THE REEL BINGE with Lee Ostler: ANOMALISA (2015)

“Anomalisa” (2015) Directed by Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson.  Written by Charlie Kaufman.

Well, fuck me. Just as I mentioned in last week’s best of 2015 list, I knew “Anomalisa” (2015) would affect my choices, but simply didn’t get a chance to watch it. Now that I have, it did not disappoint. In terms of how it anomalisa-posterwould have effected my choices, it would have ended up in the 7-10 range of “Best Picture” category. The truly amazing thing is that I liked it more than “Inside Out” (2015). That film, though thoroughly unique, bold and smart as hell, existed within an established paradigm. “Inside Out” (2015) is a Pixar film catering to children but sophisticated enough for adults. “Amomalisa”(2015) inhabits a world all to its own. An adult drama with some subtle comedy that is also animated. Not for kids, in any way at all. In the end, it’s totally absurd to pick one film over the other. I just love that there are two animated films in one year that are so brilliant and utterly unique from one another.

“Anomalisa” (2015) stars three actors. David Thewlis as “Michael Stone”, the protagonist. Jennifer Jason Leigh as “Lisa Hesselman” and Tom Noonan as “Everyone else” (not hyperbola). If the names don’t ring out, they’re work does. While no expert in animation, I recognized a slight resemblance to the criminally overlooked Adult Swim series, “Moral Orel”. Not surprisingly, one of anomalisathe producers is Dino Stamatopoulos who did just about everything on “Moral Orel“. As an aside, Stamatopoulos is a genius comedian, writer, actor and animator who you may know as “Starburns” on “Community” but is responsible for so much more stuff you like.  Though similar to traditional stop-motion, the animation is different. Apparently created using 3D printers, the effect is unlike anything you’ve seen.

Kaufman throws us into this world of superficial human interaction where the only meaningful sentiments are left unheard, mis-heard or ignored. Life is awkward, shameful and full of regrets, which is right on par for Kaufman. Anomalisa1Michael Stone (Thewlis) is an out-of-town business man at a hotel attending a conference in Cincinnati. He falls heavy for Lisa (Leigh) after a graphic and shockingly intimate one night stand in terms of animation. Once again, it’s entirely unique. Kaufman’s obsession with cinematic or storybook love is on full display here. Everything is fucking perfect until, ya know, life gets in the way and no one comes with strings unattached. Absolutely loved it. One of the best of 2015.

Anomalisa Official Trailer #1 (2016) – Charlie Kaufman Stop Motion Animation HD


Associated Recommendations:

Charlie Kaufman: Everything he’s ever touched.

David Thewlis: As Freddie Mays in “Gangster No.1” (2000). As Denis Scaima in “The Theory Of Everything” (2014). As Remus Lumpin in a bunch of “Harry Potter” flicks.

Jennifer Jason Leigh: As Amy Archer in “The Hudsucker Proxy”. As Pauline in “Margot at the Wedding” (2007). As Daisy Demergue in “The Hateful Eight” (2015) and of course Stacy Hamilton in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982). She has been at the top her game for my entire life.

Tom Noonan: As Cain in “Robocop 2” (1990).  and small but impactful parts over the 30 years in TV and Film