Oscar nominee “Anomalisa” Alternate Reality Of Kaufman Kind


Depression and anxiety can feel like life is moving in slow motion.

MV5BMTkyMzI2MzQ1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDg0MzQxNzE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_In the Oscar nominated animated film “Anomalisa” they move in stop motion.

Those with seasonal affected disorder might want to avoid it. But as a creative statement this work of stop motion puppetry is optimistic and rewarding.

Like the 7/12th floor in “Being John Malkovich” and the baffling “Synecdoche, N. Y.” it follows the imagination of writer-director Charlie Kaufman through a rip in time and space, accompanied by the animator Duke Johnson here.

The film was financed in part using Kickstarter and the donors’ names are listed in the credits.  Stop motion is a painstaking technique in which puppets are moved one frame at a time and everything is created by hand.

Like a mature “Inside Out,” “Anomalisa” sets out to capture the intangible.

The digital Pixar film portrays the roller coaster emotional mind set of a young girl. “

Anomalisa” captures  a banal man’s fugue, mid-life crisis and nervous breakdown all rolled into one.

It includes puppet nudity that is less comic “Team America,” and more “Last Tango In Paris” explicit. The result is awkward to behold but with an emotional depth that is hard not take seriously and which is true of the film as a whole.

We don’t know if what occurs has happened, is happening or never happened. It involves a man and a woman in a hotel. Both are there for a convention. He’s a speaker, she’s an attendee. Their accidental encounter was either a one stand or lasted longer and was more serious.

He’s older and married. She’s intellectually naive with a self-deprecating self-awareness that charms him. She calls herself an anomaly and her name is Lisa.

He’s hypnotized when she sings an a capella “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Shes enthralled by his attention. But what seems intensely genuine and in the moment is also surreal, slippery and uncertain, all Kaufman trademarks.

Even the voice acting defies the ordinary. David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar nominee for “The Hateful Eight,” portray the couple. But Tom Noonan of “Synecdoche” is the voice of everyone else, male and female.

And the film’s puppetry is the puppeteer played by John Cusack in “Being John Malkovich” coming full circle.

Three and one half stars ***1/2

With David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan.

Produced by Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, Dino Stamatopoulos, Rosa Tran.

Written by Charlie Kaufman. Directed by Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson.

Rated R; sexual content, nudity, smoking, language.

Approximate running time: 90 minutes.


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