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Ending Things makes the UK Independent's Top 10 for 2020
2020 was a messed up year, but it managed to bring us some good films, and the UK's Independent says I'm Thinking of Ending Things is up there in the top 10. #6, if you want specifics.
6. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Writer-director Charlie Kaufman, once enough of an idealist to give his lovers in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind a second shot, has curdled in the intervening years. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is arguably his bleakest film – it’s also one of his best. “I’m thinking of ending things,” a young woman (Jessie Buckley) says to herself. She chews over the words, repeating them over and over again in the hope that they’ll suddenly gain the significance she was searching for.
She’s not quite sure what she wants to end. Is it her life? Her relationship with Jake (Jesse Plemons)? They’re on their first substantial trip together – a visit to his parents, out on their farm. But details start to change without warning: clothes, jobs and hobbies. Jake’s parents (Toni Colette and David Thewlis) age rapidly between scenes, as if we’re watching corpses decompose before our eyes. Kaufman has taken Ian Reid’s debut novel, published in 2016, and replaced its bait-and-switch ending with a single mood – one that’s not so much about suicidal ideation or break-ups as the black hole of emotions they have a tendency to create. Suddenly, I’m Thinking of Ending Things starts to feel like the most frightening film of the year. (Source)
Their top 3 are Shirley, Jojo Rabbit and Parasite.
The Atlantic names Ending Things one of 2020's 10 best films
The Atlantic features I'm Thinking of Eding Things at #4 in its countdown of 2020's ten best films.
4. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Charlie Kaufman’s first directorial effort in five years was a strangely perfect fit for Netflix; it’s the kind of film best viewed at midnight, alone in your home, an experience so peculiar that you might wonder if you dreamed the entire thing. Based on Iain Reid’s novel, Kaufman’s movie focuses at first on a young woman (Jessie Buckley) who is going to meet the parents of her new boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) out in the countryside for the first time. But the couple’s jaunt becomes a harrowing, dark night of the soul, as the bounds of time seem to stretch and snap, and it becomes harder to tell whether their partnership is real or imagined. In other words, it’s a Charlie Kaufman movie—a challenging viewing experience that lingers for weeks and unfolds new meaning with every rewatch. (Source)
The Nest, Lovers Rock and First Cow made up the top 3.
Ending Things gets gongs in Boston
The Boston Society of Film Critics Winners for 2020 included 2 for I'm Thinking Ending Things! YAY.
Charlie took out Best Screenplay (runners up: Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond, First Cow), and Robert Frazen won for Best Editing (runner up: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland).
Nomadland claimed Best Film, Anthony Hopkins was Best Actor, Sidney Flanigan won Best Actress. Chloe Zhao grabbed Best Director, (runner-up: Kelly Reichardt).
Full list of winners and runners-up here.
Thanks to Nathaniel!
Video: Ending Things roundtable with CK and a bunch of filmmakers you know
If you have 45 minutes to spare, use them on this I'm Thinking of Ending Things virtual roundtable discussion between Charlie Kaufman, Boots Riley, Tamara Jenkins, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Richard Linklater. Via indieWIRE and moderated by David Ehrlich, it's good stuff from start to finish.
Linklater offers CK some advice about dealing with internet commenters, Boots compares Charlie to The Smiths, Jenkins draws comparisons between Ending Things and Virginia Woolf, and everybody loves Charlie.
Video: new interview with CK and Jessie Buckley on Ending Things
They are wearing red noses. Why? Who knows! Good interview, though. CK and Jessie talk about what it was like working with each other, food in the movie, Pauline Kael, Oklahoma!, how movies enter and alter your psyche, and more.
Skip to 1:44 for the beginning of the interview.
Video: Variety's Jenelle Riley interviews CK
This one's from last month: Variety held their annual 10 Screenwriters To Watch panel, and afterward there was a half-hour interview with our pal CK.
Things worth noting:
- A melted Charlie in the background (I'm sure I've seen this before, maybe in the real estate photos when he was selling his house last year)
- A surprisingly chipper wall hanging
- WHAT ARE THE BOOKS BEHIND HIM? I can see Antkind, but my eyes won't decipher the others.
- CK's thoughts on LA vs. New York
- Charlie is negotiating a contract for a NEW NOVEL, AW YEAH.
- Eternal Sunshine's title was designed to be deliberately hard to remember. Of course, now it's somewhat ubiquitous. His original title was 47 words long, and his second choice was for the film to have no title at all--neither of which were given the thumbs up, surprisingly enough. I may have heard this before, but I am not sure.
I don't think I can embed the video here, so click on over for a look. Starts a little before the 1:05:00 mark and goes for 30 minutes.
On Ending Things and men writing women
At Bright Lights Film Journal, Joelle Kidd delivers a thoughtful essay on I'm Thinking of Ending Things and men writing women:
I’m Thinking of Ending Things is, like so many stories, a story about a man masquerading as a story about a woman. Which ultimately makes me wonder why we need to spend so much time trying to figure out how to build a better mask. I was disappointed when Lucy disappeared for the final section of the film, not because there was no longer a female character on-screen but because it felt like the moment when the film ceased to grapple with the implications of what it means for a man to craft a fictionalized woman to suit his own narrative, his own purposes – the very thing, of course, that Kaufman is doing, the thing that male writers do, by necessity, all the time.
[...] Charlie Kaufman has the talent, rare even among artists. of the ability to surprise. His films often reveal the assumptions we as filmgoers have about the nature of movies – for instance, the assumed 1:1 relationship between character and actor. Subversions of this have taken place throughout film history, with a single actor playing multiple characters, or multiple actors playing a single character. But what about a character who not only has multiple identities but perhaps no fixed identity? Can a coherent character, who seems like a person in all the important ways, be created out of many people, many personalities? (Source)
Łukasz Żal on Mortality and Memories in Ending Things
Cinematographer talks Ending Things in this new interview over at The Film Stage:
The Film Stage: How do you feel about I’m Thinking of Ending Things now that you’ve gotten a bit of distance from the film’s release?
Łukasz Żal: It’s a very important film for me. It’s kind of a meditation about life. It’s like a journey, perhaps quite uncomfortable at times, but life is not always comfortable and in fact it’s painful at times. And it was not easy to shoot it because we didn’t have a lot of time. So it was quite intense. I see a lot of personal things in it. For me, I think it’s a very bold, very brave movie. And I think there are not many movies like this nowadays. It depends what you have inside of you for what you will find out about yourself with this movie. It’s very universal. It’s not easy. It’s not like a commercial. Cinema is not entertainment. I think it’s so important that cinema is not only entertainment.
How did you get the script in the first place? How was your first conversation with Charlie?
It was so funny because when I read the script for the first time, I was going back home. I read this in the mountains and I was going home, and there was a blizzard. And I remember that I just stopped at a petrol station and I took a picture, which looked more or less like this ice cream place. Then I met Charlie, and we had a phone conversation. We were talking about how to approach memories. What is a memory? How are we going to show memories? What colors are we going to use? I really wanted to make this movie. And he didn’t call me after the conversation for 10 days. I don’t know. I felt like his character. I was thinking maybe I was too intense. Maybe I was having too many ideas. Maybe I was talking too fast. Maybe he was expecting me to have more solutions. I felt like Nicolas Cage in Adaptation. I really started overthinking. What did he think about me? Did he like me? Maybe not. I was just judging myself.
Was there any particular scene that you struggled to shoot? That you had trouble really getting it right?
Every day it was a struggle. Every day you are discovering something. I think the hardest aspect of this movie was to combine the proper atmosphere with dialogue scenes and camera movement. In these long dialogue scenes, to create images which will be hyper realistic and will give the impression of memory or fantasy at the same time. We wanted to make the camera anticipate what will happen. It’s kind of a mixture of memories. I mean, imagination, films, books and experiences. We didn’t want to use any lens manipulations or strange effects to make this look like a dream or something. But we were going to do it in production design, in the costumes, in the composition. (Source)
How about some "How and Why" set photos?
Well, this is a find. Chris points me to these set photos from Charlie's elusive How and Why pilot, via the website of Molly Hughes. Hughes was the production designer on How and Why and I'm Thinking of Ending Things.
Loads more at the link! Oh, you guys. Aaahhh, now I want to see this damned show even more. Silly Hollywood. (And if you're about to ask: no, I have no idea where or when we can see this pilot, but we probably never will. Tons of pilots get canned and never see the light of day.) You can also check out a handful of Ending Things photos on Hughes' website.
The Memory Police: CK to write, Reed Morano to direct for Amazon Studios
Promoting Antkind earlier in the year, Charlie mentioned that he was currently reading Yōko Ogawa's novel The Memory Police with an eye on maybe adapting it for the screen. Today Deadline reports it's a happening thing:
The Handmaid Tale’s Reed Morano will direct and produce, and Charlie Kaufman will write the script based on the National Book Award-nominated surrealist tale that recently was translated and released by Pantheon Books in English, 25 years after its debut in Japan.
Here is the logline: On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, things have begun to disappear — at first little things: ribbons and then roses. Soon, photographs. However, a rare few are able to remember all that no longer exists, but the Memory Police are determined to make sure that what has been erased, remains forgotten forever. When a young novelist realizes her book editor is one of those able to still remember, she hides him in a room beneath her floorboards. As the world closes in around them, they struggle defiantly to hold onto the truth. (Source)