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10 Nov

Chances are good you’ve never seen a movie quite like Synecdoche, New York.

First of all, about that hard-to-pronounce title. The film takes place (or at least part of it does) in Schenectady, New York, where Caden Cotard (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) is living a bleak existence and is convinced he’s dying. Eager to do something with his life before he goes (“That would be the time to do it,” Caden’s therapist tells him), he seeks to create a monumental theater piece that will document his existence and show that his life has meaning.

Now, according to, the word synecdoche is “a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part, the special for the general or the general for the special.”

So to that end, the play becomes intertwined with Caden’s life, and soon there are multiple actors playing the same role (in Caden’s life and in his play), and the play becomes a play within a play within a play, with scenes and lines of dialogue repeating themselves. Chronology is blurred, and you never know if you’re watching Caden’s reality or his alternate reality. Continue reading

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