Thursday, March 15, 2012

Movie Review: Synecdoche, New York

What did that trailer tell you about the movie? It's an independent film, sure. A film about a guy directing a huge play, right. It's going for being a touching movie about life and whatnot. It really doesn't sell the movie. It doesn't mention the main thing about the movie. From watching this I have less than zero desire to watch this movie. So why did I watch it?

Go back into the archives a week or two and you'll find links to the second half of "Everything is a Remix". It mentions that two movies came out around the same time about someone who does a play that creates his own life. It sounded like an interesting idea so we put it on my Netflix queue. It became one of the most confusing movies I've ever seen.

For a good long chunk of the movie we watch Phillip Seymore Hoffman's life. He's directing a play, he's married, has a kid, is going to therapy, has issues with the plumbing, the woman at the ticket counter keeps hitting on him, etc. It may make for drab moving watching, but it's life. His wife goes on vacation to Germany with the kid and they don't come back. When he wins an award for his plays he decides to use the money to fund a huge piece. He gets a massive warehouse and starts reproducing his life in a model of the city. He hires actors to play himself, his wife, kid, neighbors, random people on the sidewalk, etc. Each day they get notes about what's supposed to happen to them that day. Eventually, they, too, need a warehouse so they can start work on a play about making a play about the main character's life. By the end of the movie it's 6 levels deep.

Just from that you can come up with all kinds of idea about what the movie is really "about". You can debate the symbolism for hours. Let me tell you about the weirdness.

In reality prime there's still life going on.
The ticket lady turned assistant buys a house. That house is on fire while she's looking at it. She buys it and it continues to burn for the rest of her life. She dies 40 years later of smoke inhalation.
The main character marries the woman who plays his wife in the play, they have a kid and give it the same name as the kid who went to Germany. So it's often hard to tell when they're talking to each other and when she's playing the ex-wife and talking to the guy who plays him.
At some point we see military in the streets. Riot police and tanks kind of stuff. At the end of the movie we hear a huge battle outside with gunfire and stuff. When Hoffman goes out in to the streets of Warehouse 1 everyone is gone or dead. No explanation.
When Hoffman gets a call about his dad dying he tells someone all about the phone call. Apparently he died of a sudden case of long struggle with cancer. Nobody saw it coming. His final words were a long touching monologue.
While his wife went on to become a famous artist who continues to live with more an more people, his daughter is raised by a woman who covers her (the daughter) with tattoos. He finally finds her years later working as a nude dancer. They meet again at her death bed where she wants to know why he left them for his gay lover (never happened) and wants an apology. When she dies a tattoo of a rose loses a petal.
Main character has strange random ailments come and go.

There was other stuff, but it's five days later and I can't remember them. But the end of the movie was like the end of "Lost". "Seriously? You're not even gonna try to explain that? SERIOUSLY!?! fuckers."

Don't watch this movie. Seriously. If you're looking to kill two hours you're better off doing an exploration of your nose or memorizing the back of a cereal box. When you're done you'll have much less of a "...the fuck just happened?" feeling.

1 comment:

Colin Hall said...

I have only just watched this film and I was blown away.

This is a film which will mean many things to many people. As Philip Seymour Hoffman sinks deeper into his self analysis the story starts to expand, just as a myriad of worlds become visible when a mirror is placed in front of another. I was struck by the total futility of the film, while being so captured by the characters and their casts also.

I see this film as a Matrix without the aliens and all of their technical gizmology ... I think the human race is quite capable of constructing a parallel un-reality for themselves thanks ;-)