Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaption) is known for his disjointed narratives and quirky characters. Now he brings that off-beat sensibility to his directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York. The film features Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a theater director who builds a life-size model of Manhattan’s theater district in a warehouse in upstate New York. As Hoffman’s character becomes increasingly obsessed with his mock-up of Manhattan reality, he starts to lose control of his own.
ALSO, Once best known as a star of action and Western films, actor (and former mayor of Carmel, California) Clint Eastwood is also acclaimed for his work behind the camera. His latest directorial effort is Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie as a mother struggling to find her missing son and battling a corrupt Los Angeles police force. Eastwood won the Academy Award for best director in 1993 for Unforgiven and again in 2005 for Million Dollar Baby. He was nominated for the Oscar for his direction of Mystic River and Letters from Iwo Jima.
RELATED: I’ve always been a sucker for filmmakers who shake up the snow globe of my so-called life. Nobody can be expected to do it consistently for years on end — hell, everyone’s arm gets tired after a while. In the ’80s it was David Lynch. In the ’90s it was the Coen brothers. In the 21st century the man who’s been consistently blowin’ my frickin’ mind is screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Just the concept of Being John Malkovich alone makes me want to turn to the waiter and say, “I’ll have whatever he’s been smoking.” Then came Adaptation, with all its brutal faux self-laceration, creative constipation and mind-enema ending, followed closely by Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, the psychedelically absurd CIA-assassin fantasia of Gong Show host Chuck Barris. And just when the dizzy spells seemed to pass and it was safe to take the stairs again, along came Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a heartache head-fuck valentine that will replace nothing except LSD and self-pity. Talk about a beautiful mind — when Kaufman dies, hopefully not for 100 years or so, the coroner is going to saw open that oblong afro-topped skull, and inside there’s gonna be a brain jigglin’ like Jell-O that’s bigger, rounder and prettier than J. Lo’s butt. –JONATHAN VALANIA