Sunday, January 24, 2016

On Anomalisa

I saw Anomalisa last week.  It left me uncomfortable and empty.   I've seen a fair amount of puppet and stop-motion animation, a medium that lets animators reinvent the figure placement and composition of live-action films.  (I suggest you plug the name Jiri Trnka into YouTube and watch everything that comes up.  You might also consider watching Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which is not animation, but uses hand-held Barbie dolls to...oh just watch it, everyone loves it.)  I saw no cleverness here.  Every single camera angle and physical interaction could have found a direct analogue in productions of Kaufman's other screenplays.  The form didn't do anything live-action film couldn't do, and if anything the movie only highlights the problems, the non-genius in the compositions of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.   

I'm not a huge fan of either movie now, but the premises of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind worked in that they both tapped into universal, maybe too-universal experiences.  Most people desire, at some point in their lives, to live in the body and within the consciousness of someone else.  Most people have mixed feelings about their relationships.  I didn't relate to the dilemma of Anomalisa's protagonist. I have never felt that everyone around me is the same.  The best misanthropes, and I like to think that I'm a pretty good one, hate everyone for different reasons.  That's the major flaw in Anomalisa.  It used the medium to make an argument that wasn't very strong to begin with, and the argument doesn't allow for much experimentation with the form.

Gotta admit though, it had a damn good trailer!


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