Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a Chechen Muslim, enters Hamburg, Germany
illegally, weaving his way through sewers, stowing away on a cargo ship, hiding
in plain sight beneath a dirty hooded sweatshirt and a scraggly beard.
Throughout his circuitous journey, though, Issa makes time to pray.
Our first few moments in the presence of Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) capture the extraordinary power and the isolation of the character. What Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of The Master, and the mercurial Phoenix have created here is a portrait of an old god, maybe the last of his kind to walk the Earth.
Richard Curtis, like 'FM' 30 years ago, has used the premise as little more than an excuse for tried-and-true sitcom scenarios. Worse, while he's kept this a period piece, he has given all the characters a modern sensibility more fitting for 'Superbad' than the 1960s. Grade: C-.
It's useful to know two things going into Charlie Kaufman's head-trip of a movie. "Synecdoche" is a literary term, referring to the part being representative of the whole — as in "Times Square is New York City." And Kaufman is very "meta" writer who knows the fourth wall in drama isn't a sacrosanct rule but merely a concept to be toyed with at will.