Being John Malkovich

So I just watched Being John Malkovich for the 5th time, and I think I finally get it. At least I understand the basic plot and I’m no longer confused by the puppets, the half-sized floor, and the old people. I still don’t quite get all the esoteric references and off-handed asides or why Cameron Diaz has a shit load of pets. Overall though I feel I get it.

One thing I do get is that Being John Malkovich is an incredible motion picture, Spike Jonze took Charlie Kaufman’s script and made a fantastic freaking movie. Charlie Kaufman’s script is so god damned smart. I finish this movie and I have to just sit down and wonder, why do I want to write? I mean my hope is to one day have people pay to read something I have written, or pay to see a movie I have written, and then I see Being John Malkovich, or Adaptation and I think, what the hell do I have to say that even compares to Kaufman. (Forgive me, I’ll try not to air my insecurities over the internet too often)

Beyond just the writing everything else in Being John Malkovich is pretty great. John Cusack is convincingly creepy and gross. His character at first is hilariously conceited and pretentious, and you kind of side with him because he’s hip and artistic and you are lead to believe that this is the sort of film that celebrates hip and artistic people, then you start to realize that he is really just a creepy and gross dude.

Hip and Artistic or Creepy and Gross?

Orson Bean is also really, really, really good as Dr. Lester, this kooky old guy who at one point has this speech at a juice bar about his sexual fantasies towards a woman in the (half) office that verges on beat poetry. Makes me laugh every time. I’d also like to suggest John Malkovich get an Academy Award for this movie, I know it came out like a decade ago but maybe we like take Cuba Gooding Jr.’s best supporting actor Oscar away from him and give it to Malkovich, it’s not like Cuba’s been doing anything with it since.

Academy Award Winner In The House Ya'll

It had been a while since I last watched Being John Malkovich and there was one part that I had totally forgotten. When Cameron Diaz chases prego Keener through Malkovich’s sub conscious. That sequence reminded me of the part in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind when Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet try to escape deeper into Carrey’s memories. It seems Kaufman has a soft spot in his heart for sexual embarrassment and childhood trauma.

Being John Malkovich is one of those movies, like Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine that I have to come back to every once in a while, in an attempt to understand a bit more about what’s going on, and also in an attempt to understand how to write an entertaining and thought-provoking film. Also it’s got a baby with John Malkovich’s head.


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