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Telluride Film Review: ‘Anomalisa’

On 05, Sep 2015 | In Press & News | By

In “Anomalisa,” an inspirational speaker in crisis checks into Cincinnati’s (fictional) Al Fregoli hotel, named for a delusional condition in which paranoiacs believe that those around them are not who they appear to be, but a single tormentor hiding behind multiple disguises. That’s a helpful bit of trivia to consider before entering into Charlie Kaufman’s latest brainteaser, this one originally mounted (just twice) for composer Carter Burwell’s “Theater of the New Ear” sound-play experiment and rescued from obscurity by a team of imaginative producers who thought it might make an interesting stop-motion project — which it does, exceptional even, although it’s unclear just who they imagined might be the audience for such a cerebral cult offering.

“Anomalisa’s” existence is a minor miracle on multiple levels, from the Kickstarter campaign that funded it (the credits give “special thanks” to 1,070 names) to the oh-so-delicate way the film creeps up on you, transitioning from a low-key dark night of the soul into something warm, human and surprisingly tender. This despite the fact that it’s told entirely through puppets — which proved to be plenty expressive in “Being John Malkovich,” the film that put Kaufman on the cinematic map. Now, it’s been seven long years since his directorial debut, “Synecdoche, New York,” and Kaufman owes his return at least in part to co-director Duke Johnson (the “Moral Orel” helmer who oversaw “Community’s” all-stop-motion Christmas episode). Read more

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