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From: Mark Rivera
Date: 07 May 2000
Title: Being John Malkovich: Special Edition
Stars: John Cusak, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place, John Malkovich, and Charlie Sheen
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Director: Spike Jonze
Feature length: 112 minutes
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, 7 ½ Floor Orientation, American Arts & Culture Presents… John Malkovich, Dance Of Despair And Disillusionment, An Intimate Portrait Of The Art Of Puppeteering, A Page With Nothing On It, An Interview With Director Spike Jonze, An Intimate Portrait Of The Art Of Background Driving, Cast and Crew Biographies & Filmographies, Spike's Photo Album
Languages: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles: English Captions and French and Spanish Subtitles
Packaging: Keep Case
Chapter Stops: 32
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Stereo Surround Sound
Year of Theatrical Release: 1999/DVD Release: 2000
Theatrical Distributor: USA Pictures
Home Video Distributor: USA Pictures Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating: R
Reviewer: Mark A. Rivera
"Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich!" Glad to get that out of my system. Those of you who have already seen the film know where that came from. Universal Pictures and USA Pictures collaborated on bringing "Being John Malkovich" to the big screen last year where it received good critical recognition and eventually earned three Academy Award® Nominations for Best Director, Screenplay, and Supporting Actress - Catherine Keener. May 2, 2000 saw that day and date release on VHS and on DVD as a Special Edition from USA Home Entertainment. This film was the feature directorial debut for Actor/Video Director Spike Jonze.
Actor John Cusak is almost unrecognizable as impoverished New York Puppeteer Craig Schwartz. Craig has a wife named Lotte (Cameron Diaz) a kind hearted pet store employee who has filled their apartment with exotic ailing animals. In an attempt to make some extra and much needed money, Craig gets a job as a filing clerk at LesterCorp on the 7 ½ Floor of a Manhattan building. One evening Craig discovers a hidden door that opens up to a strange passageway that somehow leads him into the mind of Actor John Malkovich, (in a superb self-satirical performance) for exactly fifteen minutes before being inexplicably dumped on the New Jersey Turnpike. The experience gives the individual the feeling of being John Malkovich. Tasting what he tastes, feeling what he feels, etc. With an office employee he pines after, he soon sets up a little side business giving people the opportunity to be John Malkovich for $200 dollars and slowly but surely disrupting Malkovich's life and changing the life of his partner, his wife, and himself forever.
"Being John Malkovich" is a good film and quite original even with so many questions left unanswered by the film's end, but even so I doubt this a film that will appeal to everyone, but I still would recommend it even to those who don't care much for John Malkovich as an Actor because it is not often a film so inventive comes along these days. In fact, I wish there were some extras like an interview with Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman because I find the screenplay and how he executed his idea into a finished product to be more interesting than anything Director Spike Jonze has to say on this DVD.
That being the case, I found the "Interview With Spike Jonze" to be somewhat of a disappointment. Held while he is driving, he comes across more disinterested than engaging. There are a lot of extras on this disc that include certain prop shorts from the film itself like "American Arts & Culture Presents… John Malkovich" and "The 7 ½ Floor Orientation." A few shorts also included are "Dance Of Despair And Disillusionment", "An Intimate Portrait Of The Art Of Puppeteering", and "An Intimate Portrait Of The Art Of Background Driving." Some of these shorts are more interesting than others, but regardless of what one might find interesting or entertaining, it is nice to see the varied selection assembled for this DVD release.
Four TV Spots and the Theatrical Trailer as well as the Cast and Crew Biographies and Filmographies are included as well. The menus on the dual layered DVD are animated and there are a few minor surprises such as complete soundtrack music in certain menus and the rather irreverent "Page With Nothing On It!"
The transfer is anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 with English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo 2.0 with English Captions and French and Spanish Subtitles. "Being John Malkovich" is available on DVD now.
Mark A. Rivera