Being John Malkovich Is the Pick of the Week

I suppose it is fair to say that the majority of filmgoers primarily see films based on who is in it. Actors are the most visible aspect of a movie – they are quite literally the stars of the show. We are a celebrity-obsessed culture and there are not bigger celebrities than movie stars. When people talk about movies, the actors are generally talked about. Directors probably come second on that list. People like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Ron Howard are household names. Writers, however, are much farther down. With few exceptions. I’d guess that most of us don’t pay any attention to who wrote the movies we see.

Charlie Kaufman is an exception to that rule. He may not have reached the point where housewives in Duluth know his name, but to anyone who takes movies even slightly serious he is someone to pay attention to. With only six film credits to his name, Kaufman is easily one of the most interesting writers out there today. His films are strange, quirky, weird, post-modern, and often incredibly human.

After writing for a string of oddball television shows he made his movie debut with director Spike Jonez in Being John Malkovich. A film whose plot involves a portal into which John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, and others slip inside of John Malkovich’s brain 15 minutes at a time. It is a bizarre, hilarious, and immensely imaginative film all of which makes it my pick of the week.

Criterion has just released it on Blu-ray and DVD chock full of special features. Cinema Sentries own Greg Barbrick reviewed it and you can read what he has to say on the matter.

Also out this week of interest:

New York Stories (Blu-ray): Director’s Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Woody Allen direct three short films about New York City. Its getting the high definition treatment but unfortunately I couldn’t find any information on the transfer or any extras it might have.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete First Season: I’ve been meaning to catch this series about a Conferderate soldier out to seek revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his wife, but have yet to do so. I guess this is my chance.

Albert Nobbs: Glenn Close plays a woman pretending to be a man in 19th century Ireland. It got pretty mixed reviews, but Close’s performance has gotten raves.

Rampart: Woody Harrelson stars as a corrupt cop in Los Angeles who sees his professional and personal life take a downward spiral. Loosely based on the real corruption cases in the Rampart section of LA in the 1990s which was also fictionalized in The Shield. For awhile the film was overshadowed by a hilarious bit of botched social media promotion when Harrelson showed up to do an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit which quickly went awry.

1900 (Blu-ray): Bernardo Bertolucci’s massive epic about Italy through the 20th century is being released in high definition and includes the original five-hour-plus film plus a long feature on Bertolucci and an essay on the film

Mat Brewster

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