Film Screening 17th October, 2009

Poster for Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York 

8:00 PM, 17th October, 2009

  • M
  • 118 mins
  • Unknown
  • Charlie Kaufman
  • Charlie Kaufman
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener

See this movie; you'll enjoy it. Not while watching it, of course, but certainly afterwards, when you're arguing with the people who saw it with you about what just happened, what didn't happen, and why. Trust me, it's much more enjoyable to practise this kind of dissection on Synecdoche than it would be on a movie that was actually any good.

Let me give you some notes to guide you on your way. That first word in the title is pronounced "sin-ECK-doh-kee"; it's set in the New York town of Schenectady (but don't ask me how to pronounce that). It's about an allegedly talented theatre director (Hoffman) whose life is falling to pieces, as is his body, when two golden opportunities fall into his lap: he wins a deus ex machina "genius grant", allowing him to stage the theatrical masterpiece he's always dreamed of; and he meets Hazel (Morton), who is, or should be, the love of his life. Guess which opportunity he pursues? That's right, he stages the play. The play is based on his life, which means he must hire actors to play himself and Hazel; then he needs other actors to play those actors, and more actors still to play those actors... and so on, until we discover whether the film disappears completely up its own bottom, or not. But to find out you'll have to watch it. I watched it; so why should you get let off?

Author's wife's note: The reviewer is unfairly prejudiced against all this high-fallutin' self-referential arty stuff and therefore should not be taken all that seriously. Next time we screen a story about some bricks and a pile of concrete, though, his review can safely be deemed to be at the forefront of critical thought.

Henry Fitzgerald

Poster for Flash of Genius

Flash of Genius 

10:13 PM, 17th October, 2009

  • PG
  • 119 mins
  • Unknown
  • Marc Abraham
  • Philip Railsback
  • Greg Kinnear, Alan Alda, Dermot Mulroney, Lauren Graham

Based on the true story of college professor and part-time inventor Robert Kearns' battle with the U.S. automobile industry, Flash of Genius tells the story of one man's fight to receive recognition for his ingenuity.

Bob (Kinnear), his wife Phyllis (Graham) and their six children were a typical 1960s Detroit family, trying to live their version of the American Dream. In 1964 Bob invented and patented the intermittent windscreen wiper system that would be used by every car in the world from 1969. The Kearns think they have struck gold, but their hopes are dashed when the automobile giants who happily adopted the system refused to honour or compensate its inventor.

Bob becomes obsessed with justice and the conviction that his life's work ((ndash)) or for that matter anyone's work ((ndash)) should be acknowledged by those benefited. This everyday David will try the unthinkable: not to bring this modern day Goliath down, but to bring it to justice.

Don't just go to Wikipedia to find out what happened, come along and see if justice can be done in the U.S.A., see if it lives up to its claim that it is a place where hard work and ingenuity are rewarded.

Richard Neville