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ZeroC Reviews The Newest Charlie Kaufman Script!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. And it’s the first solid information on the script I’ve seen anywhere. The LA TIMES wrote a piece about it that stirred up some hubbub among the easily-hubbubed. LATINO REVIEW wrote a script review that demonstrated a complete disrespect to Kaufman, and an absolute lack of any feel for his work at all. And neither one of those pieces explained a damn thing about the script. So it’s a pleasure to actually publish something that gives me a sense of what this might be about. I’d love to lay eyes on the script myself, but for now, this’ll do...

Hey Moriarty, Let me just start off by saying that Charlie Kaufman is my favorite screenwriter currently working in movies. I loved Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is probably one of my favorite films of all time. I don't think there's another writer out there that's pushing the medium of film right now as much as Kaufman is. That said, I've just finished reading the script for Charlie Kaufman's new movie Synecdoche, New York (although the title on my script says "Schenectady, New York", but I think someone just got confused along the way and missed the play on words), and I figured I'd share my thoughts on it. For those of you who are too lazy to look things up, a synecdoche is a literary term for a part being used to represent a whole or a whole being used to represent a part, like using the flag to represent the country. The title is particularly apt for this story, as it's all about representation - how people are sometimes used to represent other people, how people represent things and things represent people, how things in the physical world come to represent our emotional states and visa versa, and perhaps most importantly (this being a Charlie Kaufman movie after all), how the lines between representation and reality blur together. I know all of that sounds incredibly vague, but honestly, it becomes very apparent from reading this script that what's important isn't what the story's about so much as what it's ABOUT, although I'll try my best to give you a rough estimate of the former. BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS (ALTHOUGH I'LL TRY TO KEEP THEM MINOR) The main character in the script is Caden, a theater director who beings the film married and with a young daughter. Caden goes to the dentist for his usual checkup, who discovers something peculiar with him and recommends him to another doctor, who recommends him to yet another doctor. We're never really told what exactly it is that's wrong with Caden, and it doesn't seem like he or the doctors he goes to know either. One thing is for sure though, his condition progressively worsens as the story progresses, although in the end this subplot becomes more symbolic of his character and his situation rather than having any major relevance to the story. In fact, the first half or so of the script seems to be about a bunch of different things involving Caden and his life. We have him dealing with this mysterious disease that's screwing with him mentally and physically. We have him dealing with his wife, who takes his daughter and leaves him to go live in France. We have him dealing with the fact that time seems to skip forward in leaps without him noticing (sometimes Caden will be speaking to another character and reference something that just happened to him in the previous scene, only to have the character point out that 5 years have elapsed). Most importantly, we have him dealing with various women in his life, with whom he is constantly striving to make some kind of a lasting connection with. One woman in particular is Hazel, a friend who eventually becomes a lover who basically serves as the female lead in the story. The development and exploration of their relationship becomes a major point in the story, although it's not the main point of the story (which I haven't gotten to yet). I guess if I really had to pick one aspect of the script that could be considered the main premise, it would have to be that Caden eventually decides to put on a play about his own life. This leads to Caden hiring actors to play himself and all of the people around his life. He builds sets that are almost exact replicas of his home, his street, the places he's been. He re-enacts scenes that we, as the viewer, have witnessed earlier in the script. It all gets very Kaufman-esque as we watch Caden direct an actor playing Caden direct his own play-within-a-play about his own life. Things only become more confusing when the actors start making suggestions to their "real life" counterparts as to things they should do, just so the actors can re-create them on-stage. Hazel, Caden's assistant in this endeavor, begins developing a romance with the actor playing Caden, which leads Caden in turn to develop his own romance with the actress playing Hazel. Then they all have to put it in the play somehow. As Caden gets further and further into developing the play, it starts to consume his life, until the point where we, as the viewer, no longer know if the scene we're watching is actually happening to Caden or if it's just a representation of something that's already happened, or if it's a dream, or if it's a figment of his imagination. Oh, did I mention that Caden might be schizophrenic? Oh, and I don't want to get into it too much, but the script also features a character who's the greatest living artist in the world, but she paints everything on a tiny canvas that can only be seen through a microscope. Also a character that lives in a burning house. Also a character that has been following and recording Caden's every move for 10 years. Also a character that's a princess from a fairy tale. Also much of the story takes place in a futuristic Orwellian wasteland. Also lots of crotch-sniffing and vagina shots. But it all works somehow. Anyways, enough of the plot stuff. Overall, this seems to be, by far, the craziest script Kaufman has written yet. It's beautiful and it's haunting and it completely throws logic or reality out the window while still managing to be full of ideas that I really haven't put the proper amount of time into thinking about. I'm not even close to sure what it is I just read, and if it ever gets filmed and you guys see it, I'm sure that leaving the theater, you won't be sure what it is you just saw. Charlie Kaufman has written a story all about the theme of representation that will force us, as the viewers, to decipher and interpret through the lens of representation. When people watch this film and debate it - when they're trying to figure out Caden and his motivations and his actions - the conversations will all be about how this part represents this and that scene represents that and this character represents the other thing. I really hope Kaufman is able to pull this off (I hear he's directing this one himself), and if he can, this may end up being one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of cinema. Either that or a steaming pile of indecipherable, pretentious shit. You know, whatever. Call me ZeroC
Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 28, 2006, 6:41 a.m. CST


    by Get_Me_An_18-Man_Fire_Team_In_12_Hours

    How sweet it is!!!

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 6:42 a.m. CST


    by ImJustABill


  • Sept. 28, 2006, 6:43 a.m. CST

    and third

    by ImJustABill

    and third

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 6:45 a.m. CST

    sounds like a made for tv movie.....

    by ImJustABill

    sounds like a made for tv movie.....

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 6:48 a.m. CST

    when is it coming on lifetime? LMAO

    by ImJustABill

    when is it coming on lifetime? LMAO

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 7:32 a.m. CST

    Oh God, call the doctors...

    by thenewpulper

    Everyone stay on the lookout for ImJustABill's ass, he seems to have misplaced it.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 7:44 a.m. CST

    So pretty straight forward plot then...

    by brycemonkey

    OK. I'm sure it'll be much easier to follow on screen than in that review. Probably.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 7:59 a.m. CST


    by RenoNevada2000

    I saw ImJustABill's ass. It's wrapped around his head.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 8 a.m. CST

    LATINO REVIEW script reviews

    by RenoNevada2000

    LR script reviews all read like fourth grade book reports. "Stuff happened. Then some more stuff happened. I liked this script. Except it could have used more explosions. The end." Crap, do they suck.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 8:04 a.m. CST

    Aint It Cool Times

    by max404

    read it here....

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 8:08 a.m. CST

    I just hope it's not directed by a phony...

    by mr. brownstone

    like Spike Jonesberg or Mike Gondry. Did I just write that?

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Kaufman's scripts read well, but can't be described...

    by Roguewriter

    No worries about the relatively muddled nature of your review, ZeroC -- it's simply impossible to describe Kaufman's works to other people; they must be read individually. I can't wait for this one. Kaufman's just amazing.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 8:46 a.m. CST

    Sounds very interesting...

    by DanielKurland

    I'm just glad he's still writing movies, and if he directs it too, I wish him the best of luck. Kaufman and Chan Wook-Park news in the same day, how lucky are we?

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 9:21 a.m. CST

    I've seen this already.

    by Flim_

    It was the video for Bjork's Bachelorette, directed by Michel Gondry.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 9:25 a.m. CST

    Re: Bjork's Bachelorette...

    by Gilkuliehe

    Now that's something I can watch a zillion times. I stopped reading this review, but now that you mention that I'll have to finish it... By the way, Gondry's take on Kauffman is still the best.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 9:35 a.m. CST

    Latino Review script reviews

    by The guy

    I thought it was just me, but their script reviews are just awful. It's not uncommon to see something like "The beats are there, the plot points are all there." Wow, what insight. The guy who reviews their scripts wouldn't know a good script if it bit him on his big fat ass. Last year he raved about Haven and surprise, surprise it turned out to be shit. I also remember reading a rave about El Cantante, the new Hector Lavoe biopic. They went as far as saying that it was Oscar material. I heard from someone who saw it recently that it's a big fucking mess..and all the problems are in the script.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 9:40 a.m. CST

    I bet I'll be oh so suprised by this

    by INWOsuxRED

    Kaufman is becoming M. Night as far as being stuck in a formula that makes any attempt at suprise really fall flat. I'd like to see him write something that isn't so laden in gimmicks.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Q: Who?

    by Trevor Goodchild

    A; David O'Russell directing Paddy Considine.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Chicky you're an ass-all.

    by Gilkuliehe

    He he. You're pretty much right though.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 10:06 a.m. CST

    Who Will Play Caden?

    by Zubalove Redux

    Why can I not picture anyone but Paul Giamatti for Caden?

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 10:14 a.m. CST


    by Flim_

    Because you've got a nondescript medical condition that causes you to see Giamatti in all kinds of roles, even ones that aren't right for him. Wait, are you a casting director? You must be, because every casting director has that disease. Why do they keep casting him?

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 10:18 a.m. CST

    So now everybody has bad things to say about Kaufman

    by Lovecraftfan

    Wow what a huge surprise cause backlash never happens on this board.First while he does mine the same gimmicks all of his films are different thematically. Second Eternal Sunshine is simply a masterpiece of cinema. And third you're right ket's put down someone doing something constantly different in cinema. Sometimes I just don't get you guys. I'm surprised Lynch hasn't suffered the dreaded AICN backlash.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Lovecraftfan: Join us...

    by brycemonkey

    We can start a thread about classic 70's TV shows that ought to be remade with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller. Screw all this mind fuck stuff. I want TJ Hooker: The remade movie: Wilson = TJ, Stiller = Hooker! ;-)

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 10:37 a.m. CST

    For the record, this "ZeroC" person is not me.

    by ZeroCorpse

    I've been ZeroCorpse since before Q-Link, in the early 1980s on BBSs. All the bogus motherfucking "ZeroC" types you see online are usually taking the name from "Hackers" (which was also well after I started being ZeroCorpse) and have nothing to do with me.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 10:51 a.m. CST

    sounds great, actually

    by beamish13

    I've always wanted to see more crotch-sniffing scenes in films. That's real passion right there.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 11 a.m. CST

    ZeroCorpse, I'm the one who wrote the review

    by ZeroC

    I called myself ZeroC for obvious reasons. Oh, if anyone has further questions about the script, feel free to ask. I know my synopsis was kind of confusing, but I was in a rush and it is a Kaufman script after all.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 11:04 a.m. CST

    It's time for another Uwe Boll-style showdown

    by Garbageman33

    ZeroCorpse vs. ZeroC. Winner gets to keep the name.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 11:06 a.m. CST

    Lynch? Ugh.

    by Flim_

    I've gone on record bashing Lynch before. That is, if you're referring to David Lynch. Of course, I can't really think of any Lynch that doesn't suck. Liam Lynch, David Lynch... That's all I can come up with, and they're both tossers. Oh yeah, and so is Colonel Lynch from THE A-TEAM. I know, he was on THE A-TEAM so he should get a free pass, but the thing is that Decker and Fullbright were so much better. Don't even get me started on Stockwell, who was just worthless. Well, as worthless as Robert Vaughan playing the Robert Vaughan role can be, which, if you must know, is not terribly worthless. Just kinda worthless when held up to Lance LeGault and Jack "The Ging'r" Ging. Has anyone else here seen that rocking "Bring Back The A-Team" show that they did in the UK? Look it up on your fave torrent site, I almost coughed up a lung I laughed so hard. I don't know how I got this far off-topic, but, there you go.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 11:44 a.m. CST


    by reckni

    i'm sure it'll be watchable.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 12:01 p.m. CST

    oh, Thunderballs...

    by BadMrWonka

    in case you missed them, scroll up and read Thunderballs' comments above. good for a solid laugh. anyone that thinks the first half of Adaptation was good and the ending fell apart COMPLETELY missed the point, and loses all credibility with me. Eternal Sunshine boring? holy hell...don't worry, they'll make Bad Boys 3 pretty soon and you can go watch that with a big erection...

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 12:39 p.m. CST

    Latino Review Does Simple Coverage

    by PleasureB4Business

    Most of LR's reviews read like coverage. As someone who also does this for a studio, the lingo is easily recognizable. Reviews like the one above are written for an AICN audience. LR is fine, don't confuse different tastes with unfamiliar formats.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 1:29 p.m. CST

    just because his movies explore similar themes

    by maluquiro

    doesn't mean they're all the same. look at the difference between eternal sunshine and adaptation...

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 1:37 p.m. CST


    by Lovecraftfan

    Eternal Sunshine is about the complexities of love and Adaptation is an exploration of the creative mind. Ya those sound exactly the same.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 1:43 p.m. CST

    I would like to see Kaufman make a "normal" movie

    by JohnGalt06

    Now, don't get me a wrong. In my opinion, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH is one of the best movies ever made. ADAPTATION is engaging, thoughtful, brilliant. I like ETERNAL SUNSHINE a lot but I'm not in love with it like many people are (this may be because I have a heart made out of coal). But I think Kaufman would like to write something more traditional and less quirky, if his character's crisis in ADAPTATION is any indication. Could he write and/or direct a satisfying three-act drama with no gimmicks? I would love to see what that would look like...

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 1:49 p.m. CST

    You'd like Kaufman to make a normal movie?!

    by Garbageman33

    Would you also like to buy a Porsche and drive it 55 mph?

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 1:59 p.m. CST

    difference of opnions

    by davidpc

    I can't see the problem with these 'gimmicks'. It's just his style.. it's like having a go at scorsese for being invovled with too many crime movies. I personally believe the movies that have been made from Kaufman scripts have been the highlights of the last few years [with a few exceptions]. I can't wait to see this movie... also an interesting choice for him to decide to direct. Why would he do that? There maybe something in script that he just needs to control himself! [Or i might just be talking shit, who the hell knows?]

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 2:29 p.m. CST

    Found my ass....

    by ImJustABill

    Thanks all.. I was sitting on it the whole time..

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 2:33 p.m. CST

    After reading these comments...

    by ImJustABill

    I have to say... you people have no taste when it comes to films.. this Kaufman guy is a hack!

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 2:54 p.m. CST

    The word hack

    by Lovecraftfan

    hack: Way way overused.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Wanting Kaufman to make a normal movie is like

    by eraser_x

    wanting Peter Pan to grow up, get married, have kids, and be a corporate raider. What would be the freaking point?!!??!?! Also, Picasso's "normal" paintings and drawings exist for everyone to see, and they're not that interesting because there was never any doubt that Picasso had enough drawing and painting skill to make "normal" art.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 3:27 p.m. CST

    I'd rather see that movie...

    by Christopher3

    Referenced in "Adaptation" where there's this cop who's also a serial killer who's hunting himself. Looks like Showtime got it and turned it into a series.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 3:31 p.m. CST


    by The Disco Plumber

    Actually, that story was written ages ago by Philip K. Dick and was recently turned into a movie... "A Scanner Darkly". Only it wasn't a serial killer... it was a drug dealer.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 4:16 p.m. CST

    Eraser_x, when can you have that Peter Pan script...

    by Garbageman33

    ...finished and on my desk? I'm picturing Robin Williams as Peter Pan. Maybe Jim Carrey. Honestly, you make a good point. Hiring Charlie Kaufman to make a normal movie is like drafting Michael Jordan and telling him you want him to set picks.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 4:29 p.m. CST

    You can take your synecdoche and shove it up yourself.

    by Gandalf The Gaye


  • Sept. 28, 2006, 4:46 p.m. CST


    by Zubalove Redux

    I post on AICN for the first time in YEARS and you slam me within minutes. Thank you. My faith in the negativity and idiocy of the talkbacks has been reaffirmed. I'm certain you film genius will lead to a very successful career in Hollywood. Asshat. They cast him because he has talent. Maybe someday, so will you. God knows they don't cast him for his good looks.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 4:51 p.m. CST

    hold on

    by kill yr. idols

    Why doesn't anybody ever mention Confessions of a Dangerous Mind? I always knew that there had to be a conservative bias amongst the talkbackers. Clooney haters, all of you.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 4:56 p.m. CST

    CONFESSIONS is the most over-directed movie ever

    by JohnGalt06

    It's been forgotten about because Clooney ruined it. Not even the great Sam Rockwell could save it.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 5:09 p.m. CST

    Kaufman is a master.

    by Mechasheeva

    Simple. He's consistently turning out the best, most original screenplays around. Being John Malkovich is genius, but I think it's the weakest of the three. Adaptation is probably the greatest film about writing ever made, and Eternal Sunshine has my favorite screen romance ever. And for everyone wanting him to do a "normal" movie (whatever that means), Confessions is hopefully as close as you'll get. And that movie ruled, too. People who say Kaufman is a hack don't know good writing, that's all.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 5:27 p.m. CST

    Hiring Kaufman to make a non-gimmick movie

    by INWOsuxRED

    is like hiring Lynch to make a "normal" movie. It was called "The Straight Story" and it was fantastic, and I'm thankful he made it.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 7:12 p.m. CST

    Gondry/Bjork's BACHELORETTE video


    Well, this film sounds like it's been inspired by this video directed my Michelle Gondry for Bjork's song "Bachelorette", a video where reality becomes turned to a stageplay until the line of what is real is lost into the fiction of the play itself.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 7:15 p.m. CST

    Oops. _Film beat me to it.


    NM. >_<'

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 7:20 p.m. CST

    Kaufman to write and direct Transformers 2.

    by CreasyBear

    Optimus with flames has dreams (or is it reality?) of being a cab-over truck without flames, while the cab-over version is actually a toy in the '80's hallucinating that he is on Cybertron dreaming of traveling to Earth and battling a giant porcupine robot that thinks it's shrinking into a gun.

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 7:36 p.m. CST

    TOO SOON!!

    by jackson healy

    Tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon!!!!!!!

  • Sept. 28, 2006, 11:31 p.m. CST


    by Flim_

    I love you.

  • Sept. 29, 2006, 6:20 a.m. CST

    I like his movies, I just hate his pompous fans.

    by Cotton McKnight

    The people who "love" his movies are an irritating lot.

  • Sept. 29, 2006, 8:31 a.m. CST

    Giamatti & Zooboomafoolove

    by Flim_

    I didn't mean to insult you, Zubalove... I was insulting casting agents everywhere who seem to have no minds of their own, and just cast the people at the top of a very short list over and over. I did, however, word my post hamfistedly, so I apologise unreservedly. I don't doubt that Giamatti has talent, just not enough to be casting him at the level they do. It seems as though casting agents have a really awful tendency to second-guess themselves, and just go with who has been cast most recently. However, I must applaud whomever cast Robert Downey Jr. in IRON MAN, because that's fucking genius. Not only does he seem the Tony Stark type, but he's also got a personal history as a substance abuser, which will play perfectly into the role. Kudos to you, good casting agent!

  • Sept. 29, 2006, 1 p.m. CST

    I like how Human Nature has just been written off

    by Bass Ackwards

    The Kaufman flick that never happened.

  • Sept. 29, 2006, 4:28 p.m. CST


    by Zubalove Redux

    Oh my God, Film_. I needed that so badly. Thank you. Seriously.

  • Sept. 29, 2006, 5:01 p.m. CST

    Nahhh.. I usually like ZeroC.

    by ZeroCorpse

    I <i>was</i> temporarily an amateur boxer in my youth, but I'm too old to be fighting people over silly shit. I just wanted to make it clear it wasn't me who submitted the review, both because the real submitter deserves the credit, and because I don't want his writing style to be confused with mine. Not that there's anything wrong with his..!

  • Oct. 1, 2006, 2 a.m. CST

    Sounds like shit

    by jplestatsd

    This movie will be a steaming pile of indecipherable, pretentious shit that many will "get" because it is different and hail as the best thing since Kaufman's last indecipherable, pretentious piece of shit. I HATE his movies. Sad thing, is I try to find what the appeal is each time he comes out with one, and I always think that it is just arrogant, self indulgent pseudo-intellectual crap, much like this last sentence. I will be smart this time and totally skip it.