Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)
An unemployed puppeteer (John Cusack as Craig Schwartz) finds a job in an office that is situated between the seventh and eight floor of an old building. The ceilings are very low and the office space seems to be designed for dwarfs. Schwartz works as a filing clerk and has an obvious crush for his colleague (Catherine Keener) while still being married to Lotte (Cameron Diaz) a zoophile who takes care of many many animals as a living. One day at work Craig finds a passage that leads him to John Malkovich’s body and mind. Seeing the profit, he starts a business with Keener and charges 200$ for 15 minutes to be into someone else’s life. The use of the passage gets, as expected, too important and the involvement of every character in the story is at some point very dramatic and funny.
This collaboration between director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is very charming and interesting. Once again, Kaufman gets his characters into stories that involves the story in the story like Adaptation or Synecdoche, New York. He plays on the levels on lecture and the fresh and inventive directing by Jonze gets it just at the right level of over the top.
As a part of my contribution to the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Club, this review was my latest pick for the club. First, I wanted to pick a popular and unique pick but also because I always felt that it was a blind spot in my film knowledge. It also have been an intriguing film for a fan of Adaptation. Well, I’m not ready to call it the best of the Jonze/Kaufman association. But I enjoyed it a lot for its way of getting us to accept the fact that an office space can be so difficult for an artist like Schwartz in having this ridiculous aspect of low sealing. Well, Greg Toland and Orson Welles would have been jealous of the display of those. Here’s my geek line out. The plot, as unique and original reminded me of experimental short films that boldly decided to go all the way into the wackiness or tackiness if you prefer, while getting the viewer involved and very intrigued on how the actual story would develop and conclude.
It is like when you are into a creepy unventilated basement and you get to go out and breath fresh air with this film. It stands very tall amongst the sea of similar films and mainstream cinema.