screenplay by Charlie Kaufman
directed by Duke Johnson & Charlie Kaufman
by Walter Chaw Writing about a Charlie Kaufman film, if you do it honestly, is writing about yourself. I've said before and it helps me to repeat it that I don't really understand Kaufman's films but that they do understand me. Kaufman is the most important, innovative voice in American cinema since Orson Welles, and though he has enjoyed more autonomy in expressing that voice than Welles, I would argue that the seven years separating his directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York, and this follow-up, a stop-motion collaboration with Duke Johnson called Anomalisa, suggest that it's not as easy as it should be. Certainly the journey that Anomalisa has taken is far from conventional, from Kaufman play written under the pseudonym "Francis Fregosi," through a Kickstarter campaign, through the general challenge of making an adult-themed animation in a country that sees animation as a genre not a medium, to now this tour of festivals, looking for distribution. The play was introduced as part of a Carter Burwell project titled "Theater of the New Ear". It was a late replacement on a Kaufman/Coen Bros. double-bill when the Coens "dropped out" at the eleventh hour, and this unknown Fregosi's piece took its place.