|Being John Malkovich
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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
- My favorite movie for some time now.
I love the combination of scifi existentialism, reality in the fact that John Malkovich plays himself, and subtle comedy.
There are scenes in this movie that stick in my head and make me chuckle when I think of them long after seeing it.
I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a lot of quirkiness in their movies....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
- A crowning acheivement of the "indie" era
One inventive scene follows another in this dark comedy from writer Charlie Kaufman and Director Jonze. For a few glosious years in the late nineties, Hollywood was informed by the spirit of independent films. This was one of the top results.
So, yes: if you often use the phrase "weird" to describe people, films, music, etc., this might not be your bag.
Craig Swartz (Cusack) is a talented but unappreciated puppeteer who is forced to take a job filing in an office. He soon makes two discoveries that become intertwined: that he is smitten with the brassy and cruel Maxine, who works his building; and that, hidden behind a file cabinet, his office contains a portal into in the mind of actor John Malkovich. Those who enter the portal see and feel everything John does for 15 minutes, before being ejected onto the Jersey Turnpike. Maxine decides that she and Craig should exploit the portal, charging $200 per "ride." Meanwhile, Craig's wife (Diaz) gets addicted to the portal, decides she is a trans-sexual, and also falls in love with Maxine.
Yes, it sounds crazy, and it is; but the script and the director manage to make it work. The film is funny both in the traditional sense, with clever dialogue and semi-normal situations; but hilarious in the I-can't-believe-these-guys-thought-of-this sense. Furthermore, the unusual circumstances of the story make it engrossing, since it is literally impossible to predict what might happen next. This truly makes for an adventure in film-watching. ...more info
- 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
- What would you see if you could enter your own mind?
If you don't mind the exceedingly creepy idea of your wife leaving you for another woman whilst occupying the body of a man (John Malkovic to be precise) then this movie is for you.
It's completely absurd, abstract and entertaining, if only for the fact that you will see Cameron Diaz at her absolute worst in terms of image (although quality acting).
Certainly a very entertaining way to spend a couple of hours!
The HD-DVD version isn't the best or worst transfer out there, it just is what it is, so if you like the movie, go and buy....more info
- A Wild Ride
There aren't many films that will force you to think differently. This is one of those rare exceptions, and a funny one to boot.
It explores the age-old question of what it would be like to be inside someone else's head (and body, with riotous gender switches).
Great quote from Cameron Diaz, who plays Lotte Schwartz in this film: "It's been said that in Hollywood there are only 14 different scripts. Well, this is number 15."
A film to be watched in one sitting, it is the perfect entertainment for a Friday evening, after a tough week.
Highly recommended. Once you've seen it, read The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle) by Susan Orlean and then watch Adaptation (Superbit Collection), the follow-on film by Spike Jonze....more info
- Originality and Creativity at Its Finest
Without writing too much (most of the fun of this film comes from discovering its originality on your own), it can be said without doubt that "Being John Malkovich" is an amazing piece of filmmaking. It reminds us where film can take us, and is arguably the best example of creative screenwriting in the last decade or so.
The film is about a puppeteer named Craig Schwartz (John Cusak) who, upon taking a new job filing for a small company, discovers a hidden door in his office, which leads to a long and narrow tunnel. Crawling through the tunnel himself, he finds that the door is actually a portal in to the mind of actor John Malkovich: whoever goes through the portal spends fifteen minutes living the life of Malkovich through Malkovich's eyes. A bizarre idea already, but the fun begins when Craig and his co-worker, Maxine, (Catherine Keener) decide to sell trips through the portal after work hours in their office are over. Like a Malkovich theme-park ride.
Without giving away any more, I will say that the film features great performances all around, but sticks out because Cusak and Cameron Diaz play characters so different than what they are typically cast as.
The film features some classic scenes, including a climactic chase scene through Malkovich's sub-conscious. Genius. An amazing example of original filmmaking, directed by music video director Spike Jonze, making his feature-film debut. ...more info
Funny, Inventive, and asks the cosmic question of what if we could be somebody else....more info
- Just Plain Being Dumb!
This film is in my all time top 5 for the WORST movies that I've ever seen. I turned it off halfway through after repeating to myself over and over that this is dumb. I wish I could get my money back for the rental, it was that bad. I don't usually post negagive reviews, but this film in my opinion was just plain stupid and not worth the time that I spent watching the little that I did. Avoid it at all costs.
- Incredible original story.
This film is a modern masterpiece, an original idea that has no rival. Genius in film making. That being said it was damn funny too. Who would have thought that you could base an entire movie around John Malkovich. The ; "in your own head scene" was the funniest thing I've seen in years. Great movie definitely recommend. Call my agent, From now on out its all puppets. ...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.
- Being John Malcovich
This strangely inventive surrealistic comedy was the inaugural collaboration between onetime music-video director Jonze and talented screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. With such a bizarre concept, this film could have sent audiences home scratching their own noggins, but Cusack, Keener, and an unrecognizable Diaz have a bright, wonderful chemistry that shines through all the head-trippiness. And who can deny that Malkovich, normally such a priggish presence, doesn't have a devilish sense of humor, especially in a hilarious scene where he enters his own head and freaks out? Clever, inspired, and extremely funny, "Malkovich" is cinema-as-funhouse-mirror, and the effect is dizzying....more info
- Masterfully ingenuous and utterly incomparable...
Charlie Kaufman may be the greatest screenwriter of our generation. He's written three of the greatest screenplays in recent memory (`Being John Malkovich', `Adaptation' and `Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind') and those are just the three I've seen (to be honest, I was not entirely impressed with `Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' and I never saw `Human Nature'). He has a knack for creating scenarios that are entirely improbable yet tap into the very soul of a human. His films are not merely comedic entertainment but are important and philosophical in their relation to human nature and innate desire.
`Being John Malkovich' is not your typical comedy.
The film tells the story of puppeteer Craig Schwartz who is growing tired of not having an audience for his work. After he is persuaded by his wife to get a job he finds that his new working environment is opening portals (quite literally) to an entirely new existence. Hidden away in his very workroom is a portal into the mind of John Malkovich, the actor. Yes, by crawling through a long cramped tunnel one can be John Malkovich for fifteen minutes before being spit out over the Jersey turnpike. Craig, having fallen for his intriguing coworker Maxine, devises a plan with her to charge admission into the mind of Malkovich, but entering that portal changes their lives in many other ways.
There are so many ways to interpret this movie that I feel as if touching upon them all would be too difficult a task at this point. I will admit that watching this film, and even more so just contemplating its meanings afterward, changed me in a way.
To be completely honest, I woke up wanting to be John Malkovich.
The film exposes some very human truths, in regards to the desire to be someone we're not and the desire to see ourselves through someone else's eyes. It also, in a somewhat humorous way, exposes the worthlessness of celebrity in itself, the almost faux notion that making a name for ones self really makes a difference. First we have Craig who just wants to practice his work, but he hasn't the name to do so. In Malkovich he finds a way to expound upon his love of puppeteering. Then you have his wife Lotte who is unsatisfied with her existence in finds in Malkovich something that feels right. Then you have Maxine who desires to be desired, and while she is desired by many she is not desired for the right reasons, until she stares into Malkovich's eyes and sees Lotte starring back at her.
And then we have Malkovich. What I thought was so great about the script was that it in a humorous and sub-plotted kind of way approached that fact that celebrity is not as glamorous as one expects. Malkovich is regarded as a respected and loved actor yet no one that talks to him really knows what movies he has made or what roles have made him so `respected'.
"Who's John Malkovich?"
The films brilliant prose is bolstered by the fantastic, and I mean FANTASTIC, performances by the entire cast. John Cusack is awkward, goofy and tired, which masterfully captures his characters unhappiness with his lot in life. Cameron Diaz is brilliantly sporadic with her actions and feelings, adding layers to her characters inborn struggle to be herself. Catherine Keener is flawless as Maxine. She demands our attention with her marvelous manipulation of our emotions. We want her to get what she wants even if it destroys us. This movie though, is called `Being John Malkovich', and honestly, it is John Malkovich himself that drives it all home. His brilliant portrayal of himself is utterly flawless. I have liked him in the past and found him stale in the past, but this performance is astonishing in every sense of the word; especially as it draws to a climax and he starts to unravel.
`Being John Malkovich' is funny, sure, but like Kaufman's other work, `Being John Malkovich' is so much more than a typical comedy. It answers questions (or at least asks very many) about life, human interaction and the very root of who we are and who we want to be.
Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Of course you have....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
- Excellent - in all areas
A great original film which shows the potential once again of an independent production. The photography and the writing were exceptionally well done. I've revisited this film at least 10 times....more info
- Being JM :)
Great PQ and good AQ for the type of movie (mostly dialog). Very good over-all, and of course a great story....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.
- 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
- Huh? Was that necessary. . .?
I enjoy "deep" movies, but sometimes "deep" movies appear deep without truly being deep. This is one of those movies. It was at times thought provoking, but the so called twists and paradoxes, to me, had no deeper meaning other that to have them so people who professed to understand them could feel more intelligent than the rest of the population who did not. Maybe it is sour grapes, but to me if they had cut out some of the "deeper" idioms the movie would have sustained the true depth and thought provoking ideals it was looking for....more info
- Hilarious and quirky
This is one of the most original, quirky and hilarious movies I have ever seen. In fact, it is the most original, quirky and hilarious movie I have ever seen. How these guys--Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze ever came up with this is beyond me. I want more films and books etc from these guys. I highly recommend this movie, but with the caveat that it may not be funny the movie for everyone. You probably need to be off-kilter a little bit to really enjoy this movie....more info
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Malkoviching Malkovich Malkovich
Lotte Schwartz: Craig, honey, it's time for bed.
[fade out and in]
Orrin Hatch the bird: Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up,
Craig Schwartz: Lotte...
Lotte Schwartz: I'm sorry. I didn't know Orrin Hatch was out of his cage.
A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of the movie star, John Malkovich.
Craig Schwartz: Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate.
Craig discovers that LesterCorp is on the 7 1/2 floor of the Mertin Flemmer building by seeing a "7 1/2" on a building directory in the lobby - at the 7 1/2-minute point of the film.
Dr. Lester: Any questions?
Craig Schwartz: Just one. Why are these ceilings so low?
Dr. Lester: Low overhead, my boy - we pass the savings on to you! But seriously, that'll all be covered in the orientation.
The play that Craig was performing with his puppets (when he gets smacked by an angry parent) is based on the letters of Abelard and Heloise, written between 1115 and 1117 AD, which were found, copied and abridged by Johannes de Vepria, a 15th century Cistercian monk, into "Ex Epistolis duorum amantium" ("From the Letters of Two Lovers"). This became a classic document of early romantic (tragic) love used by many artists in their work including William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. In addition, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's later project Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) took its title, and no small amount of inspiration, from Alexander Pope's "Eloisa to Abelard."
Dr. Lester: I've been very lonely in my isolated tower of indecipherable speech.
The 1990 Steppenwolf Theatre building in Chicago (Malkovich was one of the first members of Steppenwolf, and remains one today) includes a half-floor used for storage.
The original script has Kevin Bacon in place of 'Charlie Sheen' , as Malkovich's actor friend.
John Malkovich: Ma-Sheen!
Charlie Sheen: Malcatraz!
The play that John Malkovich is rehearsing on stage is Shakespeare's "Richard III." The lines "Was ever a woman in this humour woo'd? / Was ever a woman in this humour won?" are I.ii.239-240, where Richard is gloating over his use of power, lies and crime to obtain the woman he desires, Lady Anne. This rehearsal scene is immediately followed by the first time that Craig makes love with Maxine via Malkovich.
Maxine: Tell me a little about yourself.
Craig Schwartz: Well, I'm a puppeteer...
Maxine: [turns to bartender] Check!
Several characters in the movie remember Malkovich as having played a jewel thief, even though, as he correctly points out, he never did. However, Malkovich did eventually play a jewel thief in Johnny English (2003).
Craig Schwartz: You don't know how lucky you are being a monkey. Because consciousness is a terrible curse. I think. I feel. I suffer. And all I ask in return is the opportunity to do my work. And they won't allow it... because I raise issues.
Craig Schwartz: [voiceover] Maxine. Maxine, I love you, Maxine. Oh, look away. Look away. Look away. Look away. Look away. Look away. Look away. Look away.
"Allegro, from Music for Strings"
Written by B¨¦la Bart¨®k
Performed by The Cleveland Orchestra
Conducted by Christoph von Dohn¨¢nyi
Courtesy of The Decca Record Company Ltd.
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
"Song of the Soul"
Composed by Patrick Hawes
Courtesy of Promusic, Inc.
(from Concerto in C major for Oboe, String Orchestra and Basso Continuo)
Music by Antonio Vivaldi
Courtesy of Promusic, Inc.
Written by Bj?rk
Performed by Bj?rk
Produced by Bj?rk, Valgeir Siguresson & Mark Bell
Maxine: You're not someone I could get interested in, Craig, you play with dolls.
TEN FILMS THAT PERTAIN TO BEING JOHN MALKOVICH IN SOME OBSCURE OR DIRECT WAY
Adaptation (Superbit Collection) (2002) Charlie Kaufman wrote this script besides Being John Malkovich. Meryl Streep? Not too shabby. Contains a fictional account of the making of Being John Malkovich as part of a movie within the movie.
Bound (1996) Jennifer Tilly is Violet and Gina Gershon is Corky. Schwing!!!
Steppenwolf (1974) Max von Sydow is Harry Haller, the Steppenwolf, Pierre Cl¨¦menti is the enigmatic Pablo, and Dominique Sanda is Hermine. Based on the book by Herman Hesse, it was also the name of the theater company joined by John Malkovich, as well as the band who gave us Born to Be Wild.
Boys on the Side (1995) Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore, and Mary-Louise Parker order a grilled cheese sandwich with a pickle on the side.
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) Cusack is Martin Q. Blank, an everyman, a warped John Q. Public.
Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio (2002) Roberto Benigni followed up his Oscar win with Pinocchio, the worst received puppet show since Craig Schwartz performed The Letters of Abelard and Heloise.
The Grifters (1990) Cusack is Roy Dillon, a grifter, son of Angelica Houston, another grifter, and Annette Benning? Grifter.
There's Something About Mary (Widescreen Edition) (1998) Cameron Diaz plays Mary Jensen, right down to her hair gel.
Johnny English (Widescreen Edition) (2003) Pascal Sauvage, the Greedy Frenchman, and Malkovich finally does play a jewell theif after all.
Charlie Sheen: Truth is for suckers, Johnny Boy.
- Brilliant, original, chilly humor
It would be easy to analyze this film as a puppet show within a puppet show, as a puppeteer ultimately caught in his own strings, and so on, but none of that gets at what is most striking about it. The film creates a world with its own logic, to which it stays true enough. The characters act as we would expect them to, once we know who they really are. What stands out in the film is the masterly, fresh comedy, from hilarious quirks to perfect deadpan send-ups of artistic and other high pretensions. (And there's some excellent puppet work that the film doesn't invite us to fully appreciate.) But all of that will be undermined for some by the emotional ambiguity of the film.
It begins the way many quirky comedies do, with what appears to be a basically decent person with sensibilities normal enough that we can identify with them, surrounded by other characters who are more cartoonish and off-kilter. The contrast and tension between the normal and strange heightens the comic effect. We are drawn in a little, enough to sympathize, but by the end of the film no character has developed into anyone we really care much about, and to the extent we do still care, our sentiments are rewarded with what ought to be chilling results, though they're played more for their dark humor. No one turns out to have the capacity for any but the most superficial human warmth and love, obsession and casual sex taking their place. Arguably the adults in the film deserve their fates, or, in the case of Malkovich, deserve only limited sympathy.
But what of the fate of the young girl at the end, whose psyche is already violated? Well, either we can laugh it off and treat the film as a superficial comedy in which such things shouldn't be dwelt on, or we can identify with her as real and feel bad for her, in which frame of mind this becomes a more disturbing film all around than is generally acknowledged.
This sour note isn't so much the fatal flaw of this film as it is the clearest indication of it. The emotional balance of the film is unsettled. At times we seem to be dealing with people like us, with whom we should identify; at other times we see them as lacking real souls. This may be regarded as part of the conceit of the film, that the rules of this alternate universe include that humans aren't fully human, or are only ambiguously so (which, of course, can be seen in context of the puppet theme). That makes the film consistent in its way, but it's an ambiguity that leaves us unable to fully respond to the characters and what happens to them. Comedy mistreats its characters, but if we're induced to care about them at first, it's more than comedy when they're truly hurt, or when we no longer care if they're hurt.
That will bother some people more than others, and, judging from the reviews, most people not at all. If you like Fargo and Rushmore, you'll probably love this. Just don't get too attached to the characters or anything else that seems genuine at first if you want to enjoy it as comedy. And if you want to see it as tragic and disturbing, the overall comic approach may be more bothersome than helpful....more info
- VERY STRANGE MOVIE SINCE TOMMY WAS RELEASE IN 1975
I SAW THIS MOVIE ON TV ON COMEDY CENTRAL ONCE AND THOUGHT THAT IT WAS VERY STRANGE. JOHN CUSACK'S PUPPETEER CHARACTER CRAIG IS A REAL BUTTHEAD,ONLY BECAUSE HE TRYING TO LAID WITH ANOTHER WOMAN BEHIND CAMERON DIAZ'S CHARACTER'S BACK WHO PLAYS THE PUPPETEER'S WIFE LOTTE AND PUT LOTTE IN CAGE WITH A CHIMP BOUND AND GAGED. AS FOR MAXINE (PLAYED BY CATHERINE KEENER) SHE IS A SLUT IN THIS MOVIE. AS JOHN MALKOVICH HIMSELF HE THINKS THESE PEOPLE ARE INSANE,THEY ARE DRIVING HIM MAD BY TRYING GET INSIDE HIS WORLD BY ENTERING SOME STUPID PORTAL THAT THESE PEOPLE FROM THE CRAIG'S OFFICE HAVE DISCOVERED. MR MALKOVICH SHOULD OF TOLD CRAIG, LOTTE AND MAXINE TO GET A LIFE IN THE REAL WORLD AND BE YOURSELF FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. OVERALL, THE MOVIE ITSELF GETS TOO CARRIED AWAY WITH EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE, OUCH! ...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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- What an incredible idea!
Charlie Kaufman has an absolutely sick imagination and I am pretty amazed that this movie ever got made. It's so abstract that it just begs to not be something that actually came out of Hollywood. A portal into John Malkovich's head? Comic and creative genius!...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
- Humorous Twist On Mind and Body
Craig starts as a nobody Puppeteer until one day he finds himself as a well-mannered actor after discovering a miniature doorway where he works. It is a portal that leads to the mind and body of John Malkovich. For 200.00 Craig and his hard-to-get co-worker lets anyone access the portal; where love making with wild women and his daily habits can be experienced. Unfortunately for most it only last 15 minutes. This movie plays on many philosophical and psychological abstracts such as mind, consciousness, sub consciousness and private thought and diffuses them out with humor and sexual wits. ...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
- 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
- A new kind of monster movie?
This movie kind of reminded me of Kafka for some reason:
no offense, but $200
for 15 minutes of being John Malkovich
seems over priced?
The acting is first rate and the script is is just kind of awesome in the way you get to hate the John Cusack character who is
pretty much the anti-hero of this modern surreal drama.
In the end I guess I liked it, but I wouldn't take kids to see it....more info