I love Charlie Kaufman's films. Or, at least the three I've seen (that he has had a hand in?) in which he has had a hand.
That feeling of confusion and "huh?" during Being John Malkovich, and then suddenly "getting it, " or at least, some of it. Most of the time. Or, wait, is that, most of it, some of the time? Whichever. I dug it.
With Adaptation, that shudder of recognition in Nicholas' Cage's self-conscious character. The back and forth between the writer's head, the book, and the principal characters he's supposed to be writing about. I loved it. Every.minute.of.it.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: As a psychologist, I can't stop thinking of the possibilities. In the midst of some of my sessions with clients who have been through terribly painful events, I wish I had my own memory erasing machine. And not just for my client.
Today's meeting-of-minds with Kaufman was not a whole lot different. Synecdoche, New York is a wild ride. No, a slow, agonizing, downward cycle of a ride through the psyche of a man, Caden Cotard, who lives his life straddled between regret for the past and dread for the future. Occasionally he lands smack dab in the middle of the power of now and is rewarded by despair, but most importantly, despair that has been validated. That's as close to feeling good as he gets.
The paper where I get my movie listings gave it four-and-a-half-stars. After feeling thoroughly confused by the review, a WTF moment that only certain, gifted movie reviewers can give me, I decided I have to see this. I had no idea what the title meant, even less of an idea after reading Wiki, and even less still again after reading the definition after seeing Snyecdoche. So now you will understand how I felt compelled to take on the challenge of seeing if I too can get it, like the reviewer who gave it four-and-a-half stars. I mean, she must have gotten it if she gave it so many stars, right?
Feeling a little confused? Like maybe you get my review, or at least some of it, but you're not really sure, so now you'll have to see the movie too, to see if you get it?
There. You now have no reason to see the film. You do get it. And that's the feeling I got coming out of the theatre. Or one of about a thousand zillion different feelings.
In essence, I liked it. I want to see it again. So that I can absorb more. Or maybe not. It's a little too depressing to go through it all over again. But it is a fascinating, confusing, snapshot of a snapshot of a blend between one man's neurotic yet realistic worries, the missed opportunities and losses that result, and his experience of what is happening now versus how he is capturing it through his art (in this case, playwriting).
And now I'm wondering, will there be a director narrated version on the DVD? Ooh, I must watch that.
I was mostly enthralled. I laughed a lot. I smirked. I snickered. I chuckled. I recoiled. I felt that uncomfortable, awkward feeling of recognition that Kaufman's movies elicit. Here's another guy who thinks too much in a depressing, dread-inducing, erectile-dysfunction-happening sort of way. Way more than me, but I can relate to enough of his thoughts to wonder just how focked up I am if I see even a little bit of myself here. I am comforted, however, knowing, that I am mostly able to tuck away my neurotic thoughts into one of two files: "I'll think about that one later" or "Let's just forget we ever thought about that, shall we?" Not so, Mr. Cotard.
And then there's the psychologist in the film. Whoah. I sure hope Kaufman never wanders into my office. And then makes a film where I have a prominent background role as a self-promoting, sexy-except-for-the-blisters, doing more-harm-than-good talk-healer. I would be all, "Therapist, tear down that shingle!"
In the end, I don't agree with the four-and-a-half stars. I'm thinking four at best, five-and-a-half at worst. But that's just me. What you think is what counts. I doubt any three people watching this film are affected the same way. Times five.