Amazing movie. It’s quirky, thoughtful, and at times even beautiful. One of my top ten favorites.
I appreciate this movie.
Being ejected onto the side of the New Jersey turnpike was a nice Kaufman touch.
Any other thoughts on this film? Anyone want to analyze? I’ll post mine later.
Post yours now :)
Here’s a good interpretation from flickfilospher- http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/1999/11/being_john_malkovich_review.html
["What makes us us? Why do we do the things we do? Why do we fall in love — or lust — with the people we do? Craig and his wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz: There’s Something About Mary, Very Bad Things), seem made for each other, seem happy and cozy in their cramped basement apartment, which they share with a veritable zoo: a wounded iguana, a chatty parrot, a chimp who visits a shrink. So why does Craig fall madly in love with the chilly, manipulative Maxine (Catherine Keener: 8MM, Out of Sight) the moment he meets her? Is it because he recognizes that she’s a puppeteer, too, in her own way, using the lust she inspires in the men around her to twist them into doing her bidding?
Maxine convinces Craig they should sell tickets to the John Malkovich portal — 200 bucks a pop. The lines stretch out the door, even though they, of necessity, can only open for business in the middle of the night (the portal is rather inconveniently located behind a filing cabinet in the office in which Max and Craig work). Why is it that even though we can’t figure out what makes us us, we’d all rather be someone else?
“Consciousness is a terrible curse,” Craig, in a funk, confides to Elijah (the chimp) one afternoon. But how do we know who actually is conscious? Can we ever really tell when someone’s not moving entirely under his own metaphysical steam? Who pulls your strings?
Why are we obsessed with celebrities? Is it because we all mostly look like frumpy Lotte (who’da thunk Cameron Diaz could look unkempt?) and glum, perpetually unshaven Craig and live in some variation of the Schwartzes’ dingy basement apartment, while celebs lounge around their glorious Upper East Side penthouses waiting for long-legged sexpots to throw themselves at them, as Maxine does with Malkovich? Is it because we all experience the kind of existential rage Craig expresses through his puppets while celebs always seem so damn cool and carefree, or at least way more comfortable in their misery?
Making their feature film debuts, director Spike Jonze (who appeared as an actor in Three Kings, another auspicious debut) and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman ambitiously raise all these questions and explore them obliquely but, to their credit, never offer any concrete answers — these may well be unanswerable questions, seeing as how we as a species have been asking them since we first rubbed a couple of sticks together to make fire. And yet Jonze and Kaufman make us feel as if this is all brand new, landing us in Alice-in-Wonderland territory that’s simultaneously bewildering and uproarious: characters who grievously mishear the spoken word; the strange world of the 7th-and-a-half floor of the Merton-Flemmer Building — where Craig works, where the portal is located — where everyone looks as if they’ve eaten Alice’s pill that makes you big; and even the John Malkovich portal itself, a long, dark, muddy tunnel hidden behind a tiny door, looking like the White Rabbit’s hole.
Weirdly touching, oddly beautiful, curiously gloomy, and featuring the most bizarre chase scene ever filmed, Being John Malkovich is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’ll be mulling over it for weeks.
My favorite film of all time. It explores very intimate themes and yet at the same time it is a bold and exhilarating ride. Definitely is a film that requires multiple viewings to appreciate the depth of its story. And on top of it all is a great comic performance by John Malkovich!
Y’all just got the ultimate appreciation to your appreciations: a Criterion edition, if you guys haven’t heard.
Love this movie too.
Wonderfully insane and absurdly hilarious. It always worked for me as a miraculous piece of high concept, imaginative storytelling, but when we studied it in my Philosophy of Film class it opened it up to even greater levels of depth and meaning.
A Criterion Blu-ray? Oh yeah, this will be worth a revisit.