Below is a cut-and-paste. It’s from the classy
The reason I’ve copied and pasted will make sense some time next week….
In the opening scene of Being John Malkovich, John Cusack is a street puppeteer controlling the interaction of his creations. Spike Jonze may have directed, but the film’s screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman, makes clear from the get-go that he is the master of the enterprise. The screenwriter as auteur. We see that again in Adaptation, also directed by Jonze, but the complex doubling of character is pure Kaufman. The non-linear narrative of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, in which people can have memories erased from their minds, is Kaufman, not Michel Gondry.
With Synecdoche, New York, Kaufman’s directing debut, he gets away from his usual humor and becomes more serious. It’s not quite Woody Allen doing Ingmar Bergman, but it has the feel of a very old person philosophizing about life and death. Kaufman does it with a Russian-doll-like quality, layers upon layers of actors playing real persons playing actors. It is the story of playwright Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who suffers from several diseases, and it follows him from middle age to death. After moving from Schenectady to Manhattan, Caden attempts to organize his life issues as one huge theater piece, with New York City itself as a massive stage. An exceptionally difficult film to deconstruct, Synecdoche, New York is dense and powerful, a profound meditation on existence, and the art of existence.
© BRWC 2010.
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