Today the LAT introduced Scriptland, a weekly love note to the Hollywood writing underclass so persecuted by the industry that they can be shot on sight if caught wandering a movie set without proper Directors Guild supervision. The new feature wastes no time messing around with well-paid, uncredited-rewrite hacks, and instead strips out the brass fasteners from universally admired screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's latest opus, Synecdoche, New York, and gets to work thrusting itself into the script's quivering brad-holes with papercuts-be-damned vigor:
"Synecdoche" nominally concerns a theater director who thinks he's dying, and how that shapes his interactions with the world, his art and the women in his life. But it is really a wrenching, searching, metaphysical epic that somehow manages to be universal in an extremely personal way. It's about death and sex and the vomit-, poop-, urine- and blood-smeared mess that life becomes physiologically, emotionally and spiritually (Page 1 features a 4-year-old girl having her butt wiped). It reliably contains Kaufman's wondrous visual inventions, complicated characters, idiosyncratic conversations and delightful plot designs, but its collective impact will kick the wind out of you. [...]
If this film gets made in any way that resembles what's on the page — and with the writer himself directing, it will likely gain even more color and potency in the translation — it will be some kind of miracle. "Synecdoche" will make "Adaptation" and "Eternal Sunshine" look like instructional industrial films. No one has ever written a screenplay like this. It's questionable whether cinema is even capable of handling the thematic, tonal and narrative weight of a story this ambitious.
It remains to be seen whether or not the film medium will be able to adequately translate the scope and vision of Kaufman's screenplay, but in the months until it goes before the camera, the miraculous script itself will be on loan to Children's Hospital, where mere exposure to its pages will push dozens of cases of low-grade leukemia into remission.
Next week in Scriptland: A stirring discussion on the relative merits of Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter software tools by John "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" August; a handy guide to local coffee shops with plentiful electrical outlets for writers looking to escape the creative stagnancy of the home office; an amusing list of "Top Ten Excuses Agents Use For Not Taking Your Calls When They've Stopped Trying to Sell Your Spec."