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If you live in Boston and you leave a comment under this article ("telling us your best method of self help") at Hotchka by 11:59 PM, Friday, January 8, you can win a copy of the new book Scenes of Anomalisa: A Film by Charlie Kaufman.
The book contains screen grabs from the film, an abridged screenplay, as well as behind-the-scenes images, including shots of the puppets being built, construction of the miniature sets, and the crew painstakingly positioning, and re-positioning the puppets and cameras for each frame of film. The book also contains a foreword, written by Kaufman, in the style of Studs Terkel’s 1975 book, Working, in which a hotel bellman tells his story. Undeniably Kafumanesque in its tone and manner, readers will see this book as a physical embodiment of Kafuman’s vision. (Source)
Sounds great, eh? Competition rules and other relevant info at the link. Good luck!
(Just to be clear: don't leave a comment under the article you're reading right now. Go to the Hotchka article and comment there.)
The New York Times' film critics--Manohla Dargis, A. O. Scott and Stephen Holden--have named the films and people they think deserve nominations in the main categories at this year's Oscars, and there's some good news for Anomalisa.
Manohla Dargis puts Tom Noonan and Jennifer Jason Leigh in her Best Actor and Supporting Actress Categories, while A. O. Scott gives Charlie a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Holden has nothing to say about Anomalisa.
Meanwhile, at Rotten Tomatoes, Anomalisa ranks at #35 in their list of 2015's best reviewed films. It garnered 68 reviews, 97% positive. Anomalisa is wedged between Mustang (98%, 44 reviews) and Heart of a Dog (98%, 42). The best reviewed film was Mad Max: Fury Road (97%, 333), #2 is Inside Out (98%, 301), and Selma rounds out the top 3 (99%, 218).
Rolling Stone has a good, longish Q&A with Charlie, in which he talks about Anomalisa, working in customer service, the weather, and this:
I took a stop-motion animation class in high school[...]. I did one three-minute animation with clay, about an artist working with ... a big piece of, I guess, clay. And I built a loft studio out of a cardboard box. It had a skylight and a pipe going up the corner. He was sculpting this mound of whatever it was, and it started to come to life. The concept was pretty basic: The thing came to life and it started turning into all these different things. At one point, it threw him against the wall. I didn't know what I was doing, but I got him off the ground by having little toothpicks under his feet and I shot it from an angle where you couldn't see them. It was clear he wasn't touching the ground as he was being thrown, and I was really proud of that.
Then one of my teachers wanted to show it in his class: I had one copy and he lost it. I was really upset, because of the movies I made as a kid, this was the most accomplished and it was the thing I was the most proud of. I was so clear that I gave it to him and he was so clear that he gave it back to me. And the fact that a teacher was, in my opinion, lying to me to save face as opposed to taking responsibility, it was just really creepy to me. (Source)
What an ass.
A four-day, five-film Kaufman restrospective is coming to Landmark Theatres, Jan 4-7. The films are Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine, Synecdoche, New York and Anomalisa. Reports The Wrap:
The retrospective will run Jan. 4 through Jan. 7 at Landmark locations in New York (Landmark Sunshine Cinema), Los Angeles (The Landmark), Chicago (Century Centre Cinema) and San Francisco (Embarcadero Center Cinema).
In New York and Los Angeles, showings of “Anomalisa” will include Q&As with the filmmakers and voice talent. On Monday, Jan. 4 in Los Angeles, the 7:30 p.m. showing of “Anomalisa” at the Landmark Theater will feature a Q&A with Kaufman, Johnson and producer Rosa Tran. On Thursday, Jan. 7 in New York, the 7:30 p.m. showing of “Anomalisa” at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema will be followed by a Q&A with voice actor Tom Noonan. (Source)
More info at the link. Thanks to Tram!
The New Yorker's Richard Brody: not a big fan of Anomalisa.
Kaufman betrays himself as much with his condescending compassion as with his withering observations. He builds his modest characters as collections of traits that appear as calculated details drawn from life but serving to do nothing but evoke sighs akin to those yielded by pictures of children and pets. The artificial sweetness and gentle satire of his portraits of characters who could be labeled as everyday people is haughty and incurious.
[...] With its immense but blank, self-regardingly self-congratulatory sympathy for the benighted masses toiling in their ostensible ordinariness, with its critical judgment of the talented but unfeeling, observant yet selfish minor artistic celebrity, “Anomalisa” looks like the work of an incurious egomaniac of conferences and offices, sets and studios, who hasn’t soiled the soles of his shoes on actual sidewalks for decades. (Source)
From now until March 27, New York's Museum of the Moving Image is hosting an Anomalisa installation. Sweet!
This exhibit is an installation of two sets and puppets used in the film: a hotel room and a Cleveland city street, and the two main characters, Michael and Lisa. (Source)
More info at the link.
I don't think I've seen this before. It's an old piece in Time Out, around the time Synecdoche, New York was released, in which Charlie talks about Synecdoche, "fun" movies vs. Charlie movies, and not knowing whether he exists. The entire article is one long Charlie Kaufman quote--9 paragraphs, pieced together by interviewer Tom Huddleston--and it's a good read.
Part of life is the struggle to try and find meaning. It’s not unique to a writer. I guess there’s a certain futility in it, in that we know so little about what’s happening in the world. I mean that in a profound way: I don’t even know that I exist, let alone what’s happening.There are so many questions and there’s so much confusion and limitation in the human brain, in the same way as in a dog’s brain. We can see clearly that there’s so much that a dog will never understand, ever, no matter how much you teach him. Just move up a couple of steps on the chain and you have to come to the conclusion that we’re pretty much in the dark in a cosmic sense. We don’t know what’s going on, what reality is, and even if there is such a thing. (Source)
It was bound to happen, because puppets! Here's Being Anomalisa, a mash-up trailer by Ryan Bergez:
Not bad at all.
Surely there will be other creative riffs on this whole Kaufman/puppet connection? Surely.
BCK has officially been chronicling Charlie's career for 14 years today. (Well, yesterday. Didn't get a chance to update until today, though.)
We are old.
In internet terms, we are very old indeed.
I don't know how many other fan sites I've seen drop off the vine in that time. Quite a few. Certainly more than fifteen and less than a million.
I assume it's because the sites' owners found other interests or ran out of money or got married and had kids and went parasailing or got sued. Luckily--and in some cases miraculously--none of those things have happened to me so far.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BCK. We accept any gifts that are preceded by a dollar sign. If anything will be the undoing of BCK, money is probably it.
Got a few little newsy updates to post. If time permits, I'll get onto those during the week.
This is probably the best interview with Charlie that I've read in ages. Vulture's Phoebe Reilly covers a lot of ground with Charlie--future projects, past projects, projects that will never hit our screens, his upcoming novel (no plot details, alas), other people's movies and TV shows, politics, Charlie's influences, the myths that have been created about him... Anomalisa barely gets a mention, but that's okay.
I had a pilot at HBO that Catherine Keener was going to be in. The whole series takes place on one day. The premise of the show is that there are so many different accidents in your life that lead you in different directions, and as you look at someone’s life from birth to, let’s say, 50, there are so many different versions of that life that could have happened. My idea was that you take this woman, she is this age on this day, that’s the only given, and then each episode is based on a different route. Maybe it broke off here and the difference is very small; maybe it broke off when she was a baby, in which case it’s a completely different life. In the course of the series, you start to recognize, first of all, there’s clues given as to what these things were that happened that changed the course of her life. But there are also similarities in all these different versions of herself — about who she is. What I thought was really cool about the show, in addition to the premise, which I really liked, is that there’s no one right version of it. You can watch this in any order, and it’s a different show. The example that I like to use is that in one episode, she’s married to this man and you see their life together. In the next episode, she’s divorced from this man and you see her life having been divorced from this man. In a third episode, she and this man walk by each other on the street, clearly have never met. And depending on which order you watch the series in, there are different a-ha moments. (Source)
Who wouldn't want to see this?
A CRAZY PERSON, THAT'S WHO.
He's right about Black Mirror. That's a great show.