Synecdoche, New York
October 24, 2008
On the Big Board
|The movie actually makes more sense when seen than in just written description. Those that love this might like It's All About Love (I didn't.)
Okay, first off – it’s pronounced sin-neck-duh-key. It refers to a fairly specific part of speech you don’t really care about, and is a metaphor for events within the film, but for you to get it, you’d probably have to look up the definition first. Moving on.
The film, written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as an eccentric and troubled theater director, given a government grant and the instructions to do something big with it. As his ambitious, avant-garde project grows, he loses control over it, while losing touch with the outside world.
So, you know, it's probably not a cheery film. But it moved Roger Ebert to a rambling, epiphany-laced review full of vague descriptions of what life is like, so it’s got that going for it.
This is the first film directed by Kaufman, who’s been away from the big screen since 2004’s unforgettable (bad pun intended) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He has only ever directed for the stage before; Spike Jonze was originally scheduled to take the helm of Synecdoche, but backed out to go play with the Wild Things for a few years. Eternal Sunshine capped off a three-film hot streak for Kaufman, following Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and the metatextual Adaptation. For all the praise rightfully thrown on Kaufman, it’s important to point out that this is only his sixth script for the screen; hopefully, he’s still getting better.
Hoffman has been a workhorse since...well, forever. This year, he’s drawing attention not just for Synecdoche, but also for his supporting role in Doubt. Last year saw three releases from Hoffman, as did 2005. 2002 saw four. He fit in six in 1998. There’s eventually going to be a "Best Performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman" Oscar.
Joining the hardest working Capote in Hollywood (take that, Toby Jones) are Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Williams, and his recent co-star, Catherine Keener. (Sean Collier/BOP)