Friday, February 27, 2009

Synecdoche, New York

I've finally seen Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York, and jeezus. I thought his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was trippy. How this film didn't sweep the Oscars I don't understand. Wait, yes I do. It's relentlessly bleak—in that Woody Allen 'obsessed-with-death' way—but it's also belly crunch hilarious. I had to stop and rewind a dozen times because I missed things, overcome by a wheezing laughter. There is not a feel good moment in the film and yet it left me strangely uplifted.

Charlie Kaufman is a contortionist of the mind. Again, like in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he stretches and reshapes time (and space, to a degree) until you just have to let go, and yet, a firm narrative structure is always present, never abandoned. It's an amazing feat of screenplay-ism.

The film is remarkably cast. Philip Seymour Hoffman is, well, he's one of the best actors working today and he is perfect for the role of representing, on film, the introverted, insecure because he's seen the abyss genius of Charlie Kaufman. His performance is better, ten times better, and funnier, than anything he's done before. Imagine that! Catherine Keener? Has any one ever had a bad word to say about her? The pièce de résistance, however, in a creepy as if it were meant to be but will never happen again but seems like it may have, or should have, been done before kind of way is, Emily Watson playing Samantha Morton. You'll have to see it to understand. If a fifth wall existed, this film would shatter it.

Casual movie-goers will find Synecdoche, New York difficult, dark, pretentious and hopeless, but if you like film, if you like writing, if you like artistic commitment, if you like mind-fuck hilarity, don't miss it.


Lemmy Caution said...

I've been REALLY looking forward to seeing this for some time now. Just got a 'copy' of it last night and will be checking it out this weekend! Can't wait !!!

PENolan said...

I better put this one on the queue since I love a mind fuck just about better than anything. That's why I got a kick out of the whole episode with you and the guy with the ponytail ;)

Utah Savage said...

Lemmy have fun!

PENolan, I'm glad you enjoyed the mind fuck, I'm betting Cal did not.

Randal Graves said...

Perhaps I'll Netflix the sucker when it's released. Who doesn't love bizarre flicks.

Naj said...

Hell i didnt even hear about this one!

I LOVED eternal sunshine! it was after "hiroshima Mon Amour" the best film i have seen in my life!

Lemmy Caution said...

Watched it last night.....and WOW. One of the most surreal films of the last decade or so.

Reminded me so much of the movie 8 1/2 by Fellini.

After much consideration, I believe one of the central mysteries of the film is coming to grips with WHO Caden is. While there is obviously a good amount of Caden's personality in all of the characters (right up to and including the actor who replaces him, then commits suicide) I believe Caden is actually Ellen.

This is revealed in Adele's painting of Caden and in the constant references to his feminine side throughout the entire film.

Loved it.