Author Topic: Synecdoche, New York  (Read 28923 times)

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tpfkabi

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #75 on: November 23, 2008, 02:29:14 PM »
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I'm really surprised more people on here haven't seen or written about this one yet. Seems right up our alley, for better or worse.

As far as I know this never expanded much. I haven't checked to see if the studio already gave up on it or not. It will probably go back out around Oscar time if it gets some nominations.
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cinemanarchist

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #76 on: November 23, 2008, 10:24:02 PM »
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I think the studio has given up on it at this point. It's a tough sell and I would say the trailer they cut for it is about the best you can do to appeal to a mass audience. I think Oscar noms are not likely but again I think an original screenplay nomination is deserved.
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tpfkabi

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #77 on: November 23, 2008, 10:28:46 PM »
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What does everyone think of Jon Brion's score?
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picolas

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #78 on: November 24, 2008, 05:45:34 PM »
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here's what i think:

(it's good)

©brad

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #79 on: November 24, 2008, 07:52:32 PM »
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here's what i think:

(it's good)

that was lovely.


tpfkabi

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #80 on: November 24, 2008, 11:18:06 PM »
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that was cool.
Human Nature was dissed as usual... :(
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picolas

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #81 on: November 25, 2008, 03:22:39 PM »
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thanks.

yeah.. i just don't know human nature well enough. i guess it deserves a second chance.

Fernando

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #82 on: November 26, 2008, 01:17:15 PM »
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That was wonderful pic  :bravo:

bonanzataz

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #83 on: November 29, 2008, 05:34:21 AM »
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i'm very tired but i can't sleep so this post is a little incoherent, i'm going to maybe write a better one later.

home for thanksgiving and saw this today at the only theater in the suburbs that was playing it with mom (awww). since the last time i'd been to this theater, more or less an arthouse, a lot of renovation had been done. the ticket booth was newer, the bathrooms were updated, they installed new (p)leather seats and digital projectors for pre-show advertisements. unfortunately, they never updated their film projectors. the print was scratched to hell with a green line running vertically through the frame for the entire length of the film and other vertical black lines and specks as well. the movie is shot in widescreen but was projected 1.85, so things kept getting cut off on the sides. for the first 10 minutes, we were considering leaving, but as the film went on and as we made our way to the second reel, we let it wash over us and, projection flaws aside, found ourselves completely immersed. once it was over, neither of us had any real clue what it was about, but we both were thoroughly moved and amused and introspective and figured the plot didn't really matter too much anyway.

spoilers here on out...

spoils?

i'm pretty disappointed. this movie made me feel intensely sad, but not for any profound reason. i felt sad for the characters for being in such pain, but mostly for how much time and energy kaufman, who has produced some of my all-time favourite things, must've put into this.

the biggest problem with the film is that cotard is a talentless hack, and beyond that he's not an interesting character. he bullshits constantly and he's aware of it but so what? there is no secretly amazing person lying underneath all the insecurities this time. he's just a guy who can't get beyond himself. a guy who can't stop worrying about whatever it is he's worrying about. he doesn't know. he's too busy being worried. his life long crush is also not interesting at all.

there is nothing automatically good about being self-referential. this movie is self-referential in spades but SO WHAT? it's worth an odd chuckle or two and paints this really big confusing sad picture of cotard's life but so. what?

if cotard had been talented or honest in any way, this movie would've been far far more interesting. i'm kind of angry that kaufman made him so blatantly terrible at directing/creating things. it's such an easy thing to do. if cotard had it in him to make something good from the start of the movie i would've been able to care about his plight. and the movie probably would've said something about what it is to create art. all this says is it's hard to create something worth creating if you're completely devoid of honesty or self-confidence. duh.

here are some good things about it: it looks wonderful, the soundtrack is wonderful, and many of the performances are great despite the writing. there are also a lot of cool and genuinely interesting little ideas sprinkled throughout.

i don't know if i have it in me to give this thing another chance.. the feeling that kaufman messed up in such a massive way is so upsetting and frustrating. i probably will at some point because it's kaufman.


but did you not think the movie was an apt metaphor for itself? it kept getting bigger and bigger with no restrictions or direction, but it knew it had something to say and it had a lot of heart. i suppose you do describe how self-referentiality isn't always necessarily a good thing, and i'd agree with that, but i think that it's pulled off very well here. the emotion rings truer for me than something like inland empire, which i think was trying to make the same self-referential points about an artist spiraling out of control, as there's more of a life force here and a sense of humanity and even self (despite the fact that the only way to figure his life out is as somebody else, i think...).

i don't think cotard was a talentless hack. i think he was just misguided and didn't know where to put his ideas. he clearly knows how to speak with actors and get performances out of them, he just has a hard time directing and wrangling himself. we never got to see much of his death of a salesman staging, but we hear that the ny times gave it a decent review and he gets a macarthur genius grant so he must be doing something right. can't really argue with what you said about "all this says is it's hard to create something worth creating if you're completely devoid of honesty or self-confidence," but i mean come on. you can say that about all of his films. do you mean to tell me that you think the john cusack character in being john malkovich is likable in any way? i think this movie is just a bit more abstract with a lot of the same ideas that are in all of his screenplays. the guy is weird and depressed and without a stable relationship/family structure in his life his thoughts become fragmented and life is harder and harder to live and what is self and who am i and what is bigger than that and on and on and on.

um, my arguments are admittedly half baked. i need another day. i can't edit this right now. i'm sorry i didn't wait. i'm probably not going to post here again.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotard%27s_Syndrome
The corpses all hang headless and limp bodies with no surprises and the blood drains down like devil’s rain we’ll bathe tonight I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls Demon I am and face I peel to see your skin turned inside out, ’cause gotta have you on my wall gotta have you on my wall, ’cause I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls collect the heads of little girls and put ’em on my wall hack the heads off little girls and put ’em on my wall I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls

picolas

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #84 on: November 30, 2008, 03:38:27 AM »
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but did you not think the movie was an apt metaphor for itself? it kept getting bigger and bigger with no restrictions or direction, but it knew it had something to say and it had a lot of heart.
i don't think that's enough to make it a successful movie. i agree there are lots of compelling pieces to the puzzle, but i think the sum of the parts is kind of empty. especially compared to his other works.

can't really argue with what you said about "all this says is it's hard to create something worth creating if you're completely devoid of honesty or self-confidence," but i mean come on. you can say that about all of his films.
you can say that and much more. i didn't get a larger idea from this. on first viewing. i know it's too complicated to fully digest in one sitting.

do you mean to tell me that you think the john cusack character in being john malkovich is likable in any way?
i love him as a character. i'd say he's more fleshed out than cotard, actually. likability isn't the issue. it's the depth of the character. that simpsons ep with frank grimes makes the same kind of point. everyone loves watching homer because he's a brilliant character. if you found him in real life he could be a nightmare, though.

i think this movie is just a bit more abstract with a lot of the same ideas that are in all of his screenplays. the guy is weird and depressed and without a stable relationship/family structure in his life his thoughts become fragmented and life is harder and harder to live and what is self and who am i and what is bigger than that and on and on and on.
i may be missing something about why cotard's journey is significant that you're touching on there. but i can't help comparing it to adaptation and feeling like that was a far more brilliant version of this.

adolfwolfli

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #85 on: December 01, 2008, 01:51:25 PM »
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I'm a big fan of Kaufman's work, especially "Eternal Sunshine", which is an all-time favorite of mine.  I thought "Synedoche" was just awful.  It started off very strong, but, about a half hour in, I started to get a sinking feeling that Kaufman was not in control of his own material.  It could be argued, but I doubt very persuasively, that Caden himself was losing control of his material, and therefore Kaufman's messy handling of the film is yet another meta level of self-referential commentary, but I think it was merely his lack of experience as a director showing through.  All the humor drained out of the film very quickly, and what we're left with is a grim, bleak, somewhat boring and tedious exploration of a not-very-subtle or original theme of Death with a capital D.  Yes, Charlie, we all die, the body is in decay from the minute we're born, yes, yes, we know.  What I loved about "Sunshine" and, to a lesser degree, "Adaptation", was that all of the twists and turns and dark explorations had an ultimately positive, albeit melancholy, resolution.  I must add that I am not the type of person who needs or desires happy endings.  Some of my favorite movies are bleak as hell, but this one was just a slog: joyless, tedious, grim, repetitive.

It seemed like Kaufman was trying to create a Lynchian universe of doppelgangers and horrific, nightmarish mirror-images.  But where Kaufman failed is in establishing a believable universe into which the nightmarish aspects impinge.  From the get-go, everything is dark and surreal, so, the dark, surreal goings-on of the last hour of the movie don't have any impact.  When we meet Caden, he's already living a hallucinogenic existence, so, nothing afterward has any resonance or weight; it all just seemed like dark weirdness for weirdness' sake. 

Then there are stretches of the movie that suffer from merely technical shortcomings.  The entire story line concerning Olive mutating into a tatooed stripper came out of nowhere, made no sense, and what was with the hospital scene with Caden forced to recite a confession of gay anal sex? 

I felt like there were entire stretches of screenplay that had been edited out.  I understand Kaufman was trying to create an off-kilter sense of time and time's passing, but I felt divorced emotionally from the characters because I wasn't privy to years and years of their lives.  I think a more adept director would have shot scenes that edited together better, that were more fluid, and contained more continuity.  Kubrick's smash cut from spinning bone to spaceship is the prime example of expert depiction of time passing.  In Kaufman's film, I felt like scenes were missing.   

Kaufman is saying in interviews that you have to "see it twice", but I don't want to.  What for, to be repeatedly reminding of my own eventual death?  I think, from a philosophical perspective, Kaufman is trafficking in very adolescent, passe existentialism and even nihilism.  Despite what Caden says in his speech to his actors, human beings are aware that we will die, and its this knowledge, however subconscious it may be, that drives us to create art and music and literature.  Ultimately, creation is a form of birth, and is life-affirming.  Even if you are creating a work that is ultimately about death, death is rendered meaningless as a fear or source of sadness if life itself is depicted as nothing but misery, disease, and lack of human connection.  A movie about death, in which there is no life on display, renders itself pointless.   

picolas

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #86 on: December 02, 2008, 12:15:51 AM »
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I must add that I am not the type of person who needs or desires happy endings.  Some of my favorite movies are bleak as hell, but this one was just a slog: joyless, tedious, grim, repetitive.
this is how i felt. and i had to defend myself a couple of times from the idea that i just didn't like it because it wasn't a happy movie.

Kaufman is saying in interviews that you have to "see it twice", but I don't want to.  What for, to be repeatedly reminding of my own eventual death?  I think, from a philosophical perspective, Kaufman is trafficking in very adolescent, passe existentialism and even nihilism.  Despite what Caden says in his speech to his actors, human beings are aware that we will die, and its this knowledge, however subconscious it may be, that drives us to create art and music and literature.  Ultimately, creation is a form of birth, and is life-affirming.  Even if you are creating a work that is ultimately about death, death is rendered meaningless as a fear or source of sadness if life itself is depicted as nothing but misery, disease, and lack of human connection.  A movie about death, in which there is no life on display, renders itself pointless.   
i think you've hit it on the head. well done. :(

hedwig

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #87 on: December 15, 2008, 05:32:48 PM »
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spoilers

adolf and picol, thanks for those brilliant reviews.. i read them before i saw the film and even though i disagree strongly with your insights, they were extremely helpful to me as i came to my own (semi)conclusions about the movie.

Cotard is not Kaufman. even though the film's structure gradually reflects the disjointed nature of cotard's play, the film is not necessarily a reflection of the play's themes. it's looking within it, around it, behind it.. it's not mirroring it. what i'm trying to say is that it's a mistake to confuse the ideas expressed by cotard with the ideas that are explored in this film. cotard is not a spokesman for the film's themes. i mean, how could be he? he's too confused, ineloquent, and doomed to understand his own plight. that's part of the plight.

i did not take away from this film that "we all die." not at all. making a film that says nothing more than "we all die" would be a waste of time and energy. i do agree that this is a film about death but more than anything, it's about decay and the struggle to resist its inevitability -- the decay of the human body, the decay of the mind, the decay of relationships and love. cotard obsesses on that reality to the point where he forgets that he's ALIVE NOW and that's what matters. it's explicitly stated in the film that cotard is already dead long before he dies. and that applies to all of the characters, they're hyper-aware of their own decay even if they don't voice it openly. even the most upbeat character in the film is doomed, she resides in a burning house, she knows it's on fire but she lives there anyway. (and that's where she dies.)

Even if you are creating a work that is ultimately about death, death is rendered meaningless as a fear or source of sadness if life itself is depicted as nothing but misery, disease, and lack of human connection.  A movie about death, in which there is no life on display, renders itself pointless.   
this isn't just about death as the end of life, though. it's about the death that occurs during life, as a part of life. i think your interpretation is backwards. the obsession with death as a fear and source of sadness intensifies the misery and lack of human connection, it robs life of its joy..

the tattoo daughter segment was stunning. my favorite part of the movie. that's where the audience sees the ultimate consequence of cotard's (spiritual) disease: even his most beautiful creation, his daughter, is destroyed..

adolf mentioned that Adaptation and Eternal had positive resolutions-- REALLY? the ending of Adaptation is pretty much a parody of happy endings and Eternal ends with the main characters stuck in their endless cycle of repeated failed relationships. Synecdoche NY is kaufman's most redemptive, life-affirming ending ever. throughout the film, Cotard seeks truth by exploring the darkness of the human condition. he fails, but the film does not end in darkness. i think it is pretty damn meaningful that it ends with the dream character in a rare moment of connection and love and maybe even rebirth. there is an end and Cotard can start anew. he dies. fade to white.

Gamblour.

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #88 on: December 18, 2008, 08:58:14 AM »
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spoilers

So while a movie ending with the word "die" obviously revolves around dying, death, moribundity, and all of that, I did take away the film's other statement about art itself. Cotard goes into the production of the play calling it a play about truth, right? And art does attempt to do that, reveal truth, literally or through imagery, metaphor, etc. And by having "limitless funding" he can create the ultimate art, which is just a facsimile of reality. And what I take from that is that reality and art are not the same, but they comment on each other. And his dreams about what he can create can be as vast as recreating the world itself, and he could never truly recreate it. And though this might seem to be negative, I think it says more about what we are capable of doing, how productive we can be. It's about the futility of finding truth in art, but at the same time Cotard does learn about himself. It's very dichotomous, art and life seem to be two parallel lines, never touching but always giving back and forth. I seem to have not made any point here.

It made me laugh a lot. I thought that when she demands him to ask for forgiveness, and then she denies him anyway, I thought that was funny. I dunno. And i guess the house was on fire because that's like things in life we get into knowing they'll kill us? Who knows.

However, I am SO HAPPY someone finally did something with the fact that Samantha Morton and Emily Watson look exactly the same.
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bonanzataz

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Re: Synecdoche, New York
« Reply #89 on: December 23, 2008, 02:13:23 PM »
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However, I am SO HAPPY someone finally did something with the fact that Samantha Morton and Emily Watson look exactly the same.

except for the fact that sammy girl is lookin' a little round in the tummy area lately. perhaps it was weight gained from her "stroke?"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-534213/The-curious-case-Samantha-Mortons-stroke.html


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The corpses all hang headless and limp bodies with no surprises and the blood drains down like devil’s rain we’ll bathe tonight I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls Demon I am and face I peel to see your skin turned inside out, ’cause gotta have you on my wall gotta have you on my wall, ’cause I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls collect the heads of little girls and put ’em on my wall hack the heads off little girls and put ’em on my wall I want your skulls I need your skulls I want your skulls I need your skulls

 

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