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Anomalisa


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๐ŸŽ™️ EPISODE 389: 11.19.21

If we are to look at Charlie Kaufman's directorial output as a collection of three films, and — how could we not? for there are only three to date — we consider these films as his 'children' (sorry), then Anomalisa is certainly the awkward middle child and well yeah OK sure I can relate, and I'm not just saying that either (A) as a middle child myself, or (B) because this weird demented puppet movie whose main character is 'awkward' in that he is fucked up/possibly a sociopath.

Anomalisa — a portmanteau of "anomaly" and "Lisa" — is loooooosely based on The Fregoli Delusion, a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person.
This is, of course, never referenced directly (outside of the nod to naming the central location of the film, the Fregoli Hotel). It's a concept that is so obscure and cloudy, that it feels like a Kaufman creation. There are three voice actors in this film: David Thewlis as the afflicted protagonist, Michael Stone, a customer service self-help author and keynote speaker from Los Angeles, Tom Noonan as literally every other character's voice whom he interacts with, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as our anomaly, Lisa, the miraculous voice who Michael discovers doesn't sound like Tom Noonan. It's actually a fairly simple setup, all things considered.

The stop-motion look and feel of this are phenomenal. Again, the credit and overwhelming praise Kaufman gets as writer is undisputed at this point, but his work as a director is severely underrated. All three of his films are complete movies in every respect. Here we get some amazing sound design and editing. Noonan is not just the auxiliary characters one might meet as they fly into Cincinnati for one day to give a speech (a seat mate on the plane, a taxi cab driver, a bellboy) but EVERY character, the singer of every song, even all those unseen in the background, a sort of warped cocktail party effect. It's so well done...


I now have to bring up the fact that I'm currently reading Kaufman's debut novel Antkind right now. I'm really enjoying reading the book and rewatching his filmography; I feel like it's really peppering the experience. The book's plot circles around an outsider artist's film that utilizes stop-motion animation as well. There's a clear passion for the medium. Kaufman isn't just experimenting with co-director/animation guru Duke Johnson; this is a labor of love and it shows. But there are thematic elements from the Antkind that I've seen in all three of his movies. This idea of the everyman, The Unseen, the fact that "none of those people [are] an extra; they're all the leads of their own stories." It pops up time and time again: what does it mean to have significance? What does it matter?

It's also interesting working in a hyper widescreen aspect ratio (2.39:1) here. It creates a more cinematic landspace for these puppets to exist in. And it's fascinating that he did a complete 180˚ and shot I'm Thinking of Ending Things in the boxy 4:3. Everything's a thing with this guy!

The actual Fregoli Delusion might be caused by a brain lesion, but it's inclusion here is purely metaphorical: Michael Stone is depressed and bored by life. He has achieved some middling fame but he can't deal with unavoidable and crippling despair that comes the day-to-day minutia, like small talk...


Everything's the same. It's not about the people, it's about this place and our place in it (PLANET EARTH / HUMAN EXISTENCE). Massive ideas. Do we ever really get to known anyone? Who is anyone? I pondered these questions as I watched the infamous puppet sex scene whilst working out at the Planet Fitness gym stair-master in my town. Here were my neighbors, lifting weights, on treadmills, and here I was: watching one stop-motion puppet eat out another one's pussy on my $49 Kindle Fire. I like the stair-masters at this gym because they're staggered. No two are side-by-side. And I like stair-masters in general because they are so high up (and also because of the vigorous workout they provide). I don't think the other patrons can easily discern what it is I'm watching on my tablet. But the real crazy thing is that I think they might care what I'm watching on my tablet. They're all inside their own heads, thinking their own thoughts, and I can't barely notice them when puppets (or real people) aren't having sex on my tablet's screen at the gym. They're just a voiceless hum ruminating against the barrier of noise-canceling headphones.

CHRONOLOGICALLY
EPISODE 388 - (YOU ARE HERE) - EPISODE 390 ⫸

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⤊ 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)

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