Saturday, February 27, 2016

Anomalisa (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Charlie Kaufman (Synedoche, Being John Malkovitch, Adaptation) is the prince of eerie cinema. His pair of directed films hit upon the eye with hard to define sensations and some surely think of him as an acquired sight.

Kaufman's latest film surprises again. In "Anomalisa," Michael Stone (David Thewlis) is a famous self-help writer in a rut. He is bored with life. Nothing delights him. Stone has no energy.  Worse still, the people seem invariably the same, no matter male or female.

Stone is at a loss; he is more depressed than anxious. He checks in to the Hotel Fregoli in Cincinnati. His attending a conference. Stone can't relax. He is restless. Stone resolves to go down the hall convinced he hears an unusual cadence

He discovers two girls Emily and Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh).  He is hooked.

This film might seem the stuff of Woody Allen or Todd Solondz. This comparison would be right were it not for the fact that the film is composed of animation made from a 3D printer, creating characters of quirky pathos and spookiness---as heartfelt as they are unearthly.

Everywhere  we gaze, we see people marching to and fro, going to work, walking and eating all in identical manners. In every face there is a disturbing crack. As if only one bad day will have your face fall to the ground like disintegrated leaves.

Though it has its Orwellian thrills, the film more thoroughly startles you with the poignant delicacy of its stop action characters. Every detail is handled with the grace of a calligraphist. Loneliness is explored. Human anatomy is found and revealed along with the hunger of desire and what it feels like to want and not be able to have. Michael and Lisa are no mere creatures of light and color, but actual people.

The couple is trapped in a sci-fi fever dream, but this is only a plot device to propel us to another question: as we essentially live in a technologically immersive world, how close are the animations to us, and vice versa. More to the point, what is makes us "human" or can it all be mapped and produced?

Both the story and the medium used to convey it, speak in tandem and contain duplicate questions.

"Anomalisa" oddly sweet and melancholy with a touch of fear will have you questioning just what is actually genuine or real, giving a feeling not unlike the 70s era "The Stepford Wives," or the more recent "Black Swan."

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