Synecdoche, New York

Started by MacGuffin, August 11, 2006, 12:36:05 PM

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Quote from: picolas on August 19, 2011, 02:33:02 PM
i did a total 180 on this. i felt exactly the way jb feels when i left the theatre and for many months afterwards. now i think it's a big 'ol masterpiece. i don't want to write an essay about it right now, but the thing that began to unlock it for me was kaufman describing a theme of the movie as 'the negative aspects of total artistic freedom/creative control'. it's also about the futility of building 'masterpieces' when we're already part of the biggest work of art ever, a work of art that is constantly changing. eg. the apocalyptic future that caden has no time to incorporate into his piece, which eventually overwhelms and destroys it, making it irrelevant on many levels. this is kind of a giant metaphor for caden's inability to accept dirt and decay, and his secret passion for cleaning and basically keeping everything the same, which is also futile. deep down he wants to be a cleaning lady, and this idea stares him right in the face throughout the film, but he refuses to accept it as his true calling. keener's character suggests that the only way to be a successful artist is through specificity. eg. narrowing and reflecting reality into tiny paintings, NOT obsessively recreating the universe. even though we'd all like to do that, it's the coward's (cotard's) way out.

You nailed it. It's a pretentious piece of shit movie about white people trying to be artistic.
Falling in love is the greatest joy in life. Followed closely by sneaking into a gated community late at night and firing a gun into the air.


i would call it anti-pretentious. and anti-piece of shit. like a war movie, it has to show you the big piece of shit at its shittiest. it is definitely about white people though.

Jeremy Blackman

Honestly, I should give the film a second chance to be fair. Even though I saw sparks of brilliance and was very much a Kaufman fan, I absolutely hated the experience of seeing this movie. And that could change.

It was a long time ago, but the biggest thing I remember was the scene with an old PSH and Morton talking on a park bench or something, and it was this incredibly sentimental/pretentious/dumb dialogue about nothing of interest or importance... I think that's the point at which I said "screw it, this is horrible."


Quote from: Jeremy Blackman on August 19, 2011, 03:41:29 PM
I remember one of Synechdoche's major weaknesses being the "old makeup." It was just horrible. Like it was caked on and could start falling off in clumps at any moment. Was that intentional/ironic?(It looks even worse than the old makeup parodied in Walk Hard.)

I noticed that, how you could fucking see it peeling around their neck and jowls, haha. That was definitely my biggest criticism of the film, but I guess I cut Kaufmann a little slack for being a first timer. Still, it's all in the details.


I just re-read all this. I guess it's time to watch this again and maybe actually say something coherent this time!
it's not the wrench, it's the plumber.


I actually didn't get to finish this. There wasn't enough momentum to keep me watching which doesn't usually happen. And that's kind of bizarre because it had some really cool elements and some of the later sections seemed promising. I'll get around to it at some point.


i love jon brion's track:

probably the best song he's ever done for a film, i like it better than Here We Go, with which it seems to share a lot of themes.

of course PTA rejected the latter from use in the actual film, which may have precipitated the end of their collaboration.
under the paving stones.


i miss Roger Ebert, btw, whose passions mattered.

Charlie Kaufman was forty-one when Being John Malkovich was released, fifty when Synecdoche was released. that sounds right. Kaufman feels years ahead of me. Synecdoche has conceptual similarities to my novella i mention, except Synecdoche has richer concepts.

i'm not sure this movie concept could be better or fuller conceived. fundamentally speaking the viewer is asked to become tired of the movie, for the movie to be like the person.

the tricky part for me begins after Tom Noonan is cast:

QuoteSammy Barnathan: Why I cried... Because I've never felt about anybody the way I feel about you. And I want to fuck you until we merge into a Chimera, a mythical beast of penis and vagina, eternally fused, two pairs of eyes that look only at each other, and lips, ever touching, and one voice that whispers to itself.
Caden Cotard: Okay. You got the part.

about Kaufman writing that i have what is called "envy," since on top of him writing this he concocts a scene in which it's reasonable a person would say it. and Caden's anxious listening, his dread and hope, that's a PSH quality shining through a strange moment.

Noonan, first seen (by me) peering from behind a tree, his introduction and inclusion couldn't be better written, i don't think. they could be written differently, but they couldn't be written better in terms of this being a conceptual narrative. so the problem is i consider his casting scene the conceptual narrative's ceiling, and i don't think the narrative rises above it through the next hour until the end.

which feeling of being trapped is a theme within the movie. given the character, and the execution of the narrative, an audience member has the liberty of being able to weigh this movie with a personal scale. given the number of themes in this movie i think it's impressive that Kaufman gives the audience this power. and simply, Caden isn't a wonderful person at all. he's oppressively egotistical, as Noonan says before he takes action to prove he feels this way.

mentioning now in 2015 that Kaufman made a good call in having Dianne Wiest replace Noonan as Caden.

Caden is obsessed with thinking about himself within this world. he doesn't like how things look and can't make them right, though we see him try. but cannot one see in this movie that one's worries help create their problems? the scene with PSH and Samantha Morton in the car at night, "I'm fine, I have Derek," tears in PSH's eyes -- myohmy. that's Solondz-level tragic. i cannot believe Kaufman is promoting this life or perspective, because i do think there is another life one can choose to live over the miserable.

what is there to find in one's misery? Kaufman explores this question as much as he can. Synecdoche reminded me how far the artistic representation of misery has been taken and how little rewards it gives a person:

QuoteCaden Cotard: I will be dying and so will you, and so will everyone here. That's what I want to explore.

accepting my mortality and appreciating that i get to live has been my recent life goal, and this movie promotes it, since apparently a person isn't given a gift of happiness at the end of a miserable life, which well i guess i always hoped that's what would happen and i'm currently drafting a new life plan.

Find Your Magali

Quote from: tpfkabi on November 23, 2008, 10:28:46 PMWhat does everyone think of Jon Brion's score?

I thought it was possibly the weakest part of the film, but I also imagine it was the greatest challenge he ever faced. I wouldn't even know where to begin scoring this movie.