I just saw the most interesting movie tonight. At least i think it was interesting, i’m still trying to figure it out. It was Synecdoche, New York by writer/director Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Enternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Here are some thoughts that pop into my brain about it:
The one word i can think of is recursive. When a character who is in a play, creates another play and gets a character to play himself to start another play inside the play – it becomes a mindfuck. And that play is about starting a play and getting another character to play himself and so on. It’s all recursive. It made me think of Adaptation and how Charlie Kaufman has done this before with a movie that is describing itself to the audience. A movie that is self-aware. In fact that’s what Kaufman does every time. “Being John Malkovich” literally got inside Malkovich’s mind, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” has someone who was at once a spy and a game show host, “Adaptation” had twin brothers who would act out roles the other could not, and “Enternal Sunshine” is all about holding on your memories.
The movie reminded me of how i felt when i watched PT Anderson’s Magnolia. I am thinking: this is a fascinating story, these are great actors with great performances (Phillip Seymour is awesome in both), and these are great and unpredictable and non-cliched lines. This is so close to being a great movie, but it’s not GREAT because it’s too long and it’s not hitting me at the core hard enough. The film didn’t HIT me. Those two directors, PT and CK, will each make a GREAT movie – a true classic. Both have been close, but neither has yet. That said, i didn’t like “Big Lebowski” the first time i saw it and i could see myself drooling over this after the 2nd and 3rd viewings.
The movie is LONG. It didn’t bother me because none of it is cliched. If it ended at one point, it would have been a nice and neat story. But it didn’t and added a whole other element. The length made it more about life – everybody’s (or anybody’s) life. Someone getting a job, growing, changing, making mistakes, having success and failures and acting as someone else and later feeling remorse. All the actions of life are on display here. That’s not a nice and neat story, which this could have been at 90 minutes but at 130 and much bigger it’s quite an interesting movie. It’s more comprehensive
In these times of self-absorption and self-centeredness, never has there been a hero or story where someone self-examines themselves to the extend that Caden Cotard (Phillip Seymour) does in S,NY. All he does is think about himself, his shortcomings, he ailings and failings. He’s so self-conscious that his closest confidant is someone who has followed him around for 20 years whose day-to-day role is to also act like Caden Cotard. He is so far in his head that he confuses weeks for years, forgets daughters and is fine substituting actors of himself for himself. The whole movie is just so damn existential.
You all have any other thoughts?
- Charlie Kaufman, Director: Synecdoche, New York
- Charlie Kaufman On Being – And Directing
- Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Mind-Bending Trip
- SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK : Upcoming Movie Trailer
- Synecdoche, New York
- Exclusive: ‘Synecdoche, New York’ Poster Premiere