The best movie I saw at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa. At the end of my review of the film, I noted that the film didn’t yet have a U.S. distributor, so readers would have to keep their ear to the ground to hear when they’d be able to see this masterpiece for themselves.
A business trip to Cincinnati’s pretty mundane material for a stop-motion animated movie. Why not just shoot this story in live action? As Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa begins, there’s no obvious answer to that question. A man flies into Ohio to present a speech to a customer service conference. He checks into his room at the Hotel Fregoli and thinks of an old girlfriend who lives in the area. These are completely ordinary events and people. Kaufman and Johnson could have been filmed them with human actors at much less expense and difficulty. Quickly, though, idiosyncracies begin to appear in the film’s depiction of reality — anomalies, you might call them — and it becomes clear that the stop motion is an essential element of both Anomalisa’s concept and execution, which are both about as perfect as any movie made anywhere on the planet this year.
Dan Harmon and Charlie Kaufman have both encountered career troubles as of late, but neither are letting that get them down. The two are joining forces for a new stop-motion animation project, and you can help!