The abrupt end credit is hilarious. “This movie is dealing with somebody’s experience of absorbing things that they see and how they become part of his psyche,” he said. Yeah, that story sounds almost too neat for its own good, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, nothing in Kaufman’s head-spinning repertoire has begged for answers more than “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” His scripts for “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation” took bizarre labyrinthine paths into the troubled male psyche, a journey he continued with directing efforts “Synecdoche, New York” and “Anomalisa.” In his new Netflix-produced feature, however, Kaufman has built a story steeped in the details of a single troubled mind, and littered it with so many references it practically demands a masterclass in semiotics to parse them all. Wadley’s job on the film was to create a sound for the subconscious. Jake stops at the high school to throw the food cups away. It’s a storytelling gamble unique to the art of cinema: Within the “world” of “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” — one controlled by Kaufman as well as his protagonist — Lucy exists.

Jake takes the young woman to the barn, where he recounts a story about a maggot-infested pig. Kaufman was wary of spelling that out, though. The frames are layered with visual motifs, and the drama is never as literal as it seems — although the horror-ish mode makes it even blurrier. So begins another long car ride. referenced in a way that relies on the viewer to have some knowledge of Oklahoma!. “Then there was this idea that there were many generations of high-school kids who worked there that he had interacted with over the years and had his problems with,” Kaufman said. While “Many a New Day” exists in reality, the performance of “Lonely Room” does not. Ultimately we had to do an original ballet because, when the idea of doing the Oklahoma! I think that was the most interesting aspect of [Kaufman’s] process: Choices are always motivated and validated through some other aspect of the film. When the young woman takes laundry down to the basement, she discovers several identical janitor uniforms in the laundry, and receives another call from the mysterious voice.[3]. They’re like tiny melodic fragments with little textures. According to Kaufman, they’re all references to women that Jake has seen before. I'm Thinking of Ending Things must have been arduous to make, and it's excruciatingly tedious to watch. “That’s one that I’m not as comfortable talking about because it does get to the meat of what the movie I made is about,” he said, but then elaborated anyway. “There’s actually a lot of stuff in the end credits that’s important to me,” Kaufman said. “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” pulls from Canadian writer Iain Reid’s 2016 novel, but Kaufman has taken many liberties with the text, even as the basics of the story remain unchanged: Jake (Jesse Plemons) takes new girlfriend Lucy (Jesse Buckley) on a snowy drive to meet his parents (Toni Collette and David Thewlis). “That goes toward the idea of Jake not being able to have anything that he wants,” Kaufman said.

And so I wanted to continue that sort of thought process with the ballet itself. In the opening sequence of the movie, Jake and Lucy endure an interminable drive up to his parents’ house, while Lucy continues to contemplate leaving him. ; write a 1950s style jingle; write an original ballet; write a movie within a movie, a rom-com score — it was sort of a wonderful sort of exercise in and of itself. Polygon spoke to the classically trained musician about Kaufman’s musical vision for I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and how it speaks to the greater themes of the film.

But I'm Thinking of Ending Things is one of the most daringly unexpected films of the year, a sinewy, unsettling psychological horror, saturated with a squirming dream logic that tips over into the domain of nightmares. He’s like, “Lucy turns the corner walks down the hallway sees Jake, their representations come and stand behind them, they switch places, they run toward each other and perform pas de deux.” So I’m just kind of imagining all of these things and then timing it out and thinking how long it will take. But I was listening to a ton of Debussy, a ton of Ravel, a ton of Stravinsky, studying the the orchestration of The Firebird, so that when I actually got to that point, because I did the orchestration on it, I could do it as authentically as possible. I did feel a lot of pressure coming into this, obviously, loving Charlie’s films a lot, and loving the scores to Charlie’s films. “He had this opinion about that movie, and then failed. Knowing the music in I’m Thinking of Ending Things is so vital, where did writing begin for you? Actually, that’s another pretty straightforward one. Having finished his shift, the janitor suffers a mental breakdown and begins to hallucinate visions of Jake's parents as well as an animated Tulsey Town jingle.

Zemeckis wasn’t even in Kaufman’s original version of the script. Like you said, it kind of dips its toes in it, but it really never fully commits to anything of a horror genre, so we were trying to steer pretty clear that it was mostly keeping it pretty textural and ambient weird. Fine, but that still doesn’t mean she’s a real person. I’m sure we, movie-watching people, will endlessly debate whether it’s a “horror movie” or not.

In the final shot, a vehicle is covered in snow in the school parking lot. “It’s an intentional thing, the way it plays out.”, Exhausted? Like Charles Foster Kane whispering “Rosebud” from his bed, janitor-Jake sees tidbits from his youth in the windshield, including the animated “Tulsey Town Ice Cream” ad referenced earlier.

Jake, and his world, this life he didn’t live, the achievements he didn’t have, he’s taking from these other things and appropriating them for his own narrative. Then I didn’t end up moving forward with it, and neither did he.”. The compositions, location, setting all feel like recreations. So there’s always this circular motivation to all the things that he chose to do in the film. The final scenes of I’m Thinking of Ending Things find a janitor (Guy Boyd), revealed indirectly to be an aged version of Jesse Plemons’ character Jake, … But Zemeckis was initially interested in taking it on. Or maybe Ravel? I'm Thinking of Ending Things was released in select theaters on August 28, 2020, and on Netflix on September 4, 2020. But it’s actually been brought in by this character Jake and reinterpreted to make his own alternative reality. Kaufman hopes that people keep watching through the credits, which list many of the references throughout the movie. I had to produce a couple songs from the musical Oklahoma! That sort of unrequited love was part of why he integrated it into that. In fact, the entire sequence has been built to resemble the conclusion of the 2001 movie. “So this was in some ways how this person might have fantasized it out.”, Of course, there may be more to this: End credits claim that the speech was lifted with permission of the studio, but Kaufman played no role in that. The ending of Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a grand, surreal crescendo that’s likely to leave even the most open-hearted movie-watcher wondering: What does it all mean? His stuff is generally more high-concept, but it’s possible, so the joke resonates somehow.” He asked the director for permission to include the reference, and Zemeckis is thanked in the credits. He undresses and walks back inside the school, being led by another hallucination of a maggot-infested pig who tells him that he and his ideas are one and the same, and that he should get dressed. They’re in the background, they’re in the foreground. Yep, more of “Oklahoma!” Sitting down on a set that looks like a reproduction of his childhood bedroom, he delivers a melancholic rendition of “Lonely Room,” in which Jud declares his intention of marrying Laurey. As this possibility settles in, the couple endure an awkward dinner, then depart for an icy drive home that culminates with a detour to Jake’s high school. Is that…the closing speech from “A Beautiful Mind”?

Fair warning, if that spoiler alert up top hasn’t scared you off yet: “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” benefits from the eerie puzzle-like nature of its design.

Kaufman has been telling interviewers that it happened at random, when his assistant director suggested it after perusing a list of director names online. Why was it a pivotal reference for you and Kaufman? The answer is actually quite simple. In the meantime, the school’s old janitor (Guy Boyd) roams those hallways in a lonely routine, eventually crossing paths with the couple for a surreal climax. It’s something that he would imagine, something that he could have possibly heard, a ballet from someone else, and then is making up. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised the two lead performances and the cinematography. While the young woman buys the dessert, a bruised employee attempts to warn her of something she can't describe. “I let people have their experiences, so I don’t really have expectations about what people are going to think. “I really liked the idea that even within his fantasy, he cannot have what he wants. "[18], Karen Han of Polygon praised the film, writing "The lack of clear answers and structure can be frustrating, but the strange way the story is told enhances just how real the exchanges between characters feel. While talking to the janitor, she reveals that nothing happened between her and Jake on the night they met, instead claiming she was made uncomfortable by Jake staring at her. The ballet is more of what my training is: I studied classical music composition and so I spent a lot of time studying those scores.

After she recites a morbid poem about coming home, they arrive at the farmhouse. Interviews with leading film and TV creators about their process and craft.

"[21], In a more mixed review, Adam Graham of The Detroit News gave the film a "C" grade, praising the performances of both Plemons and Buckley, considering them "excellent", but lamented the film's plot, saying that "I'm Thinking of Ending Things is an unsolvable riddle where the only answer is mankind's hopelessness, and we've been down this road before.

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