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Kaufman’s Cincinnati Crisis

Grace is never cheap

Here in the middle of our life, I awoke to find myself in a hotel hallway…
Here in the middle of our life, I awoke to find myself in a hotel hallway…

Writer and co-director Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion animated film Anomalisa is a very fine portrait of the despair at the heart of a comfortable middle-aged white man in America circa right about now. British-born Michael Stone (voiced with great sympathy by David Thewlis) has, by most standards, made it. He lives in Los Angeles. He’s married and has a child. He is the author of the successful business book How May I Help You Help Them? — successful enough to get him invited to speak at a Cincinnati convention of customer service professionals. But the person who needs help here is Michael Stone. Lord knows he’s miserable, and Lord knows he can’t help himself. Hell, he can’t even get outside himself.

Video:

Anomalisa Official Trailer

Which is not to say he doesn’t try. He indulges a cab driver’s awful banter about local attractions. (“Try the chili!”) He drinks. He tries to buy a toy for his son, with darkly funny results. And he rings up an old flame, someone from the days when change still seemed possible. (A portrait, however fine, is not the same as a story. However much is going on in a portrait, it remains static.) All futile. And then, quite by chance — deliverance? Escape from the great sucking vacuum of the self? The discovery of the salvific other? Without spoiling anything, it seems enough to say that grace is never cheap.

Movie

Anomalisa ***

thumbnail

Writer and co-director <a href="http://www.sandiegoreader.com/movies/archives/?q=charlie+kaufman">Charlie Kaufman’s</a> stop-motion animated film is a very fine portrait of the despair at the heart of a comfortable middle-aged white man in America circa right about now. British-born Michael Stone (voiced with great sympathy by <a href="http://www.sandiegoreader.com/movies/archives/?q=david+thewlis">David Thewlis</a>) has, by most standards, made it. He lives in Los Angeles. He’s married and has a child. He is the author of the successful business book “How May I Help You Help Them?” — successful enough to get him invited to speak at a Cincinnati convention of customer service professionals. But the person who needs help here is Michael Stone. Lord knows he’s miserable, and Lord knows he can’t help himself. Hell, he can’t even get outside himself. Which is not to say he doesn’t try. He indulges a cab driver’s awful banter about local attractions. (“Try the chili!”) He drinks. He tries to buy a toy for his son, with darkly funny results. And he rings up an old flame, someone from the days when change still seemed possible. (A portrait, however fine, is not the same as a story. However much is going on in a portrait, it remains static.) All futile. And then, quite by chance — deliverance? Escape from the great sucking vacuum of the self? The discovery of the salvific other? Without spoiling anything, it seems enough to say that grace is never cheap. And as the parade of voices and faces continues to pass before Stone (and us), the reason behind the puppetry — sad and quietly frightening — becomes clear.

Find showtimes

Whenever a filmmaker decides to use animation on a manifestly adult project, it’s worth asking why. At first, I thought it might be a way of making the mundane interesting — which is kind of what Stone wishes he could do. Checking in, ordering room service, hanging out in a hotel bar: blindingly ordinary stuff, but fascinating to see it so lovingly rendered. (And as Team America: World Police taught us, puppet sex is memorable sex. There, it was comic; here, it’s paradoxically human.) But as the parade of voices and faces continues to pass before Stone (and us), the real reason — sad and quietly frightening — becomes clear.

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Here in the middle of our life, I awoke to find myself in a hotel hallway…
Here in the middle of our life, I awoke to find myself in a hotel hallway…

Writer and co-director Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion animated film Anomalisa is a very fine portrait of the despair at the heart of a comfortable middle-aged white man in America circa right about now. British-born Michael Stone (voiced with great sympathy by David Thewlis) has, by most standards, made it. He lives in Los Angeles. He’s married and has a child. He is the author of the successful business book How May I Help You Help Them? — successful enough to get him invited to speak at a Cincinnati convention of customer service professionals. But the person who needs help here is Michael Stone. Lord knows he’s miserable, and Lord knows he can’t help himself. Hell, he can’t even get outside himself.

Video:

Anomalisa Official Trailer

Which is not to say he doesn’t try. He indulges a cab driver’s awful banter about local attractions. (“Try the chili!”) He drinks. He tries to buy a toy for his son, with darkly funny results. And he rings up an old flame, someone from the days when change still seemed possible. (A portrait, however fine, is not the same as a story. However much is going on in a portrait, it remains static.) All futile. And then, quite by chance — deliverance? Escape from the great sucking vacuum of the self? The discovery of the salvific other? Without spoiling anything, it seems enough to say that grace is never cheap.

Movie

Anomalisa ***

thumbnail

Writer and co-director <a href="http://www.sandiegoreader.com/movies/archives/?q=charlie+kaufman">Charlie Kaufman’s</a> stop-motion animated film is a very fine portrait of the despair at the heart of a comfortable middle-aged white man in America circa right about now. British-born Michael Stone (voiced with great sympathy by <a href="http://www.sandiegoreader.com/movies/archives/?q=david+thewlis">David Thewlis</a>) has, by most standards, made it. He lives in Los Angeles. He’s married and has a child. He is the author of the successful business book “How May I Help You Help Them?” — successful enough to get him invited to speak at a Cincinnati convention of customer service professionals. But the person who needs help here is Michael Stone. Lord knows he’s miserable, and Lord knows he can’t help himself. Hell, he can’t even get outside himself. Which is not to say he doesn’t try. He indulges a cab driver’s awful banter about local attractions. (“Try the chili!”) He drinks. He tries to buy a toy for his son, with darkly funny results. And he rings up an old flame, someone from the days when change still seemed possible. (A portrait, however fine, is not the same as a story. However much is going on in a portrait, it remains static.) All futile. And then, quite by chance — deliverance? Escape from the great sucking vacuum of the self? The discovery of the salvific other? Without spoiling anything, it seems enough to say that grace is never cheap. And as the parade of voices and faces continues to pass before Stone (and us), the reason behind the puppetry — sad and quietly frightening — becomes clear.

Find showtimes

Whenever a filmmaker decides to use animation on a manifestly adult project, it’s worth asking why. At first, I thought it might be a way of making the mundane interesting — which is kind of what Stone wishes he could do. Checking in, ordering room service, hanging out in a hotel bar: blindingly ordinary stuff, but fascinating to see it so lovingly rendered. (And as Team America: World Police taught us, puppet sex is memorable sex. There, it was comic; here, it’s paradoxically human.) But as the parade of voices and faces continues to pass before Stone (and us), the real reason — sad and quietly frightening — becomes clear.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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