Sunday, November 02, 2008

Poetry in Motion...

One of the most recent episodes of the new series of Desperate Housewives I've managed to catch had this hilarious exchange between Lynette and her husband Tom (for non-DH fans, this particular exchange stemmed from an Oedipal sub-plot whereby Lynette was pretending to be a young attractive 16-year-old girl chatting to her teenage son online so as to find out what he was up to, as they no longer talk properly in person as mother and son, but she got so bound up with her online alter ego that of course, hilarity and domestic disaster ensued), where Tom scolds Lynette on finding out that his son sent her a love note on foot of being told by Lynette's teenage alter-ego that she loves his poetry:

Tom: You told a teenage boy that you liked his poetry?! Geez, Lynette, why not just flash him a boob??

I couldn't stop laughing at this brilliant line. Having never met a teenage boy who wrote poetry when I was a teenager, I had never had the chance to find out if this alleged aphrodisiac effect of praising a teenage boy's poetry is really true in practice. However, being a girl who has been into poetry since her childhood years, I would have been mighty impressed if a boy could cite W.B. Yeats (those poems outside of the Leaving Cert syllabus, that is), which was what Lynette's son did to impress his "girl" online (who turned out to be his own mother of course, and Tom's reaction on finding out Lynette's awful pretense is equally priceless as well: "Do you want to stop it now before Porter kills me and blinds himself?" Another brilliantly-done literary reference).

I just love, love, love it when movies and shows contain literary references, especially poetic ones. To add to my series of recent posts about poetry, and inspired by the recent movie reviews by Lu, Mad Dog and Yun, I'd like to talk a little about the use of poetry in motion pictures.

I've noticed that quite a few of my favourite films are my favourites precisely because they quote lines from some of the most heart-breakingly beautiful poetry out there. A prime example of this is the movie In Her Shoes, a deceptively-cheerful but in reality a real tearjerker of a movie with surprising depth. It contains several touching scenes the emotional resonances of which pivot around some brilliant lines of exquisite poetry. It also has one of my all-time favourite English professor character and all the poems used in the movie are not only beautiful in themselves, but beautiful in the way they served as key plot points in the story. Lu has already blogged about the e.e. cummings poem, "I carry your heart", used at the final wedding scene. However, the poem that caught my breath in this movie is the one that the English professor first taught Maggie (Cameron Diaz's character), Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art":

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

---Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Another movie that others (Mad Dog and Yun) have recently blogged about, Before Sunrise, is a movie that I also love very much (but which is not as good as its sequel, Before Sunset), one of the major reasons being that it featured an actual poet as a character (one of the many interesting characters that Jesse and Celine met during their memorable sojourn in quaint Vienna). The poet in question is a bum on the street who wrote on-the-spot poems for passing pedestrians for cigarettes and drinks money.

(I must say, if one day I'm so down and out that I have to choose between being a pavement painter and a street-bum poet as a career option, I'd rather be the latter. At least you know that the poem you wrote wouldn't be washed away by street-cleaners the next day but would have a chance to be actually kept or even cherished by a person).

Anyway, in the movie, the poem that he came up with for Celine (with her suggested word, "milkshake", as a starting point) was actually not bad. Only when I looked up the movie on Wikipedia did I realise that the poem was specifically written for the film by the poet David Jewell, and is entitled, "Delusion Angel":

Delusion Angel

Daydream delusion, limousine eyelash
Oh baby with your pretty face
Drop a tear in my wineglass
Look at those big eyes
See what you mean to me
Sweet-cakes and milkshakes
I'm a delusion angel
I'm a fantasy parade
I want you to know what I think
Don't want you to guess anymore
You have no idea where I came from
We have no idea where we're going
Lodged in life, like branches in a river
Flowing downstream, caught in the current
I carry you
You'll carry me
That's how it could be
Don't you know me?
Don't you know me by now?

But the film that really stole my heart with its poetry and assorted literary references, the one whose title even came from a line of a famous poem, is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This movie is my all-time favourite (at least of all English-language movies I've seen) not only because of its poetry and literary references though, but also because of the heart-breaking story-line, the clever dialogue, the superb performances, and the whimsical cinematography of Michel Gondry. But I shall concentrate only on the poetry and the literary references in this post.

The poem referenced by the movie title is "Eloisa to Abelard" by Alexander Pope, a lengthy epistle inspired by the letters exchanged between Heloise and Abelard, a pair of 12th-century real-life star-crossed lovers in Paris who were forced to renounce their illicit love and passion for each other, which caused Heloise to lament about the pain of memories and yearning instead for the apparent bliss of the forgetful, which formed the central premise of the film:

Eloisa to Abelard

In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-pensive contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing melancholy reigns;
What means this tumult in a vestal's veins?
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?
Yet, yet I love! — From Abelard it came,
And Eloisa yet must kiss the name.

Dear fatal name! rest ever unreveal'd,
Nor pass these lips in holy silence seal'd.
Hide it, my heart, within that close disguise,
Where mix'd with God's, his lov'd idea lies:
O write it not, my hand — the name appears
Already written — wash it out, my tears!
In vain lost Eloisa weeps and prays,
Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys.

Relentless walls! whose darksome round contains
Repentant sighs, and voluntary pains:
Ye rugged rocks! which holy knees have worn;
Ye grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid thorn!
Shrines! where their vigils pale-ey'd virgins keep,
And pitying saints, whose statues learn to weep!
Though cold like you, unmov'd, and silent grown,
I have not yet forgot myself to stone.
All is not Heav'n's while Abelard has part,
Still rebel nature holds out half my heart;
Nor pray'rs nor fasts its stubborn pulse restrain,
Nor tears, for ages, taught to flow in vain.

Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,
That well-known name awakens all my woes.
Oh name for ever sad! for ever dear!
Still breath'd in sighs, still usher'd with a tear.
I tremble too, where'er my own I find,
Some dire misfortune follows close behind.
Line after line my gushing eyes o'erflow,
Led through a sad variety of woe:
Now warm in love, now with'ring in thy bloom,
Lost in a convent's solitary gloom!
There stern religion quench'd th' unwilling flame,
There died the best of passions, love and fame.

Yet write, oh write me all, that I may join
Griefs to thy griefs, and echo sighs to thine.
Nor foes nor fortune take this pow'r away;
And is my Abelard less kind than they?
Tears still are mine, and those I need not spare,
Love but demands what else were shed in pray'r;
No happier task these faded eyes pursue;
To read and weep is all they now can do.

Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;
Ah, more than share it! give me all thy grief.
Heav'n first taught letters for some wretch's aid,
Some banish'd lover, or some captive maid;
They live, they speak, they breathe what love inspires,
Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires,
The virgin's wish without her fears impart,
Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart,
Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul,
And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.

Thou know'st how guiltless first I met thy flame,
When Love approach'd me under Friendship's name;
My fancy form'd thee of angelic kind,
Some emanation of th' all-beauteous Mind.
Those smiling eyes, attemp'ring ev'ry day,
Shone sweetly lambent with celestial day.
Guiltless I gaz'd; heav'n listen'd while you sung;
And truths divine came mended from that tongue.
From lips like those what precept fail'd to move?
Too soon they taught me 'twas no sin to love.
Back through the paths of pleasing sense I ran,
Nor wish'd an Angel whom I lov'd a Man.
Dim and remote the joys of saints I see;
Nor envy them, that heav'n I lose for thee.

How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said,
Curse on all laws but those which love has made!
Love, free as air, at sight of human ties,
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies,
Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dame,
August her deed, and sacred be her fame;
Before true passion all those views remove,
Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to Love?
The jealous God, when we profane his fires,
Those restless passions in revenge inspires;
And bids them make mistaken mortals groan,
Who seek in love for aught but love alone.
Should at my feet the world's great master fall,
Himself, his throne, his world, I'd scorn 'em all:
Not Caesar's empress would I deign to prove;
No, make me mistress to the man I love;
If there be yet another name more free,
More fond than mistress, make me that to thee!
Oh happy state! when souls each other draw,
When love is liberty, and nature, law:
All then is full, possessing, and possess'd,
No craving void left aching in the breast:
Ev'n thought meets thought, ere from the lips it part,
And each warm wish springs mutual from the heart.
This sure is bliss (if bliss on earth there be)
And once the lot of Abelard and me.

Alas, how chang'd! what sudden horrors rise!
A naked lover bound and bleeding lies!
Where, where was Eloise? her voice, her hand,
Her poniard, had oppos'd the dire command.
Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain;
The crime was common, common be the pain.
I can no more; by shame, by rage suppress'd,
Let tears, and burning blushes speak the rest.

Canst thou forget that sad, that solemn day,
When victims at yon altar's foot we lay?
Canst thou forget what tears that moment fell,
When, warm in youth, I bade the world farewell?
As with cold lips I kiss'd the sacred veil,
The shrines all trembl'd, and the lamps grew pale:
Heav'n scarce believ'd the conquest it survey'd,
And saints with wonder heard the vows I made.
Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew,
Not on the Cross my eyes were fix'd, but you:
Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call,
And if I lose thy love, I lose my all.
Come! with thy looks, thy words, relieve my woe;
Those still at least are left thee to bestow.
Still on that breast enamour'd let me lie,
Still drink delicious poison from thy eye,
Pant on thy lip, and to thy heart be press'd;
Give all thou canst — and let me dream the rest.
Ah no! instruct me other joys to prize,
With other beauties charm my partial eyes,
Full in my view set all the bright abode,
And make my soul quit Abelard for God.

Ah, think at least thy flock deserves thy care,
Plants of thy hand, and children of thy pray'r.
From the false world in early youth they fled,
By thee to mountains, wilds, and deserts led.
You rais'd these hallow'd walls; the desert smil'd,
And Paradise was open'd in the wild.
No weeping orphan saw his father's stores
Our shrines irradiate, or emblaze the floors;
No silver saints, by dying misers giv'n,
Here brib'd the rage of ill-requited heav'n:
But such plain roofs as piety could raise,
And only vocal with the Maker's praise.
In these lone walls (their days eternal bound)
These moss-grown domes with spiry turrets crown'd,
Where awful arches make a noonday night,
And the dim windows shed a solemn light;
Thy eyes diffus'd a reconciling ray,
And gleams of glory brighten'd all the day.
But now no face divine contentment wears,
'Tis all blank sadness, or continual tears.
See how the force of others' pray'rs I try,
(O pious fraud of am'rous charity!)
But why should I on others' pray'rs depend?
Come thou, my father, brother, husband, friend!
Ah let thy handmaid, sister, daughter move,
And all those tender names in one, thy love!
The darksome pines that o'er yon rocks reclin'd
Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind,
The wand'ring streams that shine between the hills,
The grots that echo to the tinkling rills,
The dying gales that pant upon the trees,
The lakes that quiver to the curling breeze;
No more these scenes my meditation aid,
Or lull to rest the visionary maid.
But o'er the twilight groves and dusky caves,
Long-sounding aisles, and intermingled graves,
Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws
A death-like silence, and a dread repose:
Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene,
Shades ev'ry flow'r, and darkens ev'ry green,
Deepens the murmur of the falling floods,
And breathes a browner horror on the woods.

Yet here for ever, ever must I stay;
Sad proof how well a lover can obey!
Death, only death, can break the lasting chain;
And here, ev'n then, shall my cold dust remain,
Here all its frailties, all its flames resign,
And wait till 'tis no sin to mix with thine.

Ah wretch! believ'd the spouse of God in vain,
Confess'd within the slave of love and man.
Assist me, Heav'n! but whence arose that pray'r?
Sprung it from piety, or from despair?
Ev'n here, where frozen chastity retires,
Love finds an altar for forbidden fires.
I ought to grieve, but cannot what I ought;
I mourn the lover, not lament the fault;
I view my crime, but kindle at the view,
Repent old pleasures, and solicit new;
Now turn'd to Heav'n, I weep my past offence,
Now think of thee, and curse my innocence.
Of all affliction taught a lover yet,
'Tis sure the hardest science to forget!
How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense,
And love th' offender, yet detest th' offence?
How the dear object from the crime remove,
Or how distinguish penitence from love?
Unequal task! a passion to resign,
For hearts so touch'd, so pierc'd, so lost as mine.
Ere such a soul regains its peaceful state,
How often must it love, how often hate!
How often hope, despair, resent, regret,
Conceal, disdain — do all things but forget.
But let Heav'n seize it, all at once 'tis fir'd;
Not touch'd, but rapt; not waken'd, but inspir'd!
Oh come! oh teach me nature to subdue,
Renounce my love, my life, myself — and you.
Fill my fond heart with God alone, for he
Alone can rival, can succeed to thee.

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;

Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;
"Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;"
Desires compos'd, affections ever ev'n,
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heav'n.
Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
And whisp'ring angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her th' unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes,
For her the Spouse prepares the bridal ring,
For her white virgins hymeneals sing,
To sounds of heav'nly harps she dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.

Far other dreams my erring soul employ,
Far other raptures, of unholy joy:
When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,
Fancy restores what vengeance snatch'd away,
Then conscience sleeps, and leaving nature free,
All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee.
Oh curs'd, dear horrors of all-conscious night!
How glowing guilt exalts the keen delight!
Provoking Daemons all restraint remove,
And stir within me every source of love.
I hear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all thy charms,
And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms.
I wake — no more I hear, no more I view,
The phantom flies me, as unkind as you.
I call aloud; it hears not what I say;
I stretch my empty arms; it glides away.
To dream once more I close my willing eyes;
Ye soft illusions, dear deceits, arise!
Alas, no more — methinks we wand'ring go
Through dreary wastes, and weep each other's woe,
Where round some mould'ring tower pale ivy creeps,
And low-brow'd rocks hang nodding o'er the deeps.
Sudden you mount, you beckon from the skies;
Clouds interpose, waves roar, and winds arise.
I shriek, start up, the same sad prospect find,
And wake to all the griefs I left behind.

For thee the fates, severely kind, ordain
A cool suspense from pleasure and from pain;
Thy life a long, dead calm of fix'd repose;
No pulse that riots, and no blood that glows.
Still as the sea, ere winds were taught to blow,
Or moving spirit bade the waters flow;
Soft as the slumbers of a saint forgiv'n,
And mild as opening gleams of promis'd heav'n.

Come, Abelard! for what hast thou to dread?
The torch of Venus burns not for the dead.
Nature stands check'd; Religion disapproves;
Ev'n thou art cold — yet Eloisa loves.
Ah hopeless, lasting flames! like those that burn
To light the dead, and warm th' unfruitful urn.

What scenes appear where'er I turn my view?
The dear ideas, where I fly, pursue,
Rise in the grove, before the altar rise,
Stain all my soul, and wanton in my eyes.
I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee,
Thy image steals between my God and me,
Thy voice I seem in ev'ry hymn to hear,
With ev'ry bead I drop too soft a tear.
When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll,
And swelling organs lift the rising soul,
One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight,
Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight:
In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd,
While altars blaze, and angels tremble round.

While prostrate here in humble grief I lie,
Kind, virtuous drops just gath'ring in my eye,
While praying, trembling, in the dust I roll,
And dawning grace is op'ning on my soul:
Come, if thou dar'st, all charming as thou art!
Oppose thyself to Heav'n; dispute my heart;
Come, with one glance of those deluding eyes
Blot out each bright idea of the skies;
Take back that grace, those sorrows, and those tears;
Take back my fruitless penitence and pray'rs;
Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode;
Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God!

No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole;
Rise Alps between us! and whole oceans roll!
Ah, come not, write not, think not once of me,
Nor share one pang of all I felt for thee.
Thy oaths I quit, thy memory resign;
Forget, renounce me, hate whate'er was mine.
Fair eyes, and tempting looks (which yet I view!)
Long lov'd, ador'd ideas, all adieu!
Oh Grace serene! oh virtue heav'nly fair!
Divine oblivion of low-thoughted care!
Fresh blooming hope, gay daughter of the sky!
And faith, our early immortality!
Enter, each mild, each amicable guest;
Receive, and wrap me in eternal rest!

See in her cell sad Eloisa spread,
Propp'd on some tomb, a neighbour of the dead.
In each low wind methinks a spirit calls,
And more than echoes talk along the walls.
Here, as I watch'd the dying lamps around,
From yonder shrine I heard a hollow sound.
"Come, sister, come!" (it said, or seem'd to say)
"Thy place is here, sad sister, come away!
Once like thyself, I trembled, wept, and pray'd,
Love's victim then, though now a sainted maid:
But all is calm in this eternal sleep;
Here grief forgets to groan, and love to weep,
Ev'n superstition loses ev'ry fear:
For God, not man, absolves our frailties here."

I come, I come! prepare your roseate bow'rs,
Celestial palms, and ever-blooming flow'rs.
Thither, where sinners may have rest, I go,
Where flames refin'd in breasts seraphic glow:
Thou, Abelard! the last sad office pay,
And smooth my passage to the realms of day;
See my lips tremble, and my eye-balls roll,
Suck my last breath, and catch my flying soul!
Ah no — in sacred vestments may'st thou stand,
The hallow'd taper trembling in thy hand,
Present the cross before my lifted eye,
Teach me at once, and learn of me to die.
Ah then, thy once-lov'd Eloisa see!
It will be then no crime to gaze on me.
See from my cheek the transient roses fly!
See the last sparkle languish in my eye!
Till ev'ry motion, pulse, and breath be o'er;
And ev'n my Abelard be lov'd no more.
O Death all-eloquent! you only prove
What dust we dote on, when 'tis man we love.

Then too, when fate shall thy fair frame destroy,
(That cause of all my guilt, and all my joy)
In trance ecstatic may thy pangs be drown'd,
Bright clouds descend, and angels watch thee round,
From op'ning skies may streaming glories shine,
And saints embrace thee with a love like mine.

May one kind grave unite each hapless name,
And graft my love immortal on thy fame!
Then, ages hence, when all my woes are o'er,
When this rebellious heart shall beat no more;
If ever chance two wand'ring lovers brings
To Paraclete's white walls and silver springs,
O'er the pale marble shall they join their heads,
And drink the falling tears each other sheds;
Then sadly say, with mutual pity mov'd,
"Oh may we never love as these have lov'd!"

From the full choir when loud Hosannas rise,
And swell the pomp of dreadful sacrifice,
Amid that scene if some relenting eye
Glance on the stone where our cold relics lie,
Devotion's self shall steal a thought from Heav'n,
One human tear shall drop and be forgiv'n.
And sure, if fate some future bard shall join
In sad similitude of griefs to mine,
Condemn'd whole years in absence to deplore,
And image charms he must behold no more;
Such if there be, who loves so long, so well;
Let him our sad, our tender story tell;
The well-sung woes will soothe my pensive ghost;
He best can paint 'em, who shall feel 'em most.

In spite of the wealth of exquisite verse in this lengthy poem (my favourite lines include: "Soon as thy letters trembling I unclose,/ That well-known name awakens all my woes./ Oh name for ever sad! for ever dear!/ Still breath'd in sighs, still usher'd with a tear." and "How oft, when press'd to marriage, have I said,/ Curse on all laws but those which love has made!/ Love, free as air, at sight of human ties,/ Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies,/ Let wealth, let honour, wait the wedded dame,/ August her deed, and sacred be her fame;/ Before true passion all those views remove,/ Fame, wealth, and honour! what are you to Love?"), the stanza highlighted in bold type above is the actual lines quoted in the movie itself. It was spoken by Kirsten Dunst's nurse receptionist character to Tom Wilkinson, who played the doctor in the movie. But this heart-breaking story between Kirsten as the "stupid little girl with a stupid little crush" and Tom as the outwardly-upstanding-but-morally-ambivalent "monster" is only secondary to the main plot, which is the love story between two characters with diametrically-opposed personalities, the reclusive Joel and the extroverted Clementine.

The central character - and indeed the narrator - in the movie is Joel Barish, an intellectual type who journalled all his musings and observations and obsessions into his notebook all the time (played by the brilliantly counter-intuitive casting choice of Jim Carey, whose performance is uncharacteristically subtle and nuanced). His love interest is Clementine (played by the ever effervescent Kate Winslet), who works at a Barnes and Noble's bookshop.

Just the fact that the two central characters are bookish types would have made me love this movie, but what really blew me away is the amount of quality literary references elegantly, memorably, yet unobtrusively inserted into the movie that made this an absolute gem. I'm so enamoured with this movie that I actually got the screenplay, and I am so grateful to be able to read these beautiful literary references in black and white, such as the one about the Velveteen Rabbit (coincidentally, this was also used as a plot device in that old favourite of mine on the telly, Friends. Can any of you remember how it was used without Googling?).

Rather than force my readers to go find those scenes again in the movie, I'll save you all the hassle (though come to think of it, watching Eternal Sunshine again wouldn't be a hassle at all but a pleasure). Allow me to share with you some of these scenes with literary references from the shooting script.

Crying over Robert Frost:
Clementine: Me neither. Oh, there's an inscription on the back.
(Clementine takes the photo off the wall and shows Joel the inscription on the back.)
Joel: Frost?
Clementine: [Impressed] Yeah. I'm not, like, a Robert Frost lover by any stretch. His stuff seems strictly grade school to me. But this made me cry for some reason. Maybe because it's grade school, y'know?
The Velveteen Rabbit:
Clementine: Do you know the Velveteen Rabbit?
Joel: No.
Clementine: It's my favourite book since I was a kid. It's about these toys. There's this part where the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit what it means to be real. [Crying, then laughing at herself].
Clementine: I can't believe I'm crying already. [Reading from a worn copy of the book]. He says, "It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Laughing at the pretensiousness of theatre-luvvies:
[Clementine leads Joel into a crowd of people outside a Broadway theatre. They listen to conversations around them. Clementine adopts a mock-sophisticated tone, attempting to make it look like they are playgoers.]
Clementine: Blah blah blah good acting. Blah blah blah iambic pentameter.
Joel: [Laughing] You always break into places?
Clementine: Second Acting is a subversive act. Ticket prices are insane. Theatre belongs to the masses.
On Anna Akhmatova:
Clementine: Have you ever read any Anna Akhmatova?
Joel: I love her.
Clementine: Really? Me too! I don't meet people who even knows who she is and I work in a book store.
Joel: I think she's great.
Clementine: Me too. There's this poem...
[Joel and Clementine wandered near some beach houses closed for the summer]
Clementine: Do you know her poem that starts, "Seaside gusts of wind, / And a house in which we don't live"?
Joel: Yeah, yeah. It goes, "Perhaps there is someone in this world to whom I can send all these lines"?
Clementine: Yes! I love that poem. It breaks my heart. I'm so excited you know it. [Pointing to houses]. Look, houses in which we don't live.
Joel: [Chuckles appreciatively].

Many people find certain movies touching precisely because they contain echos of their selves. And just like Yun mentioned that she really identifies with Celine in Before Sunset, did I mention that I really, really identify with Clementine in Eternal Sunshine?

Even more than all her intelligence and subversiveness and bookishness, I love, love, love this line of hers:

Clementine: Joel, I'm not a concept. I want you to just keep that in your head. Too many guys think I'm a concept or I complete them or I'm going to make them alive, but I'm just a fucked-up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind. Don't assign me yours.

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12 Comments:

At Mon Nov 03, 04:35:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger mad dog said...

i've seen "In Her Shoes" on a flight too, quite like it!

 
At Mon Nov 03, 07:52:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Oh Mad Dog, perhaps you were on the same flight as Lu? As she also saw it on the plane :)

I watched it in the cinema and came out puffy-faced as I cried so much! It was really bizarre as my friend and I thought we were going in to see a comedy but it turned out we were in dire need of Kleenexes instead.

 
At Mon Nov 03, 08:36:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger The Man Who Loves Everton said...

no, that's not the most recent. i watched that. but i missed last week's (tuesday and the replay). and i'm going to miss it again this week.

 
At Mon Nov 03, 08:50:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Oh EM I did mention it was "one of" the most recent episodes :)

I missed the ones on RTE last week as well but E4 is about two weeks later than RTE so there's a chance that you could still catch up then.

 
At Tue Nov 04, 02:46:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger laichungleung said...

I think years ago, the New York Mass Transit Authority ran a campaign also called poetry in motion, you might be an exchange student at NYC back then. I think mostly it's because they couldn't sell any ads so they used poetry as a filler. Ha ha.

I don't know the deal of Julie Delpy. She is either extremely talented or she is an ego maniac. I guess the truth lies somewhere in between. She has this movie called 2 days in Paris, of which she is credited as the director, writer, co-producer, original music composer, film editor, additional still photographer and above all the lead actor. No wonder unemployment is kind of high in France. By the way, I have never really seen any of her films.

The only film I look forward to is Quantum of Solace. Whoo Hoo.

 
At Tue Nov 04, 03:28:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger laichungleung said...

Now for the ellipsis, do you want to leave a space first, like in your case, a space after the character n before you start to dot?

 
At Wed Nov 05, 08:40:00 p.m. GMT, Anonymous mad dog said...

ha, i saw that 2 yrs ago, shouldn't be the same flight as lu.

LCL: i dun like 2 Days in Paris. julie delpy can only act with her so-called pretty face. director? let woody allen do it pls...

 
At Tue Nov 11, 01:44:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Oops sorry for my delay in replying back folks! I didn't realise there were additional comments on this post.

LCL: Yes I remember very well the "Poetry in Motion" campaign on the subway!!! I was actually wondering who might be able to spot the provenance of the blog title and of course, only a true New Yorker could (or a Londoner, as they have - had? - that campaign for the London Underground too).

About the ellipsis, of course you DON'T add a space before. Otherwise it would be as ridiculous as adding a space before the comma or the full-stop or any kind of punctuation mark.

LCL and Mad Dog: I have to admit I'm quite a fan of Julie Delpy, on the basis of her performances not only in the Before Sunrise/Sunset, but also in Kieslowski's White and also her music. I do agree that she's one of those annoyingly multi-gifted people in this world, but she's a genuinely cool person in interviews and I love that she does her own thing and have that innate sense of confidence in her attractiveness even if she isn't conventionally beautiful.

But I haven't seen 2 Days in Paris so maybe I should withhold my judgment about her directorial ability until I've seen it with my own eyes :)

 
At Tue Nov 11, 05:39:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger laichungleung said...

Now I am a bit fixated on the usage of ellipsis. I have to look it up again, but I do remember coming across some usage saying quite explicitly that you have to leave a space before and after it because the usage of it is to replace some words in the middle of the sentence. The only thing I am still perplexed is because of typing, do you actually hit a space within the ellipsis like
. . .
or
...

I have to do new line to avoid automatic carriage return.

 
At Tue Nov 11, 05:42:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger laichungleung said...

About Ms. Delpy, personally I think she is pretty, maybe I have a low threshold or something, but no, I do think she is pretty.

As to the rest I am not sure because I never bother to check out her movie.

Funny thing is my wife's friend or actually my friend borrowed 2 Days in Paris using my wife's library card and the DVD ended in our house, I watched it for 15 minutes and I got distracted and never finished it ....

 
At Wed Nov 12, 09:17:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

LCL: I think your examples of the two types of ellipsis already shows you which version looks more "natural". [Not-so-gentle hint: the Second one!]

Anyway the ellipsis is designed primarily for unfinished sentences (whether due to unfinished thought or for the purpose of introducing suspense is another matter). It therefore should be treated as an extension of the full-stop (what you Yanks call the period), by having a series of full-stops, like so...

For replacing/skipping words in sentences, the correct punctuation would be to insert square brackets and then the word Redacted inside them, like this [Redacted]. Sometimes I've also seen people combine the square bracket with the ellipsis for this purpose, like this [...]. But either way, there is no need to put spaces in between the dots.

I think you're having a far more serious case of ellipsisitis than I do. You really need help...

AND I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST TRICKED ME INTO WRITING A WHOLE TREATISE ON THE ELLIPSIS!!

Oh well...

 
At Thu Nov 13, 07:23:00 a.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Re: Julie Delpy. She's actually quite ordinary-looking, and her beauty stems more from her personality and certain je ne sais quoi quality about her than her actual physical looks per se. I mean, she's not beautiful like Marion Cotillard or cute like Audrey Tautou, but she is still extremely attractive. And what's more, she ages so well! Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset is basically a case study of how a cute young guy turn into a mere sleazy bloke in the space of 10 years, but Julie Delpy retains her grace and good looks even 10 years on.

 

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