Thursday, February 25, 2010

Homage to Charlie Kaufman

How many actors do you know the names and faces of? Quite a lot, I'm sure. But, how many directors do you know the works and style of? Not as many, of course (as there are not as many directors as there are actors) but still a good few. Now, how many screenwriters are you familiar with? Unless you're a screenwriter yourself, the number is often less then one.

A professional film production is usually the result of several hundreds of people working together to accomplish something that if done right, will affect you, the viewer, deeply. Tons of things can go wrong along the way, be it bad acting, clueless direction, horrible editing, lousy lightning or annoying background music. But before all that, before the production can go to hell and before the actual filming has even started, everything starts with a screenplay. The script is the very building block on which all else wobbles, and if it is sub par, it does not matter much how good any of the other contributors are. The finished film will still be crap.

Yet, contrary to actors and directors, the screenwriters never attain any recognition.

Except for Charlie Kaufman.

Everyone with the slightest interest in film has seen at least one of the six films Kaufman has written. And each and every one of these films is so strange, so intriguing and so wonderful, they are always films you remember. In a crowded Hollywood world where films have gotten so formulaic, so predictable and so boring you can't even remember what the film you saw yesterday was about, Kaufman is a breath of fresh celluloid. After watching one of his films with a few friends, a hefty discussion always ensues. They're simply mind boggling.

And it all culminates with his directorial debut Synecdoche, New York. This is truly a film for film lovers. A vortex of a film that sets out to break traditional traps of storytelling and create new grounds. It is a wonderfully weird voyage behind the scenery of scenes, a debunking of characters as actors playing roles, schizophrenic mirrors reflecting each other infinitely, which still manages to keep the illusion alive and hold you spellbound. In short, it is a film you have to have a certain understanding of the film medium to enjoy.

If you have no idea who mr. Kaufman is, I'm not gonna spoil the fun of letting you discover it for yourself. Have a look at his filmography, and you'll get that lovely "Aaahh" feeling. And if you have never seen any of his films, don't let Synecdoche, New York be your first. It is a film which requires a warm up act.

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