sunday late morning last week i was looking at the movies showing when i noticed the name synecdoche, n.y.. i watched the trailer and lo and behold it's a movie both written and directed by charlie kaufman! with philip seymour hoffman in the lead! that was that, i had to go see it. when i got in the theater, right about the time the previews started, i was the only one in the whole big stadium theater. i thought that was going to be the case for the movie, but 3 or 4 people came in right around the time the movie started. i got my most favorite seat in the house because of this -- middle of the row, middle to lower middle of the screen. i like the picture to take up most of my field of vision, but not so much i have to turn my eyes to see the whole picture.
as for the movie...it was a very slow mindfsck. it had some great parts, but i can see how a lot of people wouldn't be able to sit through it. i personally left the theater feeling a bit groggy and addled, not sure if i was me or an actor playing me...and what would the difference be? the premise is that hoffman is a theater director whose life is sort of falling apart, and he gets a grant to create a new piece, so he decided to create something huge and real and gutsy. he rents an impossibly large theater space and starts to work on creating a microcosm of life itself. the actors live lives, playing parts as instructed by him. his life, and the lives of those around him, included. and the piece spans 40 years of his life. it's a bit surreal (as kaufman movies tend to be), and loops back on itself multiple times, creating copies of copies of copies (since the actors eventually need to have actors to play them playing the principal characters because they are now a part of his life). it's maybe about how each of us live our life, how we try to process it and control it, how we manipulate it in our mind. there are paths that are shown but never followed, paths that are dropped somewhere, and paths that jump impossibly from here to there incongruently. (kind of like our minds, eh?) but in the end, i personally think it's a very complex piece that stretches your brain to process the possibilities inside the film and what it means. there are some emotionally beautiful scenes, as well as some visually beautiful ones. i think second, third, or more viewings will probably help validate that there is a lot of meat on this one, and that it's not just pointless navel-gazing. kaufman movies tend to be all about the self anyway, and where the line is between it and the rest of the world and others, and how a mind perceives and processes and stores happenings and feelings and etc. but this movie is much more ambitious and complex than his previous works. i was actually really impressed with the review and later blog entry about this movie by roger ebert. and here's a good interview with kaufman from salon.com. and if you're intrigued, check out the hilarious interview with colbert from the colbert report. (search, or hit beingcharliekaufman.com for it and lots more links.) that critics' reviews are so split on it in my mind is a good thing. strong reactions by critical minds are good.
on wednesday it snowed. here. in houston. really. it started in the afternoon i guess, and by the evening objects were cold enough it started sticking. the ground never really got cold enough, but other things did. i did the radio show while a lot of the snow was falling, so by the time the show was over we walked out to a lot more white than was there when we went into the studio 2 hours earlier. both jay and groovehouse were taking pics, and they got some of my pickup. here's my snow-covered pickup by groovehouse, and here's one by jay. while we were hanging around outside, i took the opportunity to do some snow writing on the back of jay's car (with my fingers!). by late the next morning, the snow was pretty much gone.
friday was a maintenance window, so i went into work in the afternoon. that gave me a chance to do a bit of shopping. that continued saturday. and sunday. boy, there's nothing more fun than finding parking spaces and walking through crowded stores filled with customers and frazzled employees. fortunately, i've managed to get most of my xmas shopping done -- and i've mostly avoided horrible crowds and lines. i've got a couple more stores to hit, and maybe an online purchase or two, and i'll be done. except for the wrapping, which i just started this evening.