Sure, it has a state's name in its title, but it ain't that. Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York, premiered at Cannes early this morning. Kaufman, of course, is the mad genius who wrote Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Human Nature (his one misfire), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His new mind-bender is about an upstate New York theater director, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, "whose life goes off the rails into uncharted artistic territory," in Variety critic Todd McCarthy's phrase. So, how is it?
It's often said that smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. This is nonsense. Yes, a scent may on occasion provoke an emphatic, unmediated recollection, but it is typically an imprecise one--a general period in one's life rather than a particular moment. Our specific memories, by contrast, are primarily visual and auditory, not unlike a movie playing in the mind's eye. It's hardly surprising, then, that cinema has often been described as a kind of synthetic memory. As John Malkovich, playing director F.W.