Thursday, January 29, 2009

Synecdoche, New York

DAN - Charlie Kaufman has written some of the most innovative screenplays of the last decade, including Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His newest film marks his directorial debut.

Synecdoche, New York is about Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an ambitious director who undertakes the world’s largest live theatre production: recreating the daily lives of thousands of people in New York City. Cotard uses this world within a world to make sense of his personal troubles, all of which revolve around broken love.

This film is packed with hidden meanings, symbolism, and intense introspection. The narrative is non-linear to a point where the story might be overwhelmed by its own convolution. I can’t say that I fully understand this movie. In fact, I’m certain that a good portion of it flew right over my head. But I love this film. It’s one that demands repeat viewings.

Cotard is a character with whom I can easily relate, though his narcissism is much more apparent. He uses theatre as a means of analyzing his own life, hiring actors to give lifelike portrayals of himself and those around him. Cotard’s dedication to his art doesn’t make his personal life easy, but his faux reality provides him with an escape from such problems.

I can’t write enough about this movie. I haven’t even mentioned the cast, which consists of nothing but talented people. If you’re unfamiliar with Charlie Kaufman’s work, I strongly suggest you make an effort to change that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Wrestler

DAN - Darren Aronofsky is one of the most visionary directors of this era. His previous films, Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Fountain, have become modern cult classics. The Wrestler is the least psychedelic of Aronofsky’s films, but it is perhaps the most emotionally profound.

The film follows Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a professional wrestler who is past his prime but unwilling to end his career. When our protagonist experiences health trouble, he turns his efforts to finding romance and mending a broken relationship with his daughter.

The Wrestler is a raw movie. Aronofsky isn’t afraid to let the handheld camera linger on his characters in quiet moments, allowing the audience to realistically experience the world of the film. This movie’s rough edges reflect The Ram’s lifestyle, both in and outside of the ring.

Randy is self-abusive both physically and mentally. He puts his body through hell for the sole purpose of entertaining his audience. His personal relationships are on the ropes and his heart takes a beating (ah, the puns). The Ram is like a less fortunate version of Rocky Balboa, but he has equally high hopes.

The Wrestler is one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past year. It’s a shame that the film only garnered two Oscar nominations, but they are well deserved. This film is worth seeing if only for Mickey Rourke’s career-reviving performance.