Being John Malkovich


I'll compare this movie to "I Heart Huckabees." "Huckabees" is also bizarre, but "Huckabees" pulls it off.

Usually, when a movie is bizarre, it's because the movie is making a philosophical point that is hard to grasp. I suppose that "Malkovich" brushes on autonomy, love and gender roles, fear of death, and the nature of art, but it didn't go deep enough into any of those issues to justify the bizarreness; I could probably sum up those philosophical statements in a sentence each. With "Huckabees," on the other hand, in any two minute segment of the movie, there's an interesting conversation or cinematic device to portray a different idea or to portray an idea in a different way, so there is a tremendous amount of depth.

It's also harder to see the real implications of the ideas in "Malkovich." Ideas about autonomy, for instance, only come up as a result of puppetry and mind control, and there isn't much of a connection made to real world issues of autonomy. In "Huckabees," on the other hand, the characters all have existential crises of some sort, and the causes of those are all things that are easy to relate to, like the person who always tells the mayo story. The characters and situations are extravagant, but they are sufficiently believable to be compelling.

I didn't appreciate much of the cinematography of "Malkovich" either. It wasn't ugly or anything; it just wasn't interesting. The puppetry was moderately cool, but mots of it just seemed like plain old moving pictures. In "Huckabees," I can immediately think of the scene where they're having a philosophical discussion about particles and cubes and cracks and nothingness and all of it is happening on the screen as they discuss it. I can also think of the "When am I not myself?" scene. "Huckabees" used the medium to its fullest and to great effect.