Wednesday, August 26, 2009

best films: BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999)

Previously ranked and blogged at #97
In what amounts to a confusing, convoluted mess of brilliance, Charlie Kaufman's Being John Malkovich is the result of what could only be an extended acid trip.  Then again, he's made a career out of mind-boggling yet innovative pictures, so this one should come as no surprise.  The real inspired choice at play here is the subject -- relatively obscure arthouse actor, John Malkovich.  The film plays to its strengths, which are making it increasingly difficult to grasp the concept of what is going on and cranking a decent performance out of Cameron Diaz (no easy feat).  And though Kaufman's work saw bigger Oscar glory in later years, this was definitely the one that stoked the fires.  All in all, the real star is the screenplay, but there's something to be said for an actor who successfully play himself, as Malkovich's turn is one of my favorite self-portrayals (right up there with Garrison Keillor in A Prairie Home Companion).

Standout Performance:  Though it was Catherine Keener who received the accolades (and the Academy Award nomination), I hesitate to say that I prefer Malkovich in his deliciously egotistical role, which audiences later discovered came apparently fairly naturally.

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