A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.
Theater director Caden Cotard 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 mock-up 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, 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. He's helplessly driving his marriage to actress ... Written by
Announcer on the radio at the very beginning says it's 22 September. The newspaper is dated in October, it's Christmas when the sinks smashes his forehead, New Year's on the ride home and March in the ophthalmologist's office. Kaufman afforded his film a dreamlike quality by playing with the representation of time throughout. See more »
In a fit of pretentious grad-school psychobabble I once sarcastically meta-critiqued a fellows students sculpture as being a "simulation of a simulacra" Now looking back at it... I don't think I knew what I was talking about, or why having crafted a "simulation of a simulacra" would have been a bad thing?
After seeing synecdoche new york, I think I now have a tangible example for that expression... and this film is going down as one of my all time favorites! Kaufman & Hoffman are perfect doppelgangers! They certainly complement each other better than Jim Carry, Nicolas Cage or John Malcovich did. Kaufman has illustrated his self-reflexive neurosis in a dark comedic way that has more angst and gravitas than Woody Allen or Michel Gondry. The film was so existential and dark I swear I wanted to cry at the end but was too perplexed. He portrays his life as a play within a play and has created actors to play him self and others to play those playing himself, like a hall of mirrors. There are moments that become so interwoven that even Borges & Baudrillard would have a hard time keeping track of the characters. In certain respects the film reminded me of Shane Carruth's 2004 film Primer, in which the protagonist has multiplied himself into a stupor that he needed to write his own short term crib-notes to figure out what to do next. If you haven't yet seen it .. run don't walk.
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