Synecdoche, New York

un film de Charlie Kaufman

Def. Synecdoche [pronounced si-nek-duh-kee] (n) A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand for sailor), the whole for a part (as the law for police officer), the specific for the general (as cutthroat for assassin), the general for the specific (as thief for pickpocket), or the material for the thing made from it (as steel for sword).

Watching this brilliantly inflammatory make-believe futurespeak play-within-a-play within-a-play within-a-play social satire-cum-epic introspection-cum-amorphous belly monster-cum-tawdry self-centered watusi-spiraling Whirling Dervish, replete with some of the craziest, pompously disturbing and oddly satisfying images in recent cinema, all of which dances across the screen like a batshitcrazy sublime grand guignol hopped up on peyote buttons and methamphetamines, just goes to prove what the screenplays for Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind already gave us suspect of - that Charlie Kaufman is a mad hookah-smoking double-talk Lewis Carrol-meets-David Lynch hallucinatory genius.

I may be overselling it a bit (convoluted is as convoluted does) and prattling on like a lovesick school girl fawning over the star quarterback, but goddammit I do feel like a lovesick school girl fawning over the star quarterback. After all, there are only a few real genius' out there in American cinemania, so when one comes along to join the likes of Lynch, Haynes and P.T. Anderson, one must surely scream it from the freakin' rooftops as if you are the giddy ghost of Peter Finch. Charlie Kaufman is mad as hell and we love every moment of it!!

Existentially ejaculatory in every which way, Kaufman's directorial debut, one that many would deem highly pretentious and certainly self-absorbed in their own bitter bumfuzzled attempts at criticizing what they do not understand, and who would be right in their assertions only instead of criticism it should be praise and glorious hoo-hahs and zim-zams and holy hasannahs abounding that accompany such outrageously indignant exclamations of pretension and self-absorption, is certainly and undoubtedly a film which needs to be pretentious, needs to be self-absorbed, needs to be an ostentatious albatross of a film.

About the very fabric of what makes the universe work the way it does, seen through the insectary eyes of one nebbishy, downtrodden yet devoutly self-absorbed man, Kaufman's impossibly-manicured and impossibly-titled (and some might say impossibly-accomplished) Synecdoche, New York is rife for criticism (much of it from Kaufman's own self-absorbed lens) but far be it for me to pull the proverbial plug on the closest thing (sans the presidential election results) to a masterpiece the cinematic year of 2008 has seen. Pretension be damned! Self-absorption be damned! Much like the arrogance spewing forth from the screen of last year's best film, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will be Blood, the pompousness is a key ingredient in how the film works. I said of that film and I'll say of this, pretension, or more aptly that which one perceives as pretension, can be the very backbone of a great film. Indeed that was true then and it is true now. [01/21/09]