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Charlie Kaufman is what happens when a creative lets their imagination run wild. The Oscar-winning screenwriter, director, and producer’s impressive roster of films include cult hits such as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Being John Malkovich,” and the gorgeous 2015 animated film, “Anomalisa.”
Similar to the characters in his most thought-provoking, and sometimes polarizing, films, Kaufman’s art seemingly invites viewers into the layers of his creative subconscious.
His most recent release, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” premiered on Netflix in 2020. The psychological thriller, written and directed by Kaufman, centers around a woman traveling to her boyfriend’s family house in the frigid winter weather, but what transpires when they arrive is a time-shifting story that will make you question fact — and fiction. Consuming Kaufman’s work typically means spending time afterward interpreting what you see on screen, just as he intended.
“I’m not really big on explaining what things are,” Kaufman said in a phone interview with IndieWire last year. “I let people have their experiences, so I don’t really have expectations about what people are going to think. I really do support anybody’s interpretation.”
Besides Netflix, pretty much all of Kaufman’s films are currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu. If you’re not already signed up for either service, an Amazon Prime subscription costs $12.99 a month, after a 30-day free trial. The membership gives you access to the massive movie and TV library that is Amazon Prime Video, plus special perks including free, two-day shipping on select items. Hulu is among the cheaper streaming services starting at $5.99 a month for ad-supported streaming, or $59.99 a year (there’s also an option to bundle with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month).
For the Kaufman fans looking to own physical copies of his films, we rounded up some of the best Kaufman movies that are available on Blu-ray. See more below.
“Why remember a destructive love affair?” That’s the premise of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” the 2004 comedic-drama written by Kaufman, and directed by Michel Gondry. Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey star as Clementine and Joel, an estranged couple who undergo “focused erasure” procedures to wipe away memories of each other. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” earned Kaufman an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Kaufman turned writer’s block into a feature-length film in “Adaptation.” Nicolas Cage stars as Kaufman (and his fictional twin brother, David) in the comedy-drama, which is based off Kaufman’s real life anxieties while struggling to adapt a non-fiction book about orchids. Meryl Streep, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, and Chris Cooper are also featured in “Adaptation.”
John Cusack plays an out-of-work puppeteer who lands an office job that leads to a portal inside the mind of John Malkovich. Sounds simple enough, right? “Being John Malkovich” is another one of Kaufman’s trippy mind-benders, with just the right shot of comedy. Directed by Spike Jonze, the all-star cast includes Malkovich, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and Orson Bean.
Kaufman wrote, directed, and produced the 2015 Oscar-nominated “Anomalisa.” The stop-motion graphic film serves as a reminder of the uniqueness that lives within every human being. Adapted from a 2005 play of the same name, “Anomalisa” tells the story of a fictitious inspirational speaker who sees everyone the same, until he meets a woman who changes his point of view.
George Clooney made his directorial debut with this 2002 biographical spy film on the life of host and producer Chuck Barris, best known for “The Gong Show,” “The Dating Game,” and “The Newlywed Game.” Kaufman adapted the screenplay for “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” from a 1984 “unauthorized biography” Barris wrote himself — he claimed, among other outlandish details of his life, that he had been an assassin for the CIA. Sam Rockwell stars in this story of the late host living a double life. Clooney appears in the film, along with Julia Roberts, and Drew Barrymore.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a theater director who becomes obsessed with his new, increasingly elaborate, production. (To put it mildly.) “Synecdoche, New York” marks Kauffman’s directorial debut, and another of his many collaborations with Jonze, who produced the film.