Synecdoche, New York (2008/Sony DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C Film: C
Kaufman has beat the “postmodernism 101” thing out to death in his initial
feature films, so in Synecdoche, New
York (2008) tries to do a troubled relationship story with some cleverness
without going as bonkers on the time/space plane. For the record, Synecdoche is pronounced
“Sih-NEC-doh-kee” and one of the hooks to see the film was to get people to
learn this. However, Kaufmann should
have been concerned with other ideas.
Seymour Hoffman is a father and theater director whose life is slowly getting
worse. He has a daughter, wife, two
mistresses, a nerve condition and age is catching up with him in odd ways. During all this, he is making a replica of
all of New York for an epic play he is working on, but it suddenly becomes much
more. It is an interesting idea, but
becomes more tied up in eccentricity than actually developing into something
new and different.
becomes repetitive to its disadvantage and despite the fine performances from a
cast including Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest,
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan and (again!) Catherine Keener, the
film just cannot overall hold it together.
The result is Kaufmann expressing things only he understands, more ideas
than complete thoughts and a film with the most potential of anything Kaufmann
has penned yet. Too bad it is fragmented
beyond his control. Ironic distance
enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is good and consistent, but Director of Photography
Frederick Elmes, A.S.C., creates some interesting shots that help make this
more watchable. Bet this looks better on
Blu-ray. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is
not bad, but dialogue-based and is sometimes not as well mixed as I would have
liked. Extras include screen animations
and four featurettes.
- Nicholas Sheffo