Today! Because, technically speaking, the operation is brain damage –
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Directed Michel Gondry (x2)
Starring Jim Carrey (x3), Kate Winslet (x2), Tom Wilkinson (x2), Mark Ruffalo (x3), Kirsten Dunst (x3), Elijah Wood (x3), Jane Adams, David Cross (x2), Thomas Jay Ryan
A movie of raw emotion and ceaseless, crackling creativity, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is quite simply one of the best movies ever made. Look back at other posts – this isn’t something I throw around a lot. Yes, okay, I did say this about Fritz Lang’s M in #247, I think, but it’s not something I’ve said in the last week or two! And I know there’s sort of a knee jerk pessimistic reaction to anyone referring to anything even remotely recent as an all-time great (except apparently when it comes to NFL quarterbacks), but this movie is so different, so wildly inventive, and of such amazing depth that yes, I think if I ever get the balls to compile a 400 Best Movies list, this will have a place there as well. (But will Rocky IV still be #400?? Time will tell!)
I mean, probably, right?
Today! Because nobody’s looking for a puppeteer in today’s wintry economic climate –
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener (x2), John Malkovich (x2), Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place, Charlie Sheen (x2), Willie Garson (x5), W. Earl Brown (x2), Octavia Spencer (x2)
Featuring the greatest single performance where someone is credited playing himself, Being John Malkovich’s crazy premise could’ve easily overwhelmed the movie. Seriously, it feels like this film was one casting misstep away from Being Charlie Sheen, and who knows how it would’ve played out. Hey, maybe great – maybe that’s all Sheen would’ve needed to re-jumpstart the film career, never do Two and a Half Men, never have catastrophic public meltdowns, and would now be regarded as one of the pillars of the acting community. Instead, he starred in a sitcom on FX for a few years and lost his damn mind. This is all speculation about what could’ve been, of course.
By all indications, it was Being John Malkovich the whole way across, and we are better for it as a people. Wildly creative, and surprisingly touching, this movie bends reality to the near breaking point while still grounding it in a believable-ish reality. Finding a door that leads into another person’s head! And making the decision that not only is it a famous actor’s head, but have them gamely play themselves and in such extraordinary fashion as to blur this 4th wall (5th wall?) and create something so indelibly new and unpredictable. Continue reading