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Synecdoche, New York [2008] [R] - 8.6.7



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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A hypochondriac, depressive theater director (Philip Seymour Hoffman) finds himself alone after his wife (Catherine Keener) has left him to find fame in Europe, taking their young daughter with her. When he is awarded a monetary grant, he undertakes a project that literally plays out all of the days in his life (some as they are happening). Also with Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Tilda Swinton, Hope Davis, Emily Watson, Josh Pais, Dianne Wiest, Robin Weigert, Tim Guinee, Tom Noonan, Daniel London and Sadie Goldstein. Directed by Charlie Kaufman. [2:04]

SEX/NUDITY 8 - A woman removes her clothes (we see her bare breasts, bare abdomen and panties) and she asks a man to have sex with her and to remove his clothes; it is implied that they have sex.
 A woman asks a married man out for a drink and then to her place for another drink; she tells the man to get on his knees and beg her for a kiss, and they are then shown in bed (the man is bare-chested and the woman is wearing a bra and we see cleavage and bare abdomen): the woman thrusting on top of the man, and she stops when it is apparent that the man cannot continue performing.
 A man and a woman have sex on a bed: a blanket covers them both, we see rhythmic movement under the covers, and they are interrupted by the telephone.
 A woman wearing a sheer robe that reveals cleavage (her breasts are visible through the fabric) walks toward a man who is sitting on a bed, he tells her that he wants to have sex with her, she climbs on the bed, they kiss, she lies back and wraps her knees around him (her bare legs to the hip are visible) and it is implied that they have sex.
 Many men are lined up in a hallway waiting to go into a room where a nude woman dances behind a glass wall; we see the woman dancing, and has tattoos covering her body (her bare breast and buttocks are visible and her pubic region is seen though it heavily tattooed and no hair is evident). We see paintings of nude women in several scenes with bare breasts, buttocks and visible pubic regions (sometimes obscured by paint strokes). We see a photograph of a young girl (about 10 years old) with full body tattoos (her un-developed breasts are exposed). A nude man walks along a city street (we see his bare back and buttocks and legs). A man gets out of bed wearing a pair of boxer shorts and a T-shirt, and a man enters a room wearing boxer shorts and a tank T-shirt. Women wear low-cut tops and dresses that reveal cleavage in several scenes, and a woman wears a short skirt.
 A man and a woman prepare for bed, they get into bed, and they hold each other and kiss. A man and a woman kiss. A married man and a woman flirt in a few scenes.
 A woman stands near a man on an airplane, lifts her skirt to reveal her bare thigh, he glances over at her, and she goes back to her seat and they each continue to read their books.
 A woman asks a man if he gets high and if he wants to get high with her and he confesses that smoking marijuana makes him sexually aroused (they do not smoke marijuana together). A woman talks about her female lover who taught her about her body and sex. A woman asks her father to tell her about why he left her when she was a child, to follow his homosexual lover. A man comments about the genitals of another man's wife. A young girl asks her father if she can "have a nickel if I don't play with my pee-pee anymore." A man talks about wishing he were a creature with "a penis and a vagina eternally fused." A woman mentions pornographic asphyxia, and a man makes a comment about "soaking in our menstrual blood" and "nocturnal emissions."

VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - A man jumps off the roof of a building (we see him dead on the sidewalk with cement rubber around him, but no blood).
 While a man is shaving, the sink faucet shakes and sputters, and the handle is blown off and strikes the man in the head (we see blood on his head and on his shirt). We see a woman in a hospital bed with oxygen tubes in her nose and she dies. A woman lies dead in a bed and an EMT examines her. A man gets stitches in his forehead (we see the needle and thread passing through his skin). A man has a lot of blood in his mouth during gum surgery. We hear screaming and rioting outside an apartment window, we see rats in a dark and dingy hallway, and we see many dead people and rubble around them, with cars burning. A man is told that his mother was killed during a home invasion and we later see the crime scene with blood splattered and smeared on bedclothes and the floor.
 A man yells at a woman, grabs her, they fall to the ground and wrestle, she punches him twice, runs away and he follows her; when he loses sight of her he sits on the ground, cries and hyperventilates.
 A man pounds on a glass wall and yells to the woman on the other side who's dancing nude; he is pulled out of the room by another man.
 A man tries to commit suicide by jumping off a roof (another man grabs him and pulls him away from the edge). A man has a seizure and struggles to dial his telephone for help. A doctor seems alarmed when he notices that a man's pupils are not dilating normally.
 There are many scenes that show a burning house with people in it: One scene shows a realtor and a woman touring the house (it is filled with smoke and fires burn in the walls and rooms), another scene shows a woman living in the house, and another shows a man and a woman in the house.
 In a stage play a character grieves at the grave of her dead husband. A man is told that his father died and that he suffered horribly. A man reads a letter about his ex-wife having died of lung cancer. A wife says that she fantasizes about her husband dying. A young girl is frightened when her parents talk about the plumbing in their house and equate it to the human body and the movement of blood. A man reads obituaries in the newspaper in a few scenes. A young girl sings a song with lyrics that include "When I'm dead and buried." We hear a woman talking about autumn being a melancholy time. A doctor asks a man if his stools have been abnormal.
 There are several scenes that show animated programming on TV about viruses and disease; another program on a TV has a line about "You fell and you died."
 A man examines his stool in a toilet (we see the stool and the man using a spoon to poke at it); a man examines his stool in another scene and we see feces in a toilet. A man urinates in a sink (we see the stream and it appears to be red). A woman wipes a young girls bottom after she has used the bathroom and they both remark about her feces being green (we see a bit of green on the tissue). A man has large, puss filled sores on his face and his young daughter asks what they are. A woman wears tight-fitting shoes with straps across the top of her foot and we see that her feet are red, swollen and have sores on them. Veins in a man's arm seem swollen and he pokes at them.
 A man forces himself to salivate, takes a bite of food, and then flings his head back to swallow.

PROFANITY 7 - 30 F-words, 7 sexual references, 7 scatological terms (1 mild), 4 anatomical terms, name-calling (coward, stupid), 1 religious profanity, 11 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A man takes a handful of prescription medications, and a woman asks a man if he gets high and if he wants to get high with her. People are shown drinking alcohol at a bar, people are shown drinking alcohol in several restaurant scenes, a woman asks a man out for a drink and we see them at a bar and then her place drinking alcohol, a woman drinks alcohol from a bottle, and a woman talks about having had too much beer the night before. A woman smokes a cigarette.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Illness, guilt, suicide, divorce, success, depression, regret, fate, hope, infidelity, fame, romantic love, death, courage, honesty, disappointment, hypochondria.

MESSAGE - Life is confusing if you don't know what you want.

Special Keywords: S8 - V6 - P7 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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