I'm Thinking of Ending Things

I'm Thinking of Ending Things ½

I'm thinking of ending things. I'm thinking of ending things! I am thinking of ending things. I'm thinking of ending things. I'm thinking of shoving an ice pick into my skull.

Okay, let me take a step back. Charlie Kaufman is a director that I've never had a particularly strong connection to; I liked Synecdoche, New York in high school, but that was before I'd gotten laid. Is that unfair? Maybe. Cruel? I don't know, the more your work focuses on the art of film criticism, the more you're opening yourself up to the harshest of takes; invoking Pauline Kael of all people is opening Pandora's box, paired nicely with the stale "Baby It's Cold Outside" argument we've all been having for the past decade (not to say I'm naive enough to believe the movie has an impassioned stance on the "rapey or not rapey" debate, rather that I don't believe the film cares and just wants to dig it up for the sake of making us groan).

I love surrealism and postmodernism. I love Toni Collette. I love a somber tale of a splintered family reckoning with the few pieces of the past that are still tangible. But whatever drama or horror is invoked here just feels callous; Jake's mother and father are portrayed as unnerving, even downright creepy toward The Young Woman (gag me). This is meant to reinforce her titular dilemma, but it's not as if she does much to indicate that Jake's behavior toward his disabled parents is troubling. Fact is, she rarely communicates anything, choosing instead to drown us in her own anxious inner monologues. I don't date WASPs for a reason, I have no desire to explore that psychological playground of passive aggression.

I watch films to get away from the bleak mundane aspects of everyday life, and at least with a film like, say, A Woman Under the Influence, the powerhouse performances The Young Woman/Kael/Kaufman? so readily deride breathe life and humanity into the very things that destroy us slowly. There's no life here, no hope, no interest in romance beyond being a coat of sugar around the inevitable pain of heartbreak, death, etc. It's staggering how much Cassavetes' work has been referenced recently in work entirely devoid of the deep (and yes, painful) love that was the foundation for what he did, choosing instead to echo his writing only in themes and aesthetics.

To quote no one in particular, "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it."

I am thinking of ending things, this review specifically. I'm tired, it's Valentine's Day, I have chocolate to eat and sex to have.

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