Monday, April 6, 2009

Synecdoche NY - DVD Review

SYNECDOCHE NY (**1/2) - Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Tom Noonan, Dianne Wiest and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Directed by Charlie Kaufman.

If this is a comedy, I don't get it. And if it's not, well then, I've never seen a movie that eats its own tail and its own head and back to its second tail. Until now.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, a guy who's always been unafraid to take risks, plays Kaufman's ego Caden Cotard, a struggling playwright whose life is falling apart just as he gets a big grant to create a new play. So he creates a life-size replica of New York in a giant warehouse and does an autobiographical play. But rehearsals go on for thirty years.

During this time, Caden casts an actor to play himself. Then he has to cast an actor to play the actor Caden cast to play himself. Then he has to cast an actor to play the actor to play the actor Caden cast to play himself...

The arc of this movie compares to a six-year-old doing a maze. It hits several dead ends so it just backpeddles and takes a different path.

Kaufman's a great writer, but his directing... meh. I like it better when Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry breathes life into his words. This is probably Kaufman's most indulgent script to date, and that's saying something after Adaptation (which I really liked.) This made several top-ten lists. It is definitely different, but for me, this movie is one where Emperor Charlie is wearing the least amount of clothes.

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