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Sunday, March 13, 2011

inside the mind of charlie kaufman

"so when i write characters and situations and relationships, i try to sort of utilize what i know about the world, limited as it is, and what i hear from my friends and see with my relatives."

i've really been focusing on screenwriters recently. it just fascinates me how imaginative and eloquent they can be. charlie kaufman is one of the most brilliant screenwriters of today. before i watched being john malkovich i decided to read the script and was just in awe at how he could come up with such an amazingly odd story and how incredible his words sounded when they were brought to life onscreen.

some of his work:

eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
JOEL (Thinking to himself)
Random thoughts
for Valentine's Day.

Today is a holiday invented
by greeting card companies...
to make people
feel like crap.

I ditched work today.

Took a train out to Montauk.

Montauk train boarding
on track "B."

I don't know why.

Aah!
I'm not an impulsive person.

I guess I just woke up
in a funk this morning.

I gotta get my car fixed.


(Phone call to his work)
Hi. Cindy?

It's Joel. Joel!

Listen, I don't
feel very well today.

No, food poisoning,
I think.

It's goddamn freezing on this beach.

Montauk in February.
Brilliant, Joel.

Page is ripped out.

Don't remember doing that.

It appears this is
my first entry in two years.

Sand is overrated.

It's just tiny little rocks.

If only I could
meet someone new.

I guess my chances of that happening
are somewhat diminished,

seeing that I'm incapable
of making eye contact
with a woman I don't know.

Maybe I should
get back together with Naomi.

She was nice.
Nice is good.

She loved me.

Why do I fall in love
with every woman I see...
who shows me
the least bit of attention?

CLEMENTINE
Hi.

JOEL
I'm sorry?

CLEMENTINE
I just said hi.

JOEL
- Hi. Hello. Hi.


CLEMENTINE
Okay if I sit closer?
How far are you going?

JOEL
Uh, Rockville Center.

CLEMENTINE
Get out! Me too!

JOEL
Really?
What are the odds?

CLEMENTINE
Do I know you?
Do you ever shop
at Barnes & Noble?

JOEL
Sure. Sure.

CLEMENTINE
That's it!

JOEL
Yeah?

CLEMENTINE
I've seen you, man!
Book slave there
for, like, five years now.

JOEL
Ah. I would have thought
I would've remembered you.

CLEMENTINE
Jesus! Is it five years?
It might be the hair.


JOEL
What might?

CLEMENTINE
It changes a lot.

CLEMENTINE
The color.
That's why you might not
recognize me.

CLEMENTINE
It's called Blue Ruin,
the color.

JOEL
Right. Yeah.

CLEMENTINE
Snappy name, huh?
I like it.

JOEL
Yeah.

CLEMENTINE
Anyway, this company
makes a whole line of colors
with equally snappy names.
Red... Red Menace,
Yellow Fever,
Green Revolution.

CLEMENTINE
That'd be a job,
coming up with those names.

JOEL
You think there could
possibly be a job like that?
I mean, how many hair colors
could there be? Fifteen, maybe.

CLEMENTINE
Someone's got that job.
Agent Orange!
I came up with that one.

CLEMENTINE
I apply my personality
in a paste.

JOEL
Oh, I doubt that very much.

CLEMENTINE
Well, you don't know me,
so...
you don't know, do you?

JOEL
Sorry. I was just...
I'm trying to be nice.

CLEMENTINE
Yeah. I got it.
My name's Clementine,
by the way.

JOEL
I'm Joel.

CLEMENTINE
Hi, Joel.
Hey.
No jokes about my name.
Oh, no, you wouldn't do that.
You're trying to be nice.

JOEL
I don't know any jokes
about your name.

CLEMENTINE
Huckleberry Hound.

JOEL
I don't know what that means.

CLEMENTINE
Huckleberry Hound?
What are you, nuts?

JOEL
It's been suggested.

CLEMENTINE
Oh, my darlin', oh, my darlin'
Oh, my darlin' Clementine
You were lost
and gone forever
Dreadful sorry
Clementine
No?

JOEL
I'm sorry. Just...
It's a pretty name, though.
It really is nice.
It's, uh...
It means "merciful."
Right? Clemency?

CLEMENTINE
Although it hardly fits.
I'm a vindictive little bitch,
truth be told.

JOEL
Gee, l-I wouldn't
think that about you.

CLEMENTINE
Why wouldn't you
think that about me?

JOEL
I don't know.
I just...
I don't know.
I just, uh...
You seem nice, so...

CLEMENTINE
Oh, now I'm nice?

CLEMENTINE
Oh, God. Don't you know
any other adjectives?
I don't need "nice."
I don't need myself to be it,
and I don't need anybody else to be it at me.

JOEL
Okay.

CLEMENTINE
Joel?
It's Joel, right?

JOEL
Yes.

CLEMENTINE
I'm sorry I yelled at you.
I'm a little out of sorts today.
My embarrassing admission is,
I really like
that you're nice right now. I mean, I can't tell
from one moment to the next
what I'm gonna like,
but right now...
I'm glad you are.

JOEL
I have so much stuff
that, uh, I probably should, uh...

CLEMENTINE
Oh! I'm sorry. Okay.

JOEL
L-I'm writing, and...

JOEL
No, no. I just...

CLEMENTINE
Sure. No. That's okay.

JOEL
I just have...
You know, this is...

CLEMENTINE
Okay.


being john malkovich

CRAIG
(beat)
I'm sorry for everything.

LOTTE
(pecking him on the cheek)
It's okay, Craig. It all worked out,
in an odd sort of way.

CRAIG
You came up here looking for the
portal?

LOTTE
Yeah. I was going to kill him from
the inside.

CRAIG
And yourself too in the process. God,
you're so beautiful. Why couldn't I
see that before?

LOTTE
You saw it once. Now you see it again.
That's life, isn't it? And you were
up here to try the same thing, weren't
you?

CRAIG
I suppose. But they got here first,
the lousy bastards. So now it's all
over, I guess.

LOTTE
I don't know. There's a small
community of us. We have a place they
don't know about. We're happy. We'll
keep trying to figure out a way. Come
stay with us. Join the struggle.

CRAIG
You'll have me, after all I've done
to you?

LOTTE
People make mistakes.

CRAIG
I'm through with puppets, Lotte.
I just want you to know that.

LOTTE
I know.

CRAIG
I'd like to be a farmer. I want to
help things grow, to encourage life.
Do you and your friends need a farmer?

LOTTE
Sure. We could really use a farmer.
We'd be grateful for the help.
(beat)
Also, I think, you know, if you
wouldn't mind too terribly, a little
puppet show every once in a while,
would do a lot to lift our spirits.
You know, if you wouldn't mind too
terribly.

Craig's eyes well up with tears. Lotte looks at him sweetly.

LOTTE (CONT'D)
Oh honey. It's gonna be okay.

She puts her arm around him and leads him toward the
elevator.

CRAIG
I love you, Lotte.

We come on very close to Craig's arm as he lifts it to put
it around Lotte. We see a thin almost invisible filament.
We follow it up, and discover that Craig is now a
marionette being controlled from above by an emotionless
Mantini in a gray jumpsuit.

MANTINI
(in Craig's voice)
I can't wait to see where you and your
friends live, Lotte.

LOTTE (O.S.)
It's beautiful, Craig, like Eden.

Now we see filaments attached to Mantini's arms, and w
follow them up to find that Flemmer is controlling Mantini.

FLEMMER
One serpent, coming up.

Flemmer throws his head back and laughs. The camera moves
into his mouth and down his throat, which, oddly enough,
looks exactly like the membranous John Malkovich portal
tunnel.

MUSIC IN: "Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head" by They
Might Be Giants. It plays throughout the credits.

FADE OUT



THE END


adaptation
INT. L.A. BUSINESS LUNCH RESTAURANT - MIDDAY
Kaufman, wearing his purple sweater sans tags, sits withValerie, an attractive woman in wire-rim glasses.They pick
at salads.Kaufman steals glances at her lips, her hair, her
breasts..She looks up at him. He blanches, looks down.


KAUFMAN
She looked at my hairline.She thinks I'm old. She thinks I'm fat. She --

VALERIE We think you're great.

KAUFMAN Oh, thanks, wow. That's nice to hear. A rivulet of sweat slides down his forehead.
Valerie watches it. Kaufman sees her watching it.She sees him seeing her watching it. She looks at her salad.He quickly swabs.

VALERIE We all just loved the Malkovich script.

KAUFMAN Thank you.That's... I appreciate that.

VALERIE (still looking at her salad) Such a unique voice. Boy, I'd love to, find a portal into your brain.

KAUFMAN (laughing) Trust me, it's no fun.

VALERIE (laughs) So you're in production, right?

KAUFMAN Yeah, it is. They are. We are.

VALERIE That must be so exciting.

KAUFMAN Yeah..


Uncomfortable silence. Kaufman tries to fill it.

KAUFMAN (cont'd) It's exciting to see one's work produced.

VALERIE I bet. (looking up) So --

Kaufman looks up, too.His brow is dripping again.Valerie pretends not to notice.

VALERIE (cont'd) Good. So, tell me your thoughts on this crazy little project of ours.
In one motion, Kaufman swabs his forehead and pulls a book entitled The Orchid Thief from his bag.

KAUFMAN First, I think it's a great book.

VALERIE Laroche is a fun character, isn't he?

Kaufman nods, flips through the book, stalling.A photo of author Susan Orlean smiles from the inside back cover.

KAUFMAN Absolutely. And Orlean makes orchids so fascinating.Plus her musings on
Florida, orchid poaching. Indians.
Great, sprawling New Yorker stuff. I'd
want to remain true to that, let the
movie exist rather than be artificially
plot driven.

VALERIE Okay, great, great. I guess I'm not exactly sure what that means.

KAUFMAN Oh. Well... I like to let my work evolve, so I'd want to go into it with sort of open-ended kind of... and also not force it into a typical movie form.

VALERIE Oh. That sounds interesting... what you're saying. I mean, I'm intrigued.

KAUFMAN (blurting) It's just, I don't want to ruin it by
making it a Hollywood product.Like, an
orchid heist movie or something.

Or changing the orchids into poppies and
turning it into a movie about drug
running. Y'know? Why can't there be a
movie simply about flowers? That's all.

VALERIE That's what we're thinking. Definitely.

KAUFMAN Like, I don't want to cram in sex, or car chases, or guns. Or characters learning profound life lessons. Or growing or coming to like each other or overcoming
obstacles to succeed in the end.Y'know?
The book isn't like that.Life isn't
like that.It just isn't. I feel very
strongly about this.
Kaufman is sweating like crazy now. Valerie is quiet.We hear Kaufman's self-flagellating voice-over through the silence, but we can't make out the words. Then:

VALERIE I guess we thought maybe Susan Orlean and Laroche could fall in and --

KAUFMAN Okay, but to me -- this alienated journalist writing about a passionate backwoods guy and he teaches her to love--
that's like... fake. I mean, it didn't
happen.It wouldn't happen.