Sunday, December 14, 2008

Upon Second Viewing (Burn After Reading & Synecdoche, New York)

Recently, I was able to re-watch two films for which I'd had modest respect. The first was the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading, which on the original viewing, I found it to be a hilarious, but marginal film, with very few redeeming characteristics, but to be seen as a rather light-weight piece of filmmaking. The second one was the incredibly divisive Synecdoche, New York, which I originally found interesting but incredibly over-ambitious (if there is such a thing). With each film, I found myself with a much richer movie-going experience.

Burn After Reading probably made a much more favorable jump forward in my mind. The film is so whimsical that, if not paying attention, can really seem to be mindless. Mindless from the Coens? Well, I figured if any filmmakers had the balls, and pull it off, it would be them. Truth be told, though, not only is it hysterical, but also a fairly damning document on the harrowing aspects of today's society: adultery, mindless sex, gruesome violence, incompetence, lies, etc. A perfect dissection of of Bush America. Plus, Brad Pitt's hysterical Chad is nothing to snuff at, either.

"Wait! This movie is actually a smart satire!? Shit, that's cool!" -Chad Feldheimer

The second film, Synecdoche, New York, is one that becomes a completely different animal the second time around. Upon first viewing, the audience has such a hard time trying to keep up with all the odd quirks, and the switching between fantasy and reality, that only the most patient are able to stick around to even finish it. Synecdoche is a film that MUST be watched twice in order to be understood (a natural flaw, but I digress), and once you finally are familiar with the plot points and moments, the film's half-brained, trippy style can become intoxicating. Charlie Kaufman at his most uncensored.

"You see, it's 'Synecdoche'; it means when a part represents a whole, or a whole represents part, or--whatever, this movie makes no sense anyway."

P.S. I know it's wrong to say you think someone should be nominated even if you haven't seen all the movies of the season, but it would be an absolute dream to wake on Oscar morning and find out that both Robert Downey Jr. (for Tropic Thunder) and Brad Pitt (for Burn After Reading) are nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Both hysterical, and higlights of the movie as a whole. Not to mention totally anti-Oscar.

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