choices are mistaken as well, you would in fact be mistaken). You may also notice that it differs substantially from other foreign film ‘best of’ lists…

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Tarsem

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to highlight films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… err Everywhere!

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