Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York

Streaming Video - 2008
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In the feature directorial debut of notoriously quirky screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation), a wild-eyed theater director (Hoffman) attempts to build a life-sized replica of New York City in preparation for an ambitious play. Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams and Emily Watson co-star in a tale of one man's quest to stage the ultimate love letter to the Big Apple.
Publisher: [United States] : Entertainment One : Made available through hoopla, 2008.
Branch Call Number: E-VIDEO
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 video file (ca. 124 min.)) : sd., col.


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Sep 27, 2017

I got to the point where I couldn't wait for him to die. It just got too confusing, much like life I suppose.

Aug 04, 2015


Feb 04, 2015

Caden Cotard is a modestly successful stage director obsessed with death. It doesn’t help that his mailbox is filled with cancer magazines, his newspaper is filled with obituaries and the cartoons his child watches seem to mock his fears. Even the milk in the fridge is long past its expiry date while the wallpaper in his cluttered kitchen bears a ghostly, half-emerged figure. Between interminable visits to specialists who take a bleak interest in his intermittent lumps, bumps and bloody stools he works on an ironic production of Death of a Salesman while at the same time trying to save his failing marriage. But when he receives a huge arts grant he decides to embark on his biggest project yet; no less than recreating the city of New York in an abandoned hangar and populating it with hundreds of anonymous extras, including stand-ins for everyone in his life from his wife and daughter to Hazel, the box office cashier he’s having an uneasy affair with. Before long however, the actors begin to take on lives of their own which diverge from his carefully prepared script necessitating the introduction of additional actors to play the actors who are acting out his life... Combining the audacity of Fosse’s All That Jazz with the cryptic details of Anderson’s Magnolia, Kaufman draws on theatrical hyperbole to highlight one man’s rage against his own mortality. Using telescoping timelines, overlapping characters and an odd dream logic, he creates a skewed reality which is both seductive and mystifying. “Fate is what you create...” bellows a character at one point, “...every choice you make changes everything...and you only get one chance to play it out!” Fueled by his own artistic narcissism and an overriding fear of obscurity (he is described as a man “already dead”) Caden attempts to challenge this dictum by rewriting his own life with a cast of doppelgängers and phantoms. But you can’t change the past and all people, no matter what their station in life, arrive at the same final destination. Kaufman’s brilliant script is constantly catching you off guard with its unexpected turns and sly allusions (google “Cotard Delusion” and “synecdoche” for starters). He then fills his elaborately layered sets with tantalizing clues and visual tropes, whether it’s the briefly glimpsed title of a book or Hazel’s chronically smoldering house (reflecting her own reckless passion, perhaps?). Puzzling, enigmatic and impossible to fully appreciate with one viewing; we may not grasp all the finer tricks, but Kaufman’s sympathetic portrayal of a painfully flawed everyman can’t help but strike a chord.

Dec 10, 2014

Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut is a beautiful, over-ambitious, emotional mess of a film. While at times brilliant, this film doesn't, imho, measure up to Kaufman's previous work and one wonders how the film might have been different had Spike Jonze not left the project to direct 'Where the Wild Things Are' instead. If the movie left you scratching your head, I advise you to see it again and watch very closely, as it is meticulously crafted and even the oddest elements are absolutely intentional and worthy of attention. Also, viewing this film with the idea that Hoffman's character may already be dead and in Purgatory can shed new light to some of the more baffling aspects of the film.

Jun 15, 2014

I agree with much of what CuriousGeorge333 said, including the part about most people not agreeing. I think the vast majority of people will find this tedious and over-the-top artsy. It's kind of like "Being on John Malkovich" times 100, and on downers. I'm sure a bunch of it went over my head, but I still enjoyed it and how it made me think about entertainment, reality and life.

love_my_library_card Apr 08, 2014

All these fine, accomplished actors, working so hard on this film, and I simply didn't care. Stopped watching after an hour; figured it was not going to get any less convoluted.

Jan 11, 2014

Though I am quite certain many -- okay, 99+% of people -- will strongly disagree, in my opinion, this is one of the greatest films of all time. Extremely odd and bizarre? Yes, absolutely. But one could also say highly original, as well. Confusing? Most definitely. But so rewarding when finally understood. I did not understand this film the first time I viewed it, but then neither did famed film critic, Roger Ebert. In order to properly understand this film, it is virtually essential to watch it a minimum of two times. As Roger Ebert says, this film is about nothing less than LIFE itself. It is about YOU, and it is about me. One must have a very open mind in order to have any chance of truly appreciating this film. One must also free themselves of any expectations of what a film "should" be. Sit back, don't resist, and surrender yourself to the unique and eccentric mind and perspective of writer, director, Charlie Kaufman, in his directorial debut. Accept this film for what it is, and do not judge it by what you think a film should be. Do not expect to get this film on the first viewing. It is almost a certainty that you will not. I would not recommend this film to anyone who was unwilling to watch it at least two times, even if they didn't like it the first time. ***I*** did not like this film the first time, but it is now one of my all time favorites. I owe thanks to Roger Ebert for this, as I would not have watched this film, much less two times, if not for his review. If there is any justice, this film will rise in prominence, at least among true cinephiles, over time, until it is eventually listed among the greats. This film is absolutely brilliant. You have never seen anything like it.

michlmac Feb 24, 2012

Compelling without being enjoyable. I won't rehash the plot, since everyone else has already given a sense of it. Truth is, there really isn't much plot - a hell of a lot of concept, though. The machinations become so convoluted and self-referencing that those involved with its making had to rely on the script supervisor to keep them focused. In the bonus features, everyone - when not saying "you know," - talks about the film's humor, which must have been in the making of it. There was damn little of it in the viewing. Also, the play that Caden is mounting is supposed to be an honest look at life, but honesty is confused with morbidity. Some of the acting gets this mish-mosh from one to two stars.

Mar 07, 2011

Definitly needs to be sober to watch and digest this message from the movie about the life of a movie maker looking at his own life's trials and tribulations. Here's a quote that sums up much of the life as interpretered:
What was once before you - an exciting, mysterious future - is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone's experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone's everyone. So you are Adele, Hazel, Claire, Olive. You are Ellen. All her meager sadnesses are yours; all her loneliness; the gray, straw-like hair; her red raw hands. It's yours. It is time for you to understand this.

Oct 30, 2010

A very clever film that is as challenging as it is entertaining.

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Dec 13, 2014

Funeral Monologue Pt. 1

Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make. You can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won't know for twenty years. And you may never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is. It's what you create. And even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes or it seems to, but it doesn't really.

Dec 13, 2014

Funeral Monologue Pt. 2:

And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along. Something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel whole, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is, I feel so angry, and the truth is, I feel so f--king sad, and the truth is, I've felt so f--king hurt for so f--king long and for just as long I've been pretending I'm OK, just to get along, just for, I don't know why. Maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own.

Well, f--k everybody. Amen.

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