Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Kirsten Dunst Connection: How Character and Face can Alter Feeling.

Since I was eleven years old, and 1994's Interview with a Vampire was screened at the old Hillsborough Eight Cinema, which is now a used car lot, I have had an affinity for Kirsten Dunst. Her tiny, doll faced, Claudia, hugging her mother's diseased body in the back street slums of New Orleans, even then, felt like the greatest tragedy before the dark and creeping beauty of an eternal world set the scene. At that moment, it was all I wanted to be.

And this is not about idolization; no, all my idols are dead. It just seems that at most every point of Dunst's career, she was playing, in that exact moment, a part of me.

1999's The Virgin Suicides was seriously, the best film I had ever seen. At the time, I was sixteen. I was a projectionist in a movie theater; I had just transferred schools, and I only talked to the most untrustworthy people because I just wanted to be alone. In the projection booth, I would chain smoke out the back door, on the third floor, and watch the lights shifting along the expressway. I stayed in the dark rooms alone, all night, laying across the velvet cushions that covered the concrete floor, their only function as fractured movie seats. I wrote, nonstopI wrote love letters, poems, I wrote everything, and most of it I did not mean.

Coppola's film felt like me. The golden light, the sound of strings and longing. The plucked cords, the old newspapers stacked high, keeping the house behind a screen the feeling of always looking at the world through glass, as something that kept moving beyond me, felt like things that were true. And there were other things. 

That year I went to Homecoming at a factory that was decorated like a rain forest, a carnival; parts were decorated like Halloween, and we dropped acid, and I sat on a bench all night talking to a stranger, in Santa's North Pole, laughing at the audacity of Santa Claus and what he has gotten away with for so long. That Homecoming too, I started the night at a Chinese restaurant, with a blonde boyfriend, and at some part of the night, I ended up with a dark haired one that liked music, and to have fun and laugh at everything. 

I could write about Torrance in Bring It On (2000) and my long term stint as a competitive cheerleader, or how Nicole in Crazy / Beautiful (2001) and Mary in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) represent absolute pieces of my psyche and personal history and lunacy and sense of longing, but mostly, at this point, Kirsten Dunst was still on an upswing, and her film choices were frequent and diligent. Her characters swayed between strength and fragility, which most teenagers and girls in their early 20s feel, so

for this, I will focus on the physical dynamics, and that no matter where I was working (the concession stand during Bring it On, the jewelry shop during Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the bookstore/cafe during Marie Antoinette), I was asked out on numerous dates due to my physical similarities to Dunst. I received anonymous phone calls, mystery love letters; I went out on a date with a boy that kept calling me Mary Jane and attempting to convince me to dye my hair red. Once, a group of Japanese tourists asked for my photo, and another time I was on someone's scavenger hunt list. None of these things ever bothered me because at the time, I could not take one thing seriously.

I saw Marie Antoinette (2006) three times the first weekend it came out, and each time it was with someone else. Despite the intricacies of sound and silence; the brightness of light and scene versus the weary, fading feeling of becoming a shadow; the longing to see the world outside of the same glass frames that were present in The Virgin Suicides, but more refined, more designed and put together, all framed something very much the same in my life. The dreariness of Dunst's Antoinette when she was alone, completely a stranger to her new family, resonated with me. It was the dissolution of the self in order to fabricate something new for everyone else, and even still, that was not fine enough, but Marie Antoinette, despite the cultural shift it caused, was pretty much panned and pulled through the streets, ravaged entirely.

There was Dunst's Lolita photo shoot in Lula Magazine, which hit stands when I was obsessed with Nabakov, and talking to Vincent Gallo, quite frequently, about similar things;

then the "Non Plus One" film for the fashion house, Opening Ceremony, which she made with Jason Schwartzman, which I saw in my little, yellow apartment in Omaha, and I so badly wanted my relationship to reflect the same thing.

Katie Marks' in All Good Things (2010) exemplified the worst part of making the worst mistake and disappearing completely, and Dunst's Justine in Melancholia was one of the greatest, most beautiful apocalyptic dramas that I have ever seen, and her role in the film was almost as beautiful as the ultimate tragedy the great finality of life no literature, no trees, which Justine was acquainted with, already, so intimately. But even that film had a terrible run and limited release because Lars Von Trier said some pretty horrible things and was pulled from Cannes for his personal beliefs.

There is art and characters and print and film that are created at points in history, which connect so seamlessly to our universal subconsciousness, and seem as if they were always meant to be. Then there are names and faces, hair colors and dispositions, the universality of personal experience that can so easily be played out on the screen, and seem so similar in their expectancies, their heartaches and beliefs.

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