/Being John Malkovich/ (1999) Spike Jonze 10/10
Wrote a blog piece about this recently then deleted it. Ultimately, the place for my thoughts is here, I think. I don't know if BJM plays better today than when it first debuted in 1999, but it takes on a whole new meaning. Or rather, its original meaning becomes more clear. It's a devastating portrait of male ego. I could go on about all the choices that I adore about this film. Mike D'Angelo makes an excellent point about how completely, hilariously random many elements are. For example, so many of the choices are thematically purposeful, but they're immediately followed by something random. Malkovich tunnel: purposeful. New Jersey Turnpike: random. But today in the #MeToo era, Being John Malkovich plays like the ultimately portrait of a disempowered man. Look at Craig's final fate: he's forced to live inside the daughter of two women, looking at this burgeoning Matriarchy for years to come. He's pathetic and he's condemned. Meanwhile, Lotte is the ultimate snowflake. She pays the rent by healing the trauma of animals. She gains power through questioning her gender. In Being John Malkovich, there's nothing more powerful than a snowflake on a search for meaning...and I love that.
There are times when I think THIS (not Eternal Sunshine...) might be Kaufman's magnum opus. For instance from a writing perspective, he spends the entire first act laying out this love triangle. Imagine if Craig didn't find the Malkovich portal? He might then read a book on pick-up lines, right? Instead, he finds the Malkovich tunnel, which is totally incidental. But the players have been set in motion. From then on, everybody in the film is relentlessly pursuing something (or somebody) else in a journey ripe with discovery and betrayal. The reveal of Captain Merton gets a demerit or two in my book for being just a little too silly. But the lines of reggies shelling out bucks just to be somebody else for a few minutes... well, it's the new app. It's just another thing, invading somebody's privacy, and nobody really cares. They're just mindless drones lining up. Admittedly, it's a bit facile, and Jonze and Kaufman wisely background it to the love triangle.
Never loved this film more than I do today. Best of 1999.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver