Synechdoche, NY. Like most obsessive film nerds, I’ve always admired Charlie Kaufman’s stuff. That being said…I somewhat resisted seeing this movie. This is mostly because I heard from several respectable and otherwise trustworthy people that it was pretentious and depressing and an overall grueling movie experience. Then I watched Adaptation on television and decided that there is no way the person responsible for that movie could write something that isn’t worth seeing. So I saw it. And I thought it was amazing. I’m reasonably certain that Criterion will re-release it in 30 years and it will be widely considered a masterpiece. It is sad and at times incomprehensible, but it’s also original and thought-provoking and probably funnier than people give it credit for. It also doesn’t follow a traditional narrative structure at all, and it is “emotionally unsatisfying” as a result. That’s sort of why I like it. Link.
Wired.com Interview with Charlie Kaufman. This uncut interview was recorded (poorly...on a dictaphone) in a restaurant and lasts several hours. It covers a wide range of topics and completely made my day. It also features a lengthy bathroom break and the sound of Charlie quietly chewing (which is somehow oddly appropriate). Listen.
Proust Was A Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer. I have not finished this book, but it is excellent to this point and so deserves a spot on the list. Lehrer contributes to the NPR mindfuck Radiolab (also highly recommended). The premise is that he profiles artists who indirectly predicted or otherwise illustrated previously unknown neurological realities through their work. It is very readable and makes me feel slightly better about wasting all my time on art projects. Link.
“An Ugly Death” by Jay Reatard. This is maybe the most upbeat song ever about a person killing themselves. I disregarded this person for a while because of his dumb name…but this song almost makes up for that lapse in judgment. Listen.
Tom Scharpling’s Spectacle Play-by-Play. This requires some explanation, but I will do my best. Spectacle is a musical talk show on the Sundance Channel hosted by a floundering Elvis Costello. The episode in question included all three members of The Police and at one point involves the term “punk tango.” Tom Scharpling is the host of a radio show / podcast called “The Best Show on WFMU.” It’s a combination call-in / long form improv show. It takes a few weeks of listening to understand all the in-jokes and recurring characters, but it is something I get excited about every Friday (even though it airs on Tuesday). This particular segment (from the show dated 1/20/09) features Tom replaying and commenting on clips from the episode and I was trying not to look ridiculous cracking up on the sidewalk. Listen.
Jeremiah Johnson. A film directed by Sidney Pollack and starring Robert Redford as an aspiring “mountain man.” I like it mostly because the moral (as I understand it) appears to be the following: Don’t help Christians or your family will be murdered. Also…stay out of Indian burial grounds. Can’t say it enough. Link.
“Our Amazing Future” by Andrew Daly. The best track on Daly’s first comedy record Nine Sweaters (a collection of monologues by different fictional characters). This particular section features the Incredible Blasco…a desperate Futurist trapped in a failed, emasculating marriage. Link.
“Face Like Summer” by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. A beautiful, sadly hopeful song by an under-appreciated band. The build is very subtle and cool. Listen.