Being John Malkovich is the Monday Meme

We watched most of the film Being John Malkovich over the weekend. Well, maybe not most. Half at least. I gave up and had to get some sleep right after John Malkovich was John Malkovich, a disturbing statement on a person’s inability to back up from his/her own point of view in order to gain perspective.

This film represents our ongoing quest to exhaust the John Cusack option. The reason I was too tired to finish BJM was that we’d tried to watch Cradle Will Rock first. Twenty-six minutes in, however, Rob invoked a recent film viewing rule we have put in place and pulled the plug.

I am not sure if it was the truly awful acting, or the fact that one of seemingly major sub-plots involved a musical playwright who was talking to someone who could have only been his dead wife – we never did get clarification on that* – but Susan Sarandon’s Transylvanian inspired accent pretty much did the film in for me and poor old Johnny (who was portraying Nelson Rockefeller, really)  barely spoke three lines before Rob invoked the rule.

The rule?

If either of us is bored past coherent thought, the movie is over.

The premise of  Being John Malkovich is people entering a portal into his mind to be John rather than themselves for 15 minutes, a cute twist on the 15 minutes of fame thing. Cusack’s character goes further in that he manages to hijack Malkovich and live through him rather than merely be a vicarious spectator, again interesting indictments of the preoccupation society has with the rich and the famous.

Being me, I went to Wikipedia and found a synopsis of the movie and preferring reading to watching, I find I am satisfied and don’t need to finish viewing. But the idea lingers. Who is my John Malkovich? Whose brain would I crawl into and eyes would I peer out of if given the opportunity?

I really don’t know. There is a line in Sondheim’s Into the Woods where the characters admit that once upon a time they would have traded their lives for someone else’s but that was before their wishes were granted. I felt too once that I would have traded lives with anyone really, but that was before.

Do you have a John Malkovich? Or are you okay looking at life through your own eyes?


*Ah, the streak lives and to compound the matter for family movie night, we watched Nim’s Island with Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler. ED gave it to us for Christmas. Within the first minutes the little Nim loses her mother in a tragic whale encounter of biblical proportion. Seriously, can we pick movies or what?

8 thoughts on “Being John Malkovich is the Monday Meme

  1. have you watched any other Kaufman films? how about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?

    No, we had the film about him, Adaptation, but didn’t get it watched before we had to return it. We were going to request it again soon. I haven’t seen the Spotless Mind. It is an intriguing theme though.

  2. I saw this movie in the theatre when it came out, on a date. I barely remember it.

    My John Malkovich? Possibly, at various times throughout my life, my mother, my boyfriend of the moment, my cat…

    I totally get SilverStar’s comment about the dissociative element, but then again, my dissociations always had a feline component. Litterbox envy?

  3. OK, I can definitely cross this one off my list. As one who went through a dissociative period, it’s too scary to try to be someone else. You wake up some months later and ask, “Who the heck did this?” when it could only have been you.I’m just trying to keep it together. Also slime.

  4. i liked the film… it was odd, obtuse, and you never knew where it was going. i’m not big on symbolism and all, but always had to smile at how people ‘exited’ John Malkovich – – in a painful, crashing heap in the middle of nowhere. there HAS to be something to that…

    And don’t forget the slime. They are covered in goo.

  5. wow – I can’t believe you and your other commenters didn’t like this film. I loved it….. Charlie Kaufman is a genius

    I didn’t dislike it. But it got too long. If I hadn’t been tired, I would have watched til the end. Now I have no interest in finishing because I know what is going to happen. This kind of film needs the element of surprise to work, I think. And Rob had seen it already. The ideas are clever.

  6. Interesting meme–I, too, had difficulty connecting to the film, but true to my “if you start it, you need to finish it” mindset–I wasted the entire 2 hours (of which I can’t get back–I really should learn to walk away). Anyway-back to the meme-I agree with the above post that it would be a Pandora’s box situation. I think we have some unrealistic ideal that other people’s lives are more exciting, more meaningful, less traumatic than our own, but I have a feeling that isn’t the case. They just have different heartaches, problems and idiosyncrasies. So, I would just stick with the familiar–me.

  7. We *tried* to watch this movie years (4 or 5? it’s been a while) ago. We generally stick with films until the end, giving the benefit of the doubt that it will turn around … not so, this movie.

    Now, to your question … I definitely am living my own life, not thru any “John Malkovich”. yes, there are times when I think about how my life could have turned out differently, but for the most part, I can’t imagine it being any better (I’m happy to say). No, it’s far from perfect (as am I!), but it’s good, happy, fulfilling … which is a lot more interesting than “perfect.”

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