Being John Malkovich
I’m ashamed that it’s taken me so long to see this fantastic film, directed by Spike Jonze. I’m not sure what my hesitancy was in watching it, except for some bad memories of John Malkovich in that three musketeers movie from when I was, like, ten. Anyway, this movie blew me away.
Spike Jonze started out as a music video director. Directing videos for Bjork, the Beastie Boys, and others, he developed quite the style, which is immediately evident with his direction in Being John Malkovich. Some directors that make the Jump from music videos to film put all their effort into style, and let the content (plot lines, character development, etc.) slide (unfortunately, Tarsem falls into this catagory, even though The Fall is one of my favorite films this year). Fortunately for Jonze, Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation) wrote one helluva script that leaves you completely satisfied and yet wanting more.
The script was fresh, entertaining and wickedly funny. One of my favorite parts follows:
“Excuse me, are you John Malkovich?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Wow, you’re really, uh, great in that movie, where you play that retard.”
“Oh, thank you very much…”
“I have a cousin who’s a retard.”
“…oh, thank you.”
“Yeah, so, um, as you might imagine, it means a lot to me to see retards portrayed on the silver screen so… compassionately.”
“Well thank you very much, I appreciate that. Good night.”
Read here for more memorable quotes from the movie. If I can’t convince you to see this movie, those quotes will.
All the players are remarkable. Cameron Diaz isn’t even recognizable as Lotte, the frumpy wife animal-lover, that believes she’s transgendered, once experiencing lovemaking with a woman from Malkovich’s point of view. There’s her husband Craig (John Cusack), who just wants to share his artistic vision with the world as a puppeteer and resents his wife for wanting children. There’s Craig’s co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener, who is the true star of the show) who falls in love with Lotte, but only when she inhabits Malkovich. I’ve always felt the Academy has snubbed Catherine Keener, but they finally recognized her fantastic performance in this movie with a nomination nod. Craig discovers a small door in his office that serves as a portal to the conscious of John Malkovich. Because he’s in love with her, Craig shares this with Maxine who decides to rent out the experience afterhours to those who want to be somebody else. And finally there’s John Malkovich who is, as always, (except that musketeer movie) tremendous.
I can’t praise Malkovich enough. It is endlessly entertaining, and I gaurantee you will lose yourself in it, if you only give it a chance.
Rated R for language and sexuality.