Author Topic: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film  (Read 3866 times)

i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« on: August 06, 2020, 05:41:26 PM »
Thought I'd start a combination heads-up/pre-emptive chat thread for it. Out on Netflix on September 4th. Trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDTg62vsV4U

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2020, 01:57:39 AM »
Looks good.

samadriel

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2020, 11:22:37 AM »
Interesting, I'd watch that.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2020, 12:58:27 PM »
Looks like my cup of tea, great cast as well.

chveik

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2020, 01:05:23 PM »
state of that voice-over

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2020, 08:34:26 PM »
The book is the best horror novel Ive read in a long while.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2020, 09:30:36 PM »
This'll be decent, I reckon.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2020, 09:49:32 PM »
Yeah, big fan of Kaufman admittedly, but this does look great. Don't know anything about the book, I think I'll keep it that way until I've seen the film.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2020, 07:42:45 AM »
I loved this. Wasn't sure about the 4:3 aspect ratio at first but it actually serves quite an important purpose, not only the claustrophobia but also the feeling that things are being hidden from you (out of frame).

It's being described as a head scratcher, but it's actually a pretty straightforward story about ageing, regret, memories, and the fantasies of someone before they end their life.

Great performances all around, but particularly Jessie Buckley, outstanding. Kermode and Mayo found it annoying, I'm sure many will. But it's exactly what I want from someone like Charlie Kaufman.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2020, 01:11:40 PM »
I couldn't help comparing it to the book and I felt the last half hour was absolute piss. Its so much tighter in the novel. It lost a lot of its impact. Loved it up to that point.

Im generally a fan of Kaufman too.

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2020, 08:46:48 PM »
I normally really like Kaufman and Synecdoche, New York is one of my favourite films, but I just felt extremely frustrated by this. The first seventy minutes were quite fascinating but once they left his parents house I became increasingly bored by their conversation (Kael's review of A Woman Under the Influence is a work I'm familiar with but didn't find it being repeated here was of interest) and surely everyone knows that the Baby, It's Cold Outside song is horribly rapey. Then the final half hour just annoyed, some of the imagery was impressive but I was left completely confused by it.

Still, thankfully this gentleman has come along to help...

It's being described as a head scratcher, but it's actually a pretty straightforward story about ageing, regret, memories, and the fantasies of someone before they end their life.

All of which makes a lot of sense, but even having had it explained I'm not finding my opinion of the film has changed though. Also, if it was all about his (often unreliable) memories and fantasies, how come we heard so much of her internal monologue? And why was she so disturbed and distressed at certain points when at his parents house? And what was the whole weird dog thing about?

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2020, 09:21:52 PM »
There were a lot of things in the film which I would struggle to explain (the playset they pass by is something I've been pondering). For me, it's the setting, the performances, odd little scenes, and the general feeling/tone of the film which I enjoyed more than the story itself or meaning behind it. It was the closest I've felt while watching a film to having a vivid dream. Things just appearing and disappearing randomly, things not looking quite right, voices appearing from nowhere, all the while just going along with it like it's normal ("Lucy" doesn't seem bothered by the parents' ages changing) until you wake up and think back on it.


All of which makes a lot of sense, but even having had it explained I'm not finding my opinion of the film has changed though. Also, if it was all about his (often unreliable) memories and fantasies, how come we heard so much of her internal monologue? And why was she so disturbed and distressed at certain points when at his parents house? And what was the whole weird dog thing about?

My take: The internal monologue is purely the janitor's internal monologue (it's apparently spelled out more explicitly at the end of the book). He only saw her briefly but he's spent his life conjuring up all these different scenarios in his head about what she thought of him (most likely she never thought about him, he was just another guy in a bar), what she might have thought of him if they'd have gotten together, how they'd have interacted, how his parents would have reacted to her, etc. Everything she does or says, or how she reacts, is him or how he imagined she would be in those situations, or a combination of both (as in the picture on the wall which is both of them). When we create characters for people we don't really know, in our own heads, we tend to give them some of the same attributes and feelings, and ways of reacting, that we have. He's basically invented this person based on seeing her in a bar, but it's really him. His parents were probably not that weird, he was just very neurotic about what a potential girlfriend would think, as I think most of us are to some degree.

The award thing at the end (lifted pretty much from A Beautiful Mind) is just him idealising the end of his life, with all these people he wished he'd known cheering him on, based on something he saw in a movie.

Haven't a clue about the dog though...


I can definitely understand people not liking, or even hating the film, but it just really hit the spot for me.

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2020, 09:45:20 PM »
There were a lot of things in the film which I would struggle to explain (the playset they pass by is something I've been pondering). For me, it's the setting, the performances, odd little scenes, and the general feeling/tone of the film which I enjoyed more than the story itself or meaning behind it. It was the closest I've felt while watching a film to having a vivid dream. Things just appearing and disappearing randomly, things not looking quite right, voices appearing from nowhere, all the while just going along with it like it's normal ("Lucy" doesn't seem bothered by the parents' ages changing) until you wake up and think back on it.

My take: The internal monologue is purely the janitor's internal monologue (it's apparently spelled out more explicitly at the end of the book). He only saw her briefly but he's spent his life conjuring up all these different scenarios in his head about what she thought of him (most likely she never thought about him, he was just another guy in a bar), what she might have thought of him if they'd have gotten together, how they'd have interacted, how his parents would have reacted to her, etc. Everything she does or says, or how she reacts, is him or how he imagined she would be in those situations, or a combination of both (as in the picture on the wall which is both of them). When we create characters for people we don't really know, in our own heads, we tend to give them some of the same attributes and feelings, and ways of reacting, that we have. He's basically invented this person based on seeing her in a bar, but it's really him. His parents were probably not that weird, he was just very neurotic about what a potential girlfriend would think, as I think most of us are to some degree.

The award thing at the end (lifted pretty much from A Beautiful Mind) is just him idealising the end of his life, with all these people he wished he'd known cheering him on, based on something he saw in a movie.

Haven't a clue about the dog though...


I can definitely understand people not liking, or even hating the film, but it just really hit the spot for me.

Thanks for that, it's hugely appreciated and does make a lot of sense. I really wish I didn't feel so frustrated by the film as well, as like I mentioned above, for the first 70 minutes I was really enjoying it, but after that I started struggling with it. Perhaps it's one of those times that the second time I watch a movie I'll enjoy it a lot, lot more though, especially now that I know what the hell was going on.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2020, 10:15:34 PM »
Absolutely. Yeah maybe give it another go. I'm going to give it a rewatch at some point to see how much it gels with my thoughts on it.

Just remembered the Pauline Kael book in his bedroom, and her turning into Pauline Kael for a bit in the car later, reciting excerpts from her review of A Woman Under the Influence. I'm guessing an example of him putting aspects of his literary heroes into the personality of his idealised woman.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2020, 10:02:57 PM »
I also lurched from adored to indifference by the last act. But loved it deeply when it was excellent.

It wasn't glaringly obvious to me either what was going on so I'll avoid the spoilers above and probably rewatch or read the novel. My brain just disintergrates after 20 scenes of oscillating magic realism, much as I enjoy the writing and perfomances.

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2020, 09:48:54 AM »
I can't honestly say that I enjoyed the experience of watching this but I did enjoy reading up on all the allusions and intertextual references the next day, and it's testament to its quality I suppose that I was inclined to do that, but nevertheless I had absolutely no idea what was going on 'in the moment'.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2020, 01:06:11 PM »
Very interesting reading people's thoughts and reactions.

There were some excellent moments but I'm not convinced it hangs together well enough to sustain the 2 hours. By the last third, after they leave the ice cream parlour, I was zoning out entirely. It felt like a great episode of an anthology series stretched out to film length.

The cast were all great and the sinister atmosphere was brilliant, but sadly I appreciated it a lot more than I enjoyed it. Great to hear people loving it though as it's clearly a well-made piece.

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2020, 01:31:25 PM »
It's certainly not my favourite Kaufman film, but there is still lots to enjoy in this. But I'm a sucker for these kind of dream-logic films where things aren't quite right, it's why I love David Lynch's work so much.

I think this could have done with maybe 20 minutes cutting off though, as it does begin to meander towards the end.

Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons both excellent too.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2020, 02:59:06 AM »
Put me in the camp of "loving bits of it, not loving it as a whole". Also in the camp of it being at least half an hour too long.

The stuff once they get to the house with Toni Collette and David Thewlis is really, really good. Great acting and directing, loads of little flourishes and micro-expressions going on all the time. Uncomfortable/surreal family dinners are hardly new territory, but this was up there with the best of them.

Sadly, that's about where it peaked. The chats in the car became extremely tiresome - even with the conceit of the reveal, it's hard to justify much of the latter portion of those scenes (the Santa Baby bit being especially Buzzfeedy). I have to assume that was all from the book, as I can't bring myself to think Kaufman himself found that chatter profound or even mildly interesting in any way, but that's certainly how it was presented.

After that, it was a series of "sequences". Some of them were nice in and of themselves (the interpretive dance and animated pig bits, sure), but it didn't really hang together. Having not read the book, it did require some additional reading to make proper sense of it, which I would argue is a failure of the film itself (although that's a long argument for another day).

7/10 or something like that.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2020, 12:38:02 PM »
I enjoyed this a lot, the parents were priceless.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2020, 10:09:04 AM »
I enjoyed the atmosphere of the opening hour and a bit and I thought Toni Collette and David Thewlis as the parents were brilliant.
Matt Daemon was OK but Jessie Buckley irritated the tits off me for some reason.

It wasn't what I thought it was going to be. We had to watch a 30 minute breakdown of the film and I still don't really get it. I am quite thick though.


shagatha crustie

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2020, 11:09:36 PM »
Can't really say I enjoyed this. There were some bits I really liked, but it seemed to be trying to do so many clever things that it all added up to nothing. Probably plenty to puzzle over and fit together with a rewatch but I really can't imagine sitting through that again. The car dialogue scenes particularly were excruciatingly boring, and the discussion of Kael, Debord, DFW etc felt arch and smug, keeping the audience out rather than drawing them into something deeper.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2020, 04:08:38 AM »
As practically everyone else has said, I liked everything up until they left the house but from then on it was pretty hard going. I haven’t seen A Beautiful Mind in over a decade, never seen Oklahoma and had never heard of Kael’s infamous “Woman Under The Influence” review, so the references all passed me by until I read about them afterwards.

I’ve read what Kaufman has said about the ice cream shop scene, but I still don’t understand why one of the girls is distressed and says “you don’t have to move forwards” or whatever. If it’s all in the Janitor’s head why would that happen?

*haven’t seen that either

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2020, 10:37:56 AM »


I’ve read what Kaufman has said about the ice cream shop scene, but I still don’t understand why one of the girls is distressed and says “you don’t have to move forwards” or whatever. If it’s all in the Janitor’s head why would that happen?


I think it makes sense in terms of the characters being vessels for his inner monologue, but it's too vague a statement for me to know what it really means. Just another voice in his head (like we all have at some point) trying to give him advice. "Don't kill yourself"? "Stay in the past"?

I'm guessing this is the interview you're talking about

https://www.indiewire.com/2020/09/charlie-kaufman-explains-im-thinking-of-ending-things-1234584492/

neveragain

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Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2020, 12:54:08 PM »
Found it hard-going once they got to the school and - having read a synopsis of the novel - I don't think the story is relayed very clearly, or consistently (e.g. ice cream parlour bit). This could be considered a strength if you wish, which I sort of do. Most of the film was very enjoyable, atmospheric and intriguing. Unlike most viewers I loved the long dialogue scenes in the car (at points reminding me of Beckett in rhythm - in fact, it felt like the parents would never show up, though that really would have been a shame) and in particular the bit where she suddenly changed her character into a film lecturer.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #25 on: Yesterday at 04:13:07 AM »
Wow could not disagree with you all more. This is maybe my second favourite Charlie Kaufman movie now, and the third act (after they leave the house) is easily the best part. Incredible movie.

Five bags of popcorn (and maybe throw in a little pair of opera glasses for CaB to get its eyes fixed)

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #26 on: Yesterday at 04:21:06 AM »
There were a lot of things in the film which I would struggle to explain (the playset they pass by is something I've been pondering). For me, it's the setting, the performances, odd little scenes, and the general feeling/tone of the film which I enjoyed more than the story itself or meaning behind it. It was the closest I've felt while watching a film to having a vivid dream. Things just appearing and disappearing randomly, things not looking quite right, voices appearing from nowhere, all the while just going along with it like it's normal ("Lucy" doesn't seem bothered by the parents' ages changing) until you wake up and think back on it.

My take: The internal monologue is purely the janitor's internal monologue (it's apparently spelled out more explicitly at the end of the book). He only saw her briefly but he's spent his life conjuring up all these different scenarios in his head about what she thought of him (most likely she never thought about him, he was just another guy in a bar), what she might have thought of him if they'd have gotten together, how they'd have interacted, how his parents would have reacted to her, etc. Everything she does or says, or how she reacts, is him or how he imagined she would be in those situations, or a combination of both (as in the picture on the wall which is both of them). When we create characters for people we don't really know, in our own heads, we tend to give them some of the same attributes and feelings, and ways of reacting, that we have. He's basically invented this person based on seeing her in a bar, but it's really him. His parents were probably not that weird, he was just very neurotic about what a potential girlfriend would think, as I think most of us are to some degree.

The award thing at the end (lifted pretty much from A Beautiful Mind) is just him idealising the end of his life, with all these people he wished he'd known cheering him on, based on something he saw in a movie.

Haven't a clue about the dog though...


I can definitely understand people not liking, or even hating the film, but it just really hit the spot for me.

I think you've nailed it here, El Unicornio.

As for things like the playset by pass (or the voice on the phone), to me that suggested that while this is all a sort of fantasy it is not the fantasy of a mentally well man, and that as a result he does not have complete control over what happens in the fantasy. Little imperfections or nightmarish elements are slipping through.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #27 on: Yesterday at 04:24:41 AM »
I can't bring myself to think Kaufman himself found that chatter profound or even mildly interesting in any way, but that's certainly how it was presented.

I've seen this sort of criticism in other reviews, but to me it completely misses the entire premise of the movie. It's not supposed to be profound, it's in essence the lonely janitor's fantasy of an intellectual conversation.

Re: i'm thinking of ending things - upcoming Charlie Kaufman film
« Reply #28 on: Yesterday at 07:10:06 PM »
I've seen this sort of criticism in other reviews, but to me it completely misses the entire premise of the movie. It's not supposed to be profound, it's in essence the lonely janitor's fantasy of an intellectual conversation.

I understand that excuse, and considered it myself once the film ended, but it's just not there in the presentation. Nothing really undermines or undersells or underanythings those long exchanges without the audience assuming "this must all be in the head of a pseud", and I'd argue the ending revelation doesn't do much to retroactively forgive them either.

For an (admittedly quite lazy) comparison; imagine you had a main character (sympathetic narrator, audience avatar) who spent most of the movie talking utter bollocks about phrenology or why David Irving is rad, but then in the last minute you discover that they're aaactually a character inside the head of someone else who may be a massive bigot - it might excuse it narratively, but you've still just watched a film which spends 90% of its runtime presenting that chatter as cool. It'd make you wonder a bit about the writer, at the very least.

I think it's a complicated thing to handle in storytelling - deliberate badness, poor dialogue etc. There's a very fine line to tread, and I think this film fell on the wrong side of it (if that was indeed the intention). I don't know how it was dealt with in the book, mind you, so I can't pin it all on Kaufman.

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