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mother!

I just finished this film and I am emotionally drained.

mother! Is the tale of a man and woman (Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence, respectively – credited as “Him” and “Mother”) living alone in their quiet paradise. That is, until another man and woman show up out of the blue (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, again respectively) and shit hits the fan hard – and things only get worse.

 

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Unexpected houseguests, amirite?

 

It helps going into this film that this is a biblical allegory, and a gut-wrenching one at that. The amount of detail and the characterizations are an absolute treat. Though what’s difficult is comprehending what we’re supposed to get out of all of this:

It’s obvious that humans are shit creatures and everything’s a mess, but then there’s the fact that Him begins everything again without any remorse or forethought, only desire. Mother is completely replaceable and is only created to love him.

 

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This is essentially the whole film in one frame.

 

That concept alone is disturbing enough, especially when he is apathetic towards her suffering. What we don’t know is whether or not this apathy is inherent or due to so many failures? Does Him even consider failure? After all, he’s just chuffed to be admired, no matter the consequence.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that this is a film worth viewing (and I really enjoyed it), even though it is more or less a two-hour lesson in feeling uncomfortable.

tl;dr: God’s a sadist – go plant a tree.

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WYSHW: Synecdoche, New York

Poster

Japanese poster is best poster.

As you may have noticed in my last What You Should Have Watched that I posted forever ago, I had alluded to a Tom Hardy movie (which I’ll do next time)However, due to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden and tragic passing, I’ve decided to tell you about the enigmatic masterpiece that is Synecdoche, New York. Of course, assuming you have yet to see it.

Much like The Fountain or even Beyond the Black Rainbow, I could see why a film like Synecdoche would be a daunting experience. In fact, there are those who would argue that Synecdoche is just Charlie Kaufman’s pretentious self-absorbed opus. I, on the other hand, think that this is a treasure trove of metaphor and meaning, built by incredible talent and fantastic set design. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Synecdoche, New York is the story of Caden Cotard (PSH), a playwright who is caught between his work and personal life, while obsessing over his own mortality. His marriage to a micro-painter named Adele (Catherine Keener) soon crumbles under the stress, and she’s off to Germany with their only daughter, Olive. Despite these troubles, Caden soon receives a MacArthur Fellowship, and sets on creating a play which will be far more brutal and honest than his previous works – reality and fantasy spiral and entwine as we embark upon Caden’s über-meta oeuvre.

For instance, Hazel (Samantha Morton) lives in a house that is perpetually on fire.

For instance, Hazel (Samantha Morton) lives in a house that is perpetually on fire.

The unreliability of this world is not solely based on our protagonist – there are other characters who experience what we as viewers would see as lapses in reality. Thus Synecdoche presents for us a strange but entirely original environment, which compliments the storytelling in creating/portraying visual and contextual metaphor. More so, not only are we given a playfully surreal atmosphere, but we also deal with the heaviness of Caden’s isolation and obsession.

Okay, now I can see why people would start rolling their eyes – but really, this movie is worth checking out! Despite the heavy nature of Caden’s attempts to portray his meaning of life, the universe, and everything, his story is depicted with a fine balance of humor and sympathy. Not to mention the metaphors alone – personally, each time I watch this film I discover a new aspect or theme. Also there’s no shame in consulting wikipedia for some explanation.

Perhaps sometime I could give a better analysis of the many meanings weaved throughout this film, but for now I’m going to stick to a general WYSHW recommendation: Synecdoche, New York is a remarkable film. Charlie Kaufman has not only proved himself as a gifted writer, but as a substantial director as well (as if he needed to prove himself to anyone). Likewise, the cast is exceptional. Philip Seymour Hoffman breathed so much life into this performance – Caden is a broken man striving for excellence while discovering the purpose of his existence, and ultimately, well, I’m not going to spoil anything this time. His journey is sad, true, and beautiful – most importantly, it is something we all can relate to.

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I’ll miss you.

Tim Burton

Terry Gilliam

Spoiler alert: the overarching theme is wonderment. Not sure if I made that clear.

More to come!

 

Watch the Auteur Series introduction here!