Sunday, 4 September 2011

Week 2 - Best Film Dialogue

Wow, what a toughie. I mean it's such a massive title! The Best Film Dialogue.... what does one judge it on? (Yes, I just referred to myself as 'one'. What of it?)

I feel that there are several things to consider here;

Firstly - Damn Good Writers. Films such as 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' by Truman
Capote, 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' or 'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee Williams, 'Bar Fly' by Charles Bukowski. Each of these films is beautifully written. The dialogue is thick with sub-plots and a quiet, but audible commentary on the socio-economic themes that are indicative of the times in which they were written. (Boom!)

Secondly - Quotability. Surely the film with The Best Film Dialogue should be highly quotable, so we have films like 'Clueless', 'The Blues Brothers', 'Anchorman', 'Mallrats', 'Gone With the Wind', 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'. Films that have been quoted to me and I have in turn quoted many times. I have more than once cited Marilyn Monroe's line 'Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty. You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?' However, I feel that one liners do not a movie make! There is also a tackiness to each of these films that, although I appreciate, stops me from naming them the BFD. Of course I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the most misquoted film of all time 'Casablanca'. One of my absolute favourites, however, the dialogue is not outstanding and it is overshadowed by the superb cinematography. So we continue to.....

Thirdly - Naturalistic Dialogue. These seem to be rarer and are films that genuinely surprised me because you hear people talk to eachother the way that people actually talk to eachother. 'Superbad' and 'Bridesmaids' would be perfect examples. I saw both of these at the cinema, the first with an ex-boyfriend and the second with my best gal-pal, and both times I found myself laughing twice as hard as I laugh with most comedies of their creed. The '....with hilarious consequences' stock of comedy, which I love. But these stood out. 'Superbad' was the first teenager film I've seen where the teenagers talk the way that teenagers talk. This wasn't the trite, over-indulgent, language creating of films like 'Clueless', 'Juno' or 'Mean Girls'. This was just really damn funny! And I had the same reaction watching 'Bridesmaids'. That was the first time I had seen a film about a group of women where they actually talked like a group of women. They fondly took the piss out of eachother and had actual conversations rather than one woman telling another her issues and the second woman agreeing. This was NOT 'Sex and the City' and thankfully this film was not ALL ABOUT CARRIE BRADSHAW BEING UNABLE TO KEEP A MAN! If I whinged to my friends as much as she does, I doubt they'd be so nice to me! Can't get a man? Maybe you should GET A REAL JOB AND STOP BEHAVING LIKE A LITTLE BITCH!

Phew! Anyway, after all of that deliberation, I have decided to go for *drumroll, fanfare, big bloody banner!!!*

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

"What? That wasn't a nomination! Where was that on the stupid big list I just read?"
Haha! You thought I was a logical normal person whose deductions made any sense? Don't you know me at all?
"I'm not reading your poxy blog any more Bobby. Piss off"

Well, for anyone who stuck around, my reasons are thus;
Eternal Sunshine is an incredible science fiction film, about memory and choice, that for me, personally, was groundbreaking. The film starts with an inner monologue from Joel, Jim Carrey's character, which lays all the foundations for this retrospective film to fill in. This also means that we already understand and identify with Joel when Clementine, played by Kate Winslet, is introduced. This means that we are as confused and overwhelmed by Clem as Joel is. And her mile-a-minute, neurotic, impulsive, conflicted and ever-changing behaviour and opinions are a little too close to home for me! I think that is what makes this film my personal choice. I've never felt as close to a character as I have to Clementine and her awful brashness, her temperament and her discontent with permanence. There is a point later in the film where she says "Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive. But I'm just a fucked-up girl who's looking for my own peace of mind; don't assign me yours", and I'll tell you what, I have never felt so pinned down and summed up than I did watching this scene. There's even a scene where she's wearing one of my wonderfully ugly cardigans!
The way that the film progresses through their past relationship in a non-linear narrative we are able to see very clearly why these people were together and why they broke up. I like that neither time is given more importance than the other. We see the relationship as a whole. As a series of moments, a series of feelings, skilfully portrayed through the way that the characters speak to eachother. We can tell where they are in their relationship through their dialogue.
We are also shown interesting side characters each with their own problems. I enjoy a film where incidental characters have as much of a story to tell as the main ones. Not only is there the love triangle between the doctor, the receptionist and the assistant, but also Joel's friends Carrie and Rob clearly have issues of their own that we don't even begin to explore. As an examination of relationships, I love this film.
Mallarme wrote "Meaning is not in things but in between them; in the iridescence, in the interplay; in the interconnections at the intersections, at the crossroads" which I think is what this film represents. The meaning between things and the choices that we make as a result.
It's the finale of this film that seemed a cinema first for me. I won't ruin it any more, and I think that it's a film that you should make your own conclusions for. So I will leave you with the title quote and I hope that if you haven't seen this film, you will, and if you have seen it, you won't judge me for my connection to that neurotic mess with brightly coloured hair. Hopefully you'll just know me a little better.

"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot? The world forgetting by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, each prayer accepted and each wish resigned." - Alexander Pope

1 comment:

  1. I've always loved the films that seemed to have the lines that you know you'd love to come up with on the spot.