Monday, May 6, 2013

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Today's film is Being John Malkovich. In this film, we first encounter Craig, a talented puppeteer that sacrifices everything for the chance to perform his art.  He neglects his wife, his personal hygiene, and actual employment, until one day his wife asks him to look for a job. He finds one as a filer for a strange office located on the 7 1/2 floor of a highrise.  One day, he finds a tiny door that opens to a portal, like in Alice in Wonderland.  He cautiously climbs down into it, and wakes up in the mind of John Malkovich!  About 15 minutes later, he is spat out onto the side of the New Jersey turnpike.

So he starts his own business along with a coworker, selling 'mind-trips' into the mind of Malkovich, making a lot of money. Meanwhile, his wife is at home still being ignored while he flirts with his coworker, who could not care less.

The character I feel most for is Craig's wife, Lotte.  We know that she wants to have a baby, because she tries to discuss it with Craig, but he'd rather spend time in the basement with his puppets. (He even makes a far more beautiful puppet of his coworker and plays with it in the basement! That is all kinds of creepy.) She is a caring person, so in lieu of a baby, she has all sorts of pets, including a monkey with his own therapist. When she enters the portal to Malkovich's mind, she feels sexually excited for the first time in a very long time. She mistakenly believes that she wants to become a man, but really all she's feeling is excitement because she's something different.  Because at the moment, she's a different person.  She doesn't want to be herself anymore, because nobody wants her or loves her. And that's sad. She deserves so much more.  Will she find happiness? Maybe she will, in an unexpected place.

I could go on and on asking questions about this movie, and I think that's why it's so meaningful to this list of 1001 movies.  If a movie raises questions and sparks discussions, it proves that it's not just a medium of art, it's on a whole different level.

What happens to the people's bodies when they enter the portal? Are they caught in stasis inbetween dimensions until they pop out at the side of the road?  And why does Flemmer need to take over Malkovich's body on his 44th birthday? What is the significance of 44? Is it because 4+4=8? Is that why they're on the 7 1/2 floor because that's right before 8?

This raises serious ethical questions about free will and immortality.  Is it really living forever if it's in another person's body? Should Flemmer have brought so many people with him? What if one of them fights for control of the body? Will this cause Malkovich to have a nervous breakdown?  Does this explain why some people have auditory hallucinations (voices speaking to them) - because they are listening to the multiple voices Actually in their head? I have a lot more questions, so I'm going to rate the movie a 9/10.

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