An interesting film that looks the things we choose to make important in our lives.
Charlie Kaufman should have done a director's commentary.Synecdoche, New York (if anybody knows how to correctly pronounce this title please tell me) is writer/director Charlie Kaufman's love letter to New York, the human condition and himself. The movie follows a theater director named Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) as tries his best to be a good husband, boyfriend and father. As he works out issues within himself, he starts working on a play in a warehouse that eventually, in trying to document and understand his life, ends up taking on mythic proportions as he basically "builds" New York City within it's confines. Ultimately, Cotard comes to realize that try as he might to understand all of these facets, he is eventually just left with himself, his ideas, and hopefully the people he has picked up (and kept in this life) along the way.
While it is understandable that a movie like this would make $3 million on a budget of $20 million, Synecdoche, New York nothing if not ambitious and, hopefully, uplifting.
There are two featurettes on this release. They are:
- In and Around Synecdoche, New York
- The Story of Caden Cotard
Sadly, these featurettes don't really do this film justice. The problem with the featurettes isn't that they don't cover interesting material, it's just that they are conventionally looking at a movie that is far from conventional. In and Around Synecdoche, New York is merely just a typical look at the making of this movie but it doesn't really go too far beyond that. I think a moody, tone poem-esque type look at this film might've served it much better. The Story of Caden Cotard has our film's star discussing his role. The problem here is that Hoffman isn't nearly as interesting as his character. So when he discusses aspects of his role, how he found the nuances to play this part, or what he was trying to achieve... it all ends up sounding pedestrian.
NFTS/Script Factory Masterclass with Charlie Kaufman
As I have mentioned in some of my other reviews, I am a screenwriter. I am mainly in the straight-to-DVD realm at present, but I really love writing and I do my best to write every single day. So when I got the chance to hear Mr. Kaufman discuss screenwriting I was very excited. Sadly, this was too technical and opaque for my tastes. I love my writing process but it isn't anything I would ever think to share because who would really want to hear about it? That said, I am a fan of the stories behind the film and Kaufman touches on that here but I wish he had gone into it more.
2.35:1 - Anamorphic Widescreen. This film looked as good on DVD as it did when I saw it in the movie theater. This movie is imagistic but it does its best to tell this story in as straight forward a way as possible. One gets that impression that Kaufman and his Director of Photography Frederick Elmes couldn't help subverting the medium a little bit as they worked through this film's production. All and all, Sony has done a very solid job of bringing this movie across on this release without losing anything that Kaufman had textured into the film.
Dolby Digital. Language: English 5.1. Close Captioned. The audio on this movie was good but I will admit, this is sort of a quiet, airy film at times. Just when you think you have a handle on this character and where he is going, something will happen, time will shift and the viewer will have to adjust. The audio is done in such a way as to make this as seamless as possible, but that doesn't mean that this film is any less of a puzzle for the viewer.
The city of Synecdoche, New York is presented on this front cover with two critics quotes. The back cover features a finely written description of this movie, images from the film, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
I really liked this movie. I saw it the theater and now seeing it again on DVD, I don't feel that anything was lost in the DVD transfer. While I wouldn't go out and say that this movie is for everybody, I think that it is intelligent, thoughtful, confusing, and everything that a movie of this nature should be. The reality is that a film like this isn't supposed to be everything to everyone. It is obviously a deeply personal film to it's director, and the fact that it got made and released at all is something that people should be inspired by.
At the same time, I am wondering why Charlie Kaufman didn't "thank" his fans by giving them a commentary track on this disc? I am not saying that because I want him to hold my hand through viewing this film. I just think it would have been nice to hear him musing on his elephantine creation.