Recent General News
Charlie to adapt "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" for Netflix
Charlie's attached to write and direct an adaptation of Iain Reid's novel I'm Thinking of Ending Things for Netflix. Says Deadline:
The story follows Jake on a road trip to meet his parents on their secluded farm with his girlfriend who is thinking of ending things. When Jake makes an unexpected detour, leaving her stranded, a twisted mix of palpable tension, psychological frailty, and sheer terror ensues. (Source)
Charlie will be producing it alongside Anthony Bregman (who also produced Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine and Synecdoche, New York) and Stefanie Azpiazu.
Our own Chris Evangelista read this book last fall. He called it a “pitch-perfect exercise in ever-mounting dread,” and says that it has the “strange, ghastly, borderline manic feel” normally seen in the work of David Lynch. Echoing those sentiments, the official Amazon review for the book says “each successive chapter the suspense and psychological buzz gets more intense. It’s like a movie where you almost want to turn away, but of course you can’t.” (Source)
They also offer up the book's trailer:
Big thanks to J. Daniel Shaffer for the heads up!
Horse Scents: a short story and art by Charlie's dad, Myron Kaufman
Stumbled across this today via an old Huffington Post blog. It's a 2011 short story written and illustrated by Myron Kaufman, with an introduction from Charlie. Horse Scents "is the offbeat story of a man who falls in love with a horse."
The story starts like so:
“If homosexuals are allowed to marry, the next thing liberals will want is to marry horses.”
“That is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard,” I lied to my Aunt Lotte. She looked at me with a smirk, knowing, as I did, that she had me on the run. Maybe she was right.
But how would I know what “liberals” would want next. I think of myself as a liberal and some think of me as a horse’s ass, but do liberals, in general, have some secret connection to horses? I think, maybe some do. I’m afraid that this liberal may have an “unnatural” feeling towards horses—female horses, thank God. (Source)
And Charlie's intro starts like so:
When I was a little kid, I would watch my father playing with his toast crumbs on the breakfast table. He’d push the crumbs into interesting designs. My father was always artistic. He painted, he made sculptures from found objects, he fingered toast crumbs. I loved watching him do it: focused, creative, driven, even at breakfast.
A few years ago, I mentioned the toast crumb memory to him. I wanted to tell him how much his daily ritual had meant to me. He was quiet for a moment. It didn’t elicit the, “Oh, yeah! I forgot all about that! I used to love doing that!” I had expected. Instead, he finally said something like, “I was probably feeling trapped and trying to distract myself.” I was floored. I hadn’t gotten that at all from watching him. To me it was just another example of the wonderfulness of my dad, the most eccentric and educated father in our blue collar neighborhood, an example of his boundless creativity: toast crumb art. Suddenly it was something else entirely.
You can see a little more of Myron's work at the Offramp Gallery site.
Too Funny To Fail: a Dana Carvey Show documentary
Before Charlie Kaufman was Charlie freaking Kaufman, he was writing for TV, and one of the shows he worked on was The Dana Carvey Show. Also in the writers' room were Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and Louis C.K.
There's a new documentary on Hulu about the show--Too Funny To Fail--and while I doubt that Charlie makes an appearance (only his high school year book photo's in the trailer--same one that's on this website), it still might be worth watching. (I have no idea how long it'll be available. I got onto this late and have no clue about Hulu.)
A.V. Club has a good write up on the show and the doco.
How does a sketch show featuring some of comedy’s most brilliant minds become “one of the most spectacular failures in all of television history”? How does a series starring one of the most popular comedians on the planet alienate his fan base so swiftly and decisively that his career never fully recovers? And finally, is there some inversely proportional relationship between complete fiasco and eventual cult worship? These are some of the questions posed by the amusing, appropriately niche Hulu documentary Too Funny To Fail, although the more direct one is this: How did The Dana Carvey Show—arguably the most daring, prescient, talent-stacked sketch comedy to ever hit American network television—become such a massive flop? (Source)
SCOOP: Charlie writes adaptation of "Orion and the Dark"
Here's something I haven't seen reported anywhere else, so... consider this a BCK exclusive? Charlie has written an adaptation of Orion and the Dark, Emma Yarlett's 2014 children's picture book. The book's description on the author's site:
Orion is afraid of more or less EVERYTHING, but there is one thing that scares him more than anything else... Join Orion on an adventure as he faces his BIGGEST and finds out it's... friendly! (Source)
You can see illustrations from the book on that site. In print it's 40 pages, but the screenplay is 122, so we're talking about an adaptation that is both very loose and very expansive--Kaufman's Orion describes himself as having "a Cluster C disorder, which includes feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, extreme worry about negative evaluation." Which is not very kids'-picture-book-like. It's a Kaufmanesque script if ever there was one, with stories-inside-stories and characters travelling through dreams and things looping back on themselves and whatnot.
Presumably this is intended to be an animated feature, because it's crossed a desk or two at Dreamworks' animation division. The first draft is dated December 2016.
More than that I do not know.
Okay. I may have figured out this "Chaos Walking" thing.
Quick re-cap: Charlie says "I'm not involved with that any more. I did the first draft." Film sites are still listing him as one of the movie's many writers.
Well, listen, man. I have super reliable confirmation from a source that Charlie is listed as the writer on the first draft's title page, in a later draft the title page reads "Original draft by Charlie Kaufman, Previous draft by Jamie Linden, Current draft by Patrick Ness," and that Ness' draft does not resemble Charlie's version at all. (Also, Ness was less than keen on making any changes to his own adaptation of his book A Monster Calls.)
So I'd say we're almost certainly not seeing any of Charlie's work once this one hits the screen, 2 years from now.
The artist who spent his career painting from 1 to 5607249
In 1965, Polish artist Roman Opałka hung a 196 × 135 cm canvas in his Warsaw studio. In the top left corner he painted a tiny numeral 1, then a 2, and so on until he had filled the canvas with numbers. Then he put up a new canvas and continued where he had left off. He called these images “details”; all of them had the same size and the same title, 1965 / 1 – ∞.
He vowed to spend the rest of his life on the project. “All my work is a single thing,” he said, “the description from number one to infinity. A single thing, a single life. … The problem is that we are, and are about not to be.”
At the start he painted white numbers on a black background, but in 1972 he began gradually to lighten the black with each detail, saying that his goal was “to get up to the white on white and still be alive.” He expected that this would happen when he reached 7777777 … but at the time of his death, in 2011, he’d got only as far as 5607249. (Source)
Chaos Walking gets 2019 release date
Lionsgate has set a March 1, 2019, release date for the science-fiction adventure “Chaos Walking,” starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley.
Doug Liman is directing while Allison Shearmur and Doug Davison are producers. The screenplay will be written by Patrick Ness, Charlie Kaufman and John Lee Hancock.
The film is based on Patrick Ness’s “Chaos Walking: The Knife of Never Letting Go,” a book that was published in 2008 as the first in a trilogy. It is set in a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts. (Source)
More plot info at the link. Meanwhile, Hollywood Reporter adds a fourth writer to the mix while leaving out Ness and Hancock:
Osar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman worked on the script for Chaos Walking, as did Jamie Linden (Money Monster). (Source)
This is despite Charlie saying last August "I'm not involved with that any more. I did the first draft." I have been confused about his involvement in this film (is he writing it? is he not? is he co-writing it? did he do a couple of drafts and now he's no longer on board?) for a looong time. No idea how much of the film will be Charlie's work, but it seems like we can confirm that some of it is?
Pinch of salt: Charlie still attached to "Chaos Walking"?
A while back, Charlie was scripting an adaptation of The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first book in Patrick Ness' YA trilogy, Chaos Walking. In 2014, though, Variety reported that Charlie was out and Jamie Linden had taken over the writing. Now, Deadline are talking as if Charlie's still on board:
Doug Liman has backed out of directing Warner Bros’ Justice League Dark, the film that was to be a cog in the studio’s DC Universe of movies. The move is not surprising, as Liman’s schedule is officially tied up for the time being: As we reported, Lionsgate is moving forward with the Daisy Ridley-Tom Holland movie Chaos Walking based on Patrick Ness’ YA novel, with a franchise play being eyed and Liman at the helm. It is now in preproduction and is currently on offer at the Cannes market, and Liman is moving along with it.
[...] Ness is co-writing the screenplay with John Lee Hancock and Charlie Kaufman. Allison Shearmur and Doug Davison are producing. (Source)
I suspect they're wrong, but it could be that Charlie's now re-attached. In August last year at Karlovy, Charlie said "I'm not involved with that any more. I did the first draft." (That's an hour-long video. He talks about Chaos Walking around the 45:45 mark. The whole clip's worth watching if you've never seen it!)
Watch the mesmerizing Kaufmanesque trailer for a game about Everything.
Everything, a new game for PS4, is the creation of David OReilly, the artist behind Mountain (a 'mountain simulator') who also did some work for Spike Jonze's Her. The game's 11-minute trailer, reminiscent of something Charlie might come up with, makes a pretty great short film by itself. The voice-over comes from a lecture by British philosopher Alan Watts.
Everything is an [sic] narrated sandbox in which everything you see is a thing you can be, from animals to planets to galaxies and beyond. Travel between outer and inner space, and explore a vast, interconnected universe of things without enforced goals, scores, or tasks to complete. (Source)
Reviews are just starting to come in, and Polygon gives it 9/10.
Bonus trivia gleaned from Wikipedia: in 2008 OReilly created a series of hand-drawn animated Youtube videos about a character called Octocat.
In an interview he said "I wanted to try experimenting with the Youtube audience and Microsoft Paint. The story for Octocat came to me by reading the bible word-for-word backwards'. (Source)
Thanks to Garrison!
Charlie wins MacDowell Fellowship
Charlie is among 74 winners of a MacDowell Fellowship, which was granted to artists across 7 disciplines by the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire
The fellows will take part in residencies at the artist colony.
[...] They will join colleagues in the fields of architecture, music composition, film and video, poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing, and visual and interdisciplinary arts.
The fellowships, each with an average value of $10,000, were awarded from among a pool of 732 applications received between July and September 2016. A panel of professionals in each discipline picked Fellows based solely on their talent, and Fellows are provided a private studio for a period of up to eight weeks, accommodations, and three meals a day. (Source)
You can read more about the Fellowship and its winners at the link.
Charlie's work among BBC's greatest films of 21st century
The BBC's list of the 21st century's greatest 100(ish) movies (so far) was made in consultation with 177 international film critics. Charlie's work makes an appearance not once, but twice--and the second of his two films on the list is somewhat surprising but very cool.
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
22. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
21. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)
20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)
18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009) (Source)
With Synecdoche, New York garnering such mixed reviews upon release, it's great that the movie is thought of so highly by so many, eight years later.
Thanks to Tram for the heads up.
Criterion Collection interviews CK @ Karlovy Vary
Here's a fun little interview with Charlie. Areas covered: Charlie's first big crush; making films in a graveyard as a kid; not doing Hitchcock cameos; favourite dramatists; Barton Fink.
What is your earliest film memory from your childhood in New York?
I think The Sound of Music was the first movie I saw in a theater, in Long Island. I fell in love with Julie Andrews, and she was my first big crush. Especially for a little kid, there’s something very maternal about her.
Have you never been tempted to do a Hitchcock and make a small cameo in one of your films?
Both times I worked with Spike Jonze, he tried to get me to do that. But no, I wouldn’t do it, it’s too nerve-wracking! (Source)
Alas, there's no mention of any upcoming Kaufman releases from Criterion.
Thanks to Tram and Tim!
Video: Charlie on zombie ants, mind control, consumerism
In the vein of the great short film What I Have To Offer, which was drawn from Charlie's brilliant BAFTA lecture, here's Charlie Kaufman on Zombie Ants, Mind Control & Consumerism, a short film produced by High Existence and "The Unknown". It's accompanied by a good short essay on Kaufman, Hollywood and creativity, which you can read at the link. [As I write this post, that site's offline. I guess it'll be back soon. You can still watch the video here.]
Charlie K and Willem Dafoe to receive honors @ Karlovy Vary Fest.
Via Hollywood Reporter:
The actor will get the Crystal Globe for Contribution to World Cinema, while the screenwriter, director and producer will get the president's award.
[...] Dafoe will receive the fest's highest honor, the Crystal Globe for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema. Kaufman will get the president's award. (Source)
They'll both be present at the festival, which runs from July 1-9. Anomalisa will be screening there, too.
Thanks to Tim!
"Seances" is a different movie every time you watch it
Charlie likes to point out that cinema is essentially a "dead medium": a movie never changes. Once you've seen a movie, that's it--watch it again and it's still the same film, as opposed to a stage play, where no two performances are exactly identical--line deliveries change, accidents happen, props might get moved around, a director might tweak something here or there. That's one reason Kaufman likes to fill his scripts with enough density and enigmatic meaning that you might spot new stuff--or react differently--each time you re-watch one of his movies.
Along comes Guy Maddin, whose experimental film Seances is literally different every time you view it:
Seances, co-created with Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, is experimental cinema for those who like drifting into a madhouse reverie, a strange almost hellishly-inscrutable dream from which there is no waking. It’s an endless hall of mirrors. No escape because there’s no exit.
Technically, Seances is web-based avant-garde cinema art consisting of a large number of short silent films set to music, which are intermixed at random in bits and pieces by computer algorithms. Maddin shot the films, sometimes one each day, at the Phi Centre in Montreal and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, with the participation of actors such as Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, and genre favorite Udo Keir, among many others.
[...] When you click and hold down your cursor it’s as if a roulette wheel is spinning—whatever film is generated is usually a different length, with a title selected apparently at random, with scenes plucked willy-nilly and shown in an order that changes with every viewing. The movie you watch will never be seen by anyone else, nor will it exist after you are finished viewing it. (Source)