Synecdoche, New York

Movie Information

In Brief: Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York (2008) represents not just one of the actor's most accomplished performances but one of his most challenging. It is also easily the most challenging film that's being shown as part of a monthlong tribute to Hoffman. It is a rich, fantasticated, heavily layered work that is apt to puzzle and even infuriate some viewers with its often nearly impenetrable story about the life, loves and losses of theatrical director, Caden Cotard (Hoffman).
Genre: Surreal Comedy/Drama
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest
Rated: R

The third film in the Asheville Film Society’s tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman,Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York may possibly be the most audacious directorial debut since Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941). It’s certainly on the very short list of great debut films. It also contains one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s most incredible — and incredibly layered — performances. He spans decades, continents, and in some ways, identities in the course of the film It’s a richly complex work that got a bad break locally by coming at the height of the Christmas and awards season in 2008. My original review — based on a single viewing was inadequate — appeared on Dec. 17. By Dec. 19, the movie was gone, and would have been gone regardless, since there simply was no room for it on local screens. This was one of the reasons the Asheville Film Society screened the film a few years ago — to offer moviegoers who missed it on its brief original run a shot at seeing it in theatrical form, which it fully deserves. Even having seen the film several times now, I still feel little more equipped than I was in 2008 to make claims to anything even remotely like a complete “mastery” of it. To this end, I direct readers to my original review here

The Asheville Film Society will screen Synecdoche, New York Tuesday, March 18, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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