Karl Paniczny suggested that I watch Synecdoche, New York, the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman. He suggested that it might be my kind of film. I don’t have much to say, because I’ve seen it only once. But that was more than enough to have first and second thoughts.
It is a remarkable film. And it may not be successful. But if it is a failure, it is the failure of genius. Anyone can make a mainstream film. It takes hard work and great talent to make a film like Synecdoche, New York.
A couple of things struck me while watching it. One was that there were many allusions to other films. I don’t know if this was intended, but I was reminded of other films several times. Also, the film is filled with brilliant ideas. Just a few: Hazel buying a house that is always on fire; Caden reading his daughter’s diary that apparently fills in automatically as she grows older; the final theater project that is utterly confused with reality.
To me, the film is about the fiction (or “theater” if you insist) of life. In particular, it is about the duality of a writer’s work and his life. Speaking as someone who knows, I think it is more true of a failed writer than a successful one. It is easier for a successful writer to compartmentalize these two lives. The failed writer is always asked what his work means whereas everyone can understand commodities.
This leads me to my greatest concern about the film. At one point Caden tells his assistant:
That’s pretty heavy handed, all by itself. But later, roughly the same line is repeated. All I could think was that Kaufman gave in to the money men.
Regardless, I look forward to watching the film a few more times. Even more, I look forward to seeing his new film Frank or Francis, which Wikipedia describes as, “a musical comedy about internet anger culture.” It makes me feel like dancing. And shouting.
 Ever notice that any given movie star manages to direct (And often write!) a passable movie? It’s because they get loads of help and all the department heads they surround themselves with are professionals. Note how no actor goes on to be a focus puller in movie. They are “directors” with a nod and a wink. I would say the same thing about most celebrity writers. Recently, I spent about 90 seconds reading Stephen Colbert’s entire I Am a Pole (And So Can You!). That’s 32 pages for $15.99. Can you guess how it ends? I did! The only intelligent thing I ever heard Russell Crowe say was that if they ever used his music in a movie of his we should shoot him. Any star who is an aspiring writer (or whatever) should send their work out anonymously to figure out if they really have talent. In general, I’m sure the answer will be a resounding, “No!”
 There is a similar sequence involving a self-help book sold to Caden by his psychologist.