Do you sometimes feel as if you have to like certain things because they’re ‘classics’ or ‘legendary’? Pulp Fiction, for example. Or, I don’t know… Mozart. Or yer man Thomas Hardy, who wrote ‘symbolically’ about fields and moors and brick houses. Sometimes I’ve caught myself nodding sagely and saying “Oh yes – a classic!” when, to be perfectly truthful, I think that the subject matter in hand is nothing but a steaming pile of pretentious artistic manure.
Now. Have you ever watched Being John Malkovich?
I bought it because (a) it was in the bargain bin at Video City for £2 and (b) I knew it was a much-hyped movie, nominated for Oscars, blah blah blah. I felt that I should probably watch it if only to add to my repertoire of ‘films I have watched just because everyone else has watched them’. Anyway, Sister and I found it loitering at the bottom of the DVD rack on Sunday night, and decided to give it a try. Film criticism is not really my niche, so this may not be the most eloquent review the movie has ever received, but here goes:
What, in the name of patience, sanity and reason, is all that about?
It’s like a group of stoned teenagers were bored one Saturday night and one of them said hey, you know what’d be, like, totally cool, man? If we just wrote down , like, all the crazy thoughts in our heads and just, like, y’know, film someone like acting them out! And all the other stoned teenagers looked mightily impressed and said Dude! What a totally awesome idea, man! And so Being John Malkovich came into existence. For the first time since my hippy-dippy student days, I really felt like I was missing out on something because of the absence of dope.
Halfway through, I said nervously, “I don’t understand the point of this,” and was relieved when Sister expressed her agreement. We couldn’t switch it off, because we were certain there had to be a point to the film, which would probably become clear in the next scene… or the next… or the next.
As the end credits rolled, we looked blankly at each other. “Do you feel,” asked Sister carefully, “as if you have just taken some hallucinogenic drugs?”
It really was that bad. A puppeteer gets a job in an office on the floor between the 7th and 8th floors. Where, incidentally, the ceilings are so low that everyone walks around stooped over, which makes the whole thing feel slightly insane for a start. Anyway, he falls obsessively in unrequited love with his work partner, and they discover a wee door in his office that leads to, erm, the mind of the actor John Malkovich, allowing you to sort of travel as a passenger in his mind for 15 minutes. No questions whatsoever are asked about this amazing discovery; instead, they decide to sell trips to Malkovich for $200 a pop. Of course, the puppeteer’s wife tries it and decides she prefers being in a man’s body – and then she falls madly in love with the same woman that her husband is obsessed with – and the two women have a love affair whereby the work partner schedules dates with Malkovich when she has arranged for the mad wife to visit his mind!! Naturally, the puppeteer goes berserk when he finds out, and, mad with jealousy, locks his wife in a cage with a gorilla. He enters into Malkovich’s mind for a rendez-vous with the work partner, who thinks the wife is still in there. Until, that is, the puppeteer realises that – being an exceptionally gifted puppeteer – he can actually take over Malkovich, control his movements, speech etc. It just keeps getting weirder and more alarming, and I felt much more disturbed than entertained by the time it was over.
Being John Malkovich?
Going round the bend, more like.