Friday, May 29, 2009

Synecdoche, You're So Fine, You're So Fine You Blow My Mind*

It was an absolutely scorching and beautiful day in London town today, so I did the only good, correct and sane thing to do: went and hung around the bobos and the fed-up film freaks at the Curzon Soho to watch Synecdoche New York.

I had been assured by two entirely separate and very different people that it would blow my brain right out of my earholes, which is always a poisoned chalice, as you can't help but sit in the cinema and think "Right! Mind about to be blown! OK! It's starting! WOW! That's, that's just the THX jingle... OK! Now mind about to be blown!" And you're so busy waiting for the mind-blowing to happen, you don't really watch it properly. Or in my case, watch too damn hard, as person no.2 had said that it was a multi-layered treat and every scene was packed with clever foreshadowing, so I spent the first half hour memorising every tiny detail in the background like it was the Krypton Factor observation round, and ignoring the actual dialogue, plot etc. Unfortunately, I got bored of doing that just before the really key thing that would have made the rest of the film make a lot more sense, missing it completely. Only when I came home and read all the reviews to see what I should have thought about the film did I realise my mistake. Damn it.

Anyway, it was bold and confusing and funny and droll and bleak and depressing, but it really was a bit of a mess. I love all of Charlie Kaufman's other stuff - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my all-time favourite films - but it does seem that he needs a mediating and controlling influence on his sprawling vision. It's too long and does drag in places, and there are a few too many little self-indulgent directorial tics for my liking. So what's it about? The endless unrequited longing of life, the inevitability of death, the arrogance of thinking we are all main players in our own insignificant performance piece... I think that's why I didn't really chime with the film as much as I have with his others. I couldn't really put myself in the main character's shoes, and I think to fully appreciate the film you have to. I'm not overly hassled by my own mortality, as secretly inside I still think I'm young and vibrant, despite evidence to the contrary. And instead of feeling that I have to observe my own life from the outside and reflect myself in others to make sense of it all, I tend towards self-consciousness in the extreme, and feel I'm trapped inside a movie of my own life that nobody's watching. Perhaps that's why I write this blog - to feel like I'm at least upping my own box office slightly. Which is arrogant in a whole other, stupid, self-pitying way, Narcissus staring at himself, getting all miserable because the lake's not teeming with people cooing with admiration at his reflection.

So basically, what I'm saying is I've come out of Synecdoche New York really, really wanting to appear on Big Brother, which I'm pretty sure is what Charlie Kaufman was pitching for.

And of course the most awesome thing about it was it included a gag based on this little peach:

I just love the thought of Kaufman getting script ideas from sticking "TV news bloopers" into YouTube. (Which, incidentally, is a whole afternoon of face-scrunching hysteria in itself).

*and yes, I did send this blog title as a tweet. Hey, give me a break. Brevity is not my strong point and when I achieve it I need to re-damn-cycle.

1 comment:

James Taverner said...

You see, it's a movie you need to watch twice.

Now, I know, I know...I always watch movies more than once as you know - I recently broke my own record for the fewest number of days between seeing a movie for the first and second times in the cinema (2). That was silly, and the movie wasn't even that great (Okuribito, or "Departures" - Japanese Oscar-winning movie about a guy who accidentally and *hilariously* becomes a funeral director even though he gags when he sees dead bodies. Obviously, I cried like a baby throughout)

But really - like Being John Malkovich, and Eternal Sunshine, Synecdoche is a movie that hits you much more the second time when you're not worrying about what the fuck is going on, or keeping up with the plot. It really is an astonishing film-quite unlike anything else I'll ever see. Big and beautiful and a complete mess.

Give it another go...