Anecdote, New York

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TheAmazingRando
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Anecdote, New York

Postby TheAmazingRando » Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:43 am UTC

Anybody else here seen this? It's a limited release so it isn't that easy to find places showing it if you aren't in a big city, but...
Holy. Shit.
I didn't know what to expect, except that I would probably love it, since I've loved just about everything else Charlie Kaufman has written (I was sort of ambivalent about Human Nature but it still had great writing), but I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, nor did I expect to be so utterly blown away by it. It's a day later and I'm still shivering from it, in a very good way.

The whole film is absolutely stunning. It's depressing, to the extent that in some ways it's absolutely terrifying, but it's a beautiful and introspective form of depressing. It hides itself behind layer of abstraction, surrealism, absurdity, and recursion, as Kaufman's films tend to do, but like the best kinds of art, it touches on the profound truths of humanity, art, life, and death. It blows everything else Kaufman has written completely out of the water, and I thought Eternal Sunshine was phenomenal.

This may all sound very hyperbolic, and it probably is, but this is by far the best film of the year, and I doubt it will be topped any time soon. The writing, the acting, the directing, the tone, everything. Few movies leave me reeling, or leave me thinking about them much at all after a few hours, but I just cannot get this one out of my mind.

Am I the only one?

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Malice
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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby Malice » Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:59 am UTC

I wouldn't say the best film of the year, but it's in at least the top three, and it's the best thing Kaufman's ever done. The film is brilliant in so many ways. I need to see about twice more before I really understand it, though.
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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby Virtual_Aardvark » Sat Nov 29, 2008 3:01 am UTC

I just saw it and I'm left with the feeling that it's really profound, but I still haven't a clue what its about.

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Malice
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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby Malice » Sat Nov 29, 2008 5:54 pm UTC

Perhaps this will help.

From Wikipedia:

The Cotard delusion or Cotard's syndrome, also known as nihilistic or negation delusion, is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that he or she is dead, does not exist, is putrefying or has lost his/her blood or internal organs. Rarely, it can include delusions of immortality.

It is named after Jules Cotard (1840–1889), a French neurologist who first described the condition, which he called le délire de négation ("negation delirium"), in a lecture in Paris in 1880. He described the syndrome as having various degrees of severity, ranging from mild to severe. In a mild state, feelings of despair and self-loathing occur, however it is in the severe state that a person with Cotard's syndrome actually starts to deny the very existence of the self.
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Jorpho
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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby Jorpho » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:27 am UTC

Oh look, there's a thread on this already.
TheAmazingRando wrote:Holy. Shit.
Yes, that summarizes it quite nicely. My word, more people need to see this. I don't quite get it all either.

I especially like the Minister's speech, which I will copy here from IMDB:
Spoiler:
Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make; you can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won't know for twenty years. And you may never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is: it's what you create. And even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes or it seems to but it doesn't really. And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along. Something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel whole, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is I feel so angry, and the truth is I feel so fucking sad, and the truth is I've felt so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long I've been pretending I'm OK, just to get along, just for, I don't know why, maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own. Well, fuck everybody. Amen.

I only flinch slightly at the unlikelihood that someone like Mr. Hoffman could possibly win the affections of so many unrealistically attractive women. But in a film like this it's easy to forgive breaches in reality.

It's a shame this film was in such limited release; I got it via Zip (Canadian Netflix). I'd love to pick it up some day for $3 like I did with my copy of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but that had Jim Carey's star power to carry it as far as it did.

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psychosomaticism
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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby psychosomaticism » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:42 am UTC

I rented this from the library of all places last week not knowing anything of the plot or general idea, just that it was recommended. I didn't know where the movie was going, and I couldn't figure out the point of it all until the
Spoiler:
actor auditioned for the part of the director in the warehouse, and then I finally realized that the warehouse was a synecdoche of the world of the director.


I really liked the absurdist elements of the story, with all the strange things that happen to his family and the unbelievability of the latter parts of the plot. Very existentialist.

I did think Eternal Sunshine was a bit prettier and easier to follow though. Still, not a bad movie on Kaufman's part.

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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby the_bandersnatch » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:32 pm UTC

I was very disappointed by it. I thought it started off strongly and the last 15-20 minutes were decent, but it completely fell apart in the middle under the weight of it's own pretention and the surreality-for-it's-own-sake layered on with a trowel. The minister's speech was fantastic, though, and the other monologues (over the headset, for one) towards the end were good too, but not enough to redeem the rest of the big tedious mess.
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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby dubsola » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:27 pm UTC

I actually fell asleep in the middle (not because I was bored, but because I was very tired), and I really have no idea how much I missed, but I was able to pick right up and keep going.

I love that movies like this exist, they're not for everyone, but the world would be a sad, sad place if all entertainment appealed to the LCD. Sure, it's a little pretentious, but for me the concept and execution made up for it.

My favourite is still Being John Malcovich. It has a strong sense of humour, which I don't believe this film has.

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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby fynthase » Mon Nov 15, 2010 3:58 pm UTC

Just saw this and can't stop thinking about it. Pretty sure I understand most of it, but there's at least one aspect that I'm completely at a loss with--

Spoiler:
What the fuck's the point or the effect of Hazel's house being incessantly in flames? I loved the line when the realtor is showing the house and Hazel asks, "I'm really concerned about dying in the fires" and the realtor responds with, "It's a big decision, how one prefers to die"--completely neglecting Hazel's apprehension about dying and focusing on the how aspect.


But seriously what am I missing here (I know they didn't include a burning house just for that line); I can't even come up with a plausible guess for what it signifies.

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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby Patch » Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:34 pm UTC

fynthase wrote:
Spoiler:
What the fuck's the point or the effect of Hazel's house being incessantly in flames? I loved the line when the realtor is showing the house and Hazel asks, "I'm really concerned about dying in the fires" and the realtor responds with, "It's a big decision, how one prefers to die"--completely neglecting Hazel's apprehension about dying and focusing on the how aspect.

But seriously what am I missing here (I know they didn't include a burning house just for that line); I can't even come up with a plausible guess for what it signifies.


Spoiler:
My interpretation was that there are all sorts of little things that we do that potentially shorten our lifespan (eating cheeseburgers, living in a polluted city, dieting), but we do them anyway ... and eventually we die because of one of them. We all live in houses that are burning, in that sense, and we don't spend that much time worrying about it; the movie was highlighting the absurdity.

(The metaphor can extend to any negative in your life that you just put up with, actually; it's one of my favorite bits of the movie.)


~ Patch

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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby fynthase » Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:33 am UTC

Wow--enhances my appreciation even more

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Jorpho
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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby Jorpho » Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:55 am UTC

Yes, I hadn't quite thought of it that way. I thought it was just some sort of signal to the audience that this was a movie where reality was going to go a little bit screwy.

There are some other more subtle allusions too, if you care to look them up. Consider the Cotard delusion, from which the main character and his family are named; note especially the scene where the daughter is panicking about "No blood! No blood!" Or Capgras, the name on the apartment buzzer.

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Re: Synecdoche, New York

Postby fynthase » Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:45 am UTC

The amount of allusions is really overwhelming in this movie and something tells me I've only picked up on half of them.

What did you guys think of Ellen?

Haven't quite formulated an opinion yet, but I'm leaning towards the fact that she signifies something spiritual. Despite her blatant Christianity, there's no way she can be the Christian God (gender, message, profanity, etc.), but it's definitely possible that she can represent some sort of modern half-assed religiosity. My other thought is that she could simply represent the conscience of Caden--though I doubt your conscience ever tells you to die. Going to have to watch it again to really come to any sort of opinion unless someone can point me in the right direction.

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jobriath
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Re: Anecdote, New York

Postby jobriath » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:25 pm UTC

Just finished watching. This film destroyed me. I haven't cried like this in a long time. Wasn't expecting that.

Spoiler:
Don't know what to think about Ellen. What I got (whether it's what was actually in the film) played off the fact that the film so far had been focused solely on Caden. Sam (the guy who played Caden) said this explicitly in his jump-speech. But when the woman who played Ellen convinced Caden to let her play Caden, and recast Caden as Ellen, we got to see how she (the actor*) also played host to the same sort of misery. The message I got was that everyone you meet feels as deeply as you do. That was Thing That Made Me Absolutely Lose My Shit #23.

* Was the woman who was initially cast as Ellen the real Ellen? I didn't think so, but it feels slightly right. And Caden said "You're weirdly appropriate for this role".

What's with the war sounds and the mass death? I didn't get that at all.

I'm going to go take a walk now.

Edit: Ah, Capgras. That's the name of the delusion I was trying to remember while watching the film.

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Various Varieties
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Re: Anecdote, New York

Postby Various Varieties » Mon Dec 26, 2011 5:13 pm UTC

jobriath wrote:
Spoiler:
What's with the war sounds and the mass death? I didn't get that at all.

Been a long time since I saw the film, but IIRC
Spoiler:
I took the glimpses of jeeps as hints that the real world outside the warehouse was going to pot, but Caden was too wrapped up in his work to notice.

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Jorpho
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Re: Anecdote, New York

Postby Jorpho » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:23 am UTC

Holy crap, it's $5.49 on Amazon right now.
http://www.amazon.com/Synecdoche-York-P ... 001P3SA8K/

Might as well make a forum post rather than write a note to myself.

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jobriath
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Re: Anecdote, New York

Postby jobriath » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:04 pm UTC

I watched it again yesterday and got exactly the same response as the first time. Wife refused point-blank to watch it, choosing instead to read beside me while wearing earphones, and at the end was treated to the spectacle of her husband sniffling with tears streaming down his face for ten solid minutes. We proceeded to carry out a fairly normal lovey-dovey conversation with husband delivering his lines between sobs.

Masterful film. Absolutely love it. Caught the jeeps and outside confusion this time---didn't think it added much tbh, but my thoughts on Ellen were confirmed.

Does anyone know any similar films? I'm going to catch up on Kaufman at my earliest convenience. Anything else?

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Re: Anecdote, New York

Postby charliepanayi » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:09 pm UTC

There's very little out there like this film - if you haven't seen other Kaufman-written stuff then make sure to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind though.
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"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying"

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Re: Anecdote, New York

Postby Jorpho » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:37 am UTC

Definitely start with Kaufman's other films.

Terry Gilliam's Brazil springs rather readily to mind. I also quite liked Stranger Than Fiction. (Don't let the Will Ferrell title role fool you.) Zach Helm's other film, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, might be a bit of a stretch.

Then there's Millenium Actress, which at least has some vaguely similar themes.

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jobriath
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Re: Anecdote, New York

Postby jobriath » Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:07 pm UTC

I saw and enjoyed Eternal Sunshine, too. Many thanks for the other suggestions!

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