Synecdoche, New York

On New Year’s Eve I made it over to Cinema 21 to see Charlie Kaufman’s film “Synecdoche, New York”.  It’s the mind-bending story of a theater director played by Philip Seymour Hoffman who dreams up a vast play that seems to be attempting to encompass the whole world, losing himself in the process.

My take on the film is that it’s looking at our unavoidable fate, and our efforts to avoid it or to find a way to ignore it.  But it seems to posit the danger that our efforts to avoid thinking about it can in fact drain our lives of the things that make it worth living in the first place.  For Kaufman in particular one can imagine that he could start to feel that his artistic creations have more ‘life’ than he does.

I have to say that I’m not sure why one character buys and moves into a house that is literally on fire.  Perhaps the whole thing is a dream…  (it does seem to start and end at precisely 7:45am).

I felt the film could have been a little tighter, that losing 15 minutes or so would not have taken much away from it.  Worth a viewing if you like the kind of self-referential brain teasers that Kaufman specializes in.  Here’s a strange review from Roger Ebert.

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  • oakhill193  On January 5, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Finally saw this flick as well. I agree it could’ve been much shorter, like by 30 minutes! It felt like a series of different stories that kept building and building, but in the end – too much building. I found it similar to looking into a mirror with endless images continuing behind you. I didn’t particularly care for the story’s message which seemed to be hitting me over the head with example upon example. Part of it did however remind me of another movie, “The Swimmer” based on a John Cheever novel about a person chasing youth, or what once was, and cannot remember the past.

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