Welcome! Log in or Register

Synecdoche, New York (DVD)

  • image
£14.68 Best Offer by: betamonline.com See more offers
5 Reviews

Genre: Comedy / Theatrical Release: 2008 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Charlie Kaufman / Actors: Philip Seymour Hoffman ... / DVD released 2009-10-12 at Revolver Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL

  • Sort by:

    * Prices may differ from that shown

  • Write a review >
    How do you rate the product overall? Rate it out of five by clicking on one of the hearts.
    What are the advantages and disadvantages? Use up to 10 bullet points.
    Write your reviews in your own words. 250 to 500 words
    Number of words:
    Write a concise and readable conclusion. The conclusion is also the title of the review.
    Number of words:
    Write your email adress here Write your email adress

    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    5 Reviews
    Sort by:
    • More +
      31.07.2010 17:08

      Advantages

      Disadvantages

      A smart, unique masterpiece

      Synecdoche, New York, Eternal Sunshine writer Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, is a unique and memorable film. Centred around a man (the as-always reliable Philip Seymour Hoffman) who spends his entire life making an epic, autobiographical play inside a gargantuan warehouse, this is not just a film, but a gigantic metaphor.

      Filmed, played, scored to an achingly sad degree, Synecdoche is filmic poetry to be felt rather than taken literally - those that do, I imagine, will only come away disappointed. The central concept alone will drive fans of straightforward cinema insane - that's not even taking into account the woman that lives in a burning house, the actors playing actors playing actors or any number of the dozens of other eccentric features in this film.
      The cast is full of indie starlets, including Catherine Keener, Hope Davis and Michelle Williams, all on top form, propping up Hoffman in one of his typically brilliant performances. Here he solidifies himself as an actor so good he can make generally unlikeable characters into genuinely loveable people.

      Not a film for everyone, Synecdoche, New York is worth a try for those who like their films deep with meaning and emotion. It is ambitious, mind-bending cinema on a grand scale (see Inception for another example of this) and for that alone it deserves to be seen. See it also, however, for the look, style, score and, particularly, the performances.

      Comments

      Login or register to add comments
    • More +
      26.05.2010 23:33
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      3 Comments

      Advantages

      Disadvantages

      It ain't Iron Eagle 2, but then hell, what is?

      Synecdoche, New York is a brave film, it's the kind of film that actors love to star in the kind of film that people love to say they have enjoyed even if they don't understand it or the kind of film that people despise because it bases itself on feelings and at times becomes so introspective that it disappears up its own jacksy and reappears out of its longingly spun navel.

      Directed by Charlie Kauffman who has a loyal and keen following of fans from the films he has written such as 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind', 'Being John Malkovich' and 'Adaptation'. He also has an equally loyal set of people who laugh at the mention of his name and recall the story of the Emperors New Clothes.

      I have to begin by admitting that I am an enormous fan of 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', I don't understand it all but I found it enormously romantic in a nihilistic way, I have to admit I liked 'Being John Malkovich' more for Spike Jonze quirky direction than for the script, and have tried to watch 'Adaptation' but it is way too clever for me and goes so far over my head it might as well be acted out in Latin by Gibbons dressed in Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture, I just didn't get it.

      So I went into watching this film with trepidation, I received the DVD for Christmas and watched it (although I most enjoyed the extras because they were short and I have a short attention span and felt even I couldn't lose the plot over 19 minutes of chat about the film), however it has appeared on television tonight and I am watching it again, and am now so glad I own this DVD (The film has nearly finished and strangely enough its completely different to the last time I watched this, but I know how I want to view the ending and this is the kind of film that ends in your head rather than how it ends), it is something that tries lots of things and doesn't manage to achieve them all but its admirable for trying them and there is nothing wrong with clever cinema that seeks to challenge and allow the viewer to decide what they think is happening. These are my views during a second viewing where some of the prospects and ideas make a lot more sense.

      Plot:

      The film follows Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Kaufman). It is presumed his character is named after Cotard'syndrome, a disease where a person wrongly feels they have lost organs, blood or body parts or can feel that they are actually dead/unreal. The use of this surname suggests that there is ambiguity from the beginning of the film over what is happening.
      Cotard is an utter hypochondriac whose marriage to Adele Lack (Catherine Keener) a celebrated artist is in tatters, she admits to their psychiatrist that she wishes he were dead so that she can reinvent herself without his dreary lifeless form following her. She ups sticks and takes their daughter to Berlin, the daughter is a child who has inherited her fathers characteristics and doesn't believe she exists, in a state of constant paranoia.

      Cotard is convinced he will die soon. Despite his success in Broadway as a director he finds that his life proves spectacularly unsuccessful and upon receiving a large sum of life insurance buys a huge warehouse in Schenectady a small district on the outskirts of New York and hires hundreds of actors to act out their lives within the warehouse, the story in its total is based on his life and experiences. Things become very confusing as Cotard employs actors to play characters in his life, however these actors become part of his life and thus he must employ more actors to play them, in essence the circle of life continues.

      At every corner, Cotard searches for his daughter, who is being strangely influenced by a German woman, has to deal with the sneering presence of his ex-wife and a further ex-wife (Michelle Williams) who acts in his warehouse, and deal with his failure to live, to love and to accept himself or his life. He also meets a man who explains that he has stalked Cotard for 20 years in the realisation that he would play him within the warehouse. His acting is assured, honest and real, this raises further questions, who is he and what is the reason for his actions.

      The film sprawls about like Cotard himself, it is weird and wonderful (in parts), we move from his time with his first wife, through his work in the warehouse and back to his other relationships with warehouse cast members, throughout it all, Cotard is a bleak and destructive influence on those around him, without love for himself, life or anyone (other than his daughter).

      Will Cotard begin to understand that his narccism is controlling the lives of others, is he dying/dead/crazy, will he find his daughter/love or anything that makes him happy. Being honest you know from the onset that the only real answers you will find in this film are from your own interpretation of events. As Cotard loses his own reality in his warehouse of pretend a woman appears, Milicent Weems (Dianne Wiest) who could change his life.

      Cast:

      Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Caden Cotard
      Catherine Keener ... Adele Lack
      Sadie Goldstein ... Olive (4 years old)
      Tom Noonan ... Sammy Barnathan
      Peter Friedman ... Emergency Room Doctor
      Charles Techman ... Like Clockwork Patient
      Josh Pais ... Dr. Eisenberg - Ophthalmologist
      Daniel London ... Tom
      Robert Seay ... David
      Michelle Williams ... Claire Keen
      Stephen Adly Guirgis ... Davis
      Samantha Morton ... Hazel
      Hope Davis ... Madeleine Gravis
      Frank Girardeau ... Plumber
      Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Maria

      The cast is basically awesome, Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent as Cotard a coiled, man-child filled with anxiety, hatred, anger, self-pity and genius, in later scenes with Sammy Barnathan (Tom Noonan) as the actor who has stalked Cotard, the scenes are uncomfortable but it is almost as though Barnathan is another part of Cotard's personality as he follows Cotard like a shadow, like an unlock part of his soul.

      Catherine Keener is excellent as the honest and bored Adele, Michelle Williams is also top drawer as Claire Keen a woman who falls under Cotard's spell but begins to realise his levels of self-destruction. Samantha Morton is a constant in the film as the uber-fan Hazel, she is excellent a model of wide eyed delusion and love set against this sad sack man-child in Cotard.



      My Opinion:

      I could go two ways here and gush about how wonderful this is as a self aggrandising statement of our own desire to immortalise ourselves, or I could be honest and say that for large parts of the film I didn't fully understand what was going on. I found the premise fantastic, it is really inventive and clever and I can appreciate how the parallels between Cotard's life and the warehouse begin to collide as a metaphor for how we live and how we perceive life, I think it's an intricate and thoughtful idea and definitely fits with the Kauffman ethic, however I'm not the brain of Britain and whilst I got quite a bit of what was going on, sometimes the necessity to be uncomfortable or different seemed to be more for show than substance.

      The film is slow paced, but slow paced in a thoughtful way that allows you to try and ingest whats going on and make your own balloon animals from whatever comes out of your head, it is brilliantly written as it becomes a travail into the depths of human emotion and mental conflict, one man's mental health issues are another man's life.

      The film gets so confusing at times as Cotard's wife complains to Cotard that her husband is touching her and her husband rejects this (both of them). As Cotard descends into chaos as his doppelganger acts out to his real wife that he is cheating, the film gets really weird.

      Some of the things, like the flat that is constantly on fire or the discussions with the tattooed German woman are a tad twin peaks and the film moves about so much that confusion reigns and we start to get lost in the confusing, mental anguish of our protagonist (If he exists at all).

      As we watch Cotard watching his life being played out, we wonder whether Cotard does exist or whether he is actually a euphemism for something more (or less), for me it is to do with a god complex from a man who doesn't believe he exists other than to observe, Cotard makes people do what he wants, controls how their environments and lives develop and is all seeing and all knowing, but from the prospect of a person who is self-depreciating, depressed and psychologically disturbed.

      The relationship between Cotard and the women is interesting, but the relationship between Cotard and Sammy is really interesting as his doppelganger follows him, acts as he would without direction, but eventually becomes totally immersed in the sadness of being Cotard.

      The character of Milicent Weems is incredibly interesting and adds a further dimension and a contrast to Sammy, she brings something new to Cotard and possibly his one chance for redemption.

      I came away from the film wondering what it wanted to achieve, for me it made me appreciate that a life spent concentrating on introspection, self awareness, doubt and self-loathing makes for a dull play in a warehouse when I could be listening to Chico's greatest hits or reconstructing the destructive love of Ingmar Bergman or the Chuckle Brothers.

      I do have to question how Philip Seymour Hoffman gets to sleep with Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Emily Watson and Samantha Morton in one film, when he is a lardy, balding, speccy sadsack with a god complex.....still it gives hope to us all, I guess.

      For me, i'll give this a 4 out of 5, because i've watched it twice and both times seen different things and got different end products, its a keeper and i'll watch it many more times as its like one of those massive role playing games that you keep coming back to with different endings or meanings depending on your mood when you watch it, its a keeper and a long player.

      This is a thoughtful and challenging film, its not a classic by any means but it's a film that makes sense the more you think about it, it is well written, has a heart of sorts inside this patchwork quilt of insecurity, madness and introspection.

      The films ends on a high (if thats how you want it to end), its possible to view this film so many ways, are some people willing to spend their lives following, being extras in someone else's story, doing as they are told or do they want to live and tell their own story? its thoughtful, melancholic but nonetheless life-affirming stuff.

      It's sad, thoughtful, complicated, neurotic and challenging, its not as pretentious as people might tell you and it really might bring a tear to your eye if you give it a chance, its confused, confusing and deliberately so, but for me its a tale about mental illness a sense of not belonging in society and a desire to live ones life through others without feeling the pain of living it yourself, which must ring true with many of us, although not to this scale.

      It's a really good film, It's not Iron Eagle 2, but then what is??

      Prices:

      The DVD is available in the following outlets:

      The 2 disc edition with loads of special extras is £5 on Play.com, the film is also £4.37 on Amazon.com



      Special Features:

      These are fairly meaty and really exciting for fans of the film or the director, there is a 19 minute documentary 'In and Around Synecdoche, New York' which talks with cast and director about making of the film, it is interesting to hear the varying ideas of what the film means to its major protagonists.

      There is a Q&A with Charlie Kaufman where he discusses all of his films and his own career.

      There is a documentary about infectious diseases to fit with the ethic of the film, as well as an interview with Philip Seymour Hoffman 'Story of Caden Cotard' where he talksabout making the film.

      There are also a string of animations which formed the basis for the cartoons Caden Cotard sees regularly during the film on television.

      Comments

      Login or register to add comments
      • More +
        08.03.2010 18:09
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        1 Comment

        Advantages

        Disadvantages

        Please don't watch it!

        syn·ec·do·che   [si-nek-duh-kee]
        -noun
        A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand for sailor) or the whole for a part (as the law for police officer).

        A film that has to tell you how to pronounce the title, hasn't exactly got itself off to a great start. Synecdoche is the story of Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is a playwright with problems. He is a self-obsessed hypochondriac whose wife has just left him. He decides to direct a new play in a giant warehouse which will reconstruct his whole life and his interactions with other people. The word synecdoche means when a part represents the whole or vice versa. I think perhaps the point of the film is that this reconstruction of his life actually becomes his life. He is no more than a story. In the end, there is no meaning to his life. He is directing his own story but it is no more important that anyone else's and he is making a real mess of it.

        This DVD box said something about it being funny or a dark comedy, but that is definitely mis-selling. I found the film warped, disturbing and ultimately pointless. Thank you Charlie Kaufman (director) for choosing to share your illogical and depressing view of the world with us for 2 hours. My advice to anyone thinking of watching this is, don't. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a much more palatable film exploring similar themes about life.

        Comments

        Login or register to add comments
        • More +
          23.11.2009 10:45
          Very helpful
          (Rating)
          3 Comments

          Advantages

          Disadvantages

          Pretencious beyodg requirment

          Schenectady is a name of a rural town in NY State, where as Synecdoche, NY (pronounced: si-nek-duh-kee) is a rather pretentious name for a movie, which this movie sadly is, Charlie Kauffman's latest and rather self-indulgent effort trying rather too hard to be extremely clever and knowing. It's a shame, really, as he's had some crackers previous to this one, why I rented it. Sometimes Hollywood writers just get carried away, and because they have had previous hits they have enough clout to write and direct their own pet projects and no one dare say that's a bit too serious and intense for the movies mate. No ones going to actually watch it, which proved the case here. It's the same with Steven Poliakoff sometimes, our Charlie Kaufman, Gideon's Daughter a huge misfire and his latest movie, the Glorious 39, also getting panned.

          Kaufman movies are in that genre where you feel under pressure to like them if you consider yourself intelligent, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich and Confessions of a Dangerous Minds, films I enjoyed, but none the wiser on what the hell was going on in Adaptation, the world's most famous Orchid movie. I'm sure these movies may well be extremely clever and articulate but it doesn't stop them being very boring. Synecdoche, New York is in that same intense territory and one can only presume it has been extracted from the deepest and darkest recess of Kaufman's self loathing and lugubrious brain as this is a very depressing experience. And there's two bloody hours of it! If I tell you that Cotard, Phillip Seymour Hoffman's leading characters second name in the film is named after 'Cotard's Syndrome', 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, then you can work out what your renting here.

          --------------------------
          "Synecdoche"

          defined as: "a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (as society for high society), the species for the genus (as cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as a creature for a man), or the name of the material for the thing made (as boards for stage). That didn't really help did it.
          --------------------------

          -Cast-

          Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Caden Cotard
          Catherine Keener ... Adele Lack
          Sadie Goldstein ... Olive (4 years old)
          Tom Noonan ... Sammy Barnathan
          Daniel London ... Tom
          Robert Seay ... David
          Michelle Williams ... Claire Keen
          Stephen Adly Guirgis ... Davis
          Samantha Morton ... Hazel
          Hope Davis ... Madeleine Gravis
          Frank Girardeau ... Plumber
          Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Maria

          -The Plot-

          Celebrated Manhattan playwright Caden Cotard (Hoffman) and his partner Adele (Catherine Keener) are not a happy couple in any way. Caden is a hypochondriac and his array of doctors and surgeons are willing to give him remedies for his mostly imagined condition's, making things worse because he believes he actually has those conditions. Their young daughter Olive (Sadie Goldstein) has inherited dad's paranoia and has been diagnosed with Cotards syndrome, that delusional belief you are dead, so little Olive in no need of blood or bones, she repeatedly telling her angst ridden daddy.

          After a successful opening night of his version of The Death of a Salesman, Caden begins to plan his next project, his paranoia now so intense he believes he's going to die from all his latest ailments, that sure to be at the heart of the work. The more a writer thinks about the world the more he contemplates his own mortality, unsurprisingly depression very prevalent in the writing community.

          His wife is also a name on the arts scene, her miniature portraits displayed in the Guggenheim, but their careers pulling them further and further apart like the dying applause they enjoy, and when Adele can't make his opening night, with some excuse or other, he returns home to find her smoking pot with a friend, clear now the relationship is over, Adele deciding to take Olive to Berlin for the summer to escape his negativity.

          Alone with his thoughts and increasing phobias he decides to include himself in his next stage play, but one like no other and with no time limit, recreating his life in a huge converted building in the borough of Synecdoche, constructing a duplicate of the New York he lives and works in inside the giant hanger, quite literally his life's work. He will be casting people to play the people in his life and also cast any new people that come into his life when writing and performing the piece. SO someone has to play him.

          One man, David (Robert Seay), seems to have anticipated this project, bizarrely stalking the real Caden for the last twenty years, announcing this at the auditions, Caden oblivious to this guys attentions, but now having to audition someone else to play David in the play, two David's in the play now (like I said, the film is very pretentious and out there). But this is a play that's only ever half written because he is writing it as his life moves forward, Hazel (Samantha Morton), who plays Adele soon blurring the film even more by becoming his off stage lover, one of many, which means someone has to be cast as Hazel, Claire (Michelle Williams) becoming the new Hazel, the play eventually becoming his reality and so the writer able to pen the conclusion of his life as it catches up to the now, this a performance that will never have an audience.

          -The Conclusion-

          I don't know if you ever saw that spoof American soap opera called 'Soap' , but the plot to this is like the intro to that, the narrator reeling off the catch up from the previous show on who's sleeping with who or who's double-dealing where. This film is intelligent in a very deep way but it's also very boring if you don't want to take that particular train. When you understand that if all the atoms that make up the human race were stuck together in one single place the mass would only be the size of a sugar cube, the contemplation of our very existence is not a good idea, this film all about that intense self examination. The core of all depressions is self worth and death, I suspect the films true message.

          Phillip Seymour Hoffman is as melancholic and troubled as ever as the tortured writer, with everyone else deliberately irrelevant in the film to empathize his loneliness amongst people. The idea of making a concurrent play about your life is interesting but it's soon Woody Allen paranoia without the jokes, and nobody wants to go there for two hours, accept Kaufman, of course, this film definitely about his neurosis not ours, drowning us with his moroseness on screen. After watching this you too will decide you have Caden syndrome and wish you were dead. This is very tough watch and bombed at the awards season it was pitched at.

          The highlights were few and far between, the enigmatically sexy Emily Watson stark naked the most pleasant one for me, still looking fabulous at 42. The low points are the pretensions ones, and there are many of them, like why is one of the ensemble living in a big yellow house that's permanently on fire???

          = = = = = = Special Features = = = = =

          -Infectious diseases in cattle: bloggers round table-

          Some important medical people discuss oddball disease and syndromes.

          -The story of Caden Cotard-

          Seymour Hoffman talks about his character and the movie

          -An Interview with Charlie Kauffman-

          The writer and director talks about his bizarre movie at the London Film Festival

          - Animations-

          An animated version of the film. Don't ask.

          -In and around Synecdoche, NY-

          On set on the set, if you see what I mean.

          -


          = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
          Imdb.com 7.4 out of 10.0 (13, 308 votes)
          RuN-TiMe 124 minutes
          Any 2 films for 2 nights for £5 at Blockbusters
          = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

          Comments

          Login or register to add comments
          • More +
            21.11.2009 20:49
            Very helpful
            (Rating)

            Advantages

            Disadvantages

            Very clever

            note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room

            Charlie Kaufman is a strange man. He has made the mind-bending outings Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation, each dealing with issues of the mind and also ones of creativity and of contentedness. These issue coalesce in his newest film, the difficult-to-pronounce Synecdoche (Si-Neck-Dock-E) New York, where we get a fascinating look at the mind of a troubled writer going through some life changes.

            The film revolves around Caden Cotard, a theatre director whose life is left in the toilet after he is left by his wife, who also takes their daughter with her, and he is suffering from some sort of illness affecting his mind. However, some fortune comes his way when he recieves a MacArthur genius grant, and decides to try and build a life-size replica of New York within a huge warehouse, to the point where he even hires actors to play himself and his family, and then actors to play THOSE actors. It all gets wonderfully mind-bending, and has plenty of clever moments, even if the dump-on-Caden schtick does get a bit tired by the end of the film.

            Fans of Kaufman's will probably love it, though; there's enough food for thought here to challenge even his most ardent followers, although the film is sure to alienate casual audiences through its strange, unassuming approach. Nevertheless, Philip Seymour Hoffman is typically brilliant in a role seemingly tailor-made for his talents.

            Charlie Kaufman's latest existential meditation is a beguiling tragicomedy, topped with a superb lead performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Whilst almost relentlessly bleak in its outlook, it is engrossing, although perhaps too labyrinthine for its own good.

            Comments

            Login or register to add comments