Being John Malkovich, with John Cusack, gets the deluxe Criterion treatment.
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (Criterion, 1999) D: Spike Jonze, w/ John Cusack, John Malkovich. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NNNNN Rating: NNNN
Still wildly funny after all these years, Being John Malkovich launched the feature film careers of director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman and went on to be hugely influential. You can see its influence in films as diverse as Donnie Darko and Inception.
At first glance it looks like a prime entry in le cinema du WTF, those fine motion pictures like House and Branded To Kill that fire off a thousand heartfelt weirdities that tantalize yet refuse to resolve into any coherent meaning. But notice that Maxine, BJM's villain, is also the movie's moral centre and suddenly the flick snaps into focus as a cheerfully cruel and very funny jab at human weakness and celebrity obsession.
Unappreciated puppeteer Craig (John Cusack), working as a file clerk, discovers a hidden tunnel that lets him inhabit actor John Malkovich (John Malkovich) for about 15 minutes, then dumps him alongside a freeway. At the same time, he develops a major crush on co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener), who can't stand him but gets hot for his wife (Cameron Diaz), but only when the latter is inhabiting Malkovich, who eventually begins to get suspicious.
The movie has no shortage of disturbing ideas, not least the 7½th floor, but none of them comes close to the loopiness in the extras of pop culture critic Perkus Tooth's explanation of the film to increasingly irritated director Spike Jonze. At the other end of the spectrum, Malkovich gives a thoughtful and personal interpretation of the movie.
EXTRAS Michel Gondry commentary, on-set doc, Malkovich interview, director discusses his photos, puppeteering doc, Tooth-Jonze print interview, more. English audio and subtitles.