Plot: Craig (John Cusack) has a passion for marionettes, but no one seems interested in his art and in need of some financial gains, he applies to work as a filer at a strange office complex. This office is on the 7 1/2th floor, with lowered ceilings and an odd vibe, but Craig has gainful employment and meets the beautiful Maxine (Catherine Keener), who captures his attention. Maxine is repulsed by Craig, but he tries to win her over, despite being married to Lotte (Cameron Diaz), a harried woman with an affinity for animals. As he explores this unusual office, he stumbles upon a mysterious tunnel that leads to a portal. Once he enters the portal, Craig is taken inside the mind of actor John Malkovich…

Entertainment Value: This is the kind of creative, brain melting cinema that could only come from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, while Spike Jonez brings his vision to life in glorious, outlandish fashion. The narrative is an absolute pleasure, a unique and always engaging exploration of the human mind, driven by a host of colorful, strange personas and scenarios. This kind of creative, unpredictable cinema is beyond rare and when you revisit Being John Malkovich, you can pick up all sorts of little details that might have eluded you before. As odd as the movie is, it never feels weird for the sake of weird, the wackiness seems natural and an organic part of the film’s world, which in turn makes it even more ridiculous. The visuals are remarkable as well, so the movie is more than just a wild premise and it delivers on atmosphere, style, and boasts a remarkable cast that embraces the material. There is a thread of bleakness that runs through the movie, but given that this is more esoteric than slapstick, some downbeat elements aren’t out of place or disruptive. Being John Malkovich is a visionary movie experience and should be part of any cinephile’s collection.

His role is a complex one, but John Cusack rises to the challenge and delivers a fantastic effort here. I love seeing actors in out there roles, the kind you’d never see them in elsewhere and that is the case here, to be sure. Most of the cast falls into this kind of part in Being John Malkovich, but Cusack’s Craig is so far removed from his usual work, it is an eye opening performance. Cusack conveys the creepy, nervous energy of Craig in such a natural fashion, it makes his bizarre mannerisms seem almost normal and that is no small feat. His interactions with Catherine Keener are hilariously awkward and to me, some of the movie’s best moments. Keener is memorable as the icy Maxine, a real highlight of the movie, while John Malkovich goes all in as a fictional version of himself that branches off in some weird directions. The cast also includes Mary Kay Place, Charlie Sheen, and Cameron Diaz.

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