Synecdoche, New York

Near the end of a 2004 Charlie Rose interview with Charlie Kaufman (of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame), the screenwriter admits that he really wanted to be a director, that writing was a way of getting into directing. Well, now that dream is a reality. Originally to be directed by Malkovich director Spike Jonze -- who opted to direct the David Eggers adaption of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are -- Synecdoche, New York is Kaufman's directorial debut, now filming in New York.

According to Manhattan User's Guide (MUG), where I just found out about this film and which points to what I find so fascinating about it, "a stage director ... ambitiously attempts to put on a play by creating a life-size replica of New York inside a warehouse," something the movie poster tries to illustrate:

Image from Wikipedia

Being a fan of Kaufman's films, I'm afraid to speculate on the possibilities of this idea, as I know they'll probably pale in comparison to the final product. But the circumstances of Kaufman directing make the final product less assured than if it were helmed by Jonze or Michel Gondry, another longtime collaborator. At the same time, with direction coming directly from the mind of the film's progenitor, it might just be that much more wondrous, sublime, moving, astounding, and scary, to borrow the descriptors of the LA Times writer fawning last year over a draft of the screenplay.

The film's title gives an apparent hint into the device of the life-size replica of NYC, as synecdoche -- aside from it being a phonetic play on the town of Schenectady, where some of the film takes place -- is defined as "a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (as society for high society) [...]" Obscure and esoteric to say the least, it seems that the relationship between the part and the whole is at play in the stage director's desire to replicate New York City, however exactly that occurs. What it means will have to wait until the film's released, though I have a feeling that even at that time things won't be entirely clear.


  1. Oh, this is exciting. I have very high hopes. The world needs more Kaufman. As much as it can get.


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