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Non-Review Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

“There is no objective reality,” explains Jake late in I’m Thinking of Ending Things. “You know there’s no colour in the universe, right? Only in the brain.”

This seems to be as close to a thesis statement at I’m Thinking of Ending Things dares to offer. Charlie Kaufman’s latest work is a dense and surrealist exploration of the fragility of memory and identity, and the blurred boundaries that exist between the inside and the outside. The story is relatively simple. A young woman accompanies her boyfriend on a trip to have dinner with his parents. She needs to get home, but there is a snow storm. As the couple journey into rural America, things begin to slowly but surely unravel.

Snow escape.

There’s been an abundance of cinema recently about the collapse of time and reality, the sense of a universe folding into itself – Palm Springs, TENET, Bill and Ted Face the Music. These films are made all the more uncanny for having been produced long before the current global pandemic unravelled our sense of space and time, but seem to speak perfectly to it. That anxiety that all of history is happening at once and that “cause” and “effect” are unmoored as reality itself contorts and bends.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things stands apart from these other films, as one might expect of a Charlie Kaufman project. I’m Thinking of Ending Things has a greater interiority. The film seems to unfold in vast snowy wilderness, but it seems just as accurate to suggest that it unfolds in the writer’s imagination. Perhaps it isn’t time and reality that contort, but simply the protagonist’s understanding of these concepts. Then again, do these ideas exist in some absolute and objective form somewhere, or are they just concepts that people label so as to feel more comfortable?

Table discussion for later.

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Non-Review Review: Anomalisa

This film was (almost) seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

Anomalisa is a heartbreaking tale of isolation and loneliness, an affecting drama about living in a world that feels illusory.

Directed by Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman, from Kaufman’s screenplay adapted from his own stageplay, most of the discussion of Anomalisa has focused upon its unconventional production. The movie was essentially crowdsourced, as the space allocated in the closing credits to the project’s kickstarter backers will attest. However, Anomalisa is also a stop motion production, painstakingly and meticulously filmed using life-like dolls to tell a sad story about adultery and anomie.


In some respects, this fascination with form makes sense. After all, Anomalisa is a very human and grounded story. Even allowing for the difficulty that Kaufman had fundraising for the project, it would likely have been more practical to realise the story with living performers in a more conventional style. However, the distinctive technique provides a powerful emotional weight to Johnson and Kaufman’s story. The relative banality of the illusion is very much the much the point.

Anomalisa is not so much a story about fantasy as it is about a disconcerting sense of unreality.


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Stuck in the Moment: The Mood for a (Particular) Movie…

I’ve been thinking a bit, lately, about how I form an opinion about a particular film. Of course, it should be somewhat objective. I should be able to take out any possibly subjective influences and divorce a movie from any of those countless outside factors, to judge it entirely on its own merits. (Or, as the case might be, its lack of merits.) However, I am honest enough to admit that this isn’t always the case. There are any number of reasons I might feel a particular way about the movie. I find J. Edgar interesting to place in the context of Clint Eastwood’s body of work. I approached Cabin of the Woods with an admitted fondness for cheesy horror. I’ll admit that these facets colour my opinions somewhat – I am more likely to respond to a film that resonates with me on something I feel strongly about.

However, sometimes that influence factor isn’t anything to do with the movie in question at all. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder, whether my opinion is down to something as arbitrary as the mood I was in when I watched the film.

I will not have my tastes subjected to this sort of double-guessing!

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Right In Time: Are Some Concepts Just Too Silly For Movies?

I think it’s happened to all of us at some point. We see a poster for a film, or the start of a trailer that looks fascinating – all the right talent is involved to grab our attention, the technical stuff looks well-executed, it’s stylish and smart… and then we catch the plot of the film. It’s a plot that kind of makes us pause, drawing an almost unconscious, “huh?” from our collective lips. Maybe we read it twice to try to make some sense out of it, but there’s no joy. It still sounds as absolutely and impossibly silly as it did when we first read of the plot. It has happened to me quite a few times over the years, as I’ve found myself wondering how the hell such a concept could work on the big screen. I’ll confess, it happened when I read the plot summary for In Time, directed by Andrew Niccol, which drew this appropriate response

More at The Shiznit...

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Non-Review Review: Adaptation

I sit down. I stare at the screen. I have to write a review. I probably shouldn’t. What do I say? I mean, do I get the film, do I understand it? It’s all very meta-fictional and heavy, a little too meta-fictional perhaps. I pause. Did I just type the words “a little too meta-fictional”? I read back up a line. I did. I sigh. Reviewing Charlie Kaufman is hard work. Reviewing Adaptation is really hard. Why can’t I review something simple, you know with gunfights and car chases and a standard three-act structure? Yeah, something bland, something boring.

Hm. I could really use a line break here.

I could make a pun about brothers here, but that's a bit trite, isn't it?

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