A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Puppeteer Craig Schwartz and animal lover and pet store clerk Lotte Schwartz are just going through the motions of their marriage. Despite not being able to earn a living solely through puppeteering, Craig loves his profession as it allows him to inhabit the skin of others. He begins to take the ability to inhabit the skin of others to the next level when he is forced to take a job as a file clerk for the off-kilter LesterCorp, located on the five-foot tall 7½ floor of a Manhattan office building. Behind one of the filing cabinets in his work area, Craig finds a hidden door which he learns is a portal into the mind of John Malkovich, the visit through the portal which lasts fifteen minutes after which the person is spit into a ditch next to the New Jersey Turnpike. Craig is fascinated by the meaning of life associated with this finding. Lotte's trips through the portal make her evaluate her own self. And the confident Maxine Lund, one of Craig's co-workers who he tells about the ...Written by
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". See more »
When Craig and Dr. Lester are in the restaurant, two orange Los Angeles MTA buses pass by. See more »
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,
I'm sorry. I didn't know Orrin Hatch was out of his cage.
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at the end of the cast listing is noted ...and John Malkovich See more »
What does it feel like to be inside someone else's skin? Some people find out in the highly imaginative `Being John Malkovich,' directed with style by Spike Jonze, and starring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener and John Malkovich. When out of work puppeteer Craig Schwartz (Cusack) gets a job as a file clerk on the `7 1/2' floor of an office building, it's the beginning of a bizarre interlude that will ultimately take him, and a few others as well, into a realm beyond the known. One day he discovers a small doorway hidden behind a filing cabinet; curious, he ventures into the dark beyond and is suddenly sucked into the mind of actor John Malkovich. After fifteen minutes of seeing through Malkovich's eyes, and experiencing what the actor is experiencing, Craig is just as suddenly and inexplicably dropped into a ditch beside the New Jersey Turnpike. Unable to contain himself, he confides what has happened to him to Maxine (Catherine Keener), a woman who also works on 7 1/2. Immediately, she sees money in the prospect of having a portal into the mind of John Malkovich, and she convinces Craig that they should start a business: `J.M. Inc.' For two hundred dollars a pop, people can have the experience of a lifetime.
Jonze has taken a unique screenplay that is clever, witty, humorous and totally engrossing, and turned it into one of the most ingenious films to come our way in a long, long time. In fact, there's never been anything quite like it. It is distinct and filled with nuance and subtle shades of humor, sometimes dark, sometimes hilarious, but riveting throughout. And the performances are absolutely first rate all around. Keener deservedly got the Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress, but Cusack, Diaz and Bean are also exemplary here. Cusack comes through with one of the best characters he's ever done; there's an edgy, quiet intelligence to Craig, a Bohemian at heart, with a wife, Lotte (Diaz), and an apartment full of pets (snakes, birds and a chimp). He's reserved, generally takes things as they come, and exudes a certain boyish charm when he becomes smitten with Maxine. Diaz, taking on a decidedly unglamorous role, is terrific as Lotte, the somewhat unremarkable pet shop clerk who comes alive after experiencing the `portal.' It's a great character part, and Diaz plays it for all it's worth, connecting with the audience while ably conveying Lotte's sense of confusion and repressed yearnings. And Orson Bean nearly steals the show as Dr. Lester, Craig's boss, the hundred-and-five year old man with a secret that holds the key to the portal. It's a memorable performance filled with nuance and subtle humor; the scene in which he interviews job-applicant Craig is classic. Malkovich (as himself) is the icing on the cake; he plays it straight, with a finesse and distinction that makes the unbelievable somehow credible, while lending an easy, natural flow to the innate humor of the story. The `Malkovich, Malkovich,' sequence, and his rendition of the puppet's dance are unforgettable scenes.
The supporting cast includes Mary Kay Place (Floris), Charlie Sheen (Charlie), Carlos Jacott (Larry), Willie Garson (Guy in restaurant) and Byrne Piven (Captain Mertin). Written by Charlie kaufman, `Being John Malkovich' is a movie that is an experience in itself. And Jonze and his entire cast should be given a standing ovation for bringing this one to life, for making it breathe. It's the kind of film you wait for to come along, but rarely does, and it demands to be seen more than once. Like Lotte, once you've been through the portal, you have to do it again; once you've tasted the nectar, there's no turning back. 10/10.
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