Monday, May 27, 2013

On Being, and Being John Malkovich

Keener rolls a joint for Cusack and Diaz in Being John Malkovich
I just saw Being John Malkovich (on Netflix) for the third or fourth time, and I must say, I like it more each time. It's got everything: the most outrageous plot ever, the most comedic settings, the wildest acting....all with metaphysical questions about who's pulling the strings. "I've begun to imagine it as a very expensive suit I enjoy wearing," one soul says of his borrowed body.

A couple of references to pot are in the film: Lottie (Cameron Diaz) convinces her husband Craig (John Cusack) to invite the object of both their desires, Maxine (Catherine Keener) to dinner. "I'll cook my lasagne, we'll smoke a joint, and tensions will just melt away," she counters when Craig mounts an excuse. After dinner, Keener rolls a joint for her admirers.

"Were you stoned?" 
It's Charlie Sheen, playing himself as the friend Malkovich goes to when he's feeling controlled by an outside force, who gets to the heart of the matter. "Were you stoned?" is the first thing Charlie asks, because as he well knows, expanding one's consciousness is an interesting and often instructive thing to do, though it can leave you a little confused. When Malkovich replies in the affirmative, Sheen says, "You were stoned, end of story." 

The film has a rare appearance from Orson Bean, who found his experience smoking marijuana with Lord Buckley in the 1940s "quite wonderful." Keener was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her role, as was writer Charlie Kaufman (he took the BAFTA). Malkovich got an American Comedy Award, and deserved it. Still, I think my favorite moment is when it's revealed why the chimp has post-traumatic stress. "You don't know how lucky you are being a monkey," Craig tells him. "Because consciousness is a terrible curse."

Kaufman's encore Adaptation is also a writing and acting wonder: Nicolas Cage plays both Kaufman and his brainless but strangely successful twin/alter ego. Cage's Kaufman is attempting to write an adaptation of The Orchid Thief for the screen and...I won't reveal the plot except to say when it goes sensational, drugs are involved and Meryl Streep is, of course, superb.

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