Being John Malkovich (1999)
Main cast: John Malkovich (himself), John Cusack (Craig Schwartz), Cameron Diaz (Lottie Schwartz), and Catherine Keener (Maxine)
Director: Spike Jonze


Ooh! Oh, oh, oh! Brilliant! Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! I love this movie - adore it.

Ahem. Pardon my show of exhilaration. Being John Malkovich is one of the funniest, most inventive, and most delicious piece of dark comedy I've ever seen in a long time. Nothing is predictable, but every minute is so riveting as to keep me watching. And the best part is, nobody seems to give a damn as to why John Malkovich is in this movie!

Craig Schwartz is an out-of-luck out-of-job puppeteer who feels his genius is unappreciated. His wife Lottie is equally miserable and immerses herself into caring for her pets and strays. Both of them don't talk in the same wavelength anymore. When Craig finds a job as a filer (wait until you see where he works!), he stumbles upon a secret door that leads into a sewer-like cavern. When he enters the door, he comes out in... John Malkovich's subconsciousness. Ooh la la, apparently the experience is so orgasmic he sees life in a new life. His vivacious colleague Maxine, whom he has a crush on, sees this opportunity to cash in. Pay big bucks to be John Malkovich, people! And when Lottie walks through the doorway, she realizes why she's unhappy - she's actually transsexual! She wants to be... John Malkovich. And soon both Schwartzes are fighting for Maxine's affections.

To list down every humorous eccentricity of Being John Malkovich is to do it a disservice. This is a movie to savored again and again, for it is a multilayered dig at everything from social repression, sexual identity, loneliness and alienation, and trauma of being kidnapped by African hunters (don't ask). Kudos to Malkovich for being so sporting as to embarrass himself (and making bald men hot sex symbols), and Mr Cusack and Ms Diaz for putting on delicious performances. The Schwartzes are not caricatures, they are in fact lonely people who see no way of pulling themselves out of their miseries until they discovered John Malkovich. And Maxine, who is such a wonderful bitch, reveals enough vulnerability to keep her character interesting.

There's no way I can explain the many layers of the magic that is Being John Malkovich. I'm not sure why this movie is not nominated for Best Picture - shows how much the old coots know about the Biz - but really, everything about it is inspired. Every moment is a gem. There may not be a movie like Being John Malkovich in a long time, so me, I'm grabbing the DVD.

Rating: 96


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