A puppeteer discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich.
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Directed by Spike Jonze
Written by Charlie Kaufman
Starring John Cusack, Catherine Keener, Cameron Diaz,
John Malkovich, Orson Bean
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay
When I first found out about Being John Malkovich, I thought it was the craziest idea for a movie I'd ever heard. I also wondered how exactly you would pitch that to a studio, or to Malkovich himself. Amazingly, this film turned out to be not only wildly inventive, but really smart and funny. It's one of the weirdest, most imaginative films I've ever enjoyed, and after watching Synecdoche, New York, it's reinvigorated my desire to delve into Charlie Kaufman's work. There's clearly brilliance there if he was able to write this. I feel like this film simply wouldn't work with another actor. It absolutely needs to be John Malkovich.
Craig Schwartz (Cusack) is a failed puppeteer who gets a job in the strangest office in New York City. His boss (Bean) is a weird old lecher, the ceilings are so low that he has to hunch, and he falls in love with a mean-spirited, cruel coworker named Maxine (Keener). One day, he finds a small hidden door behind a filing cabinet that he learns is a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich. He and Maxine decide to charge people for the Malkovich experience, including Craig's wife Lotte (Diaz) who becomes obsessed. The film really takes off once Malkovich himself gets wind of the scam and tries to stop it. The film never slows down, and it actually provides satisfactory answers to what the portal is and why it's there.
I'll never be able to watch one of Malkovich's movies again without picturing hundreds of him in a cafe (Malkovich? Malkovich, Malkovich.). It's an insane movie that can only work once if made by the right people, which it was. I love that the film actually explores the philosophical implications of the portal, and whether they're intruding on Malkovich's mind or soul. You could watch this film a hundred times and take away something new every time. It's a must-see.