Friday 12 September 2008

TIFF 2008 - Synecdoche New York

Normally I take notes during my TIFF screenings. They typically end up as barely legible scrawls moving diagonally up the page from left to right and sometimes even overwriting previous lines. It's a bit goofy I suppose, but it helps me remember key quotes and organize my thoughts if I want to post about a film later.

But I couldn't write a single thing about Charlie Kaufman's latest (his first as director). The page in my notebook for the film is blank. And that's because I was pretty much bowled over by this film and I didn't want to waste any effort on writing while I watched it. And even if I did, what could I possibly have written down? This is the kind of film you want to chew on and replay in your mind for days. One thing to note is that if there is any question about Kaufman's ability as director (and there shouldn't be) take a look at the performances of his spectacular female cast - Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener and Hope Davis are all wonderful in every part of this disorienting film. I also have to say that Diane Wiest has the greatest voice - she could make me cry reading random wikipedia entries.

Oh, and Philip Seymour Hoffman has never been better.

At the moment, and this will likely change, I kind of like the idea that the entire film (from its very first frame) is the play Hoffman's character is writing. There's lots of little things that point to that as a possibility (the various diseases he has that come and go, his daughter's unexplained green poo, how he sees himself in various forms of advertising and TV shows, etc.), but I NEED to see it again. I also WANT to see it again. Not just to figure out it's many puzzles, but because I found it hugely entertaining and desire to re-experience the sheer volume of ideas spilling forth from it. If a director can establish these feelings in you, then I think he's doing something right.

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