Jul 19, 2013
Being John Malkovich: I'd Rather Be Anyone Else
Ten years later, in Being John Malkovich (1999), he plays the grotesque, greasy-haired, spotty-moustached Craig Schwartz, a puppeteer who trots his creepy marionettes out onto the streets of Manhattan to perform the Medieval heterosexual romance Abelard and Heloise, with the expected anxiety from audiences (he gets beat up before we find out how he intends to stage the castration scene). He isn't bringing in any money, and neither is his ditzy wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), who is busy filling their small apartment with a menagerie: birds, dogs, even a chimp.
He crushes on coworker Maxine (Catherine Keener), and asks her out on a date. During the date he admits to being married. She immediately asks: "Are you a FAG????"
1. What's with the homophobia, in 1999 Manhattan?
2. Is that really the first thing that pops into a woman's mind when a man who wants to have sex with her admits that he's having sex with another woman?
Craig and Maxine find, inexplicably, a portal that leads into the mind of then-unknown actor John Malkovich (playing himself). So they open a business, charging people $200 to spend 15 minutes seeing the world through the eyes of John Malkovich, as he runs errands and does chores.
Maxine begins an affair with Malkovich. She is particularly interested in him when Lotte is inhabiting his body -- she likes the femininity. Lesbian, sort of? But then Craig finds a way to inhabit Malkovich permanently, controlling all of his movements, so Maxine sticks with him. Back to hetero.
Craig/Malkovich gives up acting and becomes a puppeteer. Abelard and Heloise becomes a smash hit.
I like quirky movies, but this is by far the weirdest movie I have ever seen. And one of the most unpleasant to watch. The color palette is gray and washed-out, the male actors are almost uniformly hideous (although John Malkovich has a nice physique), the marionettes disquieting, and I can't even begin to parse out the gender identity misconceptions.
And taking over John Malkovich's body, controlling all of his movements as if he is a marionette -- isn't that a horrible violation, like rape times ten? Yet no one in the movie gives it a second thought. They keep congratulating each other over their cleverness.
Plus this is a gay-free Manhattan, except for the homophobic slur.