I’ve spent most of the week trying to catch up on some TV, so I only watched 3 films. But I believe this article is warranted as I’m going to go in depth into one of the strangest and best films I’ve ever seen: Synecdoche, New York.
Sing Street (2016)
Directed by John Carney
What a lovely, sweet film. In Sing Street, we watch a teenage boy form a band to impress an older woman (about a year or so). While typical and simplistic at first glance, the film is also about a lot more (a recurring theme across the films in my week). Sing Street is also about dysfunctional families, and how we react to them. I say “we” because there is a scene that I’ve lived through dozens of times. The movie is about brothers and how they joke and talk shit about each other, but are ultimately there for one another. Having an older brother, the ending of the film hits like a ton of bricks. When the brother jumps in the street out of excitement, it’s hard not to get emotional.
Directed by Ben Wheatley
This film is pretty tricky. A full in depth review will be released closer to the release date. If you’ve read my past Film Queue posts, I’ve watched two of Ben Wheatley’s films to get ready for High-Rise, and I’m not sure if it helped. As I said in Sing Street, this film is about a lot more than just what’s in the film. High-Rise is about society, and both Wheatley and J.G Ballard (the author of the original novel) have something to say about it, but I’m just not quite sure what that something is.
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Directed by Charlie Kaufman
Oh God, this is daunting. Okay.
Synecdoche, New York is Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut, as he’s primarily known for his work as a writer. We follow one of my favourite actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of my favourite roles. He plays Caden Cotard, a theatre director who struggles with, well, everything. He is constantly thinking about death, as it surrounds him all the time. Just like Kaufman’s previous scripts and films, it’s surreal, and you’re never fully sure of what is occurring. The entire film is built with the structure of a dream, as full weeks, months, and years pass between cuts. While it feels like only a week passes, full lives have been lived before the film concludes. The surrealism of it all leaves you confused, questioning everything as it occurs, but in the final act, as everything starts coming down, you’re no longer confused, you just buy it and are in tears. Okay, I was in tears. As Cotard loses everyone that mattered to him in one way or another, he awaits death as he continues to try and make his magnum opus; a play where a life-sized New York City is housed in a giant warehouse and every resident has a part of a story, not as an extra, but as their own full life.
It’s hard to explain in words what happens in the dream-like movie, but I can explain that the movie is about life, about death, about being lonely, and what it’s like to be human, knowing it’ll come to an end. It’s scary and wonderful all at the same time. This is the film that shows us PSH cinematically dying in a fade to white, showing us how sudden it can all be.
This film is strange and hard to follow, but if you make it to the end, it’s beautiful.