I'd like to post a few negative reviews of Anomalisa, just for contrast, but the film's holding steady at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. (Go there if you want to see a few reviews I haven't linked to.) This will change eventually, I'm sure, but for now? WOW, COOL.

Anyway, I'm mostly posting the GQ review because the opening bit amuses me:

Here's what the films of Charlie Kaufman teach us about life:

  1. It is a conformist wasteland full of petty annoyances and soul-crushing banality.

  2. It is an ash-gray blanket of loneliness, longing, and depression.

  3. The best we can hope for is some sliver of transcendence, like spending a few minutes inside John Malkovich's head before getting deposited off the New Jersey Turnpike.

  4. Love is all that matters, but it almost never lasts.

This is the philosophy of a man who might be found under his desk, curled up in a fetal ball. And it's possible that just one more person talking to him about the weather would do it.

[...]

His latest effort [...] is the stop-motion marvel Anomalisa, a caustic and beautiful comedy that distills his point of view as well as anything he's done before. His torments are once again our pleasure. (Source)

If you're curious, here's how Kaufman's other films are doing on Rotten Tomatoes: Being John Malkovich 93%, Eternal Sunshine 93%, Adaptation 91%, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind 79% (we'll just say Clooney stole 10%, yeah?), Synecdoche, New York 68%, Human Nature 49%.

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I've been looking for more quotes and nuggets from the interviews Charlie has given at film festivals lately. So far, not a lot that I haven't already posted, but here's this:

Kaufman's fans have had to learn to be patient. It has been seven years since his last film, "Synecdoche, New York" — a critical hit but a box-office flop.

"Seven years, 35 days and six hours," deadpanned Kaufman. "It wasn't my choice. I've been working. I've been trying to get things made. I've written three scripts and three pilots, one of which I shot but didn't get picked up. I'm writing a novel.

"I'm trying. The business got harder in 2008. I think people are taking less chances because of the economy."

And also this, from the same article:

"I had this idea of trying to do a stop-action movie with real people, posing them and stuff," he said. "I don't think it's possible, but I thought it would be really interesting if we could get the level of detail that you get with these puppets." (Source)

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Just a small thing, but it's worth passing along: Hollywood Reporter says Anomalisa is "arguably the highest-profile title among this year’s Venice winners and the one with the most obvious crossover appeal."

Hanway’s Anomalisa, which won the Grand Jury Prize, looks to be the prime candidate for an awards bump. The animated feature from Charlie Kaufman, co-directed by Duke Johnson, is arguably the highest-profile title among this year’s Venice winners and the one with the most obvious crossover appeal. It helps that the film was one of the few Venice titles to receive near-universal critical praise. (Source)

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Walter Chaw gives Anomalisa a big rap at Film Freak Central:

Kaufman's work will eventually coalesce into a diary of the modern man and as clear a statement about existentialism as Kierkegaard and Kafka before him. He's an essayist of fear and trembling. [...] It's a love story like the doomed love story of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; and it's a chronicle of the terror of obsolescence winking into nothing like Synecdoche, New York. [...] Anomalisa is a dense text that rewards scholarship. It's a mirror held up to our loneliness and desire and fear. It knows about the things under the bed. I would be surprised if I saw a better movie this year. (Source)

You might remember Chaw from the "Infectious Diseases in Cattle: Bloggers' Roundtable" feature on the Synecdoche DVD.

Thanks, Julie!

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Great news from Venice, where Anomalisa has taken out the Grand Jury Prize. WOOHOO.

“This is such an extraordinary honor," said Johnson upon accepting the prize. "We set out to make this movie more than three years ago and we didn't know what was going to happen or if anyone was going to see it. To have this kind of introduction to the world was unbelievable. It’s been the great honor of my life working on this movie with Charlie Kaufman."

"Pretty much what Duke said, except it was an honor to work with him, not with me," joked Kaufman.

[...]

Anomalisa was one of the few films universally acclaimed by critics in Venice. (Source)

From Afar took out the Golden Lion Award; Pablo Trapero won Best Director for The Clan. There's a full list of winners at Deadline.

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Here's a neat 5-minute clip of interviews in Venice with Charlie and Duke Johnson, Tom Noonan and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Everyone seems happy! I don't think I can embed the video, so here's a link. The accompanying article is in Italian, and the video has Italian subtitles.

Thanks to Andrea!

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Photos from the Anomalisa photo call, including this one:

headless

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Here's a short piece from Deadline, with some quotes from Charlie about Anomalisa, and how Charlie approaches each film he writes. The first thing you learn, though, is he doesn't like explaining his films.

I particularly liked this bit at the end:

Calling AT&T last week to put an international plan on his cell phone before heading to Italy, he turned the tables a bit on the customer service representative, and as part of the usual script when “Gene” from AT&T said, “How are you today Charlie?” Kaufman responded by asking him the same question. “The guy was so excited and we had such a nice conversation. We ended up talking about sports and weather and Minneapolis. I hope he didn’t get fired because they’re supposed to turn over calls, but it went on for 25 minutes and it felt so good. It was me realizing there was another person on the end of the phone. We don’t think they’re real and they don’t think we’re real. Usually the customer is the enemy and you have to pretend to like them but you hate them.” (Source)

Naw! Nice, eh?

I wish someone would ask Charlie about that novel he was going to write for Grand Central.

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It's a fairly short article. The choice snippets:

[Duke] had just graduated from film school at NYU and finally he had a clear direction for what he wanted to do with his life. “I literally said it was my dream in life to direct a Charlie Kaufman movie."

[...]

Funding fell through for “Frank and Francis,” a musical focused on the film industry and bloggers particularly. “I’ve been trying for a really long time to get it to happen but there’s no one knocking down the door to make it,” Kaufman said.

[...]

“I said to Dino, ‘If you can raise the money, sure,’” he said, never having expected the $400,000 Stamatopoulos was able to cobble together through crowd-funding site Kickstarter. “Then Duke and I sort of set about the task of trying to figure out how to translate this thing that was explicitly designed to not be seen (into a film).” (Source)

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HOORAY! Anomalisa reviews are coming in! Here's a selection:

[T]his is a wonderfully odd consideration of those questions about love, pain, solitude and human connection we all ask; its emotional power creeps out from under the subtle humor and leaves a subcutaneous imprint that lingers long after the movie is over. It needs an adventurous distributor to help it extend the Kaufman cult and find the adoring audience it richly deserves. (Source)

That's from the Hollywood Reporter. This is from the Guardian:

It gives Kickstarter, which is how it was funded, and the 2015 Telluride film festival, where it has premiered, their first real masterpieces. It innovates with stop-motion in ways your brain struggles to compute. Kaufman and co-director Duke Johnson offer images so moving and yet also so filthy Anomalisa might just make the first R-rated best animation Oscar winner.

[...]It’s more mainstream than much of Kaufman’s previous: there’s little of the meta, no distracting stars, no distancing in-jokes. Rather, it’s interested in a world many of us inhabit. In the excitement of recognising someone who might be like us in the landscape – as well as how it looks when that connection crumbles, and how it feels to be isolated by deep depression. (Source)

And Variety:

Kaufman has done it again, writing a deeply flawed male protagonist and a woman who seems so incredibly ideal despite (or perhaps due to) her imperfections, and he’s engineered it so that we fall in love: Michael’s gray and overcast, Lisa just wants to walk in the sun, and for as long as he can make the moment last, she’s the one. The anomaly. The Anomalisa. (Source)

They're all a little spoiler laden, to one degree or another; consider yourself warned. More stuff soon!

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charlie duke

The L.A. Times has a great little interview with Charlie to coincide with Anomalisa's premiere at the Telluride Film Festival. In the piece, Charlie speaks about the animated movie and why we haven't seen anything new from him in a while.

These past seven years have not been, he stresses, a hiatus of his choosing.

"I've tried. I've tried," he said, emphasizing the words plaintively when asked why he hadn't had any work produced. "I'm constantly trying."

[...]

"It's always been a push-pull with studios, this kind of thing of 'How long can we let audiences go without letting them know what's going on?' The executives' theory is at a certain point people are going to say 'Forget it,' " Kaufman said. "And for myself watching a movie or a TV show, I want to feel like I'm discovering something. Otherwise it makes me bored and distrustful[...] Of course it's easy for me to sit here and say they don't want [my shows] because they don't want to change. Maybe my work isn't good, or it's too weird or not well-constructed. It feels weird and braggy to say they don't want them because I'm too wild." (Source)

It's great to hear from Charlie again. Can't wait to read the reviews for the film!

Thanks to Tim and Chris!

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The Anomalisa ball is pickin' up momentum, on its roll around the globe. It'll be shown in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Here's the full list of films in competition (I've bold-erated Anomalisa):

“Frenzy,” Emin Alper (Turkey, France, Qatar)
“Heart of a Dog,” Laurie Anderson (U.S.)
“Blood of My Blood,” Marco Bellocchio (Italy)
“Looking for Grace,” Sue Brooks (Australia)
“Equals,” Drake Doremus (U.S.)
“Remember,” Atom Egoyan (Canada, Germany)
“Beasts of No Nation,” Cary Fukunaga (U.S.)
“Per amor vostro,” Giuseppe M. Gaudino (Italy, France)
“Marguerite,” Xavier Giannoli (France, Czech Republic, Belgium)
“Rabin, the Last Day,” Amos Gitai (Isreal, France)
“A Bigger Splash,” Luca Guadagnino (Italy, France)
“The Endless River,” Oliver Hermanus (South Africa, France)
“The Danish Girl,” Tom Hooper (U.K., U.S.)
“Anomalisa,” Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson (U.S.)
“L’attesa,” Piero Messina (Italy)
“11 minutes,” Jerzy Skolimowski (Poland)
“Francofonia,” Aleksander Sokurov (France, Germany, Netherlands)
“The Clan,” Pablo Trapero (Argentina, Spain)
“Desde alla,” Lorenzo Vigas (Venezuela, Mexico)
“L’hermine,” Christian Vincent (France)
“Behemoth,” Zhao Liang (China, France) (Source)

Whee!

Thanks to Andrea, who reached me first with the news, via this Italian language article.

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On Anomalisa's Kickstarter page, it's been announced that the film is headed for Canada:

We're very pleased to share some exciting news about Anomalisa.  The film has been accepted into the Toronto International Film Festival!  We're thrilled to participate in this prestigious event. (Source)

TIFF runs from September 10-20.

Here's the first public image from the movie:

anomalisa-first-public-image EXCITING.

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According to Variety, there's a good chance Anomalisa will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. We'll find out for sure in less than ten days, when Venice's line-up is announced. The festival will run from September 2-12.

[...] several high-profile U.S. studio/specialty titles appear to be secured, including Scott Cooper-directed Johnny Depp gangster drama “Black Mass,” from Warner Bros., and Luca Guadagnino’s Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton-starrer “A Bigger Splash," which Fox Searchlight is releasing stateside.

Also likely to be Lido-bound [is] Charlie Kaufman’s stop motion animation “Anomalisa” [...]

Kaufman’s “Anomalisa” marks the groundbreaking U.S. director’s first foray into animation. The movie, co-directed with Duke Johnson, initiated on Kickstarter with the bulk of financing then coming from Snoot Entertainment and SBI. The synopsis for the film is a man struggling with his inability to connect with other people. It is Kaufman’s first feature since “Synecdoche, New York,” in 2008. (Source)

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noonan recording

Last month a new Anomalisa update appeared on the project's Kickstarter page, and it was good news indeed:

We are so close to finishing this project and we appreciate all of your patience and support. Every frame of this project is a labor of love and we couldn’t have done it without all of our backers! (Source)

The update includes new production piccies.

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Additional information