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Charlie Kaufman Announces New Book ‘Antkind’ About a Film Critic and a Three-Month-Long Movie

Written by on November 22, 2019 

Not an artist that is known to be wildly prolific, 2020 will change that for Charlie Kaufman. Not only is he adapting I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, but we’ll also be getting a new book from the writer-director, the first details of which have been unveiled today. First, however, we have an update on his Ian Reid adaptation, starring Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, David Thewlis, and Toni Colette, which Netflix will release next year.

“He Kaufman-ized it,” star Plemons told GQ, revealing that he only kept about 15% of the book’s dialogue. “I thought I’d honestly never read anything like it.” He added, “I don’t think it’s spoiling much to say that in the first week, we were shooting pretty much in a car every day. Thank God we shot that on a stage. I was pretty intimidated because we were shooting on average 11 pages a day, every day, on a stage, prop guys throwing snow. It was almost… “psychological torture” is too strong, but it did have a strange effect. Jessie and I became delirious and were laughing a lot. The longest take is something like 16 minutes I think? So it was like “Action! See ya in a while!” It changed acting for me in a way, I think.”

Back to Kaufman’s newly unveiled book, it is titled Antkind and will arrive in May. The story follows film critic who uncovers a 90-years-in-the-making, three-month-long film that has yet to be screened for the public. After he watches it, the film somehow gets destroyed, leaving only a single frame, and so begins a journey in which he will have recount its glory to the world.

“There are no budgetary limitations in a novel,” Kaufman tells EW. “There is no studio oversight. There are no focus groups. In fact, this book is in part about that; it’s about an impossible movie.” Ben Greenberg, VP and Executive Editor at Random House, added, “I’ve been talking to Charlie about this novel for almost eight years and watching it change and recalibrate and grow. Antkind is a hilarious, devastating, epic mindf–k. I’ve never read anything else like it.”

See the synopsis below via Random House.

The bold and boundlessly original debut novel from the Oscar®-winning screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York.

B. Rosenberger Rosenberg, neurotic and underappreciated film critic (failed academic, filmmaker, paramour, shoe salesman who sleeps in a sock drawer), stumbles upon a hitherto unseen film by an enigmatic outsider—a film he’s convinced will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core. His hands on what is possibly the greatest movie ever made, a three-month-long stop-motion masterpiece that took its reclusive auteur ninety years to complete, B. knows that it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity. The only problem: The film is destroyed, leaving him the sole witness to its inadvertently ephemeral genius.

All that’s left of this work of art is a single frame from which B. must somehow attempt to recall the film that just might be the last great hope of civilization. Thus begins a mind-boggling journey through the hilarious nightmarescape of a psyche as lushly Kafkaesque as it is atrophied by the relentless spew of Twitter. Desperate to impose order on an increasingly nonsensical existence, trapped in a self-imposed prison of aspirational victimhood and degeneratively inclusive language, B. scrambles to re-create the lost masterwork while attempting to keep pace with an ever-fracturing culture of “likes” and arbitrary denunciations that are simultaneously his bête noire and his raison d’être.

A searing indictment of the modern world, Antkind is a richly layered meditation on art, time, memory, identity, comedy, and the very nature of existence itself—the grain of truth at the heart of every joke.

Antkind will be released on May 12, 2020 and is now available to pre-order.


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