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.