๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ


Synecdoche, New York


๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฟ


๐ŸŽ™️ EPISODE 393: 12.16.21

I try to avoid overreaction, hyperbole, unnecessary fawning, sweeping praise or disdain on this site; it's easy to get swept up in a moment after watching a really good (or bad) film, but it's best to keep some perspective. Try as we might, we will never come close to seeing all the movies (shit, probably never come close to seeing 1/100th of them), which is to say: there's probably something better (or worse) lurking, maybe something you don't even know about (this is what I call "the humble man's thought process"). But holy good goddamn if I didn't walk away from this recent rewatch of Synecdoche, New York thinking that it was either ๐“๐‡๐„ ๐๐„๐’๐“ ๐…๐ˆ๐‹๐Œ ๐„๐•๐„๐‘ ๐Œ๐€๐ƒ๐„ or ๐Œ๐˜ ๐…๐€๐•๐Ž๐‘๐ˆ๐“๐„ ๐Œ๐Ž๐•๐ˆ๐„ ๐„๐•๐„๐‘ or... Perhaps both? (It's Top 3 at the very least on both of those lists and I won't stand for any slander that it is not!)
To call it a "first feature" is accurate in name only: this is Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut. But he had long been associated with prestige, ground-breaking cinema; of course, most notably with his screenwriting work on multiple films by two visionaries in their own right, Michel Gondry and Spike Jonez. He was as close to a full-on collaborator on those four projects as any screenwriter will ever get to be. So when he finally steps behind the camera in 2008, he's comfortable, and it shows. Despite its very busy plotting, and cavalcade of characters, there is an ease to Synecdoche, New York. It never really feels like a "first feature" (this also isn't a broad sleight to debut films; there are plenty of instances wherein a filmmaker's first work is also their best).

And while I think the screenplay is a masterpiece and the cinematography of long-time David Lynch D.O.P. Frederick Elmes is amazing, what elevates this to the next level ultimately is an all-time performance by one of the 21st Century's greatest actors: Philip Seymour Hoffman...


There are absurd moments throughout this movie that are clearly played for laughs. Even this crushing scene where Hoffman (as theater director Caden Cotard) can't save his daughter from a life of having tattoos and being gawked at behind glass is a funny conceit. You might have to laugh to stop yourself from crying. I couldn't (in this instance). This is truly the goddam the Comedy and Tragedy Masks of Theatre (๐ŸŽญ) come to life. This is one of the few times Roger Ebert was exactly right. This is what perfection looks like.

It might take some work for you to get there, though. You have to surrender yourself to this film. From the very first beat, the audience is inundated with a sense of dread. Things are not alright. And they aren't getting better any time soon. But still, life can be wonderful. And if not wonderful, fascinating and fantastical. Absurd things are happening all the time. Assorted, rare ailments are metastasizing inside your body. Stuff is slowly killing you. You know this. We know it. The end is built into the beginning. And at points on this carousel we're afforded opportunities: to do things, make things, do nothing, destroy...


"The surface may daunt you. The depths enfold you. The whole reveals itself, and then you may return to it like a talisman." —Ebert

There isn't a single piece of dead weight in this cast, but Hoffman's only true revival is the elusive genius, the understated, and vastly underrated Tom Noonan, in the role of Caden's avatar of sorts. I kept thinking that here is a film that is screaming at you "isn't this meta?!" but it isn't really meta at all. Like those bugs and creatures that camouflage themselves as other bugs and creatures. It's a rouse. This is just a story. Noonan's Sammy feels like a ghost. Never at one point does it feel like a real person. But it ultimately isn't a construct at all. He is just a person, part of this story, part of other stories perhaps, and part of his own story, and his story has an end...


Another trap that this avoids by way of some trickery, is that Cade isn't really an avatar for Kaufman either. The white male director, here helming his first big project: it seems obvious that that would be the case. But he truly escapes it at every turn. The life and movie and the life inside the show inside the movie grow exponentially, but from the very start, it's always been about everyone...


The closest thing this has to a classic line of dialogue — "There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They're all the leads of their own stories" — is the kind of cheesy quip Kaufman would seem to avoid at all costs. So he fudges the number, by a lot, as a goof? It doesn't matter, because at that point you've either given in or bailed. Like with all his other work, there are countless cultural references and thematic undertones, weaving in and out of one another; each could fill its own blog post if not its own book. But why Synecdoche, New York truly transcends all of that, is in its heart and in its humanity. This is a Thinking Man's Movie, sure. But that's not why I like it. I like it because it makes me laugh and it makes me cry. It's a movie about being human, made for humans who, sadly, tend to forget what that means.



CHRONOLOGICALLY
EPISODE 392 - (YOU ARE HERE) - EPISODE 394A ⫸

๐š‚๐šž๐š™๐š™๐š˜๐š›๐š ๐š–๐šŽ ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š๐š‘๐š’๐šœ ๐š ๐šŽ๐š‹๐šœ๐š’๐š๐šŽ/๐š™๐š˜๐š๐šŒ๐šŠ๐šœ๐š ๐š˜๐š— ๐™ฟ๐šŠ๐š๐š›๐šŽ๐š˜๐š— ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐šŠ๐šœ ๐š•๐š˜๐š  ๐šŠ๐šœ $๐Ÿท ๐šŠ ๐š–๐š˜๐š—๐š๐š‘!

0 comments:

Post a Comment

⤊ RECENTLY RELEASED MOVIES (HOMEPAGE) • NEWLY POSTED REVIEWS ⤇ Ep. 399B (12/23), Ep. 399A (12/23), Ep. 398B (12/21), Ep. 398A (12/21), Ep. 397 (12/21), Ep. 396 (12/21), Ep. 395 (12/16), Ep. 394B (12/16), Ep. 394A (12/16), Ep. 393 (12/16), Ep. 392 (12/15), Ep. 391 (12/10), Ep. 390 (11/19), Ep. 389 (11/19), Ep. 388 (11/17), Ep. 387 (11/16), Ep. 386 (11/12), Ep. 385 (11/11), Ep. 384 (11/10), Ep. 383 (11/9), Ep. 382 (11/9), Ep. 381 (11/5), Ep. 380 (11/4), Ep. 379 (11/3), Ep. 378 (11/2), Ep. 377 (11/1)

LISTEN: FULL ARCHIVE