Cooked up in the head of Oscar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) comes the movie in which he makes his directorial debut. Without Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze sifting through the maze this time Kaufman himself weaves this crazy quilt with consummate skill. In other words Synecdoche New York is just as successfully quirky humane and head scratching as all the others in the Kaufman ouerve. To sum up the plot succinctly is impossible but it centers on a stage director and hypochondriac Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who trades in his suburban life with wife Adele (Catherine Keener) daughter Olive (Sadie Goldstein) and regional theatrical work in Schenectady for a chance at Broadway. He puts together a cast (resembling those in his own dream world) and brings them to a Manhattan warehouse being designed as a replica of the city outside. As the world he is creating inside these walls expands so does the focus of his own life and relationships. As the years literally fly by he gets deeper into his theatrical self which soon starts to merge with his own increasingly pathetic reality. Whatever you make of the tale Kaufman is telling here the casting could not be better or more suited to the quirky material. Philip Seymour Hoffman offers up a tour-de-force and is simply superb playing all the tics and foibles of the deeply disturbed Caden. His early scenes in his “normal” home are wonderfully alive with all his phobias and hypochondria in view. Later we literally watch this man disintegrate as his master creation overwhelms him. Hoffman seems to fully understand the mental trauma of a man running as far from his own realities as he possibly can. Catherine Keener as always is right on target as his wife Adele. She has a knack for taking what seems like tiny moments and making them define exactly who this woman is. Jennifer Jason Leigh as a mentor to Caden’s daughter is always fascinating to watch and plays Maria with an ounce of irony. Tom Noonan playing the actor portraying Caden in the play is the perfect doppelganger and delightfully adds to Caden’s confused state. The all-pro trio of Michelle Williams as Caden’s new wife Claire; Samantha Morton as the irresistible assistant Hazel; and Hope Davis as Caden’s self-absorbed therapist add greatly to the merry mix. It’s nice to watch Charlie Kaufman seize control of his own work. In this instance he’s really the only one who can deliver us his Fellini-esque vision. Centering it all on the theatrical director’s weird universe Synecdoche does seem like it might be Kaufman’s own take on Fellini’s 8 ½ or even Woody Allen’s paean to that film Stardust Memories. Let’s just say we know most of it must exist somewhere inside Kaufman. Early domestic scenes could have been played flat but the novice director moves the camera around skillfully enough to make us immediately engaged in Caden’s world. Second half of the film set in the phantasmagoric warehouse is a stunning tapestry of scenes from Kaufman’s singularly fertile imagination. It’s nice to note he’s well equipped with the basic tools a director needs for this type of challenging material. Overall his film is a surprising confounding visual feast -- a dream/nightmare come to life and then spinning out of control.
In the bubble gum kingdom of pop princesses, Mandy Moore is seen by media and fans alike as the only goody two shoes left of what was once a Bubblicious bunch.
Perhaps it's because Moore doesn't wear navel-revealing hip-huggers or low-cut shirts like the other teen singers. She seems happy being herself.
And for that, we love her.
"I'm probably the most boring, lame 17-year-old out there," Moore told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I'm not necessarily sending out the message that you shouldn't dress provocatively."
Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera have been criticized in the past for being too sexy too soon, but when it comes to Moore there is nothing but praise for her work and her image.
Our message to Mandy?
If you think you're "boring," then you are the most talented, "boring" teen performer we know. Keep it up!
Elegy for Jackass
If you thought comedian Tom Green went a little too far when he sucked a cow's udder in order to drink his milk, then you haven't seen MTV's controversial series Jackass. And perhaps now you won't, since the show's host, Johnny Knoxville, has walked to focus on his film career.
And I, for one, am glad to see it go. Jackass is television at its most foul. Green was sick but funny. Knoxville, on the other hand, is purely disgusting.
I still cringe when I remember the one (and only) time I saw the show. Knoxville organized an eggnog-drinking and raw egg-eating competition, then laughed at the contestants who puked yellow slime into an empty bucket--and onto each other.
I was this close to puking myself.
Fortunately, Knoxville told the Knoxville News-Sentinel on Monday that he wanted to quit the show because "people [had] become inured to the shock value.".
I may not be quite inured, but I can't tell you how glad I am that this useless show is over. Perhaps it had to do with the bodily functions involved. Maybe I don't enjoy being puked on. But that's just me.
No more Woodstock reunion
A planned celebration of Woodstock's 32nd anniversary has been scrapped, Jim Cuttler, the organizer of a Woodstock reunion/political rally told the AP on Wednesday.
Apparently, the city of Bethel, N.Y., site of the original Woodstock festival in 1969, was granted a temporary restraining order to hold off the reunion and make the town off limits for camping.
"It was just too much to try and deal with all the hassles," Cuttler said.
And we don't blame him.
It will not be easy to forget the scenes from 1999's Woodstock after widespread riots and even fires in the campgrounds injured fans at the event.
I guess the "peace, love, and rock 'n' roll" motto the hippies who attended the 1964 Woodstock created can only be found in the pages of music history.
Spears, J.Lo, Staind to perform at 2001 VMA's
With Britney Spears and J.Lo performing at this year's MTV Video Music Awards, we should be in for a treat. After all, Spears stripped into an incredible skin-colored bikini last year. This year can only be better.
Believe me, she will surprise all of us.
Most musicians use their MTV performances to be innovative and even to re-create their image, since the music channel serves as an open door between the artists and their fans.
Also on the list of performers scheduled are 'N Sync, Ja Rule, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys, Staind and U2, MTV News reported on Tuesday.
Hosted by comedian Jamie Foxx, the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live Sept. 6 from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
Music fans swamped with new album releases
If you're getting bored with your music collection, now is the time to indulge yourself with new material from your favorite artists.
Ozzfest 2001: The Second Millennium hit stores on Tuesday, and the furious, nonstop grindfest features tracks from various performers on this year's tour. Songs by Black Sabbath, Linkin Park, Papa Roach and Marilyn Manson will bring back memories of one of the hottest tours of the summer.
David Bowie will release two albums showcasing some of his unreleased work on Sept. 11. The first album, All Saints, is reportedly a collection of rare instrumentals Bowie compiled in 1993. The second release, Christiane F., originally the soundtrack to the film of the same name on vinyl, will now be re-released as a CD.
Jam band Phish will release the first wave of a series of Live Phish albums this fall, Rolling Stone magazine reports. The collection includes six CDs of live, unedited concerts in their entirety. The first five albums will come out Sept. 18 with the sixth making its way to stores in early October.
DMX will release his fourth album, The Great Depression on Sept. 25. The album has been delayed since the rapper starting an acting career (he appeared in 2000's Romeo Must Die).
And finally, the burning question. What color will Gwen Stefani's hair be on the cover of No Doubt's fourth album, Rock Steady when it's released on Dec. 18? "This is going to be the most adventurous and eclectic No Doubt album yet," guitarist Tom Dumont wrote on the group's official Web site. We have no doubt about that. Stefani's recent performances have included a duet with ever-eclectic Moby and a collaboration with rapper Eve on the single "Let Me Blow Ya Mind."