Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #173 Being John Malkovich

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2011 at 8:19 AM

Movie #173 Being John Malkovich

(1999, US, d. Spike Jonze)

It’s always nice when a movie comes along and surprises you in its originality. Being John Malkovich is such a film. It raises existential questions about our place in life through a dark fantastical comedy genre. It also introduces the viewer to the incredible collaboration of Mr. Jonze and Mr. Kaufman. Though in a way I feel this is a work where they are both getting into the shape of things and finding their singular voices, it is still a showcase to their individual talents. Being John Malkovich is about fighting the feeling of unrequited love – either through kidnapping, through violence, through depression, or more commonly, through the entering of a secret portal on the 7 1/2 floor of a major New York City highrise that leads directly into the mind of John Malkovich himself. It’s about a puppeteer named Craig Shwartz (played cooly by John Cusack) who feels like mastering the brain of Malkovich would be the greatest trick of all time. He does, but the movie doesn’t end there. In fact, it seems very intent on answering every single logistical and creative question imaginable, even going as far as “What happens when Malkovich himself enters the portal?” But Jonze, in a smart move, knows the film is more than that and much more than its creativity: its about – to borrow a few thoughts from Roger Ebert – spending a lifetime in our own skin and wanting to pay to be in someone else’s. It’s about the chance to start fresh. And the chance to be someone new. And the chance to experiment. A chance so often missed in the monotonous lives of the regular being. Intertwining this theme in its filmmaking style, Being John Malkovich is a funny and unforgettable treat into the mind of a creator who shows no intent on formula or pattern.

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