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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
A Part For the Hole
I saw Synecdoche New York last night. The film has received many rave reviews, some from critics I deeply respect. Still, the preview had me concerned. It made it seem as though the picture might be both cute and sexist. The good news is that the preview forcefully misrepresents the film, which isn't cute, for the most part, and only mildly sexist. The bad news is that this is a movie that worms its way up its own ass, with increasingly irritating results. Early on, I berated myself for having worried that it might be bad. Indeed, there were moments when it seemed positively brilliant, not to mention personally devastating for someone like myself, mired in a mid-life crisis of confidence. Also, it made me laugh, hard, in a number of plaes. Later, though, as the characters accrued layers of improbable make-up that made them seem absurd rather than aged, I stopped enjoying myself. The conceit decayed into conceitedness. Maybe that was deliberate -- it's that self-reflexive -- but, if so, the filmmakers took way too long to make the point. Although there were moments when I was moved in the latter portions of the film, the majority of its final hour was tendentious and tedious. I found myself longing for the more earthy, real scenarios of its first thirty minutes. Watching that first section, I kept thinking that it was like one of Woody Allen's dark comedies, only smarter. By the end of the film, though, I felt like I was watching one of those dreadful films where Allen refuses to let the audience laugh because he is making a serious statement. Is it worth seeing? Sure. But don't let yourself be as disappointed as I was when it starts to all apart.

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adamschenck From: adamschenck Date: December 6th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

the annoyingness of post-post-post-...something

I saw _Synecdoche_ over a month ago, but forgot to review it properly. My brother, not the art-house moviegoer, reacted pretty viscerally against the final 30-40 minutes. After seeing _Adaptation._ and _Spotless Mind_, and knowing that Kaufman directed this one, I didn't expect much. In fact, I expected the film to be an ambitious dissection of the narrative form in modern-day film -- by definition, bound to fail. The failure of the ending of the film recalls *Adaptation.*, which makes a point to have an overt deus ex machina.

The problem is that the comedy got sucked dry out of the (as you put it) Woody Allen-ian "statement." But as with _Manhattan_, which finishes with a pathetic Isaac begging his 19-year-old girlfriend not to go to college, I got over it in time. The delightfulness of the humor is so strong that my big smile turned into a slight smile by the end.
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