Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Je t'aime, je t'aime" (1968)

So I realized that: Synecdoche, New York is a Resnais film interpreted by Charlie Kaufman. (Compare the editing styles and quirks of both films, for instance.) Claude Rich -- who plays Claude Ridder -- looks like Michel Gondry -- who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- which is scripted by Kaufman -- and which is also, secretly, a Resnais film. (Watch Je t'aime, je t'aime, followed by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, followed by Synecdoche, New York.)

What is the fundamental problem here? A white mouse can travel back in time for one minute at exactly 4pm -- and return in exactly one minute. The mouse, so the film conjectures, does not have the memory capacity to destabilize the consistency of a preprogrammed momentary time rift -- a mouse lives in the past as effortlessly and uncomplicatedly as it does in the present, so it returns "on time." But a man, and a man who has recently attempted suicide? Complications arise. One minute is prolonged into more than an hour. He merges with his memories and he loses traction -- past and present are hardly distinguishable. He finds himself disappearing from and reappearing into scenes from his life as if they were scenes from a movie -- film editing is the secret to time travel. Eventually his suicide is rendered complete; because desire for the past, for a brown-legged woman named Catrine, becomes his (fortunate?) undoing. The Proustian afterlife makes time travel an unstable element.

"[Georges] hired actors to replace people who died. He kept bad things away from his wife." Maybe, just maybe, Giorgios Lanthimos watched this film, remembered this line (or this line bled into him in the way Claude Ridder bleeds into the spacetime of the potato couch) and made Alps. Another filmmaker probably, if fleetingly, influenced by the Resnais method.