Thursday, 21 May 2009

#37 Review For ‘Synecdoche, New York’

* *

Charlie Kaufman

Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Catherine Keener
Samantha Mortan
Charlie Kaufman

Running Time
124 min

*Spoiler Alert*

As you can tell, this is my lowest rated film of the year so far. And what you might be able to see with this film is that there will be a division between reviewers. Personally I felt like two stars was the maximum amount of stars I could give it. This film is just one of those films that people love or hate. And I hated it. I even drew a picture of the director Charlie Kaufman and what he means to me. Lets get started.

Synecdoche, New York follows the life of Caden Cotard (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a manic depressant play writer. Left by his wife and finding little comfort in therapy and after some loveless relationships gets grant money to do whatever he wants. Hiring a huge cast he sets out to make a play about the “brutal honesty” of his life.

So the film, from the outside, looks to be an intellectual roller-coaster ride of surrealist film making. And it is. But it was just done horribly. First thing I want to say is that I loved Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich which was writing by the Kaufman him self. So I don’t have a vendetta against him, I was actually looking forward to this film and expected it to be a defined five stars. The negatives out way the posterities by a lot so its such a shame to see a film with great potential.

Ok so why is the film bad you ask? Well to start with, all the scenes in the film aren’t longer then five minutes. The film rushes along as if it is trying to get to something important. Which I guess was the indoors city. There was so much to take in, I have forgotten a vast majority of the story. Also because the story rushed by it as hard to keep up with characters. Sometimes there are years between a scene, which aren’t notified so we only find out the time skip though a slightly old Caden. To me that’s poor film making, if you rely on the audience to notice the gaps between the years. After Caden’s first wife Adele leaves him with his daughter of four Olive to run away to Germany to pursue a life of art, then the hole film goes to pure madness (and not the good Evil Dead type madness). You can’t tell whether Caden is in Germany or in New York. And New York isn’t even mentioned or notified it’s just there in the distance.

Then the film becomes twisted as Caden watches his naked tattooed daughter dancing in a strip club for him. The film just dissolves into “what where you thinking”, like when Caden’s PA (or love interest of the time) buys a burning house which isn’t a metaphor for something, the characters even talk about it. What’s that all about? Towards the end of the film it just gets stupid as the actors of the real characters get actors them selves, it just becomes a world in a world in a world in a world. And the end fifteen minutes are rushed and ridicules. Some noise is heard outside and when he goes out the next day people are dead. Not explained why. They’re just dead. It was a terrible ending to a bazaar film

I decided to draw a picture (above) of Charlie Kaufman with the screenplay for Synecdoche, New York. Notice how pages of madness come out of his massive head even though the script is written. The film just felt like several scripts stuck together, but was accepted because it’s a Kaufman script. He’s always been know to write weird screenplays but this just shows that he should stop. What Kaufman is in need of is an editor and a producer who will tell him what not to do. This film is just a product of too much freedom. If toned down and had the fat trimmed off a lot of it, it could have been a more enjoyable film. Synecdoche, New York was the first time I’ve considered walking out because the film out stayed it’s welcome. I has hoping he died because he did nothing. And he wasn’t a character to sympathise with because he was so unlikable and boring.

Ok now something’s I like about the film. For a start Phillip Seymour Hoffman was very good in it. It could even be seen as his crowning achievement because even though I disliked the character he acted surprisingly well. That’s the first star. Now the second star is for the cinematography. For a debut film it was pulled off well. Even though I hated the film I was admiring the camera work (not the editing). And that’s the only two pluses, I am not even going to go into it. That’s it.

Being honest I just think this is a cult film. In twenty years I could look back and be like what was I thinking it’s a brilliant film. But now I just thought it was poorly executed. And as I said yes earlier it will get divided opinions among reviews so it’s something you as the reader are going to have to watch yourself and decided if you like it or not.

Depressant. Green poo. Small canvases. Stalkers. Germany. Lesbians. Suicide. Death Of A Salesman. Incestuous strip tease. Pink box. Breaking and cleaning. That doesn’t make sense and neither does this film.

Oliver Hunt

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