["The choices we make in our lives—from seemingly insignificant matters to life-altering moments—are at the heart of Kaufman's screenplay, and death is no exception. When Hazel (Samantha Morton) expresses concerns about moving into a house permanently on fire, the realtor nonchalantly says that's it's a big decision how one prefers to die. There are at least half-a-dozen characters in the film who shuffle off this mortal coil, yet Caden, so encumbered by his life's work, can't even die without direction. Obsession with death is nothing new in cinema, but Kaufman's take on it is particularly bleak. For Bergman, death is often tied to man's relationship with god (or lack thereof), whereas Woody Allen uses comedy as a defense mechanism for his fears. In Synecdoche, New York, death is anything but peaceful—there's decay, disease, infection, and agonizing pain. Bodies literally break down, such that coffins have to be stuffed with cotton balls to keep bones from rattling around. Kaufman legitimizes all of our worst fears about dying."]
["Of all Allen's storied sci-fi series, The Time Tunnel was perhaps the least successful on its original sortie. It aired for just a single season of 30 hour-long episodes on ABC. Broadcast from September 9, 1966 to April 7, 1967, the series involved the aforementioned scientists—Newman (James Darren) and Phillips (Robert Colbert)—tumbling (literally...) through various historical (and future!) time periods, a circumstance which enabled the series to frequently re-use footage and costumes from such films as Titanic (1953), The Buccaneer (1958) and Khartoum (1966). Despite this crafty, cost-saving measure, the Time Tunnel pilot was still one of the most expensive ever produced at the time, costing a then-whopping $500,000 dollars. You can readily observe where all the considerable expense went in the pilot episode: there are some amazing matte-paintings of the Time Tunnel complex...the whole facility looks like it was outsourced to Krell construction workers. Also, the Time Tunnel control room set is vast and impressive: a testament to 1960s-style futurism. There are banks of giant computers with lots of blinking lights, and that massive, whirly-gig tunnel itself taking center stage. The visual effects are opulent too, particularly views of the lead actors somersaulting through a moving, glittering temporal vortex."]
["Nobody puts Rebecca Willis in a corner. A small mountain town has agreed to pay $275,000 for banning her from a community hangout after residents complained about her dirty dancing. Willis, then 56, was told to stay away from the Marshall Depot community center eight years ago."]
["The problem with marketing a high-concept formula like this is that the core humor of the film is contained in set pieces and easily extractable dialogue exchanges (e.g. Carrey receives an e-mail asking if he would like to increase the size of his penis and he answers aloud to his co-workers) that work just as well as stand-alone clips as they do in the context of the film. This means that the film itself can only be effective if the threads holding together the set pieces are strong enough to match the comedic high jinks already consumed for free in the advertising. You can't sit through a 90-minute film exclusively made of Carrey responding yes to crazy/embarrassing questions (it's hard enough stringing it out in a 2-minute trailer) so by fundamental nature of plot concerns, it needs to contain extra material to stretch out the conceit past sketch-length. But the problem is that the marketing sells it solely on the high-concept scenario and that's what will compel people to head out to the multiplex. As the advertisements already offer a vast array of these scenarios, the film is setting itself up for failure, at least in terms of quality if not finance—it takes a lot for a Carrey comedy to gross under $100 million."]
["Thus far, Kaufman has been American cinema's resident egghead mad genius, unspooling outre ideas and whimsies that have allowed stars and audiences to indulge arty impulses. Now, though, he seems something more: a cross of Lewis Carroll, Woody Allen and Samuel Beckett, a mordant fool singing a black comic dirge about his own mortality and, inevitably, everyone else's. You have a stake in "Synecdoche" simply by virtue of being alive."]
Quote of the Day: Vachel Lindsay
"Never be a cynic, even a gentle one. Never help out a sneer, even at the devil."
Image of the Day (click to enlarge): Via Andrew Sullivan, a few images of Proposition-8-and-its-ilk protests across the country: Alaska, Minneapolis, and a post-protest D.C. rainbow.
Clip of the Day: Edie McClurg knows cooking.
_____________________________________________________ "Links for the Day": Each morning, the House editors post a series of weblinks that we think will spark discussion. Comments encouraged. Suggestions for links are also welcome. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.