Jennifer Jason Leigh
It’s not easy to love Roger Greenberg, the latest misanthrope Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) has created as the star of his new comedy. Greenberg, played by a pitch-perfect Ben Stiller, is insufferable: narcissistic, cruel and calculating, and totally oblivious to his shortcomings. That he has friends, much less a doting and very forgiving lover (Greta Gerwig), is nothing short of a miracle.
San Francisco’s Indie Fest ushers in two weeks of startlingly original sci-fi, unrelenting horror and demented fantasy as the sixth Another Hole in the Head film festival kicks off Friday evening at the Roxie.
Rumors of Charlie Kaufman’s reclusiveness have been greatly exaggerated.
Kaufman, the soft-spoken New York native who began his career in television churning out scripts for short-lived Fox sitcoms like Get a Life before graduating to feature films with the Oscar-nominated screenplay for 1999’s Being John Malkovich, is, according to his IMDb.com biography, a voracious reader notorious for avoiding the press. And yet here he is, cordial and seemingly at ease as he lounges in a conference room at San Francisco’s Prescott Hotel, ready for a rigorous day of interviews.
How does one begin to approach Synecdoche, New York, first-time director Charlie Kaufman’s tortured and often brilliant tale of an artist paralyzed by his insecurities and haunted by opportunities missed?
It’s not so much that his film defies description as that none could adequately prepare you for the experience of watching it. Kaufman’s existential musings on life, death and the pursuit of love are sometimes messy and maddeningly self-indulgent, and they're stuffed into a sprawling, surreal narrative that unfolds like a dream. But they are also heartfelt, painfully honest and wickedly funny.