The Eternal Memory of Charlie Kaufman

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:​

Charlie Kaufman’s Memory, Julia Louis-Dreyfus goes A24, Harmony Korine’s infrared nightmare, and a murmuring ocean.

Let’s go!


THE ETERNAL MEMORY OF CHARLIE KAUFMAN

With Charlie Kaufman, memory is a tricky thing.

In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), the erasing of memory brings bliss and torment as Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet slowly unravel the enigma of their identity.

For Kaufman, the memory erasure device that Carrey and Winslet use to forget each other after a bad breakup is a metaphor for technology destroying our selfhood–a deep concern Kaufman has about AI.

He’s outspoken on this:

“It’s the end of creativity for human beings. It’s what it’s going to lead to, and it’s handing it over to a non-sentient, non-feeling, non-rebellious entity.”

Kaufman continued:

“If we stop creating ourselves, if we stop doing that and we’re giving up something… that’s primal, that’s essential as part of that’s been part of human experience and necessary to human experience as long as there have been humans. And I think it needs to be protected.”

Kaufman’s newest screenplay, The Memory Police, based on an award-winning novel, tackles the topic with an Orwellian tilt.

Here’s the official synopsis:

On an unnamed island, things have begun to disappear. However, a rare few are able to remember all that no longer exists, but the Memory Police are determined to make sure that what has been erased remains forgotten forever.

When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.

For Kaufman, the need to have experiences, to have memory is the soul of artistic identity.

And if our society prioritizes profit and technological utopianism, our lives are all going to be like the opening frames of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: grey.

For More:

The estate of the late great comic legend George Carlin is suing the creators of an AI-generated Carlin comedy special, which they posted on YouTube.

“I’m just a fucked up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind.” The heartbreakingly poignant scene from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Before Brian Cox was Logan Roy in Succession, he was shouting at Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicolas Cage) in Adaptation. Clip.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Comcast’s Peacock flies to $1 bn. Here are the earnings stats for the NBCUniversal streamer:

Q4 Gains:

  • $1 bn revenue (up 57% from Q3)
  • 3 M subs (31M total)

Losses:

  • $825 M (down 15.6% from 2022)
  • 389K pay-TV subs (down from 440K last year)
  • 34K broadband subs (up from 23K last year)

The gains were due to the additions of NFL and Big Ten football on Peacock. The continued losses were due to poor marketing, a lack of entertaining original programming, and an over-saturation of streamers.

While Peacock is the defacto streamer for Universal Pictures and will be the streaming platform for Oppenheimer, it has a grueling uphill battle to climb when contending with Netflix (260 M subs, $938 M Q4 profit).

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are Animals. That’s the name of their latest project, which just landed at Netflix.

Here’s the official synopsis of their crime thriller:

A mayoral candidate and his wife whose son is kidnapped. Surrounded by plenty of enemies, political and otherwise, the husband and wife have no choice but to get their hands dirty in order to save their son.

Affleck will direct, and Damon will star. It’s the second picture by the long-time friends (still) under their new Artists Equity production company after Air (2023).

Latest Sundance sales:

Official synopsis:

Christopher Reeve’s rise to becoming a film star, follows with a near-fatal horse-riding accident in 1995 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. After which he became an activist for spinal cord injury treatments and disability rights.

Official synopsis:

When a construction worker unexpectedly joins a local theater’s production of Romeo and Juliet, the drama onstage starts to mirror his own life.

As always with Sundance, some big deals will likely be announced in the week that follows the awards ceremony.

Winners will be announced here starting at 10 am MST.

Steven Soderbergh’s second deal this week: he sold Black Bag to Focus Features. He will direct. Michael Fassbender and Cate Blanchett will star. David Koepp, who penned two of Soderbergh’s most recent films, Presence, which sold to Neon and Kimi (2022), will write the script. Casey Silver (The Highway Men, Hidalgo) and Gregory Jacobs (Logan Lucky, Magic Mike 1-3) will produce.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a magical parrot. Louis-Dreyfus is renowned for her high-energy, quirky performance as Elaine Benes on Seinfeld (Cigar, Little Kicks, Pushing George) and Veep, where she plays a foul-mouthed vice president climbing the bureaucratic ladder all the way to the top and plummeting back down cursing up a storm.

In her most poignant and tender role to date, she plays a mother whose life revolves around caregiving for her paraplegic daughter.

Watch the heartbreakingly tender fairy tale trailer for Tuesday—our favorite of the week.

A24 is distributing. No release date has been set.

Colan Domingo “owns his power.” That quote is attributed to Netflix’s Rustin, where Domingo recently garnered an Oscar nomination for playing the lead, a gay civil rights activist and organizer for Martin Luther King Jr. The trailer showcases his vivacious intelligence and contagious confidence.

He’s helming two big musical projects:

  • Michael [Jackson] biopic
    • Playing Joe Jackson, Michael’s father
    • Lionsgate and Universal distributing
  • Nat King Cole biopic
    • Director/Co-Writer/Lead

From 2014 – 2017, while Domingo was on the verge of quitting acting, he wrote and then starred in his own plays, including Lights Out: Nat ‘King’ Cole.

There is no word yet on his producing partners, but his unflinching determination during the down times in his career has allowed him to parlay his Oscar nomination into a monumental directing gig.

Sydney Sweeney goes full horror in Immaculate. Neon just dropped a trailer, and it is terrifying. She plays a nun whose immaculate pregnancy is an omen.

Sweeney is typically known for her acerbic, albeit slightly lighter, HBO roles:

It’s interesting to see Sweeney tackle a genre horror role, especially after her most recent $100 M WW box-office rom-com Anyone But You.

Sweeney’s uncanny ability to stretch herself to the heights of her sweetness and the depths of her emotional darkness only appears to be growing.

Immaculate releases on March 22.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Road House, as detailed in yesterday’s edition, he plays a down-on-his-luck UFC Fighter. Watch his effortless aggression in the trailer.


FESTIVALS AND RESOURCES

NYU Tisch is offering their first online Master of the Arts Media Producing program.

The 15-month program will feature the following courses:

  • Producing Essentials
  • Script Analysis
  • Production Management
  • Entertainment Business Law
  • Deal Making and Business Development in Media / Creative Fundraising
  • Post Production / Marketing and Distribution
  • Electives
    • Media Mavericks
    • Festivals and Marketing
    • New Technologies
    • Internship

The thesis is a research paper or producing a short film, or a prospectus including:

  • Story outline
  • Production outline
  • Set safety outline
  • Days in production
  • Post-production plan
  • Budget

All courses for this master’s degree will be taken remotely and are fully online.

Coursework is asynchronous and follows a weekly schedule, allowing students to watch the pre-recorded lessons and participate in crew-based and individual assessment activities.

In each class, there will be weekly 75-minute synchronous sessions.

Students have the opportunity to participate in a curated experience at The Sundance Film Festival.

Producing is more than just a profession; it’s an art form that demands a global, forward-thinking approach to bring new, compelling stories to the silver screen.

Learn more about the instructors.

Check out a more detailed description of the program here.

The application deadline is February 1, 2024. Apply here.


TECH SECTION

The most compelling part of John Wick: Chapter 4 was the overhead longtake where Keanu blows the bad guys away with dragon’s breath ammo.

Watch the stunning VFX breakdown here. The level of detail in achieving realistic shattering effects is impressive.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Harmony Korine is not afraid to get in your face. From his insane, nightmarish Die Antwoord music videos to his dangerous slow-motion Spring Breakers (trailer).

His latest, AGGRO DR1FT, was an official selection at TIFF, Venice and NYFF.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Breaking away from the traditional parameters of cinema, AGGRO DR1FT explores the onslaught of digital ephemera and interrogates modern life through the vernacular of video games. Shot entirely through an infrared lens, the film follows a Miami Beach hitman as he embarks on the relentless pursuit of his next target.

The trailer lives up to every word.

Releasing at an LA strip club (Crazy Girl) on Feb 7 & 8.

A chaotic rollout follows.

Pedro Almodóvar’s first English language feature. Almodóvar has directed some of the most dangerously sexy foreign cinema, often starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz:

His films have played in competition at Cannes seven times. His latest, The Room Next Door, will star Julianne Moore, Tilda Swinton, and John Turturro.

Here’s the official synopsis:

The story of an imperfect mother and a spiteful daughter, separated by a great misunderstanding. The mother, played by Swinton, is a war reporter. Moore will play a fiction writer, a friend of the mother.

Almodóvar said in a translated statement:

“The film talks about the limitless cruelty of wars, about the very different ways in which the two writers approach and write about reality, it talks about death, friendship and sexual pleasure as the best allies to fight against the horror. And it also talks about the sweet awakening with the chirping of bird in a house built in the middle of a nature reserve in New England, where the two friends live in an extreme and strangely sweet situation.”

The film, currently in pre-production, will film in March.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Hong Kong CAA Genre Initiative rounds up Cannes Palm d’Or short film. The inaugural CAA China Genre Initiative announced six Chinese-language genre film projects. Two winning projects will receive $20,000 each for development, with potential script development agreements.

The standout is Hyperinflation.

Here’s the synopsis:

A gripping drama that centers around an archaeologist who struggles with the financial debts left behind by her missing husband while simultaneously unraveling the mystery surrounding an ancient female corpse.

The film is produced by Shan Zuolong, who produced Long Day’s Journey into Night (2018) and EP’d short film Palme d’Or winner The Water Murmurs (trailer), covering similar stylized, stark, and surreal territory.

Son of Saul (2015) won the Grand Prix at Cannes for depicting the horrors of Auschwitz from the viewpoint of a member of the sonderkommando, the Jewish work unit. Its stiflingly locked-in POV (trailer) is a horrifying precursor to The Zone of Interest.

Son of Saul was Hungarian director László Nemes’ first feature. His latest feature is Orphan, supported by the UK Global Screen Film Fund.

Here’s the official synopsis:

It will follow a young boy in Budapest in 1957, one year after the Hungarian Revolution, which saw a failed uprising against the USSR.

Although Nemes’ second feature, Sunset (trailer), was not as strongly received, we hope Orphan puts him back on the international map.


ON THIS DAY

2014. 30th Sundance Film Festival: Whiplash, directed by Damien Chazelle, wins Grand Jury Prize Dramatic.


That’s all for the week. See you Monday!


Written by Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

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