Saturday, 20 September 2014

Being John Malkovich (4½ Stars)

I have been to the dark side, I have seen a world that no man should see.

Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is an unemployed puppeteer in New York. He lives in a basement apartment with his wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) and her many exotic pets, which include parrots, iguanas and chimpanzees. He takes a temporary job as a filing clerk. One evening, while working late, he finds a secret door hidden behind a filing cabinet. This door leads into John Malkovich's head. Anyone who enters can see through John Malkovich's eyes for 15 minutes, after which he's thrown out onto the grass at the side of the New Jersey Turnpike.

This seemingly absurd film throws up so many philosophical questions. The first time you watch it you have to laugh. You could mistakenly think you're watching a Woody Allen film. After you see it the second time you begin to see the bigger issues. It's a film about reality, identity, gender roles and control.

When I first saw this film I gave all the credit to the writer, Charlie Kaufman. He's written several amazing films, including "Adaptation" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". I paid no attention to the director Spike Jonze, who has made his career directing music videos. After seeing "Her" earlier this year, which Spike Jonze both wrote and directed, I can look back and see his influence on this film.

This message appeared at the end of the credits. All the characters portrayed in the film are fictitious? That's strange. I thought that John Malkovich really existed. Wikipedia says he does, but sometimes Wikipedia lies.

What is this strange power that John Malkovich exudes?

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