Indie Classics- Control Freak Puppeteering: Looking at Spike Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich”
When looking at Spike Jonze’s film “Being John Malkovich” it is easy to see the ideas of self, control, and larger issues are presented. The screenplay was written by Charlie Kaufman ( who also wrote the screenplay for “Adaptation“).The movie stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and of course John Malkovich as himself.
This film appealed for a lot of different reasons. One, for as off beat as Charlie Kaufman’s scripts are they are hilarious and deep at the same time. How would you feel if someone found a portal into your mind? Would you even want that to happen? Or would you as a person even enter that portal? This was the dilemma for an out-of-luck puppeteer named Craig Schwartz (Cusack), who from his wife’s suggestions gets a job at an unusual office as a file clerk. However, he encounters Maxine, a coworker, and falls in love with her. In spite of his uncontrollable obsession for her, Maxine rejects him.
This seems like the kind of story that a oddball guy gets a new perspective, a new job, and a movie that ends happily ever after and he finds the girl after some large epiphany? No, not exactly when Craig, after losing an important file, finds a porthole to John Malkovich’s brain. When this occurs he realizes he is John Malkovich, only for fifteen minutes. After the time expires he ends up on the side of the New Jersey turnpike. He tells his co-worker Maxine about it, and a plot is hatched to make a quick buck. At the same time, Craig tells his wife, Lotte (Diaz) about the portal and she tells Craig she wants to give it a go. After her experience she learns something new about herself. Later on Craig’s co-worker Maxine wakes up to what she really wants in life as well during this whole experience.
The hilarity of this film has undertones that deal with darker themes about what we want out of life as human beings, and how even if we had the oppurtunity to be someone else would we want to do it? This movie brings up such large issues as indentity, how far we are willing to go for what we want, and are we happy as human beings? I fiound this movie was one hell of a ride and looked at myself as a human being. Your life might not be perfect, and taking chances is a good thing to do, but to mess with somebody else’s life when he or she has no clue about that? It might not be the smartest idea when the movie climax’s when John does eventually figure out what is going on. Especially, for some characters they start questioning what they want or feel in life, which does not always end the way one thinks it is going to.
The acting is well done, as well as the direction and the writing to boot. All of those things mean nothing to me for how I rate a film. It is the impact of the film that makes me like it or not, and through the movie I was cracking up and at some points pitying what was happening to the characters. It makes me think what do I want out of life as well as thinking what is truly important in this cosmic universe, the same question Craig Shwartz asks when he ultimately plays his part of the puppeteer well.