Sunday, December 20, 2009

#5-Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Synecdoche, New York

The newsest film from the most original screen-writer today, Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche (pronounced Si-Nec-Do-Ke), New York is an ambitious piece of fiction, that will hopefully keep you entire to the amazing ending. I love Kaufman's work, and I hope to review more on this site in the months to come, he truly is a genious, and needs to be recognized as such. First entered in contest at the Cannes film festival, Synecdoche, New York, is more grounded in reality that most of Kaufman's other work. That isn't saying much however. Synecdoche had the highest budget of any Kaufman film, and that is only twenty million. Unfoutanetly, this is also the lowest grossing film, making back only four million. Granted this film was only put in limited realese, and is the type of film a general audience isn't interested in seeing. This, like of all of his work, is very much a fantasy, visually, and storywise, in some cases, but its true heart is so grounded in reality, that it almost makes you happy that life isn't this great crazy world that he has envisioned, this is why I like Kaufmans work, it's mostly happy, yet underminingly depressing, and therefore, creates an amazing emotion.

First let me start by saying that this film has an incredible cast, including, but not limited to: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Cathrine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Hope Davis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dianne Wiest, the list could just go on, and on. All of them perform so amazingly in this piece, especially because it takes place over the course of nearly thirty years. The characters age, and chance nearly ever frame, and the actors keep up and know how to move and speak. I think that Hoffmans performance alone by the end of this movie make it well worth watching, add in the rest of the cast, and everything else, and oh, it is such a great life experience.

The story, like all of Kaufmans work is original and groundbreaking. Caden Cotard is a playwrite, who is having trouble with his home life. However his plays are going fantasictally. Eventually, his wife leaves him, takes their daughter, and sends him into a mid-life crisis. Once his production of Death of a Salesman gets reviewed marvelously by critics, he is given a grant to make the world a better place through plays. So he sets out to make an epic, about life. Thousands of cast members, all with seperate storys, the play being over 17 years into production, and all taking place on a life-size New York set, inside an impossibly large wearhouse.

Now, I liked this story, well, I liked the idea anyway, it was fun, and intriguing. But, then you start to watch the movie, and he doesn't even get the warehouse until at least fifty minuets in. And this movie is about two hours long. So it was kind of slow at the beggining, but once it got rolling it was very interesting and fun. Ideas come into play about Cotards character within his own play, so while he's directing, thats part of his life, so then he has to direct himself, directing the cast, then he has to direct himself, directing himself, directing his cast, and so on and so forth, until we have nearly six Caden Cotards running around. It was very cool.

"I didn't jump Sammy! Get up!"

This is also Kaufman's first time directing a picture. And he did an okay job, an excellent job for a first time. However, like I mentioned above, the pacing seemed very off at some points, and the story had scenes that take thirty seconds, and scenes that take thrity minutes, and it all seemed very strange, with the jumping and editing. I feel that Kaufman is more of an Assitant Director than a full-fledged one.

The music, was also phenomonal in this film. Not only the music but the camera work, the whole sweeping city sky-line that is all in one tiny building, the excellent sense of lighing. The techinal stand-point of the movie was great. The make-up and costume design team really should be given some credit here, they make all the actors swap age rapidly, and the clothes keep up with all of them, and their characteristcs perfectly.

Now, with about fifteen minutes left in the film, I was thinking the entire scope of it over to myself, wondering how I was going to grade it and what I was going to write about it. I WAS going to give it a 3.5, because of the odd pace, and the slow start, but then, the last ten minutes of the film started. That is when I totally understood it. The whole idea behind this story that Kaufman had created, the idea behind the film, it's about life, and dealing with how much of a pain it is, and was there a point to us being created at all, will we be remembered, did we do something people will know forever, or will we just be forgotten about, like our great-great-great grandparents whose names we don't even know. And that is when I figured out how amazing the movie was. And how everybody, goes through the ideas and emotions at some point in their life. And I think it might have effected me strongly because I had just gotten out of that phase.

Overall, Synecdoche, New York, is an amazing film, from nearly every single standpoint there is. Lighting, script, music, costumes, acting, effects, make-up, and some many other things, including an amazing ending, with a great message. A slow start, and odd sense of direction do hinder the film slightly, but in no way make it any less enjoyable.

I Give Synecdoche, New York A:

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