Sunday, February 7, 2016

Being John Malkovich

Movie Name: Being John Malkovich
Year of Release: 1999
Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, John Malkovich, Mary Kay Place, Octavia Spencer, Charlie Sheen, Kevin Carroll 
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
After a prolific career directing music videos, director Spike Jonze made his fantastic feature film debut with "Being John Malkovich", which was also writer Charlie Kaufman's first feature to be transposed to the big screen (after a career of working for different TV shows). The film focuses on puppeteer Craig Schwartz and his wife Lotte Schwartz. Craig loves his profession, even if it means a meager income, though it does allow him to inhabit the skin of others. When the income situation comes to a halt, he is forced to take a job as a file clerk, located on the five-foot tall 7½ floor of a Manhattan office building. In this office, Craig finds a hidden door which he learns is a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich, enabling him to control the actor as if he's a puppet. This control lasts fifteen minutes after which he is spit into a ditch next to the New Jersey Turnpike. Craig is fascinated by this turn of events, and takes his wife to experience this otherworldly sensation. This sets in motion a series of events that changes both their lives irrevocably.
Charlie Kaufman's view of the world, which successfully mixes humor with a deep emotional pathos and irreverence, meets in Spike Jonze the perfect associate in this deeply funny and intelligent film. Craig nullifies himself to become the man he thinks his loved one wants, all the while noticing much to his shock, that she eventually resents him for it. The film is ultimately a contemplative rumbling on the meaning of relationships, of taking ownership of one's own decisions and self, and the efforts we all make to be loved. There's a subversive and acid sense of humor at play, particularly with Catherine Keener's character, Maxine, whom the actress brings to life in a truly memorable way. The rest of the cast is equally impressive, with John Cusack, Cameron Diaz (nearly unrecognizable) and John Malkovich creating indelible characters. The cinematography from Lance Accord is beautiful as is the title song from Bjork, "Amphibian". A great film worth watching!