MONDAY MOVIE CLUB REVIEW: Anomalisa, directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson

Characters Michael Stone and Lisa Hesselman in a hotel bedroom scene from Charlie Kaufman's film Anomalisa.
Characters Michael Stone and Lisa Hesselman in a hotel bedroom scene from Charlie Kaufman's film Anomalisa.
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Cautionary tale about the greyness of life from ‘a real oddity in Hollywood’

Long before TV shows like The Simpsons, American Dad and Family Guy became staple viewing for people looking for animated adult comedy, Hanna Barbera Productions made Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

Lasting for three series, the cartoon series was a far cry from Hanna Barbera’s other animated classics like Top Cat, The Flinstones and Yogi Bear as it explored themes such as anti-Communism, teenage rebellion and the kind of extreme right wing politics now paraded by Donald Trump.

Nearly 45 years since it first aired, maverick US film director Charlie Kaufman has recreated another man-in-midlife-crisis showcase with the stop-gap animation spectacular Anomalisa.

The central character is seemingly successful husband, father and motivational speaker Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis from the Harry Potter films) whose empty, grey and unfulfilled life becomes apparent while on a business trip to Cincinnati.

There he meets customer service representative Lisa Hesselman (Jennifer Jason Leigh, last seen in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight) who gives stone a rare ray of “aliveness” and adventure.

Charlie will do his own thing, sticking two fingers up at the establishment in his own way

Karl Gernert of Monday Movie Club

Anomalisa, a nickname Michael gives Lisa during their all-to-brief affair, was the climax of this season’s Monday Movie Club and in deascribing the film, host Karl Gernert said: “Charlie Kaufman is a real oddity in Hollywood in that he won’t make compromises or be bullied by film producers.

“Charlie will do his own thing, sticking two fingers up at the establishment in his own way.”

Charlie Kaufman and fellow director do that in buckletloads with Anomalisa, something Karl described as “a very idiosyncratic, very exciting, one-of-a-kind film”.

Review by Winston Brown