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Being John Malkovich (1999) artwork

Being John Malkovich (1999)

24th October 2000

A struggling street puppeteer accidentally discovers a portal straight into John Malkovich's brain and experiences what it is like to be the one and only John Malkovich for fifteen minutes, and it's a perfect money making scheme.
John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Ned Bellamy, Mary Kay Place, Orson Bean, Catherine Keener, Byrne Piven, John Malkovich
Fantasy
4
1 Hour 48 Minutes

When out of work puppeteer Craig Schwartz takes a job as a filing clerk on the 7½ floor of an office building (don't ask, the film will explain!), he makes a bizarre discovery which changes his life, and that of John Malkovich, in more ways than he could have ever imagined.

Whilst recovering a file which has dropped behind a filing cabinet, he discovers a small secret doorway. Intrigued by the hidden door he ventures into the dark and is suddenly sucked into the mind of actor John Malkovich. After fifteen minutes of seeing through Malkovich's eyes, and experiencing what the actor is experiencing, he is suddenly ejected into a ditch outside New Jersey.

Unable to contain his excitement he discloses what has happened to him to Maxine, a woman who also works on the 7½ floor and who has repeatedly rejected his advances. She immediately senses a money making scheme of having a portal into the mind of John Malkovich and convinces Craig that they should start a business "J.M. Inc.". For two hundred dollars a time, people can have the experience of a lifetime. Trouble is, another group of people are also interested in the portal for their survival.

Most of the film takes place at night and in dark and dingy locations. However, the picture holds up well with a crisp and clear image with no sign of artifacting or outlining. As the majority of the film is dialogue based there is little use of the surround channels, but once inside John Malkovich's head the surrounds are put to good use.

The extras are OK, although the two featurettes included on the disc are just repeats from within the film. There's also a bizarre menu function which, as indicated, doesn't do anything. I did persist with this for a while in case there were any Easter eggs hidden in there, but failed to find anything.

Whoever thought of this idea must have been smoking some illegal substance at the time. In an age of CGI intensive and films lacking in plots, this is truly an original, and bizarre, idea. There's never been anything quite like this film and I'm sure there never will be another. There are so many subtle moments in the film which are really funny, and I also thought the aged, and balding, Charlie Sheen was hilarious.

This DVD was bought during my trip to Australia, and so far, all the discs that I've bought have been encoded as both R4 and R2. This is especially interesting for people who only have R2 players and wish to obtain films earlier than the R2 release. I suppose you do run the risk that a title won't be encoded for R2, but I suspect this will be a rare occurrence.

  • Video featurette "American Arts and Culture Presents: John Horatio Malkovich"
  • Video Featurette "7½ Floor Orientation"
  • Interview with Director Spike Jonze
  • Spikes Photo Album
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Cast and Filmmakers' Notes
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