I tend not to read reviews by other film critics of a film I intend on writing about myself before having actually written. The fear is that the thoughts and arguments of others will cloud my own judgment. Having just finished up my own (largely negative) review of Charlie Kaufman’s new film, “Synecdoche, New York,” I was curious to see what others had to say. This is a film, after all, that the more pretentious amongst us will claim is great when it is, I assure you, not. (Check back in Friday for my full thoughts!)
I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see that “Synecdoche” was pulling in only 50% at Rotten Tomatoes amongst their top critics. For your reading pleasure, allow me to offer a taste of the mean reviews. Here’s Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman: “I gave up making heads or tails of Synecdoche, New York, but I did get one message: The compulsion to stand outside of one’s life and observe it to this degree isn’t the mechanism of art it’s the structure of psychosis.”
Not to be outdone, Rex Reed labels “Synecdoche” the Worst. Movie. Ever. From his scathing New York Observer review: “No matter how bad you think the worst movie ever made ever was, you have not seen Synecdoche, New York. It sinks to the ultimate bottom of the landfill, and the smell threatens to linger from here to infinity.”
The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane also gets in on the act: “Kaufman’s film, for all its sophistication, is oddly fond of poop jokes and, indeed, of poop shots. Is there really no better way to dramatize the frail health of your character than by showing the discolored stream of his urine? The problem is not one of bad taste, to which the director is welcome, but the obviousness — dare I say, the dullness — with which he nags away at the sight of debilitation, in body and spirit alike.”
Ouch. Is there anything more entertaining than snarky, quick-witted criticism of a pretentious, bloated monstrosity?