Film Theory: Schenectady, New York

Notes when watching Charlie Kaufman’s feature last year. The intention was to add this into a detailed film theory review.

The adaptation of observational humor: Sink p*ssing, health deteriorating. Seeing doctors, a blunt humored ‘Optomologist’. A brain surgeon who is also to the point.

Body horror used, showing details in the scar, blood all in detail to get a reaction.



This film is part Sci-fi, due to the running themes of What is real?, Is he crazy?, What is reality? Plenty of quick shots to indicate dream/reality state of mind.

Time scales, we do not know how much time is passed. This hits home when we see Caden’s racing hairline.

Love is studied and analyzed. As per usual, is a theme in any of his works. Emotional breakdown fraught with loneliness and despair.

Death and others dying is key, showing a strong message. E.G. There are seven funerals and 8 deaths. Reads obituaries and death is a theme.

HOUSE FIRE is similar to E.S.O.T.S.M beach house where the house collapses. They react without reacting to the issue, they are blinkered and act casually when in the thick of it.

Marriage communication breakdown that is signified with the great line “Everyone is disappointing when you know someone”. Love: “I know, I know, love is just a projection.” Love collapses.

Sees himself in adverts about death, dying or decomposing. A chemotherapy advert. Keeps seeing adverts about Adele, his wife who is around: “Joyous healthy people.” Time scale at this point = 1 year since leaving.

Guilt/regret. “Beg on my knees and help forget my troubles.”

Sex fails due to guilt and confused. Cries whenever he has sex. Battles with intimacy issues.

Dying fear. Emotional breakdown, seen with Hazel. Then gets the ‘genius’ grant all of a sudden.

Death- Exploration of hurdling towards death at the ‘forward situations meeting’.

Actress tries to hard and loves Cotard’s mind. Falls for him. “I have to f*** you”.

Flash, flash. Crazy?! Getting complicated.

Sexually charged therapist on the plane with the ‘tension book’: Some text reads “I offer my ripe flower to you, this book is over.” Leaves blank pages in the book. Thought stream.

4 years/11 year old daughter. Mentally inept and on a path of self destruction, contemplating suicide.

Flash, flash sequence. Confuses Ariel with Olive. Dream like state.

Father dies, riddled with cancer they had to fill coffin with cotton balls. More death.

House burning again. Death on radio. Disturbing strip scene, thinking he sees his daughter tattooed.

17 years pass preparing this life theatre. It is hinted that the project is f***** up and selfish, as is the film itself.

Music syncs in and out with a crossover with reverberation. Seen from both sides. What is real?
Stalker gets part as him in the theater after acting like his conscious thought.

Getting older. Olive narrating her diary. He is piecing it together. Homosexual?

Olive dies and flower petal falls off her tattoo before she does not forgive him for neglecting her. Regret.

“The play is about: Earth, life, death, family, dating and all of that”

Tries to think of a name for the theatre: Unknown, un kissed and lost.
Crossover, lift messes up as no one is there. “Breaking the fourth fucking wall!”

Sex: “It’s just sex. Do you want to f***? F***** might help.” Flashing regret. Cries and feels loneliness. Suicide?

The point of being selfish and egotistical.

Crossover, now burning house again. Smoke inhalation.
“The end is built into the beginning.”

Name of theatre: Infectious desire in cattle.

Another cross over. Funeral.

“A million strands in your life.” To be alive. F*** everybody.

Everything is scripted. Children. Everything is everything.

Time wasted.

Crossover, rats and filth. Everything goes to shit. Nothing happens. All for nothing. Created a city for nothing.

Art imitates life. Nothing can be replicated in life. CHAOS THEORY. People will forget you.

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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