If you traveled the length of John Malkovichs medulla oblongata and walked through the adjoining door of the interstellar hotel room at the end of 2001, you might end up somewhere in the vicinity of Charlie Kaufmans Synecdoche, New Yorka two-hour, thrill ride so deep into the eternal gloom of its writer and (first-time) directors spotted mind that the Kaufman-scripted Adaptation seems, by comparison, a sun-drenched landscape epic. Like that film, Synecdoche is a partly confessional, partly satirical investigation into the creative process, this time with the reliably excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman as self-absorbed regional theater director Caden Cotard, who wins a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation genius grant and sets about staging his autobiographical magnum opus. Much of film unfolds in the giant New York City warehouse where Caden and his army of willing collaborators endlessly rehearse his play about everything, complete with an actor playing Caden and yet another actor playing that actor. The results suggest Kaufman at 200 proof, cramming every idea hes ever had about life, art and that enigma whose name is woman into a single, totemic work. That makes for a sometimes unruly affair, but one thats as audacious as anything Ive seen on a movie screen this year.
Nov. 26-Dec. 31, 2008