Gary M. Kramer

Charlie Kaufman's exasperating 'I'm Thinking of Ending Things' could've been a masterpiece

Charlie Kaufman's films — "Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation.," and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," which he wrote, and "Synecdoche, New York," and "Anomalisa," which he directed — are cheeky and depressing headscratchers. They feature doppelgangers and time loops that allow the characters (and by extension audiences) to re-evaluate things from different perspectives.

These themes are in evidence once again in his ambitious and curious but not entirely successful new Netflix film, "I'm Thinking of Ending Things." Adapted from Iain Reid's novel, this long (135 minutes), stagy drama has the deceptively simple plot of an unnamed young woman (Jessie Buckley) — call her Louisa, as one character does — going on a road trip with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons) to visit his parents at their farm. But what transpires is far more complicated. Louisa is trapped in liminal space, an emotional state where she is considering breaking up with Jake as the title indicates. She could also very well be contemplating suicide, as the title further suggests.

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'Carter was so humane': 'Desert One' filmmaker on examining the Iran hostage crisis 40 years later

Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple's gripping documentary, "Desert One," provides a new look at the 1980 rescue mission to free the Iran Hostages. The film briskly recounts the history of U.S.-Iran relations, beginning with Imam Khomeini taking power in February 1979. The Shah of Iran left the country, eventually arriving in New York for medical treatment. Later that year, Iranian students, angered by the United States' refusal to return the Shah to Iran, occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and took 52 Americans hostage.

While President Jimmy Carter emphasized a diplomatic approach with a focus on "peace and human rights" so as to avoid American deaths, Iran was unwilling to negotiate. Meanwhile, a classified, volunteer military operation was formed to plan a rescue attempt.

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In the thrilling 'Workforce,' an exploited construction worker takes the ultimate revenge

Mexican actor Luis Alberti gives a phenomenal performance as a troubled laborer in writer/director David Zonana's auspicious debut, "Workforce." The film, screening March 7 and 9 at the Miami Film Festival, is a scathing morality tale centering around worker exploitation in Mexico City.

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Tommy Chong waxes philosophical about his stoner persona, jazz music, and dealing with Trump

Tommy Chong plays arguably one of the two sanest characters in the trippy, psychotronic, sci-fi film, "Color Out of Space," based on the H. P. Lovecraft story. The comedian, actor, and marijuana activist plays Ezra, a "hippie reprobate" and squatter living off the grid — even his cameras are solar-powered — and on the land owned by alpaca farmer Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage). When a meteorite lands on the property, all hell breaks loose, with animals changing form or dying, strange voices being heard, plants growing, electronics going wonky, and water being contaminated (Nathan develops a strange rash after a shower). Ezra wonders, have aliens arrived? Perhaps.

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Welcome to 'Narrowsburg' -- a tiny town conned out of its Hollywood dreams

Narrowsburg is a quaint little hamlet (pop. less than 500) in New York's Sullivan County, nestled along the Pennsylvania border and the Delaware Rive, about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Brooklyn. On Main Street, there's a bank and a post office; a Chinese restaurant, a car wash and a laundromat nearby. The residents describe it as "a nice place to live, but a hard place to make a living."

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Mary Badham, the original Scout, on the enduring appeal of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

“To Kill A Mockingbird” returns to more than 600 theaters nationwide on March 24 and 27 as part of TCM Classics on the Big Screen series. It’s a perfect opportunity to see (or re-watch) director Robert Mulligan’s rousing 1962 adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in theaters. The story, adapted by Horton Foote (who won an Oscar for his screenplay), concerns Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, in his Oscar-winning performance) defending Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) a black man accused of rape. Much of the action is seen through the eyes of the Finch children, Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham).

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What is it like to shoot someone? 'Behind the Bullet' explores 'moral injury' of gun violence

“Behind the Bullet,” a striking new documentary, is having its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival this weekend. The film looks at the issue of guns in America through the intriguing case studies of, as the documentary's website says, "four individuals who have pulled the trigger." Christen McGinnes is the victim of a gunshot wound that destroyed her face. She has had more than 40 surgeries to repair the damage and continues to receive treatment. Will Little is a barber in Philadelphia who spent ten years in prison for murder. He now educates youth and adults about guns and the dangers of violence. Kevin Leonard, who lives in the country, is still recoiling from shooting an intruder. Taylor Dwyer, 18,  accidentally killed his brother with his parent’s gun when he was eight. His father Daron uses faith to help him cope.

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Ricki Lake on 'Weed the People': 'It’s Not About Getting High, It’s About Children Dying of Cancer'

“Weed the People” is director Abby Epstein and executive producer Ricki Lake’s timely and compelling documentary about using cannabis oil as an alternative medicine for children with cancer. The film features half a dozen case studies of babies and teens who take this form of medical marijuana to reduce tumors. It is, as one believer states in the film, “not a cure, but an extension of life.”

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Amazing Documentary Captures a Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorist Filming His Deadly Descent into Madness

Filmmaker (and occasional Salon contributor) Erik Nelson’s absorbing documentary “A Gray State” is an intriguing psychological thriller and cautionary tale.

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Top 10 Hollywood Presidents You'd Probably Rather Have in the White House Right Now

“Anyone can be president” is one of the taglines for Robert Altman’s film, “Secret Honor,” about Richard Nixon. And that sentiment certainly seems to be true with the current administration. So in honor of Presidents’ Day, here are fictional cinematic presidents, ranging from comedic to dramatic to downright sinister, that we would rather see in office.

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Fox News 'Brainwashed' So Many Dads: 'People Are Being Bamboozled on a Massive Scale'

Filmmaker Jen Senko noticed a disturbing phenomenon. Her father, Frank, was a goofy, fun, non-political dad who treated people with respect when she was a child. However, when she was older, she noticed her father would rant about “Feminazis,” listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News. He became the family pest, forcing one-sided discussions of conservative politics and becoming enraged and unreachable after watching Fox News.

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