Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#498: Synecdoche, New York

2008, TSPDT Rank #915

Here is another film which left me totally speechless and dumbfounded in its wake. I can't think of anything remotely like it. The similarly awestruck friend who I watched the film with said afterward, "That's not even a movie!", and the experience certainly transcends anything one would normally expect when sitting down to watch a film. It was Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, and despite (or likely because of) its wholly original vision and staggering execution of its ambitions, it came and went without much recognition. Many critics dismissed it, calling it pointless, impossible to follow, or suggesting that Kaufman needed a Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry (who respectively directed his screenplays for films such as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) to help him realize his vision. I couldn't disagree more wholeheartedly with any of those statements. Synecdoche, New York is definitely difficult to process, but it's a movie that really has something to say, and says it with guts and commitment. It both terrified and amazed me, and I feel that it is definitely a better film than any of those which Kaufman had previously written.

As with Short Cuts, I shuddered at the idea of having to put my thoughts about this film into words for a blog post. However, as I was reading through other reactions to the film online, I happened upon Roger Ebert's review of the film from its original release in 2008. His review said everything I could have wished to say about the film and more, and said it so eloquently that I felt I would be doing all of the readers of this blog a better service by posting a link to that review, rather than attempting to sum up similar sentiments in another long-winded ramble of a post. Ebert later named Synecdoche, New York the greatest film of the decade, and I currently feel inclined to agree with him.

Here's Ebert's review: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/synecdoche-new-york-2008

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