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Being John Malkovich
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The puppeteer's working as a file clerk on the seventh-and-a-half floor of a Manhattan office building; this idea alone might serve as the comedic basis for an entire film, but Jonze and Kaufman are just getting started. Add a devious coworker (Catherine Keener), Cusack's dowdy wife (a barely recognizable Cameron Diaz), and a business scheme to capitalize on the thrill of being John Malkovich, and you've got a movie that just gets crazier as it plays by its own outrageous rules. Malkovich himself is the film's pièce de résistance, riffing on his own persona with obvious delight and--when he enters his own brain via the portal--appearing with multiple versions of himself in a tour-de-force use of digital trickery. Does it add up to much? Not really. But for 112 liberating minutes, Being John Malkovich is a wild place to visit. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
I am sure you know the plot, and words wouldn't help to describe how original (and ingenious) it is. The film works on so many levels- it is a screwball comedy, an existential discussion of the nature of existence, a study of sexual identity, and a satire of the modern desire to "escape" from life. On top of all of that, it is darn entertaining to watch!
The characters (played to perfection but Cusack, Diaz, Keener, and Malkovich himself) are all well-drawn, and the actors do a fantastic job- wait until you see Diaz, unrecognizable in frizzy hair and frumpy dress.
The directing is top notch as well. Spike Jonze (of Three Kings fame) has made a wise choice- he recognizes the script is the star and has directed a film without any flashy camera work, which would detract from the real focal point. That is not to say the work is pedestrian- he did everything that had to be done to make the film, and he did it well (note his Oscar nod for best director).
The production design is a big star here as well. The 7 1/2 floor is almost "Gilliam-esque"- in fact, when I first saw the preview I assumed it was Terry Gilliam's (Brazil, 12 Monkeys) newest film.
The best word to describe this film is "giddy." I saw that because that is what I brought away from it- I felt giddy watching it, and you can teel the cast and crew felt the same making it. The best thing I have read about the film was from a rejection letter from another studio, which neglected to option the screenplay: "I'm sure Being John Malkovich would be regarded as a work of genius on whatever planet it was written." If that doesn't make you want to see the thing, nothing will.
Cusack plays Craig Schwartz, a puppeteer who believes he is not just a puppeteer, but an artist. Diaz, in a wig that makes her nearly unrecognizable, plays Schwartz' animal-loving wife, Lotte. Cusack, upon the realization that he might not make it as a puppeteer, decides to get a day job, at a place on the seventh and half floor of a New York skyscraper. It is here at this odd office floor, that Cusack stumbles upon a portal to John Malkovich's brain-where he is allowed to experience what it is like to be a celebrity for 15 minutes, and then be spit out somewhere outside the New Jersey turnpike. Hilarity ensues, and metaphysical questions are asked.
This movie is like a dream-and not in the sense that it's an incredibly great movie, although it is. It's like a dream because of the way that the logic is formatted. Things that have seemingly little significance, have a large significance by the movie's end. We are whisked away from plotline to plotline, that soon the rhythm of the rapidfire plot becomes catchy. Things that would not make sense in most movies makes complete sense here.Read more ›
Each character in this film is aware, sometimes painfully aware, of his or her identity, and the extremes that they reach in trying to change, control, and manipulate their identities suggest that consciousness is perhaps more trouble than it's worth. Craig Schwartz, played by John Cusack, is a talented puppeteer, and therefore a master at adopting multiple personalities, but until he finds a real person to imitate, he remains in his workshop, alone and unsatisfied with his life. That is, until he meets the magnetic Maxine, who's confidence and boldness enchants Craig for the entirety of the movie.
It seems logical to assume that if Craig is unhappy with his identity, then he could be happier if he wasn't aware of himself at all. As Craig says, "Consciousness is a terrible curse - I think; I feel; I suffer." Once Craig discovers the Malkovich portal in his office, people start lining up, literally, to partake in the life-altering experience; everyone, that is, except Maxine. Not once does she reveal the slightest interest in going through the portal. Maxine is comfortable in her own skin - a quality which Craig, and pretty much everyone who meets her, greatly admires - but it is not a comfort that comes from being ignorant of her own identity.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Funny John Malkovich (the actor). It's an interesting concept that has been made into an interesting, and sometimes humorous story.Published 1 day ago by Cheri174evr
I'm no prolific movie reviewer, but I really enjoyed this unique story about the real-life movie star, producer and actor John Malkovich as the object of desire by a small group of... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Mark Scoble
One of my all time favorites. JM is such a superb actor and shows a new side of self deprecation that I wasn't aware of. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mark Andresen
A very strange movie, You cannot help being involved with the content of this film. A very thought provoking story line, the implications are whatever you feel. Read morePublished 2 months ago by caduceus
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