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Being John Malkovich (1999)
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Review Date: November 14, 1999
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Producers: S. Golin, V. Landay, S. Stern, M. Stipe
Actors:
John Cusack
Cameron Diaz
Catherine Keener
John Malkovich
Plot:
An unemployed puppeteer finds himself a temporary "regular job" as a file clerk in an office on the 71/2th floor of a corporate building. One day, he discovers a tiny door and a room which apparently leads into the brain of actor John Malkovich, allowing anyone who enters the portal to automatically be inside the thespian for about 15 minutes before being spit out and onto the side of a New Jersey Turnpike. Got that?
Critique:
This is one fucked up movie! (Excuse the language, but these were the only words that kept going through my head as I inhaled this moving picture) Fucked up in a good way, of course. This is probably the most creative film of the year with a script loaded with layers of surreal cream, a cast playing against type and scoring with solid performances all around, and an inventive look inside the infamous Warhol-annointed "everyone will get their 15-minutes of fame" parable. On top of all that, this film actually makes sense (for the most part) unlike many of the other "weird" films which attempt to break the calmness of Hollywood's arrangement with the mediocre (see BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS) and is genuinely funny! I could see Dali and Frued sitting around with some over-salsa'd nachos and having a blast with this movie! Oh, and how I wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall when they attempted to interpret this film's many zings and zangs. Fry this egg, why don't you.

What was even cooler about this film was that I never knew what was going to happen next. In fact, its main plot force of a portal leading inside actor John Malkovich's head was just the springboard from which an even wilder ride through one's own conscious and subconscious feelings of identity, life, love and sexuality took form. Wonderfully written, succinctly directed by Jonze, who could not have picked a more appropriate script for his own paranormal sensibilities, and featuring an unrecognizable great performance by Cameron Diaz, another solid show from Catherine Keener, and Cusack showing us that he can play more than just a wise-cracking smart-ass. It also needs to be said that actor John Malkovich, besides being a good sport about the whole thing, plays himself and all the other characters extremely well, and does quite the job of convincing everyone that he is himself (?). Looking back, there were no specific scenes in this film which were particularly memorable, and the script may have gone a little over-the-top in certain respects (did they really have to be living with a monkey?), but one cannot blame the genius when running rampant and dropping a couple of their eccentricities by the wayside. All in all, an entertaining surreal ball of confusionary psychological fun for the strange one in all of us. Also, look for a couple of pretty cool cameos by some of Hollywood's hipsters. Definitely, NOT for everyone!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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