Saturday, December 06, 2008

Can't Stop Synecdocheizing

Because all of these things are true and more:

"Synecdoche,New York is a self-indulgent mope. It’s also a work of genius." --Robert Butler

"Dense, dazzling and emotionally devastating, "Synecdoche, New York" is certainly the most ambitious film of the year, if not the decade. A surreal exploration of art, love and death, it has the Fellini-esque feel of some lost European cinematic masterpiece that reaches far past the normal boundaries of drama and into the very essence of existence.
Since the very essence of existence doesn't quite have the popular appeal of a superhero in a colorful costume, this is not a movie for everyone. But for true cinephiles, this film is not to be missed." --Tom Long

"You'll walk out of Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York" feeling like a drunk bodybuilder just went bumper bowling with your brain." --Mike Ward

Little tiny paintings that look like smudges until you take a magnifying lens to them and they became intricate almost Arbus-like treatments of the body, aging and the truth that appearance reveals with or without our permission. Or take the house perpetually on fire and not as a dream and with the awareness of the characters as they take into account some of the inconvenience of such a home but buying it, living in it, loving in it and even stoking its fires when need be. During the walk-through of the home for sale, the fires are a concern but as the film progresses they become one condition of the home that in every other way is perfection to the character who buys it and keeps it and again, even tends it fire. It isn't that the idea of housefire becomes so surreal as to lack the implications and dangers of housefires in a realist treatment, is that the film suggests that this "dealbreaker" of perpetual housefire is not a dealbreaker when this is the house one chooses, chooses to live in and accept and indeed foster its firey terms. Since Kaufman cares so about the ties that bind us sometimes to the point of scarring, it doesn't seem that he is so far from that Eternal Sunshine critique about what deserves to disrupt and even half-destroy us because it is our house and it matters enough that we live in it. No house is our house if not this house--even if this house is on fire. If Kaufman comes near to beating the same lesson-drum here, what a crucial, so-me instrument.
Then too, are the tonal shifts from the absurd to the sadly comic, our thousand funny sorrows and the deepest miseries, loyalties and devotion. This stunner of a film is flawed (as it must be) but too is so immense and ambitious that I feel its flaws are entirely necessary and moreover, accounted-for. Besides there is more genius in this film's pinky finger, left hand than there is in any other dozen films randomly appearing at the cineplex. It is not often that I can say that I wanted to live and die all at the same time during one scene alone. Without spoiling: a little girl talking her to daddy about little bits of pizza. For that one scene, I would pay the admission to this film every day for a month--and I am not a wealthy one. But I am richer now.

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