Tag Archives: John Cusack

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Let me tell you about the ending of Being John Malkovich.

For a long time prior to 1999, the spec script by Charlie Kaufman bounced around Hollywood without causing much hubbub. Kaufman’s 1994 draft made no mention of John Malkovich whatsoever, and only after two years and dozens of refusals did eventual director Spike Jonze get ahold of the screenplay. Jonze was primarily a music video director at the time and had never directed a feature film before, but clearly something about Being John Malkovich piqued his interest. He brought it to Propaganda Films and a year later casting was underway.

At this point, though, Being John Malkovich had a final act that was so bonkers and off-the-wall wild that, frankly, it put the rest of the bonkers and off-the-wall wild film to shame. The Being John Malkovich that we know ends on a subdued, somber note, uncomfortably tragic, undoubtedly affecting. Craig, the puppeteer played by John Cusack, abuses the magic portal to John Malkovich’s brain and becomes trapped in the next “vessel”, the brain of a prepubescent girl, from where he presumably is forced to watch her life unfold as a caged and powerless homunculus. The original draft of Malkovich didn’t have this muted, chilling conclusion – instead, it had chainsaw juggling, human-chimp intimacy, a reincarnated Harry Truman battling a firebreathing Malkovich, Kevin Bacon, and the Devil himself.

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Amores Perros (2000)

Alejandro González Iñárritu wasted no time in putting his ambitions—in the form of non-linear, multidimensional storytelling—on the big screen with his first full-length feature film Amores Perros. The title can be translated two different ways. The literal translation is “Dog Love”, but for those who think that means it is the Spanish version of Must Love Dogs, you will be in for quite a surprise. The second, less literal translation, “Love’s a Bitch”, more aptly captures the essence of the movie, and likely will scare off those hoping for a feel good movie about dogs and John Cusack.

In fact, there are hardly any “feel good” moments in Amores Perros. Rather, the movie focuses on important themes such as the value of companionship, whether it be from family or dogs, and the corruption of this value. Iñárritu achieves the promotion of said themes in an unorthodox but extremely effective manner that involves three seemingly distinct stories told in a fragmented and, at times, non-linear manner. And just to make things even more interesting, Iñárritu opens the film en media res; to be specific, en media of the most important res: the moment that brings the three main stories together.

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