Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

 ... you can learn from:

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Craig: You don't know how lucky you are being a monkey. Because consciousness is a terrible curse. I think. I feel. I suffer. And all I ask in return is the opportunity to do my work. And they won't allow it... because I raise issues.

Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich, considered by those in the know to be the best movie of the greatest movie years of our lives 1999, premiered on this very day in that very great year at the Venice Film Festival. This was the very first screenwriting credit for writer and personal god Charlie Kaufman -- imagine having something this distinctive, this brilliant, be your very first screenwriting credit?? No wonder Charlie decided from there on out to be rather, uhh, uncompromising in what he slaps his name on. 

Of course that's exactly the mind-set he's poking fun at in the quote from the movie I chose, and the reason we love Charlie so (so so so) much (one of them anyway) is he never takes him own damned self out of his laser-sharp sights. All his best jokes are at his own expense! Well except for all the hilarious shredding of Judd Apatow he did in his recently dropped novel Antkind -- those jokes are definitely at Judd Apatow's expense. 

Have any of you read Antkind yet? I don't purport to be "evenhanded" when it comes to Kaufman's work -- just read my review of his new movie (out on Friday!) I'm Thinking of Ending Things from earlier this week to see how in the tank I am -- but I loved every insane inch of Antkind, even when I had no fucking idea what was happening. Maybe especially when that? I know there are perfectly acceptable other answers to this question but why even engage with a work of art if it's not going to change and challenge you? WHY EVEN???

But back to Being John Malkovich, which I think I can say changed and challenged all of us, meaning you and me and the entire concept of what's possible with telling a story on film. I re-watched BJM along with Synecdoche New York and Anomolisa a couple of weeks back to prepare myself for Kaufman's new movie and Malkovich holds up so well its ridiculous. 

It might feel even more vital now, looking back on it 21 years later, with the ways in which it was prescient about our culture -- like say our enthusiastic willingness to have our selves be swallowed up by a superficially shinier other, where most of the thrill ultimately ends up being the humdrum mundanity of it? Living through someone else's eyes is itself enough -- we'll just eat soup, stare at the wall, as long as we are not we for a single fucking second. 

Anyway before I close this out let me say also Please 
Please make another movie soon, Spike Jonze. (Oh and PS
Adaptation is hitting blu-ray for the first time in October!)

1 comment:

Barry said...

Cameron Diaz totally deserved a nomination for this film. How did it not manage a Best Picture nomination, as well?