I think I've hit on the crux of my problem with Kaufman. He wants to make intellectual mind puzzles but also emotionally resonant pieces. Now this can be done, but for me it also feels that every moment of his film is vying over these two extremes. He never fines a way to meld the two for me. Either he is trying to make a scene emotional or he's trying to make it a puzzle.
And because of that, I find that neither thread works. His films are neither as smart as they could be or as emotionally impactful as they should be.
For once I'd like to just see him pick one or the other, either make a straight up mind puzzle or a simple emotional drama. But as it stands, I think he over-complicates and undermines his own films.