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Synecdoche, New York (2008)
The Living Theater Of Charlie Kaufman
It was bound to happen. The brilliant writer of "Being John Malkovich", "Adaptation" and "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" made his directorial debut. Interesting, yes, without question, but self conscious to the point of distraction. Kaufman's mind with all its implications is a the center of this dream colored by illness and paranoia. Strange echoes of Julian Beck and Luis Bunuel made the experience rather gripping but I must confess I felt the need to run home and take a long shower after the film and read something funny, I selected Alan Bennet's "Uncommon Reader" It worked. I may even go again to see this Charlie Kaufman film with its unpronounceable title. I guess that even that is on purpose, so we all can refer to it as Charlie Kaufman's movie. Philip Seymour Hoffman is great, as usual. This time I also felt his body odor. Yuck! I remember Hoffman's dirty fingernails even when he was playing Truman Capote so I presume that is the actor's trait and not the character's, although, here, the filth that he exudes matches perfectly his story. Catherine Keener and Emily Watson are also superb but Samantha Morton, once again, got me completely. I will advise you to see it, at your own risk.
An Appalling Masterpiece
The laughter is genuine even when I was appalled at what I was laughing at. Is Sacha Baron Cohen a genius of sorts or the biggest smart ass to hit the screens in a long, very long time? He makes John Waters appear like an (old) Disney product. The nastiness works because it is immediately recognizable and his targets live next door if not with me between my four walls. It is a social-horror-documentary. The three guys talking about women between beer and beer was so horribly real that I wanted to leave the theater laughing and screaming at the same time. Borat is not tender about his own background either. He is an equal opportunity offender if I ever saw one. The world is a cesspool and nobody is immune. Even his innocence is corrupt. I've been considering seeing it again, as the whole thing in one single disgusting lump was too much to take but I'm not sure I want to. I'll wait for the DVD where I'll be able to select and discard. My only question is now, what will Sacha Baron Cohen do for an encore.
A Bit Of Teaching, A Lot Of Preaching, Oodles of Talent
I loved "Amores Perros" It was revolutionary in so many ways and smelled like the real thing even if I couldn't quite put my finger as to what the real thing really was. "21 Grams" had gigantic intentions and superb performances but didn't feel quite revolutionary because we had kind of seen it before - and better - in "Amores Perros". Now "Babel" and, my goodness, the first thing that comes to mind is, what an extraordinary filmmaker Inarritu really is. I suspect that his universe, even if it feels infinite, it is framed - beautifully so - between the walls of biblical references. His methods may be way ahead of the times but the roots are as ancestral as fire itself. I'm not sure where I want to go with all this but the question is, Inarritu is taking me places and that's what I long for in a filmmaker. He's not taking any of us for granted and I'm very grateful for that. His movies are experiences and I for one can't wait for the next one.