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#087 Charlie Kaufman: Synecdoche, New York vs. Anomalisa



Download MP3 In today's episode Nate and Austin compare Charlie Kaufman's best and worst rated films, Synecdoche, New York (2008) and Anomalisa (2015), respectively. Nate is excited for the Oscars, Austin doesn't know what the hell is going on, and they both continue their love affair with Charlie Kaufman. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Fritz Lang's M (1931) and The Return of Frank James (1940), his best and worst rated films.
Also check out this interview with director John Ford: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u2DDjKKR10

Anomalisa Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary.
  • Ratings: IMDb 7.2 | RT 91% C / 70% A
  • Released: 2015
  • Director: Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson
  • Writer(s): Charlie Kaufman (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Joe Passarelli (Marrying God, Beatdown, Skyler)
  • Notable actors: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
  • Budget: $8 million
  • Box office: $5.5 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • This film was crowd-funded through Kickstarter.com.
    • Michael stays at the Fregoli hotel. The Fregoli delusion, or the delusion of doubles, is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise. The syndrome may be related to a brain lesion and is often of a paranoid nature, with the delusional person believing themselves persecuted by the person they believe is in disguise.
    • With the exception of the two leads, every character (male or female) is voiced by Tom Noonan.
    • The first R-rated animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
    • In earlier stages, this film was planned to be only a short film, with 40 minutes in length.
    • David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan are the same actors that voiced the original "sound play" on which the movie is based.
    • The song Lisa sings to Michael was originally supposed to be CĂ©line Dion's "My Heart Will Go On", but was changed to Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" when the Titanic (1997) theme song could not be licensed for the movie.
    • The classic movie the protagonist puts on TV, reenacted with puppets, was originally supposed to be Casablanca (1942), but the production could not afford to license it so it was changed to My Man Godfrey (1936), which was in the public domain.
    • At 8:47, Michael enters the Fregoli Hotel. Except for a brief shot of Michael's face (9:27 to 9:29), the shot remains unbroken until 12:29, following Michael from the front desk of the hotel, into the elevator, up to the tenth floor and to his hotel room, where the last image of the shot is Michael urinating in his room's toilet.
    • The movie takes place in 2005.
    • Co-director Duke Johnson stated it took six months for him to animate the sex scene because of technical reasons and making the scene realistic as opposed to comedic.
    • Michael is in every scene of the film, except the last one.
    • In the last scene with the girls in the car, the camera briefly focuses on Marie's face and you can see she is a different person to the face that Michael sees everyone as.

Synecdoche, New York Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play.
  • Ratings: IMDb 7.5 | RT 69% C / 71% A
  • Released: 2008
  • Director: Charlie Kaufman
  • Writer(s): Charlie Kaufman (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Frederick Elmes (Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Night on Earth)
  • Notable actors: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Sadie Goldstein, Tom Noonan, Peter Friedman, Charles Techman, Josh Pais, Daniel London, Robert Seay, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • Budget: $20 million
  • Box office: $4.4 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • At the start of the film, when 'Phillip Seymour Hoffman' is reading the news at the breakfast table, he reads out that "Harold Pinter has died.... wait.... no - he's won the Nobel prize". This is a reference to a famous Sky News clip whereby Sky, in their rush to be first with breaking news, accidentally announced that Harold Pinter was dead. In fact it had just been announced that he was to be awarded the Nobel prize for literature.
    • The article that Caden reads while in the doctor's waiting room, about his wife, is titled: "It's Good To Be Adele". The intro paragraph reads: "Six months ago, Adele was an under-appreciated housewife in Eastern New York. Stuck in a dead-end marriage to a slovenly ugly-face loser, Adele Lack had big dreams for her and her then four-year-old daughter, Olivia. That's when her paintings got small."
    • The name next to the buzzer of Adele's apartment reads "Capgras." Given the subject of the film - a man has actors play the real people in his life - this is almost certainly a reference to a psychological phenomenon called the Capgras delusion, where the sufferer believes that everyone in his or her life has been replaced with an identical-looking impostor.
    • Philip Seymour Hoffman's character's last name is a reference to the Cotard delusion or Cotard's syndrome, also known as nihilistic or negation delusion, which is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that he or she is dead, does not exist, is putrefying or has lost his/her blood or internal organs.
    • Roger Ebert named this film the best of the 2000s.
    • Christopher Evan Welch, according to Charlie Kaufman, was cast at the last minute. Welch only had less than a day to rehearse and perform his scene, delivering a monologue.
    • In a radio interview, director Charlie Kaufman revealed that while scouting for a location, he and a few other crew members became stuck in an elevator late at night and were afraid it would plummet. They had to open the doors and jump out to escape. In the same interview, Kaufman discussed a recurring and claustrophic dream he has about being stuck in an elevator, and that the movie was purposefully structured like a dream (it has double the number of scenes than an average movie of its length).

Intro music by Eric Lynch

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