It might be too risky to say that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the key reason why the world loves Kate Winslet, simply because she has performed so phenomenally in so many other well-crafted films. But her gig as the emotionally erratic Clementine in the 2004 fantastical romantic comedy/drama, written by the genius Charlie Kaufman, certainly plays a role in the public’s lasting adoration of the actress. Catherine Keener is another actress whose impressive career is speckled with Kaufman-scripted highlights, including Being John Malkovich and Synecdoche, New York (the latter being the writer’s directorial debut). Both Winslet and Keener are reviving the Kaufmania in the screenwriter’s second stab at directing: Frank or Francis.
Winslet and Keener are joining a cast that includes stars Steve Carell, Jack Black, Nicolas Cage (himself a Kaufman returnee as well; Adaptation is arguably Cage’s best role to date) and two Kevin Klines—one playing a human, one playing a computer. May that be the first of many eyebrow raisers that you embrace with excitement as you run through the summary of Kaufman’s out-of-its-own-mind Frank or Francis.
The story, serving as a critique of sorts on entertainment bloggers (we’re beyond flattered to be part of your spectrum, CK), will place Carell in the Frank role as film director Frank Arder, who takes tremendous issue with the critical comments about his work in an online message board occupied by the socially inept genius blogger, Francis (played by Black). We’re not exactly sure what roles Winslet and Keener will take on, nor how the rest of the characters fit in just yet: Cage plays washed-up comedian/actor Alan Modell who serves as the host of the Academy Awards in the film, and Kline, as “explained” above, operates as both the brother of a successful (but not Oscar-successful) director and as a disembodied head in a computer that writes screenplays. Are your eyebrows still raised? Well, keep ’em up there. The film is a musical.
This is genius-level crazy. Kaufman’s scripts have always been odd—unhappy puppeteer finds a portal into the head of actor John Malkovich, two incompatable lovers erase one another from their memories via a special operation, the host of The Gong Show is actually a CIA agent, a guy puts on a play about himself putting on a play about himself putting on a play (and so on), Nic Cage writes a movie—but this is a whole new level. A level for which I could not possibly be more excited.