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Paramount Mounts Awards Campaign for Charlie Kaufman’s Fest Breakout ‘Anomalisa’ (TRAILER)

Paramount Mounts Awards Campaign for Charlie Kaufman's Fest Breakout 'Anomalisa' (TRAILER)

“What is it to be human, to ache, to be alive?” asks the lead character in the new trailer for animated feature “Anomalisa,” from two directors, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and stop-motion master Duke Johnson. The R-rated feature broke out at the fall festivals and was scooped up by Paramount Pictures, which harbors high hopes for the movie, even though it starts off with a jarring “fuck,” signaling that this felt puppet movie is NOT a family picture.
The couple at the center of this story are voiced by David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh; all the other identical characters are handled by Tom Noonan. 
David Ansen, in his Toronto review, describes “Anomalisa” as Kaufman’s “most emotionally direct movie.” It’s a straightforwardly simple and relatable story about Michael Stone, a brainy, married, British, L.A.-based motivational speaker on customer relations who’s a tad bored and depressed, who checks into a Cleveland hotel room that we can all identify. He engages in a flirtation with Lisa, an admiring conventioneer (Leigh). They have hot sex—and then what?

Ansen continues: “This may sound mundane, but this is Kaufmanland, and out of the brown murk of the quotidian arises strange, funny and deeply disturbing visions. Not for nothing is the hotel named the Fregosi:  there is a delusion called the Fregosi Syndrome in which the sufferer—and Michael is one—believes that everyone is really the same person in disguise. I don’t want to spoil the thrill of discovery by saying much more about this haunting and complex 90 minute marvel — but there is a very explicit and human puppet sex scene that, once seen, you’ll not forget. Through these animated characters, Kaufman tells us uncomfortable truths about relationships, work, alienation, hotel rooms, solipsism, and the way we live now. This was the only movie I saw in Toronto that I wished were longer: alternately hilarious and deeply sad, it’s a seductive nightmare from which you perversely don’t want to awaken. An anomaly.”

Paramount’s acquisitions team loved the movie, marketing chief Megan Colligan told me. “The movie gets under your skin and you can’t stop thinking about it.” They decided to open it in time for awards consideration, where it will compete against Pixar’s beloved “Inside Out.” Many Academy members—who boast a wide variety of tastes—will value this visually stunning, slightly avant-garde and distinct piece of art as something unique and special, not unlike “The Grand Budapest Hotel” or the Coens’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which of did miss the mark.  But they’re going for it. 
The key is to set it up properly via aggressive screenings and multiple festivals (Chicago, Philadephia, AFI FEST). The studio is banking on raves from critics like Ansen, who is quoted in the trailer. So reviews will hit when the movie opens December 30, the same day Academy voters get their ballots. They will be curious to see the latest from known quantity Kaufman, who has been nominated three times ( (“Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation” and “Eternal Sunrise of the Spotless Mind”) and won for the latter ten years back. This movie is far more accessible than his 2008 directing effort “Synecdoche New York.”  
The movie will roll out through January and hit its widest point off the Oscar nominations on January 14th. Animation seems secure, along with an adapted screenplay nod.

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