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Old 11-29-2007, 09:46 PM   #1
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Synecdoche, New York...

...also known as my new front-runner for awesomeness in 2008.

What a bizarre title you might be saying. Well, it's pretty clever actually. Go look up "synecdoche" in the dictionary, then read this film synopsis courtesy of IMDB:

Theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is mounting a new play. Fresh off of a successful production of Death of a Salesman, he has traded in the suburban blue-hairs and regional theater of Schenectady for the cultured audiences and bright footlights of Broadway. Armed with a MacArthur grant and determined to create a piece of brutal realism and honesty, something into which he can put his whole self, he gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in Manhattan's theater district. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a small mockup of the city outside. As the city inside the warehouse grows, Caden's own life veers wildly off the tracks. The shadow of his ex-wife Adele (Catherine Keener), a celebrated painter who left him years ago for Germany's art scene, sneers at him from every corner. Somewhere in Berlin, his daughter Olive is growing up under the questionable guidance of Adele's friend, Maria (Jennifer Jason Leigh). He's helplessly driving his marriage to actress Claire (Michelle Williams) into the ground. Sammy Barnathan (Tom Noonan), the actor Caden has hired to play himself within the play, is a bit too perfect for the part, and is making it difficult for Caden to revive his relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel (Samantha Morton). Meanwhile, his therapist, Madeline Gravis (Hope Davis), is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. His is second daughter, Ariel, is retarded. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. As the years rapidly pass, Caden buries himself deeper into his masterpiece. Populating the cast and crew with doppelgangers, he steadily blurs the line between the world of the play and that of his own deteriorating reality. As he pushes the limits of his relationships, both personally and professionally, a change in creative direction arrives in Millicent Weems, a celebrated theater actress who may offer Caden the break he needs. By seamlessly blending together subjective point-of-views with traditional narrative structures, writer/director Charlie Kaufman has created a world of superbly unsteady footing. His richly developed cast of characters flutter between moments of warm intimacy and frightful insecurity, creating a script that brings to life all the complex and beautiful nuances of shared life and artistic creation. Synecdoche, New York is as its definition states: a part of the whole or the whole used for the part, the general for the specific, the specific for the general.
Yeah, it's weird. It's complex. It's probably pretentious. But this is Charlie Kaufman we're talking about. You know, the most creative writer in Hollywood? Penner of great works of genius like Being John Malcovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind among others.

This is going to be his directoral debut, and he's got quite the cast and crew doing this thing with him. It's currently in post-production, having wrapped filming in September, but who knows when it's going to see theaters.

Now, I've known about this film for a while, and have always been excited about it, but today I acquired the original draft of the film's script (which isn't TOO different from the shooting script I discovered), and I've currently read the first 36 pages of it, and will likely read quite a bit's just that good.

Honestly, I haven't read or seen anything quite like this before. It's one of the most intelligent, bizarre, unique, personal, humorous and wholly entertaining things I've read in a long time, and it's by far Kaufman's most ambitious film script to date. I probably won't read the whole thing, so as to save some of the story to discover in the theater, but this is something that will surely benefit from repeat viewings/readings anyway.

Let me just share a few of my favorite moments from very early in the script to give a taste of the fantastic writing found here:


Caden continues to look at the front page.

"They found Avian Flu in Turkey. In the country Turkey not turkeys. It's in chickens."

Adele is making a peanut butter sandwich for Olive.

"Can I watch TV till school?"

He turns on the TV for Olive and goes back to his paper. A cartoon cow talks to a cartoon sheep.

"There is a secret, something at play under the surface, growing like an invisible virus of thought."

The sheep nods. Caden pours himself some more coffee, opens the milk carton to pour some in, then sniffs at the spout. He checks the date on the carton. It's October 20.

"Man. Milk's expired."

He goes back to his paper.

"But you are being changed by it."

The sheep nods. Adele puts a peanut butter sandwich in front of Olive.


Yeah, so it's weird, and funny, and that's out of context. But the first 30 minutes or so of this film is already prone to be some of the most stimulating cinema to come out of America in recent years.

This is one to look out for next year. You can quote me on that.


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Old 11-29-2007, 10:02 PM   #2
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A great writer does not a great director make.

But I'll be there just the same.

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Old 11-29-2007, 10:11 PM   #3
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True, though I do think Kaufman has always closely collaborated with his directors throughout his writing career, specifically with Jonze. Maybe this is his next step to becoming a great filmmaking auteur. He certainly wouldn't be the first writer turned director to show a great success behind the camera either. And with a script like this, a crew of such high caliber collaborating with him, and some of the best actors in the business, I simply can't see this one missing the mark.
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Old 11-29-2007, 10:37 PM   #4
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I've had my eye on this one, too, and it does look very promising. Hopefully Kaufman proves to be as good of a director as he is a writer, if not, than that's okay. I'd rather him stick to his real skill instead of half-assedly (probably not a real word), like M. Night Shyamalan, a brilliant director, but self-fellating and overwrought screenwriter.
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