Friday, September 30, 2011

At the Movies

Thora Birch in Ghost World

I am a big film fan (maybe too big). I have over 700 films on DVD and probably 100 or more films on videotapes that I have not upgraded to DVD yet.

Synecdoche, New York is one film I have on DVD. I added it to my collection because it looked like an unusual film and it starred one of my favorite actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The film was weird and I was disappointed. I assumed I would never watch the DVD again. That is, until I received an e-mail from Gwen today.

Gwen wrote, "I saw this film yesterday and it was really weird in many ways.  The strangest being that at the end of the film, the main character, a man, takes on the persona of a woman, called Ellen.  She's a cleaning lady, so he cleans.  And his role is taken by a woman.  No male to female cross dressing involved.  But there's a definite gender bluring going on, that you don't often see in mainstream films."

I totally missed it. My guess is that the film was so weird that I tuned out mentally by the time the transgender scene(s) occurred. So, I guess I will be watching Synecdoche, New York again real soon now.

A film I can watch again and again is Ghost World, which I happened to catch on the dish last night. It is another unusual film (based on a comic book) and stars another of my favorite actors, Steve Buscemi. It also includes a great performance by Thora Birch, who plays the female lead in the film.

There is nothing transgender in the film, but it is definitely worth watching if you have never seen it.


  1. While I can't recommend the film's US cut, "Pirate Radio", Philip Seymour Hoffman was very good in "The Boat That Rocked" (UK title).

    Try to find an import copy if you can. The UK Blu Ray is region free.

  2. You might want to check out the Wikipedia entry on Synecdoche. It certain explains a ton on the background motifs, even if it isn't totally fair to expect the viewer to grasp even a sliver of what's going on. I think the movie's biggest failing is that as an audience we're not left with much to anticipate, action-wise, but watching it a second time might release you from too much expectation. All said, the transgender scenes are somehow rewarding, if only because he is perceived and treated as if he is female.

  3. I have seen GHOST WORLD (I bought it on DVD soon after it came out). I don't know what happened to Thora Birch, but I know about the other female....Scarlett Johansson. She became a star.

    As for SYNECDOCHE,NEW of my favorite people is in it...Jennifer Jason Leigh.

  4. I really liked Synechdoche. Classic Charlie Kauffmann. Not everything in life is straightforward or linear, and this film played to that beautifully.

  5. I loved the comic Ghost World. While it's difficult for me to imagine Scarlett Johansson in a movie adaptation, I've heard many good things about the movie so I'll have to check it out.