Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

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knives
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#126 Post by knives » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:11 am

Your AB split is a false one though since the opposite to being flawed is not, at least critically speaking, perfection. Rather largely successful would be a better comparison, though it does bring up the odd semantic play that in this case the opposite of perfection would probably be failure, which as a critique based on not liking the experience seems entirely within reason. While I appreciate the academic tone of your post the content doesn't fulfill that tone.

Jakamarak
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#127 Post by Jakamarak » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:35 am

Knives - I actually agree with you. I wrote that very early and a little too quickly and lumped about three related ideas that seemed to connect in my head into something that came out pretty muddled.

I guess what I'm saying is when people don't like a film, they immediately blame the film for the failure. Often this is probably right. But in some cases, as in Synecdoche, New York, I feel it is a failure on the part of the audience. (And by failure, I'm not talking financial failure which, in this case, is what followed.)

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domino harvey
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#128 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:05 am

The least convincing argument in favor of any film is "You just didn't get it!"

Jakamarak
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#129 Post by Jakamarak » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:25 am

It doesn't have to be convincing to be true.

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domino harvey
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#130 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:29 am

You are not helping yourself, your argument, or the film you are championing by doubling down on this line of defense. Secret knowledge fallacy at its worst.

Soothsayer
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#131 Post by Soothsayer » Tue Dec 22, 2015 2:24 pm

Jakamarak wrote:People's response to film in general is so interesting to me. It's often broken down into this formula: A.) because I didn't like it, B.) the film must have some flaw. The unspoken premise being that without such and such a flaw this would be a good film and I would like it. But the opposite of this idea most would agree is flatly ridiculous. ( A.) because I like this film, B.) it is a perfect film.) It's not as often as one might think that people actually agree on the particular flaws and strengths of any given film. A film is its flaws. Every film has "flaws," but any equation that uses flaws to calculate success or greatness is wrong.

I'm not of the mind that everyone needs to agree on the merits of any given film. However, we live in a consensus age where box office is bigger news than critical response. People rush to things because they're popular, not because they're supposed to be good.

I suppose my thesis here is that films often aren't as easy to reduce/diagnose as people like to think they are.
I disagree with this quite strongly. I don't think I've met someone who will consciously evaluate a movie in a mathematical sense as you suggest. It's not a ratio of "flaws" that somehow determines if a person likes a movie or not. And that is obvious.

People's appreciation of film can be technical, but it's far more likely to be emotional. Emotional responses to a film are not reductive in a sense of "well did I like it or should I dismiss it because of ____, which I consider a 'flaw'".

I didn't like this film because of its overuse of sentimentality. I don't care about this film enough to go dissect the elements of the film that I'd consider successful...because of my emotional reaction to the film.

If you claim I'm somehow wrong because of this, frankly that's as laughable as me claiming you're wrong because you enjoyed the film.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#132 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:04 pm

This film improved substantially for me upon revisiting it as well - it's one of those things that just sort of needs to hit you the right way, and you've got to meet it halfway by suspending any expectations for it re: time, space, reality, etc. I went back and read what Domino wrote about it, and fuck yeah does it seem like wishful thinking on the level of a masturbatory fantasy in the way it presents the revolving door of women in Caden's life. It works for me because I read it as a "time is a flat circle" type of memory collage, but it didn't work for Domino because he wasn't willing to grant it that sort of forgiving reading with what he was presented.

In other words: This film isn't a narrative masterpiece that just rubs some people the wrong way - it's stand-offish, challenging, not particularly entertaining. A film demanding a lot of its viewer is not always some kind of badge of honor for it. The audience is not required to celebrate a film that they personally were unable or unwilling to respond to because other people locked into it and took greater meaning away from it. If that were the case, I'd be running around here singing the praises of Upstream Color, and I'd rather welcome the sweet embrace of death than watch that film again.

Some people don't like some movies, and it's not incumbent on them to give those movies a second chance. Go bug your girlfriend to watch it or something.

Peter-H
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#133 Post by Peter-H » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:44 pm

I think I know part of the reason why so many people dislike this movie.

The narrative feels disorienting and therefore messy and bloated, in part because there are literally almost no establishing shots in this movie, so on first watch a lot of the viewer's mental faculties are spent trying to figure out where the characters are and how it relates to what just happened etc. I know the POINT is to be disorienting and claustrophobic, but I feel the RT score would be 10% higher if this movie had a normal amount of establishing shots.

It does make it harder to follow and it's already a somewhat hard to follow story, and perhaps this artistic choice is more of a distraction than a benefit.

dda1996a
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#134 Post by dda1996a » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:59 pm

Not exactly establishing shots, but I think rather that there is no explanation for the world Kaufman created. Where Eternal Sunshine, Adaptation. and even Being John Malkovich gave credible explanations for the off kilter world (as far as a portal to a person's head is credible ) where in here burning houses multiple children etc. aren't even explained. I adore this film which doesn't stop getting better for me, but then again I also liked Upstream Color.

Peter-H
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#135 Post by Peter-H » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:07 pm

I don't really agree that BJM really gave an "explanation" for its world, it's never explained why there's a floor 7 1/2 for instance.

I think Synecdoche is the best film of that decade, but I wish there where some establishing shots to make it a bit easier for people, I don't think it would have detracted from the film.

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Gregory
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#136 Post by Gregory » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:28 pm

Peter-H wrote:I don't really agree that BJM really gave an "explanation" for its world, it's never explained why there's a floor 7 1/2 for instance.
The whole orientation video about that doesn't count?

Peter-H
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#137 Post by Peter-H » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:09 pm

Oh yeah I forgot about that, I haven't seen it in a while.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#138 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:18 pm

There are little-to-no "establishing shots" in real life either, which is what I believe Kaufman was getting at. However, I don't recall having much trouble figuring out where scenes took place when I first saw the film in a theater: Cotard is at home, he's at the theater where his "Death of a Salesman" is being performed, he's at a nearby restaurant, he's in Berlin...then he's pretty much living inside the giant hanger where he attempts to create his life-size drama.

dda1996a
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#139 Post by dda1996a » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:28 pm

Yeah that never bothered me. I think the difficult part is everything conceptual. The film isn't easy even in an art film sort of way. Saying the film is even harder to grasp than BJM I think says enough. A house that is always on fire, multiple children, characters that age irregularly, the world within a world, people playing other people all make it confusing for those who might find it harder to understand. I know I still find new ideas in this, and I watched it twice already

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mfunk9786
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#140 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:07 pm

The hardest hurdle for me to get over was the abandonment of logical passage of time, without any kind of framework or explanation or apology for it. Stuff like the burning house, etc obviously holds relevance for the character's traditional timeline of memory, but whether it is a dream or an actual occurrence or some combination of both is none of the viewer's business. How much we're seeing is real, exaggerated, entirely imagined (dreamed?) is beside the point, though, and it took me a couple of repeat viewings to realize that. It certainly is a very difficult film, though, and whether the juice is worth the squeeze is going to depend on the viewer.

Numero Trois
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#141 Post by Numero Trois » Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:17 pm

dda1996a wrote:Not exactly establishing shots, but I think rather that there is no explanation for the world Kaufman created. .
If explanations are needed to fully appreciate a film laced with "dream logic," then there's something wrong. Like I more or less stated before, Kaufman's themes (old age, mortality, whatever) were laid out bluntly to the point of thinness. It's about time someone did a "phantom edit" of the film. With some concision maybe Kaufman's conceit would feel more tolerable.

On the upside, the actors more than hold their own and the film is put together nicely. Though I think one would be hard pressed to find a more awkward scene than Tom Noonan's closing one. There's probably not an actor alive who could save that sequence.

Peter-H
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#142 Post by Peter-H » Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:30 pm

Numero Trois wrote:
dda1996a wrote:Not exactly establishing shots, but I think rather that there is no explanation for the world Kaufman created. .
If explanations are needed to fully appreciate a film laced with "dream logic," then there's something wrong.

I think that's his point, they're not needed.

On the upside, the actors more than hold their own and the film is put together nicely. Though I think one would be hard pressed to find a more awkward scene than Tom Noonan's closing one. There's probably not an actor alive who could save that sequence.

What's awkward about it?

connor
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#143 Post by connor » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:59 am

I just watched this for the first time last night.

I understand what he was attempting to do but Kaufman (no surprise for a first film) was not up to the task of executing that vision. The movie had no rhythm whatsoever, Kaufman never quite figures out what to zero in on and what to let linger in the background, and to say that the subsequent disorientation was "intentional" strikes me as kinda silly.

Rosenbaum got it right:
Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote:it seems more like an illustration of his script than a full-fledged movie, proving how much he needs a Spike Jonze or a Michel Gondry to realize his surrealistic conceits.

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cpetrizzi
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#144 Post by cpetrizzi » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:57 pm

Peter-H wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:32 am
It actually fucking pisses me off that everyone doesn't love this movie.
Here, here!

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mfunk9786
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#145 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:05 pm

cpetrizzi wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:57 pm
Peter-H wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:32 am
It actually fucking pisses me off that everyone doesn't love this movie.
Here, here!
Cpetrizzi: You can't keep going into threads, quoting things from years ago, and adding a word or two of your own thoughts to it. You've been a user here for years, do you see anyone else doing that? Either make a substantive contribution of your own or let the original thought, movie trailer from a year ago, etc sit.

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Ribs
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#146 Post by Ribs » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:17 pm

also the expression is hear, hear

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domino harvey
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#147 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:18 pm

Maybe Peter-H is his dog, did you ever think of that

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cpetrizzi
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Re: Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)

#148 Post by cpetrizzi » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:18 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:05 pm
cpetrizzi wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:57 pm
Peter-H wrote:
Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:32 am
It actually fucking pisses me off that everyone doesn't love this movie.
Here, here!
Cpetrizzi: You can't keep going into threads, quoting things from years ago, and adding a word or two of your own thoughts to it. You've been a user here for years, do you see anyone else doing that? Either make a substantive contribution of your own or let the original thought, movie trailer from a year ago, etc sit.

'Twas a pun, which was meant to be overstated but clearly now I see was understated. My attempt at homophonic humor fell flat for a humorless movie with a similar pun as its title. For fear of someone else chastising me, I am fully aware that the two words for the English term and place are not pronounced exactly the same. However, it is a perfect testament to the actual movie where everything is just slightly off.

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