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Blog by Don Kennedy

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Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York looks like but should not be confused with Schenectady NY where this story is set. If indeed you are not confused you will be by the end of this movie. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is Caden Cotard a little theatre director initially married to Adele Lack (Catherine Keener) literally a small time painter who dumps him to find fame and fortune in Germany. He alternately takes comfort in the arms of box office babe Hazel (Samantha Morton) and Claire Keen (Michelle Williams) one of the leads in his production of Death of A Salesman. Caden’s gets a big break with a very generous grant which he uses to stage a grandiose production that puts the title into perspective.  synecdoche is a figure of speech relating to things acting on behalf of something else. As his project bloats over the years different actors stand in for bio-ed real people and then they themselves become part of the story. Years tumble into one another and Caden’s health diminishes but leaps of faith by the audience expand. Synecdoche, New York has some amusing philosophical “aha” moments but in the end bewilderment trumps the avant garde and even with supporting roles from heavyweights like Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Emily Watson, and Dianne Wiest  we end up with a story just like Hoffman’s character- a big fat mess. But man that’s acting!