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Being John Malkovich

This inventive film's paradoxes surprise the audience as much in the last half-hour as in the first, as director Jonze and the cast offer one mind-bending development after another. Craig (Cusack), a street artist, can't make a living from his dark, neurotic puppet characters, which the public doesn't care for. His wife, Lotte (Diaz, looking so rundown that she's barely recognizable) runs a pet store, and has filled their home with disturbed animals she can't sell. Craig answers a job want-ad, and is sent to "Floor Seven-and-a-Half" of a business building, in the first of many astonishing encounters. When a new co-worker, Maxine (Keener) inspires his lust and asks, "Are you married?" he answers, "Yeah, but enough about me." They go to a bar, where he tells her he's a puppeteer; her response is, "Waiter? Check, please!"

Behind a filing cabinet in his cramped workplace, Craig finds and crawls through a doorway even lower than the low ceiling, and is whisked through an indescribable portal, then finds himself inside the brain of actor John Malkovich for 15 minutes. The next thing he knows, he's falling from the sky, and lands by the side of the New Jersey Turnpike.

Exhilarated from the experience, he shows the portal to Maxine, who insists they run a business of letting people spend 15 minutes "being" Malkovich, which turns out to be at once funny, sad, satirical, and touching. Malkovich contributes to the effect by playing a muted version of himself (and courage for having agreed to the role). Why do people want to go inside his brain? After a lifetime being yourself, spending 15 minutes as almost anyone else would be fascinating. When Lotte is "being" Malkovich, Maxine seduces him, which Lotte enjoys. She decides to become either a lesbian or a man.

At one point, Malkovich himself enters his portal, which sends him into a black hole of his personality, on a trip through one of Hollywood's most bizarre scenes. But Craig stays cool; being in another person's mind is the ultimate puppeteering experience. Every movie that creates a new world in which mind-altering events sets a precedent; "Forrest Gump" is one, as are "M.A.S.H.," "This Is Spinal Tap," "After Hours," "Babe" and "There's Something About Mary." Each stakes out completely new ground with limitless imagination. This is such a movie.
Director(s): Spike Jonze
Writer(s): Charlie Kaufman
Cast: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Horatio Malkovich, Mary Kay Place, Orson
Release Date: 1999   
Keyword: John Malkovich; entering another person's consciousness; app
Target Age: 16+   Category: other
Documentary: no
Language: English   Reviewer's Name: Micah
Review: http://MRQE
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