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Reply to "MOVIES: What are you watching?"

Speaking of aspect ratio...there's the new Charlie Kaufman film produced by Netflix, i'm thinking of ending things. (itoet from now on, note the no capital letters is his choice.) What thing I've tried to get across when talking about aspect ratio (AR) is that it is among the first choices a director makes. The different aspect ratios are the only way a director can influence his canvas. Obviously in painting the canvas can be any shape or dimensions you'd like, even round, triangular or amorphous. With film you only really have about three choices. 1.85:1 (close to your TV's AR), 2.20:1 (films shot in 70mm which almost doesn't happen anymore, but there were dozens made in the past you will also see it nowadays as a director's choice in many TV series when shot digitally) and 2.35:1 to 2.4:1 (shooting using an anamorphic lens, used in almost all "big screen" action movies and summer blockbusters but will occasionally be used by a director for a different reason.)

There are various reasons a filmmaker would choose one over the other however the primary one is visual. Obvious examples are shooting a western in the widest screen to enhance the feel of the wilderness. So what happens when Netflix makes a deal with that most eclectic of filmmakers, Charlie Kaufman? He wants to make his in 1.33:1, the original aspect ratio of almost all movies until the late 1950s and the shape of your old picture tube TV. Well he's got the clout to do it without worrying about potential fallout from people watching a newly released movie with pillar sidebars. It's interesting to think if Kaufman could have gotten this AR during a normal time of movies going into theatres before streaming. Modern theatres don't even have the side curtains anymore that were used during the transitional days of the 1960s.

This is a movie with very few people and almost an hour of just two people talking in a car. The narrow screen AR helps to enhance the pushing together of these two characters. So it's justified but it also adds to the disturbing quality of this deliberately slow moving story. Both the leads are great. To see Jessie Plemons go from playing that most horrible of creeps on Breaking Bad to this totally opposite person is to see his range. Also you can't help be impressed with Irish actress Jessie Buckley. I first became aware of her from Chernobyl as the pregnant wife of the lead scientist. She is also in this year's Fargo. Also of note is Toni Collette and particularly David Thewis who I still shudder in horror thinking about him in Naked

So the plot? It's a guy taking his girlfriend to meet his parents for the first time, but of course it's Charlie Kaufman so it's really about memory. This is his first film written or directed in 5 years. This is only his third film that he's directed. I found this one more accessible than Synecdoche, New York and I have not see Anomalisa. I would put this at the top of two I've seen that he's directed. And of his screenplays I there is not one I haven't liked and I love: Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (ESOTSM from now on.)  Right after watching itoet I immediately rewatched ESOTSM and found more I liked about it. This too is a movie that needs rewatching. So this is highly recommended but judging by its Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB from now on) rating it will not be liked by many.

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