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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Being John Malkovich [Blu-ray]


(Spike Jonze, 1999)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Propaganda Films

Video: Criterion Collection Spine # 609



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:53:18.833 

Disc Size: 47,494,194,362 bytes

Feature Size: 27,059,269,632 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.97 Mbps

Chapters: 30

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 15th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 4189 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4189 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



• New selected-scene audio commentary featuring filmmaker Michel Gondry
New behind-the-scenes documentary by filmmaker Lance Bangs (33:21)
Conversation between John Malkovich and humorist John Hodgman (27:51)
Director Spike Jonze discusses Being John Malkovich via photos from its production (15:29)
Two films within the film: 7˝ Floor Orientation (2:12) and “American Arts & Culture” Presents John Horatio Malkovich, “Dance of Despair and Disillusionment” (4:17)
An Intimate Portrait of the Art of Puppeteering
, a documentary by Bangs (7:20)
Trailer (1:54) and 4 TV spots
PLUS: A booklet featuring a conversation between Jonze and pop-culture critic Perkus Tooth





Description: Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Or, more specifically, have you ever wanted to crawl through a portal hidden in an anonymous office building and thereby enter the cerebral cortex of John Malkovich for fifteen minutes before being spat out on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike? Then director Spike Jonze (Adaptation) and writer Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) have the movie for you. Melancholy marionettes, office drudgery, a frizzy-haired Cameron Diaz (There's Something About Mary) - but that's not all! Surrealism, possession, John Cusack (Say Anything), a domesticated primate, Freud, Catherine Keener (Capote), non sequiturs, and absolutely no romance! But wait: get your Being John Malkovich now and we'll throw in emasculation, slapstick, Abelard and Heloise, and extra Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich.



The Film:

Would you pay money to journey into the mind of the star of Con Air, The Killing Fields, and In The Line of Fire? Puppeteer... Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is having money problems, so he takes a temporary job as a file clerk on the seventh-and-a-half floor of a large office building. One day, while rummaging behind a cabinet, he finds a small door that leads to the center of the mind of actor John Malkovich (played by, you guessed it, John Malkovich). Craig discovers that entering the portal allows him to become John Malkovich for a brief spell, and in time he and his beautiful but aloof co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener) get the bright idea to charge admission for the privilege of spending 15 minutes inside the head of a well-known actor. Malkovich realizes that something strange is happening to him, but can do little to stop it, as strangers take over his mind for a quarter-hour at a time. Craig's wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), eventually takes a trip into Malkovich's psyche, and she soon finds herself in love with Maxine, with whom Malkovich has an affair; meanwhile, Maxine in time becomes infatuated with both Craig and Lotte, but only when they're inside Malkovich. Being John Malkovich marked the feature-length debut of director Spike Jonze, who previously made acclaimed music videos for Weezer, the Beastie Boys, and the Breeders, among others.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Among the hits to emerge from this year's New York Film Festival -- like Pedro Almodovar's ''All About My Mother,'' Kimberley Peirce's ''Boys Don't Cry,'' Mike Leigh's ''Topsy-Turvy'' and Kevin Smith's ''Dogma'' -- none is more endearingly nutty than ''Being John Malkovich.'' None is more intriguingly prophetic, either. In this irresistible first feature by the stellar video director Spike Jonze, the reigning fears and obsessions of a technology-crazed, voyeuristic culture are given an even wilder workout than they got in ''The Truman Show.'' And the bizarre, masklike facade of today's lonely Everyman is again in the spotlight, even before Milos Forman's film about Andy Kaufman comes to town.

Excerpt from Janet Maslin at the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The image quality of Criterion's Blu-ray of Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich looks good but not always as crisp as I was anticipating.  Contrast may be a notch below - with detail not always rising to its highest level. It can look flat, cyan-heavy and dull at times but the thickness is appealing and film-like. I think this dual-layered transfer may not be the strongest representation of the original film - now, unbelievably, 13-years old. Colors seem true and fairly passive with pastels tending to dominate. This 1080P Blu-ray gave me the best presentation of the film I've yet had. It is spotlessly clean in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It has no gloss and is, matching the film, frequently darkish. I was only 'content' with the video portion.


















Audio :

Audio is via a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a healthy 4189 kbps. It is quite robust with plenty of notable effects ringing clear and true through the rear speakers. The original music, with memorable lead theme, is by Carter Burwell whose resume speaks for itself composing music for such films as Howl, Where the Wild Things Are, A Serious Man, In Bruges, No Country for Old Men etc.  Of course there is quite a variety with segments from Björk to Béla Bartók's Allegro, from Music for Strings. There is some subtle strength here and dialogue is clean and clear with optional English subtitles. Sounds solid throughout. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked like all Criterion Blu-ray releases before it.


Extras :

Criterion stack the disc with a number of supplements including a new selected-scene audio commentary, running just shy of an hour, featuring Spike Jonze's friend filmmaker Michel Gondry. This was originally recorded to the full duration of the film but has been abridged for legal liability. Occasionally asking questions is Gondry's longtime editor, Jeff Buchanan. There is a new behind-the-scenes documentary by filmmaker Lance Bangs running about 1/2 hour culled from many hours documenting the entire shoot of Being John Malkovich. It is an interesting portrait of the creative atmosphere on the set. We also get a conversation between John Malkovich and humorist John Hodgman recorded in November 2011 in Brooklyn. Malkovich is extremely interesting detailing his first exposure of the script. In a separate segment piece director Spike Jonze discusses Being John Malkovich via photos from its production. This runs 15-minutes. There are included Two films within the film: 7˝ Floor Orientation (2:12) and “American Arts & Culture” Presents John Horatio Malkovich, “Dance of Despair and Disillusionment” (4:17) plus An Intimate Portrait of the Art of Puppeteering, a documentary by Bangs (7:20), Trailer (1:54) and TV spots as well as a booklet featuring a conversation between Jonze and pop-culture critic Perkus Tooth.



The brilliance of Being John Malkovich lies first-and-foremost in the writing. Charlie Kaufman is a genius and as soon as I finished my Blu-ray viewing, I watched his Synecdoche, New York. The themes of selfishness, and the absurd rules of our ego-centric society ring so clearly in this marvelous comedy. This unique, inventive film broke new ground and can intrigue anyone - producing a curious smiles. So nice to see Criterion release Being John Malkovich in the new format. A wonderfully dark film to continuously revisit. Strongly recommended!

Gary Tooze

April 24th, 2012


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze






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