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I'm Thinking of Ending Things [Netflix]

  • 25-08-2020 7:57am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,487 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    Sept 4th-
    Our own Jessie Buckley, in a Charlie Kaufman psychological horror film.



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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,186 ✭✭✭ S.M.B.


    This felt like it was forever away but is now only around the corner. Embargo still in place for those who have seen it but am very curious to see the initial reaction. It sounds quite divisive from the tidbits I've gleaned info from.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 199 ✭✭ hayoc


    Looks interesting. I like Jessie Buckley, very compelling screen presence.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,487 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    hayoc wrote: »
    Looks interesting. I like Jessie Buckley, very compelling screen presence.

    I love Jessie Buckley. Great talent.

    re the source material:
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "I'm Thinking of Ending Things is the 2016 debut novel of Canadian writer Iain Reid..The book has been described as a psychological thriller and horror fiction, and is about a young man who takes his girlfriend to see his parents on a remote farm and the disturbing aftermath that follows."

    I've read some of the reviews, and I think I'll read it before I watch it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,186 ✭✭✭ S.M.B.


    Embargo lifted, a lot of positive talk.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,487 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    Half-way through the book; real easy read with lots of lovely observations and turns of phrase, with philosophical musings from Buckley's boyfriend (where physical attributions are nothing like Jesse Plemans'). A couple of weird elements planted in first half, but weirdness factor appearing thick and fast as soon as they get to the parents' house. Seems like the breezy first half belies lots of little details that will take on significance as the weirdness develops. Supposedly good twist at end. Liking the set-up a lot; looking forward to the payoff.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,020 CMod ✭✭✭✭ johnny_ultimate


    Strange, frustrating, and a l’il bit brilliant.

    I’m Thinking of Ending Things is above all else slippery. Places, images, characters shapeshift constantly - combinations of the real and imagined; past and future; the exaggerated and misunderstood. Kaufman’s film is a study in who people are, how they perceive the world, what they take in and how others inspire them. Characters age between edits... sometimes they’re different people entirely. It’s a world perceived through a troubled, uneasy, neurotic mind - whose mind is certainly something open to interpretation.

    As an adaptation, it is faithful in the broadest sense while also very liberal with what it disregards. The book ultimately goes down a *somewhat* more traditional horror route (while still being relatively ambiguous and open-ended), but Kaufman’s take is more interested in the purely psychological stuff
    (most notably abandoning the somewhat pat and genre-adjacent ending of the book).
    But the essence is there: this sense of unease and disquiet, meaning the audience is never quite sure of the ground they’re standing on.

    It’s a looker: the claustrophobic Academy ratio and striking, often snowy production design to me signal Kaufman’s growing confidence as a visual filmmaker. Perhaps a few rough edges still though: a few highly stylised interludes towards the end, for example, lack the dazzling homemade quality of his former collaborator Michel Gondry’s best work. It’s a treat for cinephiles though - including a very, very funny parody jokingly attributed to a named filmmaker, and a tour de force moment from Jessie Buckley where she
    begins reciting the work of Pauline Kael on Cassavette’s A Woman Under The Influence - a moment which also illustrates Kaufman examining the nature of the material he’s working worth.

    Buckley is just tremendous all-in-all, honestly, which is little surprise: what an immensely wonderful performer she is, and this is her meatiest, most challenging and dynamic role yet. Plemons is perfectly cast, while Colette and Thewlis have lots of fun with their two much broader characters.

    The film is not without its challenges. 50% or so is set in a car with two actors talking, so one can lose the thread of some of the conversations and their significance. While I really like the ending, Kaufman’s big surrealist setpieces IMO don’t quite have the creepy power of some of the stuff that inspired him and indeed what he is capable of in smaller, quieter moments. But great production design and wholly committed performances definitely mean there’s plenty to grasp onto even in the weaker moments.

    But overall this is as interesting and ambitious as one would expect from the man, and on the whole it lands precisely where it needs to. It’s funny, unsettling and in the end quite melancholic. It’s Kaufman at his most esoteric in some regards (excepting his recent beast of a novel, which I’ve only just started), but crafted with the confidence and intelligence and wit I definitely expected. It’s not an easy film to watch, but it’s successfully grappling with the sort of ideas and feelings most of us struggle to express or understand. I’m Thinking of Ending Things has no obvious destination, but the snowy road trip is admirably unpredictable.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,487 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    The book is most certainly unpredictable, and quite difficult to pigeon-hole, which is no bad thing. I've read a few reviews that maintain that many readers re-read it after finishing it; its not surprising as it's hard to get a hook on stable ground, with the sense of something sinister just round the corner, but which is never made sense of, 'til the end (well, kind of). Looking forward to seeing how Kaufman interprets and projects this, and dying to see Jessie Buckley show what depth she can display with a role set up for a nuanced performance.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,533 ✭✭✭ limnam


    I love Jessie Buckley. Great talent.

    Have not really came across her. What else is she in worth watching?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,487 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    limnam wrote: »
    Have not really came across her. What else is she in worth watching?
    Film-wise, Beast is well worth a watch. Wild Rose is Sunday evening fare, but she really shows her talent in it (including singing; fabulous voice).
    I first saw her in the War and Peace series, which is actually pretty good, after which she was in Taboo, with Tom Hardy, and then Chernobyl.
    I see she's also in the new Fargo series.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,925 ✭✭✭ kerplun k


    For anyone wondering if this is worth watching? 100% yes.

    Is the film any good? I mean, where do you start? Sometimes. Sometimes it's amazing, and sometimes it's ridiculous.

    During a pandemic when some of us are deprived of cinema, this film is a gift that comes "free" with your Netflix Sub. I'd happily pay to see this in the cinema or VOD.

    I'll spoiler tag the rest because Im going to freely discuss the plot
    The film starts with Jessie Buckleys character, our unnamed narrator. The story is simple enough, she's seeing a nice guy played by a very Philip Seymour Hoffman esque Jesse Plemons as Jake,
    she's unsure about the relationship and is.. "thinking of ending things". Narrator and Jake are going to meet Jakes parents who live on a farm.

    For the first half an hour or so, the film plods along nicely, the narration from Buckley is fantastic, the production design is gorgeous. Buckley and Plemons are excellent together. They carry this thing along for the first hour, the dialogue is interesting, insightful and most of all, entertaining.

    Then they arrive at the farm and from the get go we get the feeling that things are not what they seem, From the moment narrator and Jake get out of the car, something doesn't feel right. Right away we see Mother and she spends an unhealthy amount of time waving down from a dirty window and Jake delaying the introduction to take a tour of the farm.

    As soon as Jake and narrator walk towards the barn, a barn window creepily blows open as they walk past, we also see some terrified goats, some of which have frozen to death, and then we hear the most horrific story about pigs... Oh god, the pigs. Another unnatural amount of time passes as narrator and Jake enter the house and wait to meet their hosts, we hear about a dog named Jimmy and see some scratch marks on the basement door, it's a full on horror show at this point.

    Then we meet the parents, and it's so, so, so good. Both Toni Collette as Mother, and David Thewlis as Father are glorious.
    The creep factor gets dialled all the way up, and we have the most awkward dinner conversation, then in what I would consider one of the highlights of the film, we switch to a school Janitor watching the final scene of a fictional Robert Zemeckis movie, and boy does it look good, followed by a proper end of credits rolling, its hilarious.

    Then we're back to the farmhouse, and things take a turn, it starts with our fabulous foursome sitting down conversing, father is reminiscing about mother in the past tense, its implied that mother is no longer alive, and narrator rests her head on fathers shoulders. For me it's the first real sign of odd behaviour from narrator and is the "aha" moment when I realised our narrator is not all that reliable.

    Things escalate very quickly form here, straight away we're presented with multiple clues that narrator and Jake could be one of the same and maybe suffering from a neurological disorder. Time is no longer sequential, and we drop in and out of random periods of time, eventually showing both mother and father getting older and suffering from dementia.

    Unfortunately, I feel this is the exact point where Charlie Kaufman begins to lose his grip on the film.

    So, At this point I think it's appropriate to take a break from discussing the film, and start delving into the mind of Charlie Kaufman. There's no doubting that he's a tour de force. He has a brilliant mind, and is arguably the best screenwriter of my generation, Adaptation is one of the best films ever made, and personally my favourite movie of all time, his other films are doozies, Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Human Nature. But there's another film in this mix before Kaufman started to direct his own movies. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Kaufman wrote this film and it was directed by George Clooney, and Kaufman was very unhappy with the experience. Here's a quote from Kaufman regarding this move.
    I was upset by the fact that Clooney took the movie from me and then cut me out after that. I'm unhappy with the end result. And I'm unhappy with George Clooney. I had a movie that I wrote and that isn't it. I've always been involved in the process with Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry. If there's any rewriting to do, I do it. But with Clooney it was different; even the end of the movie is different. I mean, Clooney went on forever about how my Confessions screenplay was one of the greatest scripts he'd read. But if someone truthfully felt that way they'd want the person who wrote it to be on board offering their thoughts and criticisms. But Clooney didn't. And I think it's a silly way to be a director.

    I think Kaufmans experience on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind damaged his trust in directors handling his work. Michel Gondry done one further film after this and then Kaufman directed everything himself, this then leads us to Kaufmans directorial debut Synecdoche, New York, a film i watched and was completely perplexed by. While there is no doubting Kaufmans brilliant mind, he has a tendency to go too far into himself when directing his own work, he dosent know how to reign things in when they get out of control, thats why someone like Michel Gondry and to greater effect Spike Jonze, can take Kaufmans work and present it in a more digestible format for dumb dumbs like myself. Okay, you could argue that Kaufman tows the line well with Anomalisa, but in I'm Thinking of Ending Things, he's back to his old tricks.
    So back to I'm Thinking of Ending Things, we're at the midway point, this is where the film becomes so frustrating, the drive home epitomises this, we have both some of the best and worst parts of the film, at this point we have mostly incoherent conversations between narrator and Jake, that honestly feels like work trying to follow, but this is wedged in-between two fantastic scenes, a wonderful piece of acting from Jessie Buckley, all of a sudden smoking a cigarette and a is gives a wonderful analysis on an artistic performance of a random film, and another fantastic piece of dialogue she has with Plemons Jake about the lyrics to Baby, It's Cold Outside.

    Then we make two stops, an ice cream shop, which I won't even pretend that I understood, which is followed by the second stop to the school where the janitor works, the first stop serves the purpose for the second stop as the reasoning for stopping at the school is to discard the ice cream, but in any case, Kaufmans has completely abandoned any notion of a conventional narrative, and going full batsh*t crazy from here, and this is where the film really lost me.

    Jake goes into the school, followed by the narrator, narrator has an odd interaction with the Janitor, it's implied through the Janitors clothing that he may also be another personality of Jake/Narrator. This is followed by an extraordinary ballet sequence in the school, with the ballet dancers resembling Jake, Narrator and Janitor. (I must watch this sequence again because I feel like I missed something)

    The dance sequence is finished, and the Janitor then goes to his car, strips naked, the doomed pig from the earlier shows up in animation form, and converses with Janitor and leads the naked Janitor back into the school. We go back to Jake and he is, all of a sudden accepting a top honour in front of his parents, narrator and peers, who all appear older in really bad makeup.

    The final shot we see the janitors car covered in snow.

    So, this my interpretation of that crazy back half. As discussed, Jake/Narrator/Janitor are the same. In the present Jake is working as a Janitor, Jake is also suffering from a neurological disorder and has suffered an unfortunate upbringing, in essence he is the unlucky pig, some people in this life are born unlucky, and thats him, Luck of the draw. I think the janitor/narrator/Jake "Ends Things".

    In that final scene, and that last shot of the movie, his car is gathering snow because it's been sitting there a while and he's not coming back to it.

    In a way it reminded me a lot of Denis Villeneuves Enemy, both in terms of tone and plot, and I think in the hands of someone like Spike Jonze it could have been something special, thats not to say this wasn't a good film, but i think its time Kaufman started trusting people with his work again.


    I'm off to start a go fund me campaign to get that
    Robert Zemeckis film made :pac:


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,925 ✭✭✭ kerplun k




  • Registered Users Posts: 1,290 ✭✭✭ Beersmith


    The father's English accent was totally out of place


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,533 ✭✭✭ limnam


    Beersmith wrote: »
    The father's English accent was totally out of place


    It was, but it felt very deliberate.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 11,205 Mod ✭✭✭✭ hmmm


    I hated it. Reviewers will love it. People who want to appear intelligent will tell you how much they loved it to emphasise how clever they are. Just because a film is inaccessible does not make it any good.

    It has been compared by some reviewers to "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" which is completely wrong. That movie is fully formed, accessible on multiple levels, and entertaining on every level also.

    If it was shown in some arthouse cinema you'd know what you are getting. Good for a date you want to impress, but you'll never watch it on your own.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,987 ✭✭✭ haphaphap


    I'm not a big fan of the writer/director I saw Buckley, Collette, Plemons and Thewlis so I thought I'd give it a spin.
    Pretentious rubbish with a few core ideas that could have been better explored.
    Don't waste your time on this as there are too many good movies out there in the Universe waiting to be seen.


  • Registered Users Posts: 36 happinessfr


    Watched it yesterday. Didn’t know Jessie Buckley was Irish, incredibly talented.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,533 ✭✭✭ limnam


    hmmm wrote: »
    I hated it. Reviewers will love it. People who want to appear intelligent will tell you how much they loved it to emphasise how clever they are. Just because a film is inaccessible does not make it any good.

    It has been compared by some reviewers to "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" which is completely wrong. That movie is fully formed, accessible on multiple levels, and entertaining on every level also.

    If it was shown in some arthouse cinema you'd know what you are getting. Good for a date you want to impress, but you'll never watch it on your own.


    I thought it was utter tripe.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 1,397 ✭✭✭ CBear1993


    Complete and utter tripe. Was so incredibly bored by the car journey and exited Netflix without hesitation.


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 8,749 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Say Your Number


    The clip of Homer Simpson watching Twin Peaks adequately sums up my feelings on the last half hour of this film.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,533 ✭✭✭ limnam


    The clip of Homer Simpson watching Twin Peaks adequately sums up my feelings on the last half hour of this film.

    Very fitting :pac:


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,875 ✭✭✭ Unearthly


    Absolutely hated it. No idea what was going on half the time. Best part was probably the parents before it went all ageing weird


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,667 ✭✭✭ Irish Aris


    I saw it yesterday and I can understand people hating it. Not an easy film to watch. I guess this is one of the cases that you need to be aware of Kaufmann's style and what he has written before - when he directs too things can get very obscure

    For me there are 2 parts in the film:
    the car scenes and the rest of the scenes
    I didn't care much for the car scenes, I wasn't interested in what they were saying, it was just empty dialogue and they went on for a good 20 minutes each. I think a bit of editing would have helped
    The rest of the film though is very interesting. The scenes with the parents are really weird in a very intriguing way. Again the dialogue isn't much to talk about but the set-up is brilliant. The way Collette and Thewlis are shown through different parts of their lives was very interesting. I like Collette, I think she is a great actress and always a pleasure to see her in a film
    After the second car ride which was a real drag, things hit a new high. The scene in the Ice Cream store is something straight our of the David Lynch playbook. The fact that the place seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, the abstract dialogue, the angles that Kaufmann uses to shoot and the contrast in the lighting reminded me of Lynch's Lost Highway (or even Inland Empire-in fact most of the brilliant last 30 minutes wouldn't be out of place in a Lynch world. The scenes in the school's empty corridors is like an asylum for the insane. And I loved the choreography in the dance scene.

    I will agree with the previous posters. Buckley gives a tour-de-force performance. I don't think I have seen her before. I thought all 4 leading actors gave very good performances but Buckley is really immense.

    In general I agree with kerplunk's assessment that
    the janitor, Jake and the girl are the same person. I thought that this is all in the janitor's head and he reflects on his past life. I think the whole thing is structured well in that aspect.When they start the trip to the parents the girl thinks of ending things and Jake reacts as if he has heard her thought. I didn't consider the meaning at the time (I have completely avoided spoilers before I saw the film) but it stuck with me as a connection. Towards the end an older Jake accepts an award (a Nobel prize maybe?) and goes on to sing a song - I assume from one of the musicals mentioned in the first car ride? The whole feel is one of a person reflecting on their life and their memories - that's why some of them felt poorly constructed as it would be someone's own recollection. It also made me wonder: did the girl ever existed or was it all wishful thinking?

    I reckon this is a film that will benefit from a second viewing. It isn't an easy film to watch and though I liked it I wouldn't whole heartedly recommend it, it''s not for everyone. But I think it could surprise some people that are open to a challenge. Personally it reignited my interest to Charlie Kaufmann: I'm not always a fan of his storytelling (for example I liked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich and Anomalisa but didn't care as much about Adaptation or Human Nature). I think though that this type of storytelling requires a certain mood and some patience and attention to get into it and understand all the details. I haven't seen Synecdoche New York, that now goes to my list.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,925 ✭✭✭ kerplun k


    Irish Aris wrote: »
    The whole feel
    is one of a person reflecting on their life and their memories - that's why some of them felt poorly constructed as it would be someone's own recollection. It also made me wonder: did the girl ever existed or was it all wishful thinking?

    For me there's a few things that suggest that while
    the narrator did exist in her physical form, I think she's also made up of a few women that Jake wanted to approach, but was too self deprecating and shy to do so. A few scenes such as narrator looking into a fractured mirror in the car, having multiple names such as Yvonne, Lucy, etc, leads me to think he's remembering multiple women that he liked, but narrator in her physical form was the one he regrets the most.

    When narrator walks into the school and meets the janitor, she tells him that nothing happened between her and Jake, confirming to me that he was never in a relationship with her.

    Another theory I have is that Jake, has an inability to approach and converse with women, and may at some points, either stalked women, such as the narrator, or had been overzealous in his approach and scaring the women off.

    After watching the film, I thought back to the conversation that Jake had with narrator about lyrics to baby it's cold outside, this leads me to believe that Jake had issues with women, that if he continually stalked, they could be his. At the end he releases the error in his thinking, which contributes to his breakdown.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,574 ✭✭✭ sweetmaggie


    CBear1993 wrote: »
    Complete and utter tripe. Was so incredibly bored by the car journey and exited Netflix without hesitation.



    watched it for 15 minutes and nearly died of boredom. Switched. ;)


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,507 ✭✭✭ billyhead


    Absolute crap. Wasted 2 hours of my life watching this.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,487 ✭✭✭ cdgalwegian


    I mainly wanted to watch this to see Jessie Buckley, and recently finished the book of the film title in advance of the film (it's pretty good). If I hadn't read the book though, I don't think I would have got past the hour mark; I think it would probably come across as "utter tripe" as has been described- as much as I think Jessie Buckley is fantastic (and she really had showed it here), I don't think I could have suffered through.
    I did, however, read the book, which the film pretty much stuck to- except towards the very end, and that ending. Naturally, my interest was kept by virtue of ongoing comparisons, but I really liked Kaufman's style here, augmented by first-rate acting all round, so I carried on.
    Certain sections felt overly long entertainment-wise, but of course they add to the unlocking of the mystery involved. What is involved seemed more evident earlier in the film version, but the ending left me undecided; originally I had thought
    Jake was in a psychiatric institution after killing a woman he was besotted with; he's obviously a fantasist loser with lofty amitions.
    The film's ending though, hints at something that should have been more obvious; staring us in the face, from the pov of the unreliable narrator:
    the narrator- older Jake the janitor- has been thinking of ending things i.e. his life.
    And the story is that of him considering this- frequently, as it happens- as we see the multiple empty cups in the rubbish bin as Buckley's character enters the school).
    The media description used in the first post of the thread as of a 'psychological horror', I think is overstretched (as it does contain a little of that); it's more like the
    Shutter's Island
    mystery conceit, but with an additional clever subterfuge.
    All in all, I wouldn't touch this with a barge-pole unless you go in with a "forewarned is forearmed" amount of knowledge. With that, I was impressed by Kaufman's take on it, and found it an engrossing mystery.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,925 ✭✭✭ kerplun k


    A fantasist loser with lofty ambitions.

    That's a great description of Jake. by the end, he came across as someone who had
    delusions of grandeur

    I can't decide if I feel sorry for him or not.
    It's either that he had
    poor social skills and was misunderstood and just came across as a bit of a creep
    , or he actually did
    overstep the mark and cause someone physical or psychological harm
    .

    But I think kaufman is definitely hinting at
    something more nefarious than Jake just fantasizing about women.


  • Registered Users Posts: 206 ✭✭ deaglan1


    Superb movie IMO.
    To me, it is all about a life, a single life of a very lonely janitor. The whole film revolves around seminal thoughts from within his mind, stream of consciousness, as he flits backwards and forwards in time, his major regret being the lack of a relationship. Clearly he seems to have grown up as an only and lonely child in a somewhat dysfunctional family on a farm - you get the impression that his parents were not really farming stock and did not take to it too successfully. His only sanctuary was his bedroom where he could escape his mundane life through books, film, painting. It would seem that he could not progress beyond high school, probably out of a sense of duty to take care of his parents as they aged and who, perhaps were also mentally unstable. In any event, his work as a janitor in a high school brings him into visual contact with school kids, their cruelties, their school plays, their complete indifference to his existence. All become intertwined into his interpretation of his own life. Finally, either through suicide or sudden illness he succumbs to death, mentally fulfilling in his demise all that had evaded him in his real existence - love, recognition, success.

    There is nothing pretentious in this film - all of the poetical ramblings, all of the monologues are taken directly from real persons speeches or from film - all of them to be found in the various collections in his room that he must have devoured eagerly as a source of pastime and intellectual yearning. We see then that he is an aged and erudite man in a lowly and lonely job, despised and mocked by some of the students. But his study and memory of word craft is expressed through his imagination that is totally private to him. If we were to consider the young couple who deliver these speeches as being real, then these characters and their musings would seem very pretentious, but they are only figments of his mind, a younger he and his idealized girlfriend that never was.
    A very sad movie that relates to the dark recesses of loneliness and a life unfulfilled.


  • Registered Users Posts: 206 ✭✭ deaglan1


    ...


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  • Registered Users Posts: 206 ✭✭ deaglan1


    kerplun k wrote: »
    That's a great description of Jake. by the end, he came across as someone who had
    delusions of grandeur

    I can't decide if I feel sorry for him or not.
    It's either that he had
    poor social skills and was misunderstood and just came across as a bit of a creep
    , or he actually did
    overstep the mark and cause someone physical or psychological harm
    .

    But I think kaufman is definitely hinting at
    something more nefarious than Jake just fantasizing about women.

    Well imo, that is an absolutely terrible description of Jake. He is a genuine soul with nobody to turn to for conversation, friendship, or as a soul mate


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