Monday, November 2, 2015

The First "Anomalisa" Trailer Features Kaufman Being His Typical Weird Self

Scene from Anomalisa
With it being already deep into Oscar season, there's a good chance that you've heard a lot about director Charlie Kaufman's stop motion film Anomalisa. Having become one of the most perplexing voices in 21st century cinema with the screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and his directorial effort Synechdoche, New York, it makes sense that he wouldn't take a conventional route on his latest film. Speaking as it's a nice change of pace from the other likely Best Animated film candidates (is anything beating Inside Out yet?), it's going to be fun to see if this film stands any chances. If nothing else, the first trailer promises to have more Kaufman-esque philosophy behind it. And that's not a bad thing at all.

Like most people, I am always excited to see what alternative films can break into the Oscar nominations. Last year saw an impressive upset when The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and Song of the Sea beat out perennial favorite The LEGO Movie. If there's one relief, it's that the Best Animated Film category is one that often recognizes craft over entertainment value. With another Pixar film on its way, it's going to be another tight race to see who will even make the cut. From the sound of it, there's a lot of hope out there for Anomalisa.

I will say up front that I like Kaufman the writer more than the director. In general, I think that he has a smart head on his shoulders, and films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and the aforementioned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind all reflect an ingenuity to his work. However, I wasn't able to get into his directorial film for whatever reason. I think I like him more as a collaborator than as the sole voice on a project. Despite this, I can appreciate his craft and feel that he's a resourceful voice in film culture. Even when I dislike him, he manages to make something smart and unique. Speaking as this is a stop motion film, Anomalisa is likely to go into new and inventive directions.

Check out the trailer below:

I hate to make light of what looks like a lot of impressive effort, but I couldn't really get into the trailer. Yes, the animation is rather impressive. I think that there's something to Kaufman's philosophical bent that makes it seem like this pretentious self-discovery drama that doesn't really make sense as an animated film. I trust those that say that it's actually a really good movie, but I'm not quite sold on the trailer, which really raises the question as to why this needed to be animated and not just live action. What is compensated?

Here's the plot according to IMDb:
Charlie Kaufman's first stop-motion film about a man crippled by the mundanity of his life.
I don't know if that fills me with any other hope, really. Again, I think that Kaufman is an ambitious writer whose work should make your eyebrows rise, if slightly, each time out. I think that maybe there's too much in the hype going into this trailer. There wasn't that one moment that got me excited. It simply looked like an animated movie with that self-discovery concept that actually has been done to death by vapid middle-aged movies, notably The Secret Life of Walter Mitty a few years back. I don't expect Kaufman to be vapid, but I cannot honestly find much else that really strikes me as being worthwhile about this film. I plan to see it, but it better be a lot more impacting than this trailer.

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