|Being John Malkovich
|List Price: $9.99
Our Price: $9.99
- One of the most original films I've seen
For the past decade, films seem to be a rehash of the same old plots. Being John Malkovich is the exception and a very enjoyable one at that. Even knowing the basic plot or ending can't prepare you for the actual film. It's entertaining, creative, original, surprising, and best of all - unpredictable. As incrediable and unrealistic as the plot may seem to be, the acting and direction make the film believable. I found myself easily going along for the ride that comes from taking opportunistic advantage of an accedental discovery. ...more info
- I think; I feel; I suffer; I like this movie
Being John Malkovich is one of the most thematically ambitious films of the 1990's. It delves figuratively and literally into the weaknesses and complexities of the human psyche through the self-revealing and often comical actions of the main characters. Through bizarre situations, a subtle but emotional soundtrack, and a tiny portal on the 7 1/2 floor of an office building, Malkovich investigates the multi-faceted aspects of human beings, and the troubles they face in trying to find themselves.
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. Maxine is very aware of the power of self-assurance, a power which she uses to influence Craig, his wife Lotte, and Malkovich himself. While Craig proves that consciousness coupled with insecurity result in depression and desperation, Maxine exists at the opposite end of the spectrum, mixing consciousness with greed, and resulting in manipulation and callousness.
John Malkovich further reinforces the idea the consciousness kills; that "ignorance is bliss." Before he discovers Maxine's true intentions, he is blissful and carefree, with a strong acting career and a hot new girlfriend. But once he finds out, he becomes paranoid, frantic, and untrusting. When he consults his friend Charlie Sheen for advice, Charlie says, perhaps more revealingly than intended, "The truth is for suckers, Johnny boy." Indeed, it is Malkovich's conscience that steals his happiness.
If you've ever wanted to be someone else, or at least wondered what it would be like, then Being John Malkovich is a must see. A wry comedy that makes you think; an intellectual adventure that makes you laugh -- Being John Malkovich is a non-oppressive, insightful, and captivating glance into the deepest of human desires and insecurities. ...more info
- Genius? No, just odd
This film received rave reviews for being "original, innovative, unique." As one can see from the reviews on this site, many viewers agreed with that assessment, but I don't. It just seemd bizarre, and not in a good way. Different can be very good, if it's interesting. When it has me looking at the clock wondering to myself, "how much longer will this turkey last?", then I know it simply didn't connect with me.
Maybe I'm just too bleak to "get it" and I should stick with more conventional comedies like "Big Lebowski." Now, there's a great film! ...more info
- Invasion of the Body Snatcher(s)
Stop laughing and step back a minute---"Being John Malkovich" isn't funny, it's a horror movie. Alright---it's funny, *and* it's a horror movie.
Somewhere, somehow, sometime, someplace (possibly Providence, Rhode Island) Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft got together. Genes were spliced. The warped and twisted biological result was Spike Jonze, one of modern cinema's most insidious, surreptious, diabolically gifted and wickedly talented filmmakers and the most Terrible of the Enfants Terribles stalking the American academy of Arts and Letters today.
Having helmed the infamous Beastie Boys "Sabotage" video, Jonze and partner-in-crime Charlie Kaufman were ready to cobble together a Trojan Horse and aim it at the dark heart of Fortress Hollywood.
They succeeded massively with the darkly subversive "Being John Malkovich", the story of a disaffected puppeteer (played by John Cusack) who discovers a secret aperture into the mind of actor John Malkovich.
Some wrong-headedly think this is a surreal comedy. Poor, naive, childish innocents, I say! I'm here to contend that for all its comedic trappings, "Being John Malkovich" is a horror movie that H.P. Lovecraft himself would appreciate.
Yes, I know, the title itself is risible, the notion of a portal into John Malkovich's consciousness makes one giddy, and you can't possibly have a proper cosmos-ripping horror movie with Cameron Diaz, John Cusack, John Malkovich, and Charlie Sheen. I know all the standard objections.
But first: if you haven't seen "Being John Malkovich", stop reading this silly review and go buy the thing. You'll be utterly delighted and glad you listened to my advice.
Alright, for those of you who have seen this wicked little gem of sheer cinematic subversion---listen up: "Being John Malkovich" is a horror movie, not a comedy, a long-toothed snarling wolf dolled up in comedic sheep's clothing. Think not? Fine: let's leave the idea of John Malkovich having his body snatched out of it. If the idea of a blameless, innocent, blithe little girl being invaded by a small platoon of slobbering geriatrics isn't horror, then nothing is horrible.
Still skeptical? That's fine, but be warned: everything in in Jonze and Kaufman's little tour de force here is expertly stage-managed and distilled to a single purpose, and that is fooling the innocent, naive viewer to the movie's singularly malign purpose: body-snatching is front and center here. If you think this is a comedy, dear friend, then you're being duped with fine food and good wine, just the tools the wicked immortal Dr. Lester (a fine turn by the great Orson Bean, with nods to Lovecraft's "Terrible Old Man") used, as the evil Captain Merten had used before him.
Think about it this way: what happened to Malkovich once Craig and Maxine's little entrepreneurial scheme took on a life of its own? Still feel like a good horse laugh? I'm thinking a stiff Scotch is more in order.
The direction and cinematography here are spot on, and every scene tells. The acting is also superb, from Cusack's dangerously desperate puppeteer, to veteran actors Bean and the late Byrne Piven (Captain Merten, who pities dwarves), to Catherine Keener, who plays the wicked, devious, Machiavellian shrew Maxine. I despised her every second she was on screen---good job, Miss Keener!
The real plaudits go to Cameron Diaz. I had never really considered Diaz an actress of substance, but her wildly schizophrenic romp as the crazed animal-lover Lotte showed the woman has some finely honed acting chops. Charlie Sheen sinks his fangs into his tiny but tasty role, and Malkovich purrs through the movie like a kitten.
Surreal, quirky, brilliantly paced, constantly resourceful, occasionally creepy, with a haunting, pining score by Carter Burwell and Bjork that calls to mind Philip Glass's composition for "Mishimia", "Being John Malkovich" is a clever, wicked, blackly funny work of genius, but it is very much a horror film. Having returned from a jaunt through his own tortured subconscious, Malkovich roars "I have seen things no man should have to see." Truer words couldn't have frothed from the lips of one of Lovecraft's tentacle-tormented heroes.
Still not convinced? Look at "Malkovich's" ample horror trappings: a skewed, twisted crawlspace of an office, forcing its denizens to walk in a crouch and situated between the floors of the building; a Terrible Old Man, confounded by an illusory speech impediment, who has chronicled the life of his unwitting host in a back-room; Dwarf Love;---and of course, bodysnatching.
To say nothing of this prospect: imagine the sensation of a horde of hungry, greedy, ancient eyes crawling across your body, a mulifaceted invasion force perched just behind the two innocuous irises of your dinner-mate.
Does that give you the giggles? It gives me the crawls.
- Who writes this stuff?
I already know Charlie Kaufmann wrote this, but still. I seriously think this is one of the only movies that I enjoyed enough to watch all of the credits. Great story, great cast, great soundtrack, great writing; you get the hint. Everything about this movie blew my mind.
Craig... something or another works in a cramped (to say the least) office between the 7th and 8th floor of a big corporate office building. He is a puppeteer at heart, but to make ends meet he takes this job, and loves it! He works as a filing clerk, but two factors heighten the working experience. He is smitten with his co-worker (Katherine Keener), and he discovers a trap door that leads him into the mind of celebrity John Malkovich (John Malkovich)! Holy Wow!
But what does a door into the brain of John Malkovich mean? Does Malkovich know? Is it a hallucination? Is it something else? Believe me, I really want to blurt it out, but I won't. See this movie, it's great....more info
- For me, it was a really good movie
This is a very good movie, but not for the faint of heart. This is a film that is not typical but still entertaining. I think it was made even better when I saw it in the theater next to a woman who HATED this film. She kept talking and complaining. I asked her to be quiet and still she was talking. She then got up and left. How does this relate you ask? Simple, it made this odd movie even more real and interactive for me. That doesn't happen very often. If you are looking for a normal movie with a simple plot, this isn't it. If you want to see a quirky movie that is entertaining, this is your movie....more info
- The Death of Art
Watching a film written by Charlie Kaufman is to understand what it's like to be a cinephile. I mean, for somebody to dedicate so much of their life to the observation of others (if only for a couple of hours), there has to be a certain sense of self loathing, a desire to be somebody else, to get outside one's own head. I certainly know that this is the case with me, and probably the reason why I've spent more time watching, reading, writing and now making films about the lives of others, rather than just living my own.
But what happens when life and art begin to merge, so much so that they become indecipherable from one another? That's the subject of the first film collaboration between Kaufman and director Spike Jonze (whose real name is Adam Spiegel). If you haven't seen the movie yet, this all must sound terribly pretentious. Trust me, it isn't. It's actually a hilarious film, and one that's not nearly as "arty" as it's reputation would have you believe.
The protagonist of the movie is Craig Schwartz (John Cusack in his best performance to date), thou I use the term protagonist very loosely. He's actually quite creepy, in the mold of a Rupert Pubkin, but seems oblivious of this fact, which is what makes him such a tragic figure in the end. Struggling to secure work as a puppeteer, he eventually relents to his wife's gentle suggestion that he look for work outside the field of puppetry. In one particularly funny scene, he goes to her for comfort after being slugged by a man who took offense at his sexual suggestive puppet show (a forerunner to Team America: World Police), and she says to him, "Oh, Craig. Not again." Anybody who's ever experience professional rejection will immediately understand where his character is coming from.
Eventually, he settles on a job as a filing clerk and develops a crush on his verbally abusive co-worker, Maxine. And though she shows little or no interest in him and is hardly the cultural beauty you'd expect to find in such a role, we understand his attraction immediately. Much of this can be attributed to Catherine Keener, who emotes such a casual coolness that it becomes difficult to separate her from the character, a fact which has dogged her to this day (at least in my mind). In fact, she's so desirable that even Craig's sexually-confused wife, Lotte, joins in on the Maxine obsession. This after Craig shows her a portal into the mind of John Malkovich. The two begin to date, but only when Lotte's inside the Malkovich vessel. Craig, watching his wife carry on an illicit affair with the object of his affection, stews, and after a couple of encounters, which last only fifteen minutes (an obvious homage to Andy Warhols' theory on fame), he intercedes, tying up his wife and taking her place inside Malkovich's head.
Got it? No? Good. Now you'll just have to see the movie. Because trust me, there's no review that could do proper justice to the genius that is Being John Malkovich. It's a film that reflects our ever-growing fascination with celebrity, even one as arbitrary as Malkovich himself. That's not to say he isn't a fascinating character, he is, just that he's one I have a hard time imagining the readers of People magazine or Us Weekly identifying with. Or as Bob Shaye, the head of New Line Cinema, put it, "Being John Malkovich? Why can't it be Tom Cruise?" But to those of us living in the fly-over states, out of the glare of New York and L.A., we understand that it doesn't really matter, we'll attach ourselves to any celebrity, no matter how small. This is a point proven by the fact that my local newspaper recently ran a cover story on a former resident (who lived two counties over, no less!) simply because he had a brief cameo in the recent Michael Bay picture, The Island. For better or worse, this is what our country has become, and this film is a near-flawess comment on that....more info
- Metaphor for Our Age
Spike Jonze has directed a film about people who want to get lost inside a portal of a celebrity John Malkovich and as such has made a film that is an allegory of our age: a society of tormented souls, who loathing their perceived mundane existence, seek transcendence by living vicariously through a celebrity. In our tabloid-soaked culture where we want our celebs dished out to us for our feasting, we now take our worship a step further: live inside and takeover a celebrity; get inside his brain and try to render our sense of being invisible by being John Malkovich.
Great idea but how does the film work in terms of pacing, plotline, and coherence? Amazingly, the narrative is tight and follows easily enough. The satire is always two steps ahead of us. There are too many laugh-outloud surprises in here to mention. But beneath the satire is a brooding, tormented meditation on a society that, without the razzle-dazzle of celebrity, is overcome by a sense of worthlessness and ennui....more info
- Near Perfection
As a huge fan of anything by Charlie Kaufmann this movie lived up to my expectations and more. Seeing Cameron Diaz as a dowdy, frizzy haired character had me totally forget how glamorous she actually is. I have never thought much of her as an actress until now. John Cusack was fabulous and Catherine Keener was amazingly sexy. Is there anything a man wouldn't do for her when she smiles? There's twists and turns like you would expect from Kaufmann yet he always keeps you guessing. Highly reccomended!...more info
- "Meet you in Malkovich in one hour"
"Being John Malkovich" (1999), the Spike Jonze's directorial debut, is an amazing film - hip, inventive, delightfully weird, incredibly funny and disturbingly serious with the gleefully absurd plot twists. Let's face it, that was a stroke of genius - to throw together the tragic medieval lovers, Abelard and Heloise in the street show created by a talented puppeteer Craig Scwartzh (John Cusack) with the nimble fingers but out of work in "today's wintry economic climate", Elijah the Chimp with the mental problems that go back to his childhood, the surreal office that is located on the 7 1/2 store of a New York City office building and a floor is four feet high. Add Cameron Diaz (Craig's animals loving wife Lotte), completely unrecognizable, aging and balding Charlie Sheen, cynical and practical Maxine (Catherine Keener), who had an unique experience of having two people looked at her "with complete lust and devotion, through the same pair of eyes", and send them all to the wild ride inside the famous and respectable actor John Malkovich's brain to see what he sees and to feel what he feels, to the trip that would last 15 minutes and end up in a ditch on the side of New Jersey Turnpike. This is just the beginning...Oh, and what John Horatio Malkovich feels with all the travelers in his head and what he sees when he enters the portal to his own brain, you have to find out for yourself! What drug were Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze on?! Not even two hours long, the movie never ceases to surprise and entertain. "Being John Malkovich" is a fascinating and truly original film which I love and always enjoy watching even if there were never a connection with any of its characters (with the exception of Abelard and Heloise and Elijah the Chimp).
- at least i got to see orson bean
im not sure why i gave this a second star; maybe its because i feel guilty for always loathing everything john malkovich is associated with? directed and written by spike jonze and charlie kaufman (the same duo who gave us the equally pretentious "adaptation"), this one centers around an unsuccessful puppeteer (john cusack) who figures out how to enter into the body of actor john malkovich for 15 minutes at a time and manages to turn that talent into riches and fame but oh my he still isnt happy even tho he gets to hang out with cameron diaz....more info
- Seriously Unconventional
YES! This film is unusual--it breaks out of conventional time and space reality--maybe that's its main gift. The idea is terrific---what it's like to spend 15 minutes being someone else---in this case a famous and succesful movie actor. The choice of actor fits in with the general motif---John Malkovich---who is, I think most people would agree--a little off-center, himself. They didn't chose Tom Cruise (now that would be interesting) or Robert Redford or Brad Pitt....but John Malkovich..??!
It could have developed into something really illuminating. (like The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) But it dropped the ball somewhere and ended up being just a mess. The idea of the old people needing Malkovich's body was grotesque...and then the idea of using the child's body was even worse. (shades of Rosemary's Baby)
It's essentially a heartless movie...no one really cares about anyone besides himself, with the possible exception of the Cameron Diaz character who, at least, cares about her animals. The John Cuzak character, our "hero" is likable at first, as the hapless puppeteer, but he doesn't lose a moment to go after the snazzy new lady at work (Catherine Keener). No one grew, no one learned anything, and, at the end I really didn't care about any of them, least of all, John Malkovich.
If you're really impressed by the fact that this is unconventional, and a lot of reviewers here are....then you may love this. Love? A funny word for such a loveless story.
My DVD gave me the treat of an interview with Spike Jonze, who pulls over the car to vomit. I guess this is supposed to be really really funny...
The reason I gave it any stars at all was for the originality of the concept, and the excellent cast. It was great to see Mary Kay Place again (and Orson Bean!!) Cameron Diaz was very good and Catherine Keener was terrific.
- Remember when you thought talking genitals were all the rage?
Ultimately nothing more than a snuff film for girls who like to get it on with the same sex via an alpha male vessel, Spikester goes to great lengths to make his locker room-talk experiment seem a product greater than the sum of its parts. Coffin-size office floors, psychic monkey sidekicks, a cabinet that spills onto an exit ramp, dysfunctional imps who made faces at the dinner table when they were kids and the "faces" stuck, Pinocchio fetishes. Watching "Being John Malkovich" appears to be a bit like going to a carnival put on by Aphex Twin. I'd rather drill holes through my kneecaps so I can whistle while I walk....more info
- The best and most inspired American Comedy of the Nineties!
The amazing introduction in which we watch two puppets conducted by versatile hands works out into perfection because the best is yet to come.
This is one of those few films you love from the first five minutes running time. This a genial cross between Terry Gilliam, Luis Bu?uel and Woody Allen. Surreal and irreverent; caustic and astonishing; unexpected and provocative.
In the seven and a half floor of a building ( a hidden homage to the desperation and troubles of Marcello in 8 ? perhaps?), the people is obligated to walk like a hunchback and this several deviation leads to unexplored realities. This bizarre office encloses a secret; a portal - an illegal but unexpected device - who lands in the intimate territory of John Malkovich 's mind. During fifteen minutes. Interesting cipher: Do you remember my kind reader about the famous fifteen glory minutes of every human being must live according Andy Warhol?
Three different attitudes will turn around that surprising discovery : admiration in first instance and then a clever vehicle to get his unstoppable desire by John Cussack, a gold mine to make easy money by his job partner and the unexpected reaction of his beloved wife who discovers - a Woody Allen typical lure - behind her exaggerated devotion for the animals (their home is almost a zoo) the true sexual vocation.
As you may expect the existential anguish, delirious obsession, greed and the cruel torture that means for Malkovich when he feels invaded his intimacy for outer Peeping Toms will make o you to break the logic links and enjoy and plunge in those weird but not least funny and hyper original script.
Two previous movies come to my mind that may be close in this sense: All of me and Zelig, both films deconstruct the ego and rebuild them, but demanding its prize (nothing is free).
John Cussack is terrific in his role. He is nowadays, one of the most versatile and talented actors of the American Cinema. Cameron D¨ªaz is brilliant as the neurotic wife and finally a sincere ovation for the artistic direction.
- Mind-bending fun
This is one of the coolest, most bizarrely funny movies I have ever seen. It stayed with me long after I left the movie theater, and I just wanted to view it again and again. Charlie Kaufman wrote a brilliant screenplay and all the actors do a wonderful job as characters who develop such an anguish over their own existence. I love that it is a totally original tale. I recently added this DVD to my collection because it is one of my favorite movies of all time!...more info
- 4.5; delightfully original
I have a theory: audiences are getting smarter. Whereas before a big Hollywood movie with a massive marketing push would've been all the rage, now people are starting to know better. They're realizing that a terrible movie's a terrible movie no matter how often we can see Julia Roberts deal with more romantic comedic mishaps or much stuff Michael Bay can destroy. So when a movie comes along like Being John Malkovich, or Memento or even visually impressive like the Matrix, we stand up and take notice. Building a career largely from inventive music videos, first time director Spike Jonze comes out of the gate with probably the most unconventional comedy you'll see.
Loserly Craig Schwartz (John Cusack, always good) is an aspiring puppeteer who can't get any work. Then he has his dishevelled looking wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) leaving in their small New York apartment with pets everywhere since Lotte's a pet store worker. Craig, due to his puppeteering skills gets accepted at a company located, amusingly, on the 7 1/2 floor, complete with cramped ceilings. He also has a strong attraction to one of his co-workers, feisty Maxine (Catherine Keener). One day while working, he discovers a small day and going inside he finds out he can see the world through John Malkovich's eyes for 15 minutes with an unceromonious dump on the New Jersey turnpike ditch.
Craig and Maxine get an idea: charge 200$ for people to experience being John Malkovich which is a novel idea until Lotte goes through and feels a deeper connection, especially around the idea of Maxine. Then we have a bizarre love square or star or something since Craig loves Maxine who loves Lotte but only when Lotte is inside John Malkovich...'s head. Try not to wrap your head around it since it's better explained in the movie and after awhile you don't even worry about stuff like vessels or portals, you just go with it.
Casting is of course important and no one seems wasted, even Diaz, who I normally can't stand. The real treat though is of course Malkovich since at times you almost can't tell if he's acting or if he's really that quirky. Then there's the comedy which is subtle to the first-was-funny-but-now-it-ain't like the 7 1/2 floor and the small ceilings but then the film shows you what happens when Malkovich steps through his own portal and it becomes not only a technical marvel but one of the flat-out funniest things I've seen lately. Only problem with the story is that at a certain point it shifts gears and the film almost speed walks to its climax rather than lurching forward, like it was shot in the foot.
Like the Amazon review says, I don't know if the film can warrant repeat viewings and you can get more out of it every time you see it but that first viewing is quite something....more info
- Absolute, esoteric entertainment
What a gem of a movie. Imaginative writing that was so hilarious, I couldn't wait for the next scene, to see if it was going to be funnier that the previous one. Orson Bean (Doctor Lester) was an unbelievable filthy, dirty, sex-starved old coot - "Insane, old lech" is how John Cusak's character; Craig Schwartz put it. The interplay between Cusak and Kathryn Keener (Maxine) was "way out there." Excellent direction from Spike Jonze.
I don't know what else to add but that this was the weirdest, most enjoyable movie I've seen in years. We should all be so lucky as to be in John Malkovich's eyes and then spit out 15 minutes later.
"I was John fu**ing Malkovich!" - exclaimed Cameron Diaz (Lotte Schwartz). A total crackup. "Malkovich!" "Malkovich!" "Malkovich!" "Malkovich!" You'll love "Craig's Dance Of Despair And Disillusionment" ...more info
To call BEING JOHN MALKOVICH a work of genius seems inadequate. Kaufman's script is so strikingly original, and Spike Jonze's direction so adroit it restored my faith in Hollywood. The cast from John Cusack, Cameron Diaz ( in my favorite Diaz-role ), John Malkovich, Catherine Keener, and Orson Bean, are terrific.
The only experience I can equate this movie to is my first bungey jump. You'll laugh, you may even cry, but you won't be bored by this film....more info
- non star cinema
this is a movie that seems to be a star movie but does not even pretend to do so; we are always with the loser - what he isn't. be surprised!...more info
- Ever want to be someone else? Now you can! But at a price...
Being John Malkovich explores true human despair. It doesn't waste time criticizing commercialism or politics solely because they exist. It doesn't pile the blame of a man's misery on education of bad parenting. It understands that misery is part of human nature. People are gifted and burdened with consciousness, as Craig Swartz confides in his wife's pet chimp. Despair doesn't stem from society or any social institution, but from the mind of the individual. I see someone else laugh, I think, "Why aren't I that happy?" Someone else has money, "How come I'm not rich?"
Human nature is to look toward the future to something grander than we can really achieve. People are dreamers. We can't be happy with ourselves so we strive to be someone else.
Being John Malcovich explores this dilemma with hilarity, grace, and intelligence. I provides miserable people the possibility to be someone else, if only for a short while. But the cost is great.
To truly become someone elseone has to give up who he is, and no matter how burdensome consciousness is, we value it more than anything. Plus it's a $200 service charge.
This combination of the practical and the metaphysical sets Malkovich apart from other Theater of the Absurd works, placing it among the greatest films of all time. It's a true masterpiece of not only the human condition, but of human behavior.
When a husband and wife fall for the same woman, they engage in horrific conflict. Not because the other has been unfaithful, but because the other is a threat to the extramarital relationship. Maxine is the perfect seductress to bring out this situation not because she has the erotic charm of the femme fatale, but because she's attractive and enjoys it. Despite her beauty, she remains down to Earth. She might mislead, but she is never entirely dishonest.
John Malkovich gives the greatest performance of his carreer as a man fighting for his very soul. You might be thinking, "Big deal, he's playing himself." Wrong! Not only is his character a fictional charicature held in the public's mind, he also plays Craig and Lester. And he captures them perfectly. Name me one other actor who can shout, "Shut up!!!You overrated sack of sh*t," at himself and pull it off with grace and realism. Thought not....more info
- A very unusual film
I give this film: 3-1/2 stars.
I would have given this movie 4 or even 5 stars but I found the explanation given for the phenomena of entering & 'being' John Malkovich to be weak (Even for a fantasy story). i.e. I felt the primary explanation for this, given by Orson Bean's character, was a big let down.
On the plus side the film does have many funny and unusual elements.
John Malkovich playing himself under such bizarre circumstances.
Charlie Sheen plays a wonderfully exaggerated version of himself.
Cameron Diaz made-up to look so dowdy (She plays a pet shop manager who keeps all her physically and emotionally damaged animals at home with her).
A master puppeteer who tries to present creepily morbid skits as 'kid shows'.
An office building with a strange and silly 7-1/2 floor (The building has crow-bar in the elevator so you can pry open the doors between the 7th and 8th floors).
A secretary with a college degree in speech therapy who doesn't seem to understand what people are saying to her....more info
- Strangely Enjoyable Comedy.
This movie is just funny. The characters and how the interact is just hilarious. It kept me entertained, as I hope was the point of the movie, because if there really was a deeper side to this movie I missed it.
It made me lulz.
It's kind of like one of the movie adapts of Alice in Wonderland. Not the book, mind you, but like the movie adapts...
The movie follows the story of a very strange, lonely, unhappy guy (Cusack) who, do to his wife's insistence, gets a job in a filing company. The office itself is crazy and his co-workers/boss are just as strange.
He soon wants to cheat on his wife with a very snobby, hot woman that works on the same floor.
Shortly after his attempts with her, he finds a portal to the mind of John Malkovich behind a filing cabinet in his office. Then just random, hilarity follows.
I did not fully understand the ending, and it was a bit disturbing, but still, a hilarious film....more info
- Charlie Kaufman is a Genius, Pt. 1
Unlike probably most "Being John Malkovich" fans, I actually saw the later Kaufman-Jonze collaboration "Adaptation" first. I thought, and think, that that movie is brilliant, but I was a little disappointed in "Being John Malkovich" the first time I saw it. It was very good, yes, but I was hoping for a bit more, since most reviewers seem to think it as good or better than that later film. Well, yesterday I got through watching "Being John Malkovich" for the third time, about 2 years after I first saw it, and it's grown on me quite a bit. I still don't think it's quite as good as "Adaptation", but it's pretty close.
"Being John Malkovich" is one of those movies that seems to take place in the real world, except that there are a bunch of odd details that aren't right. Ex: Puppeteering is a major artform; everyone in the world is a total oddball; there's a building with a 7 1/2 floor which contains a portal into John Malkovich's brain. This movie is so massively yet still so unobtrusively weird that I'm sure it requires a very specific taste to fully get into it. You definitely need a taste for the odd.
The story centers around Craig Schwartz, (John Cusack) a failed street-puppeteer who lives in depression with his strange but good-natured wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) and their 100 or so pets. Lotte suggests that Craig get a job, a real job, and he does so, becoming a filing clerk at a small business on the 7 1/2 floor of a large office building. (The ceiling is all of 4 1/2 feet high, and they have to emergency-stop the elevator to get to the floor.) Craig is immediately smitten with fellow 7 1/2 floor-dweller Maxine (Catherine Keener). Maxine is a cruel and cold-hearted individual, but Craig can't help himself and continues to pursue her in spite of her utter contempt for him. His efforts appear to be going nowhere until one day when he finds a small door hidden behind a filing cabinet. He crawls in it to discover that this is a portal into John Malkovich's brain, where you watch what Malkovich sees for 15 minutes, after which you are dumped in a ditch by the road And then things really get weird, as Craig uses this portal as a way to connect with Maxine, but Lotte and others get drawn in and Malkovich finds out what's going on and we learn of the real purpose of the portal and on and on. I don't want to go on, cause the inexplicable, labyrinthine plot is much of the appeal of the film. (Though it isn't just crazy for crazy's sake, and actually comes together well.) Beyond this, Kaufman has tons of clever, intelligent dialogue to support the wacky plot.
This movie is damn hard to review, cause it's so strange, and yet much of the appeal and humor is character-driven. The unbelievable, oddball characters are all interesting, usually funny and often endearing. Cusack is our main character and sort of the straight man of the film. Still, he's not quite normal-- He does, after all, want to be a famous puppeteer. He's a typical "tortured artist" with a scruffy beard and a ponytail, but you can't help but like him. He's just so hapless, and John Cusack always does the average man thing well. Orson Bean is great as Dr. Lester, Craig's boss and a 125 year old lech. (As Craig says, "It's pretty funny once you get past how disgusting it is.) Catherine Keener is fantastic as Maxine, one of the most black-hearted characters I've ever seen. Yeah, she doesn't physically hurt anyway, but her relentless verbal abuse is unbelievable, as she responds to anything Craig says to her with a vicious, personal barb. Finally, John Malkovich is wonderful as himself (sort of), and he hits a great range of notes and isn't afraid to make himself look bad. (No one with half a brain would think this really has anything to do with who Malkovich really is, but lotsa people don't have half a brain...)
Though "Being John Malkovich" is a comedy, it's a rather thoughtful and ultimately very sad one. It touches on themes of isolation, the desire to be someone else and the ultimate absurdity and uncontrollability of human life. This absurdity is encapsulated in the central conflict, in Craig's unrequited love for Maxine; there's no reason why he should love her, she is, as Craig himself says, evil, but he can't help himself; Man is capable of reason, but emotion rules us and emotion only sporadically makes sense. (And applying reason to emotion never helps, not in my experience, anyway.)
Though I can't help but see Kaufman as the primary author of the film, Jonze deserves a ton of credit for bringing the vision to fruition. Making a film this wacky seem real must be damn near impossible, but Jonze pulls it off with aplomb and spectacular technical proficiency. The film moves from near conventional scenes to first-person perspective, to dream sequences and flat out surrealism. Yet, for all the technique displayed in the film, it rarely seems extraneous. Jonze doesn't seem to be showing off, the flash is all just necessary to navigate the inexplicable plot. The score is also fantastic, truly beautiful and often-moving, and it allows for a lot of the emotional impact in the film, particularly in the brilliantly conceived and heartbreaking final scene.
Man, this review is no good, but you can't do justice to a movie this good and this odd in a review. You'll just have to watch it.
Grade: A...more info
I adore John Malkovich. I havent missed any of his movies. Intelligent, super suave, extraordinarily attractive, a true gentleman (or so he seems), superior actor. How could he allow even his name to appear in this so-called movie? How could he allow to be represented in such a manner? Was he really in such a need of money that he accepted this shameful parody of himself? I could not believe my eyes when I watched this...., I do not know what to call it: it is not a movie, it is a farce and an insult to the intelligence of any living person. Ugh, and ugh and ugh!!! Pure trash....more info
- Can't overcome its defects
Too many inside jokes, too much Hollywood backslapping. Movies about movie stars, books about authors and songs about rock and roll bands are just too onanistic. I'm giving it three stars only because of John Cusack, one of my favorite actors.
Also, the absurdist mode doesn't work well for feature-length movies. Once the initial interest in the absurdity has worn off, there's really not much to go on. That's why movies that do use the absurdist mode generally are divided into short segments, such as "Monty Python's Holy Grail" or "History of the World Part I."
- if you love surrealism....
I love surrealism so I liked this movie. It's freaky, it's wierd, people don't look like themselves and there are unexplained pieces all over it. Puzzling bits. Unanswered pieces. Even the puppets add weirdness.
Craig (Cusack) is a brilliant, unrecognised puppeteer, who lives with his animal collecting wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz). I have to say right off that her hair was *hideous* and gave her character a waif-like incompetent look. She urges Craig to get a job after he gets hit by an offended dad while he's performing on the street in front of her shop. He goes to work as a file clerk, inexplicably in offices that take up only 1/2 floor, populated by employees who are just, well, odd- some are lechers, some think the whole world has a speech impediment and others are just wierd.
Craig discovers a "tunnel" and follows it into John Malkovich's brain and he and his freaky co-worker Maxine (Keener) decide this provides a fantastic opportunity to make extra cash. Like the good puppeteer he is, he needs to go further than just visiting Malkovich. Lotte, OTOH, finds the experience overpowering and overwhelming, with some interesting side effects in her relationship with the freaky Maxine.
I was uncomfortable with the scenes when Craig put Lotte in the cage- other people who are appalled by domestic violence will find that unamusing as well. Of course, people appalled by same sex couples will have issues with the evolution of Maxine and Lotte's relationship.
As and actor, John Malkovich has always fascinated me. Some other reviewers- who didn't like the movie- wondered why he would "lower" himself to the level of this movie. I, OTOH, would see it as a wonderful opportunity. How many actors get the opportunity to play themselves, yet, not really themselves? To be in a scene where every single character is *themself*? eeek! Hard to imagine what that would be like!
The whole entering-through-the-portal-and-living-forever aspect was left largely unexplored- or unexplained. We, the mere viewers, will just have to wonder about all those people who went into the tube and congregated together- for how long? and how many people were in each of *them*? *shudder*
The puppetry is amazing. Anyone interested in puppets needs to see this movie- they need to *buy* it to support the art of puppetry.
The interview with Spike Jonze is priceless but raises more questions than it answers. ***evil laugh***...more info
It's not really THAT original when you look at more independent films, and even originality can't help a boring movie. Not really that funny or entertaining. It feels as if it is trying to hard. ...more info
- Strange classic movie
What can I say? It is a weird movie, but if that is your kind of humor, this is the classic movie for you. Tired of love stories, chick flicks or adventure. Do you want to watch a movie purely for fun? This is your kind of movie. I could not even find it at the Movie Rental Store. This not-so-well known gem is the kind of movie that attracts a certain special group of people who are fans of John Malkovich and his kind of off-beat characters. It grows on you. You have to watch it a few times to get it. Usually, that is....more info
- This movie is dumb.
After viewing it for myself, I feel that most of the comments made about the movie are seriously misleading (The good reviews were the reason that I purchased the movie in the first place). There are some aspects of the movie that I consider well thought out and interesting, but the movie itself falls short of all the "ingenious, original, modern masterpiece" nonsense that is said about it. During the first half of the movie, my expectations were high that this was going to turn out to be an offbeat indie movie comparable to the works of Michel Gondry . . . . that is not the case at all.
The beginning of the movie, like I said before seemed promising. . . . the main character is an unemployed puppeteer who is truly gifted with creative genius in his art. Unfortunately for him, his line of work is a dying breed and because he is a nameless no one, he lives his life in obscurity, giving performances on street corners, which even there are not well received. Based on a suggestion by his wife (an eccentric sort herself, with numerous pets to compensate for lack thereof of children), he seeks employment. The only appealing job he finds remotely related to his line of work, is a job as a filing clerk, requiring someone with nimble hands. His new job is found on the 7 1/2 floor of an office building, where the ceilings are so low that workers have to hunch over in order to walk around it.
After dropping a file behind a cabinet, he accidental discovers a portal into the mind of John Malkovich. He crawls down it and finds that he can now see through the eyes of John, becoming him for 15 minutes. After which, he is flung out of the portal and is thrown into a ditch along the Jersey Turnpike. He and another coworker (a love interest for both him and his wife) quickly decide to use this discovery to make fast cash and market the portal as a sort of theme-park ride for individuals willing to pay out 200 dollars to go through the tunnel.
The plot takes a serious nosedive after this point. The remaining times that the main character or his wife go through the portal to be john Malkovich are basically for the sake of having sex with the main character's coworker in an out of body experience. . . which I thought was a disappointing turn in what could have been an otherwise very good movie. . . . Am I the only one that doesn't find it appealing to watch this kind of crap?
I don't understand how this can even remotely be considered a work of cinematic art. It uses sex, like so many other shallow movies, to cover up the empty space between the beginning and end of the movie to hold over the viewers interest and disguise a lack of substance in a poorly developed point in the plot.
The climax of the movie displays some of the same creative qualities that I found appealing in the introduction, but overall it just left me just hoping it would hurry up and end. . . . . . Needless to say I will not be watching this movie again anytime soon. ...more info
- THIS MOVIE REALLY TRIPPED ME OUT (AWESOME)
If someone made a movie about a lame puppeteer, with a boring life, a wife thats as bored as he is, a structurally mismade office building, a sexy but somewhat evil co worker, a backwards talking boss, a chimpanzee with a traumatic youth, and a PORTAL INTO JOHN MALKOVICHS BRAIN, would you see it?
Well you should, cuz there is. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH is one of the craziest movies ever made, and what's really weird about this movie is that in the end... it all makes perfect sense.
This one will flip your wig kids, if you are into movies that make you trip without using drugs... this one is for you. The writers follow up film ADAPTATION is also very awesome.
read this guys reveiw below mine if you've SEEN the movie, I'm sitting at work DYING! ...more info
- Thanks, JSG
I'm glad someone else has noticed the disturbing character of the film. You have carried Lovecraft a bit too far, fellow reviewer, the joke wore thin about half-way through your paragraphs. But then, so does the ingenuity of the movie, whose utter bleakness the fierce fancy of the director and the cast obstruct at first. Two things contribute to this eventual feeling the most: the sad, eerie score ("Craig's Overture" on the Soundtrack CD) and the fate of Malcovich himself. When he, having gone through and, literally, out of his own mind, cries out "I have seen things no man should ever see" this is, of course, a joke. Well noted, JSG. But, as you also know, he happens to be right, and the end of the movie is anything but funny, not even in the gallows humor sort of sense. The scene where Maxine thinks of making Malcovich, in whose body she is in, eat omelette off the table, is another little memory anchor. The film makes me think of rain; I do believe there are rainy scenes there, or this might be a false memory, but at any rate the grey palette and the music remind me of a dounpour, cold, steely, never stopping, pouring down on some very miserable and confused human beings...
To those who have not seen it: by no means think this is a negative review in the habitual sense. I gave the picture 4 stars not because of this hidden theme but only for petering out somewhat in the second portion. Do, in fact, buy or rent it. You'll be glad you did, even if, in the end, you find yourself uncertain about the genre. It is, perhaps, better to be much delighted and a bit heavy-hearted than just amused; the displeasure is often a sign you have learned something uncomfortable and new. T....more info
- 2.5 stars out of 4
The Bottom Line:
Praised by critics, who (rightfully, to a degree) salute anything different--and boy is this movie different--Being John Malkovich is largely different for its own sake, eschewing any factors that would make the movie likable in favor of being off the wall....more info
- It lacks some finesse
The film is deeply funny because of the grossness of the concrete realization of the argument of the plot. It is muddy, dirty, crawling in a corridor, perverting in the most grotesque way Alice in Wonderland looking through the looking glass and sharing an apartment with an ill-mouthed parrot and a chimpanzee. The hole in the hedge is a rat hole in the wall and the only attractive thing in it is the glass doorknob. Then the plot is absolutely funny. It is based on one person being able to crawl inside another person and impose his or her personality onto that other person. That's strange but very fast it becomes ah ah because of the identity of the person inside and the identity of the person with whom the inhabited one is having relationships, discussions, rapports, even intercourse of course. In a way it is perverted since a woman can live her love for another woman by accepting her to be in the man that is the vessel of that intruder or invader. If the man is invaded by a woman and has a personal relationship with another woman, the two women are making love, to the point of procreating a girl, their daughter. That's definitely ah ah. Then the film deals with phantasms in the heads of Western men and women. Everyone wants to be able to make their desires and emotions towards anyone whatsoever real. But after all you have to keep some appearances, as a British TV series about a certain Mrs Bouquet used to say, and that's how the inhabited human vessel can enable so many possible connections to take place. Then it shows that success in our society does not depend on the value you have but on the value the public persona you are living in has. If you live in the body of a great person anything you will do will be successful and seen at once as great. Finally, and that's the punch scene at the end of the film, this possibility to transit from one person to another will enable some old people to get into younger bodies and live forever. The very fundamental myth of the Western world, but a myth they have never dared to realize in a religious belief or philosophical theory. The Buddhist did it but not the Christians, nor the Moslems, nor the Jews, the three Semitic religions. So Hollywood is playing the role of the provider of eternity to the few who will believe it because they have always dreamed of it. Blessed be the gullible, ... So all in all a funny film that makes you feel at times kind of ill at ease.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
- Demented and Original
At a time when many movies are utter crap, this one stood out for its originality. A hapless puppeteer discovers a 'portal' into the brain of John Malkovich and this device becomes the pivot for weird takes on couplehood, not to mention celebrity.
This is a small movie. No one gets shot. No blood. No car crashes. No nudity. In other words, it's a miracle this thing was sort of a minor hit. Great rental movie....more info
- Best Film of 1999.
Can't believe that this didn't win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (and I loved "American Beauty"). The fact is this should have won Best Picture. Spike Jones has directed a brilliant script by Charlie Kaufman. John Cusack (so great in "The Grifters" and "Bullets Over Broadway") gives his finest performance here. John Malkovich and Catherine Keener deliver great performances - inventive and fesh - Malkovich is one of the greats - Keener a revelation. Cameron Diaz (never a favorite) proves herself a considerable actress. The editing, art direction, sound and score are all terrific. The last great film of the twentieth century? Certainly the best film of 1999. Beware: Thinking required....more info