In the play No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre declared “Hell is other people”. I think Charlie Kaufmann believes that other people are not nearly that interesting. Banality. Soul-crushing banality is other people.
After much too long a wait, Kauffman has finally come out with another movie, and despite being stop-motion animation, it’s his most grounded and realistic movie yet. Which is not to say there isn’t a bit of magical realism. It’s a world where our protagonist, Michael Stone, is on a business trip to Cincinnati set to give a speech on customer service something something and in his world, everyone sounds exactly the same. Everyone. The people on TV, the bellhop at his hotel, the cab driver, his fellow airline passengers, his wife, his child, his ex. They all are exactly the same person. The same dull, dreary person. Until, a miracle. There’s someone else! Her name is Lisa, and she’s staying in the very same hotel.
And things progress from there in a quiet, heartbreaking way. This is not a movie where you want to be identifying with the “hero”, and yet for many of us, there we are, right up onscreen.
There are only three vocal performances in the movie. David Thewlis as Michael, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lisa, and Tom Noonan as everyone else in the world. They’re all excellent, delivering Kaufman’s amazing dialog flawlessly. The stop-motion animation is choppy and rudimentary, a long way from Pixar, but it fits the story perfectly. There’s also a sex scene that is one of the most beautifully intimate ever put on film.
Ultimately, it’s the lesson being conveyed here that resonates so strongly with people like myself who identify with Michael. It’s a lesson that you’ll just have to discover for yourself, if you choose to go. Although it’s probably too late for Michael Stone, and Charlie Kaufmann. But that’s all right, because he’s given us the gift of some of the finest art in the 21st Century.
I’m so selfish, I sometimes use other people’s birthdays to measure certain spans of time in my own life. In terms of Drunk Monkeys, the last four years can disguise themselves as forty quite well. I’m amazed at the time, place, and state of my life in mid-2012, when the endlessly amazing Matthew Guerruckey asked me if I “had anything else I thought Drunk Monkeys would like.”
I gave them the first issue of this column. And that was it. I’ve written sixty-two editions of Captain Canada’s Movie Rodeo for DM.
Matthew Guerruckey reviews Sully, the latest from director Clint Eastwood, starring Tom Hanks as Captain "Sully" Sullenberger.
Donald McCarthy reviews the gripping crime thriller Hell or High Water.
A 100 Word Review of the Nick Cave movie One More Time with Feeling, by our Managing Editor, Dani Neiley!
Kolleen Carney with a 100 Word Film Review of The Little Prince, the animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic novel.
Scott Waldyn reviews the surprising new thriller, Don't Breathe.
Our 100 Word Movie Review of Kubo and the Two String, from Laika Studios!
Captain Canada returns again, with a look at Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, and many more in a double-sized edition of the Movie Rodeo!
Captain Canada rides again, as Gabriel Ricard takes on the pretentious Jared Leto and the always engaging Bryan Cranston in his latest Movie Rodeo.
Films reviewed: The Nice Guys (2016), Blood Orange (2016), All the Way (2016), Coup de Torchon (1981), Money Monster (2016)
Gabriel Ricard tackles Asian Scarlett Johansson, texting in films, and other depressing topics in the latest edition of Captain Canada's Movie Rodeo.
Reviews: Hail, Caesar (2016), Midnight Special (2016), Ned Rifle (2014), White Lightning (1973), Night of the Creeps (1986)