Thursday, February 21, 2008

We Can't Wait #1 Synecdoche New York

And so we come to the end of the 2008 "We Can't Wait" countdown. There's actually 2 more anticipatory posts to get you revved up about the new cinematic year but those are actor focused and they arrive next week (after we're done with the naked gold man). So let's wrap up this countdown with a group hug for MaryAnn of Flick Filosopher, Gabriel of Modern Fabulousity, Glenn of Stale Popcorn and Joe of Low Resolution who played in my little sandbox this week.

Our collective most awaited movie is... (drumroll)

Synecdoche, New York
Directed by Charlie Kauffman (directorial debut for the acclaimed screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation)
Starring we'll get to that in a second
Brought to You By US Distributor TBA
Expected Release Date Unknown but it's in post-production

Nathaniel: Synecdoche New York is about a theater director (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who builds a life size replica of New York City inside a warehouse for a production. Say what? There's also this -- his trouble with women. Those women are ...Dianne Wiest, Hope Davis, Lynn Cohen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams , Catherine Keener and Emily Watson. Whew. And if the cast isn't enticing enough they're all in service to what sounds like another original oddity from the mind of the auteur-like screenwriter Charlie Kauffman.

So many reasons to love it on paper already. What more is there to say? I hope you'll find something...

MaryAnn: This movie was partly shot in my neighborhood in the Bronx. Part of the whole Bronx renaissance thing I was talking about before. But that's not why I can't wait to see it. I can't wait because no one consistently blows my mind like Charlie Kaufman does. And I don't get my mind blown anywhere near often enough.

Glenn: I'm intrigued and confused by this movie. I don't tend to get all excited for trailers, but I am for this one purely so we can see what on Earth Kaufman is doing? "life size replica of New York City"... say what? It is Kaufman after all so I'm sure it's even far less literal than I imagine it to be. I still can't wrap my head around it, which, in turn, is what makes me anticipate this movie so much. Plus, when you throw in a cast like that - I hope Kaufman becomes the first director in too long to properly utilise Dianne Weist - you have all the ingredients for the #1 most anticipated movie of 2008 (albeit not mine, but the group as a collective).

Can I just say how overjoyed I am that we showed a bit of spunk and personlity in our list?! USA Today did their top 16 and it's just summer/Christmas tentpole flicks such as Indiana Jones, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Narnia 2, Star Trek, The X-Files and The Mummy. I'm much more comfortable with my auteurs in action, epics in motion and all the other films we've discussed.

And thank you Nathaniel for doing the hard yards in organising this shindig. It's always great to discuss movies with people who are as equally passionate about them as I. Even if we disagree.

Joe: I agree with Glenn: we ARE awesome.

While I can't entirely ignore the nagging worry that an unbridled Kaufman could get in his own way (collaboration can be a good thing, and Spike Jonze can't be that busy on Where The Wild Things Are, can he? Okay, maybe he can.) That's a heck of a collection of women for ol' Phil Hoffman. Are we sure he's up for all that cardio?

I'm talking around the subject, because what else can we do? Glenn's right, until we see a trailer (and maybe not even then), we can't possibly presume to know what Charlie's up to. But if anyone in Hollywood has earned my complete and utter trust, it's Charlie Kaufman. Bring it on, however bizarre.

Gabriel: I'm obviously a sucker for PSH and Kaufmann (as anyone who sat next to me at Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind knows, right Nathaniel?), and of course being tangentially about the theater, Synecdoche New York plays directly into my wheelhouse.

But there's something rather splendid about the bevy of talented women fact, I think it's their presence that makes me so excited in the first place. It's been so long since a great female-ensemble film has rocked my world...Evening was such a disappointment last year, and 2007 often seemed particularly oriented to the stories of men (No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, The Assassination of Jesse James, etc.). With Synecdoche and The Women and Sex & The City, I'm hoping 2008 does female actresses proud.

Nathaniel: The massive female cast is giving me tingles in special places. But I can't say that I'm thrilled that it's Hoffman that all these amazing women are orbiting. Married to Marisa Tomei in Before the Devil... you'd think that would be the tops. But now he's romantically linked to Catherine Keener (ex-wife), Samantha Morton (lover) and Michelle Williams (wife) ...all in one film! He must have sold his soul to the devil.

But I'll take Kauffman and all these women in a heartbeat. I think Kauffman writes great female characters (think of Miranda Otto in Human Nature, Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine, Keener & Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich, and Meryl Streep in Adaptation to cite several examples. I'm so excited for this. And you?


We can't wait. But we have to. In most cases we'll be waiting till the fall when Hollywood finally lets their meaty films out. Which film are you salivating for that we didn't mention? And what would've been your numero uno?

<-- Sister Aloysius prays for your wicked soul if you haven't been reading the "we can't wait" countdown #1 Synecdoche, New York / #2 Burn After Reading / #3 Australia / #4 Milk / #5 Blindness / # 6 Doubt / #7 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button / #8 Revolutionary Road / #9 The Dark Knight / #10 Sex & The City: The Movie / #11 The Lovely Bones / #12 Wall-E / #13 Stop-Loss / #14 The Women / #15 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince / Introduction / Orphans


Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to this one as well. At the very least, I hope that it manages to win the SAG Ensemble award next year based on my expectations for it right now. I don't even know who might be singled out yet if the movie is well received (secretly I hope that it's Samantha Morton), but it could literally be anyone. So I'll take the next best thing with the SAG Ensemble if it's too hard to single out just a few performances for award consideration.

Robert said...

How many other writers can you think of that you can refer to their canon just like a director? No offense to the uber-talented Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry but say "Charlie Kauffman Movie" and everyone knows what you mean. There are very few (if any) other writers today who have that going for them.

And now he's a director. Usually when a writer becomes a director, one of two things happens. One they don't really succeed and go back to strictly writing. Or two, they take control of their material and their career flourishes to the point where their writer only films are just a warm up.

Imagine that? Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine just a warmup?

Alex F. said...

OMG Nathaniel! You've totally echoed my thoughts on PSH and his luck getting cast as the object of beautiful women's affections. One of the reasons I have trouble cozying up to him completely.

I criticized the list earlier this week, but the top five choices have been pretty great and about 134 times more interesting than that USA Today list.

I personally am really excited about the X-Files sequel but hey, I was an X-Files fanatic as a teen, so I hafta be.

I've been thinking about Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and James Franco. I love Lane and hope to see her in something good again. Not sure if this is it though.

Anonymous said...

Your forget Clementine in Eternal Sunshine as one of Kaufman's great female characters... or does she go without saying?

adam k. said...

Yeah, not only did you not include Clementine, but in the beginning you introduced Charlie Kaufman as "the writer of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation"...

...Um, what about that little film he won an oscar for, that also happened to be your #1 film of the year (and one of the top five of the decade, says me)?

Hasn't been on your mind so much lately?

(sorry I'm making a big fuss over nothing, but I just found it odd)

Slayton said...


adam k. said...

And here's a pickle:

Is PSH getting nommed for another lead oscar next year? And if so, for Synecdoche or Doubt? Tough one.

Though I suppose the Synecdoche role could be reminiscent of the John Cusack roles in Bullets Over Broadway and (by golly) Being John Malkovich, i.e. kinda boring and totally outshined by the supporting players. It already seems that way.

I wonder why Cusack wasn't cast in this role?

Maybe because he's boring (snark).

Anonymous said...

I read the screenplay for this a few months back, and it is brilliant - but would you expect any less than that from Kaufman? It is wildly hilarious but also very dark and bizarre. PS Hoffman has a very juicy role and could very well get himself a Best Actor nomination. Pennybags will be happy to hear that, of the women, Samantha Morton probably has the most prominent role. Many of the female roles are pretty small, almost cameos. I'm really looking forward to seeing it on screen and I hope we get some release info soon.

Brian Darr said...

Your collective list is great, I want to see most of these movies too (esp. #1, 2, 4 & 12), but very English-language focused.

A number of foreign auteurs have films cooking that I'm eager to see (not counting films by the likes of Erick Zonca, Johnnie To, Hong Sang-soo and others that have already been launched onto the festival circuit but not into my backyard yet):

The newest Hayao Miyazaki film Ponyo on a Cliff.

Abbas Kiarostami has a new one said to star Juliette Binoche.

My favorite Malaysian director Amir Muhammad's upcoming horror film Susuk.

New Francophone films from Philippe Garrel, the Dardenne Brothers, and Alain Resnais.

I'd go on but it's getting late...


well, it's no knock against the foreign films themselves to speak this truth: it's hard to know if one will get the chance to see them. And even if they are well received it could be two years or three until they open.


Anonymous said...

Franky I'm tired of this hetero fantasy where an ugly man (sorry) gets the hot chick, or in this case the hot chicks. I mean even Brad Pitt never gets that much girls in his movies. And look at Seth Rogen in Knocked Up, all Woody Allen.. I need an explanation. I mean, these guys are not even rich in their movies ! Girls and women agree to sleep with ugly men when they'r rich, don't give me that "but he's a great guy" bullshit.
Frankly, if Dianne Wiest was the focus of attention by a group of thirty-something white males, you'd think it's a bit ridiculous, wouldn't you ?
Oh well, double standard..
And it goes on. Now Alan Arkin of all people gets Monica Bellucci AND Robn Wright Penn in a new film, The private lives of Pippa Lee. Hello ?!

I mean, Michelle Pfeiffer couldn't even get laid when she was surrounded by horny teens in Dangerous Minds and Alan Arkin and Philip Seymour Hoffman have girfriends who would make Hugh Hefner salivate.

John said...

So, I love the fact that Kaufman is doing Fellini's 8 1/2 here, but I'm so worried about Hoffman, who doesn't seem to know what to do with the clever balancing act of over-the-top and delicate-miniature that Kaufman's films require.

Glenn Dunks said...

"I wonder why Cusack wasn't cast in this role?"

You're right! With all those roles, why could they find room for Joan Cusack?!? :p

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

"There's also this -- his trouble with women. Those women are ...Dianne Wiest, Hope Davis, Lynn Cohen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams , Catherine Keener and Emily Watson."

This is the first time I have ever been jealous of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Damn you, uh, whoever decided to cast this movie!

Catherine said...

Just as long as I don't have to see PSH naked, I'm happy.

Anonymous said...

Give up the Emily Watson love. Fingers crossed for 2008 being her oscar year. Have a look at Whirlwind, very baity role.

Anonymous said...

I highly anticipate anything Kaufman does.

As for my #1, I'm a Soderbergh kinda guy, so the two Guevara flicks due this year strike my interest the most.

ryansumera said...


Anonymous said...

I just love the fact that this movie will force people to learn what synecdoche means. I'll pray for movies with metonymy, syllogism, and parataxis in the titles next.

I do have to ask--where is The Young Victoria? (Thanks whipsmart).

Anonymous said...

I just love the fact that this movie will force people to learn what synecdoche means. I'll pray for movies with metonymy, syllogism, and parataxis in the titles next.

I do have to ask--where is The Young Victoria? (Thanks whipsmart).


i love that too. force people to learn. that's sure to sell tickets ! ;)


oh and the young victoria? I assume that fell prey to biopic exhaustion. i think the che guevara picture might have overcome that but for it's split in two quality. who is to say how many change of whatever plans lay in store for that one. Kill Bill and the Matrixes and even Flags of Our Fathers all changed course more than once in terms of planning.

we'll see.

Anonymous said...

One more--The Dutchess. Weren't you all ready to love Knightly? Another biopic though, you're right.

Brian Darr said...

On the foreign films, Nat: True 'Dat. My comment was not intended as a gripe about the list, but just a shout-out to some other favorites.


understood ;)

we all need the reminders. i know this year I really want to get to more festivals. because NYFF and IIFF were so fun last year

Lucas Dantas said...

i loved this list; especially the "blindness" post. it's kinda corny to feel good when a brazillian director's movie is anticipated, but whatever, lately i've been too drunk to conceal silly feelings.

i'm also dying to see "mamma mia"! i don't give a shit if there seems to have a musical backlash in america, and the cast [aside from streep] seems weird and unimaginable for a musical [at least for me], it's still MERYL STREEP singing ABBA!!! i'd buy a million tickets for it, and someone tells me it'll be my 2008's "the devil wears prada", which i saw at least six times in the theatres.

Anonymous said...


You are completely correct with Meryl in Mama MIa... can't wait... will see it 6 times .. or more!!