ANOMALISA and the Puppet Penis

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I never watch a movie with the intention of disliking it. I may prepare myself somewhat when seeing a piece of dreck such as FIFTY SHADES OF GREY; but I always hope that I might be surprised. In the case of that film I wasn’t surprised at all and in the case of ANOMALISA I actually hated it. Yes, I said it, I hated ANOMALISA.

I looked forward to seeing ANOMALISA despite not liking Charlie Kaufman’s other writing efforts other than SYNECDOCHE.  I wasn’t a fan of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH or ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF A SPOTLESS MIND.  His script for  ADAPTATION ruined the possibility of a good movie being made from Susan Orlean’s excellent book THE ORCHID THIEF. None of these films seemed to be as clever as they thought they were.  Maybe because he directed his own script with SYNECDOCHE things seemed to work out better.  There is a sense of control  in SYNECDOCHE that worked, but in the case of ANOMALISA it may be the very thing that kills it. It’s is studied to a point of dullness.

For whom is this film intended? The film’s lead character is a deeply miserable soul who in turn abuses and leaves almost every woman he meets. The women are depicted as either overweight, physically scarred or emotionally at the end of their rope. They all shuffle around mumbling and confessing how bad they feel.  There are no revelations.  Are we supposed to relate?  Perhaps the viewer is being asked to feel as a kindred spirits to their state of loneliness and despair.  It makes for an unpleasant experience especially when you get to see the puppet’s penis. I am haunted by that vision now. Thanks for that Charlie!

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