Being John Malkovich is a breathtakingly original film I wish I could have seen in theatres. (Alas, I was only eight in the fall of 1999, and had to catch up via Blockbuster Video as a teen.) And to think that director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman only matured as artists from there...
However, to all of you dismissing Magnolia as long, difficult, or pretentious... well, to steal from the words of Frank T.J. Mackey, I'm quietly judging you. It's about as transcendent, layered, and dizzyingly original as any film I've ever seen, and each viewing reaps new rewards and insight. P.T.A.'s first masterpiece for the win.
Malkovich vs. Magnolia?
Please know that I say this with deep respect and admiration for all you've done in the world of film commentary: I hate you. Haaaate. Dear gods, soooo much hate.
Not only are The Piano and The Truman Show and The Blair Witch Project already [expletive deleted]ing gone, but now you're making me do THIS. Two brilliant, witty, creative and attractive persons are drowning, and you've handed me one (1) life preserver and said, "Go get 'em, sport." This is a sham. This is an outrage. This is Madeline Kahn flames-on-the-side-of-my-face levels of hate I'm experiencing. Why am I even still typing this? I'm giving it to Malkovich, thus slapping the face of PTA a mere weeks after I decided he's the best director working today, and then drinking myself into some targeted brain cell destruction in the hopes of forgetting this ever happened. I hope you're happy.
It was nice to take a breather from the difficult decisions of Round 2 with this one. Being John Malkovich is probably going to be my bête noire of this tournament, but it's a film that I just never ever connected with. Every character and every choice was abrasive enough to overwhelm the fascinating, twisty premise. Fortunately Jonez and Kaufman both have much better films, separately and apart, which we will have the agony and the ecstasy of voting for/against next year.
Magnolia is a bit of a mess that I don't think earns its reputation for "self-indulgence." It is a sprawling exploration of interconnectedness and being a mess and just being seen (or not), but it is absolutely alive, tinglingly wishfully alive and I adore it. It's got one of the greatest ensemble casts this side of Robert Altman, including revelatory turns by Tom Cruise and John C. Reilly and Julianne Moore (ok, maybe they were just revelations to me, but still). I'm not ready to just give up on Magnolia.
This one hurts. Two of the best, most original films from one of the all-time great years for movies: 1999. The thing is, Jonze and Kaufman have made better films than Being John Malkovich. PTA has made movies that are more perfect, more mature, less indulgent, than Magnolia, but nothing he's ever made has resonated with me so strongly, taken me on as wild a ride, left me gasping for air and blinded by the sunlight. Anderson himself has said, and I quote, "I have a feeling, one of those gut feelings, that I'll make pretty good movies the rest of my life. And maybe I'll make some clunkers, maybe I'll make some winners, but I guess the way that I really feel is that Magnolia is, for better or worse, the best movie I'll ever make." So far, I'd have to agree with him.
I can’t believe I’m voting against my SECOND PTA film of this round. Curse you Filmspotting Madness. Spike Jonze & Charlie Kauffman are just too important to lose. Additionally, any movie that makes Cameron Diaz look talented needs to be preserved in a vault & regarded as a relic.
These are two of my all-time favorites. An impossible choice! I’m going with “Magnolia”, though, mainly because of all the shade you’ve been throwing its way the last two weeks. It’s not a perfect movie, but it remains one of the most ecstatic expressions of pure, emotional cinema of the last 20 years. It’s a swing for the fences which - with the rise of online snark - may not even be possible today. Here’s a movie about taking chances, which takes huge chances itself - and I would argue pulls them off. That’s in contrast with “Malkovich”, which derives its brilliance from its irony - and which in many ways anticipates our current deconstructive moment. I predict “Magnolia” will go far in this tournament - and that it’s not going to stop until you Wise Up.
I love Malkovich but this is not even close.
Magnolia is a flawed, self-indulgent, overstuffed, overlong, mess of a film - but it's the most beautiful mess I've ever seen. While I think Anderson has improved, matured, and gained a level of precision in his films since, none of his movies pack the raw emotional punch Magnolia does. I don't think there is a filmmaker working today (or maybe ever) who can elicit equally strong emotional and intellectual responses as well as Anderson. We don't deserve that man.
I get the Malkovich love, and that I'll probably be alone here, but it's not even close for me. No movie has ever made me think about possible layers of meaning and significance like Magnolia. I completely understand how it's viewed as overly ambitious, pretentious or too personal, but, for me, Magnolia was profound to Malkovich's fun and cute.
Easiest so far. Spike Jonze coming fully flowered in his debut, PTA making me wish I could have the near 3 hours of my life back, a film completely overshadowed by its soundtrack and utterly unengaging and unlikeable. Fortunately his masterpiece, Punch Drunk Love, came next.
Josh and Adam somewhat hinted at this idea in this week's episode, but although we were introduced to PTA in the 90's they were not necessarily his breakout decade as an auteur. I've been a huge fan of his since Boogie Nights but even I'll admit that he didn't fully reach his potential and enter a heightened category of exalted filmmaker until There Will Be Blood.
On the flip side, Being John Malkovich was certainly a breakout project for Charlie Kaufman, and a film that remains a truly unique and singular vision of what the medium can be.
Magnolia was significant for what it signaled in a filmmaker's great future to come, but Being John Malkovich is a great American genius setting a massive bomb off in the cinema world. Give Kaufman his due.
I love Magnolia but Being John Malkovich is the only movie I've gone to see five times in a fortnight. I brought different people each time just so that I could watch them waych the film. I brought my then ex-boyfriend, my mom, and two friends after the first viewing that BLEW ME AWAY. I do think it has a weak ending but it is so good up to one point that it is one of my absolute cinematic crushes.
Malkovich is great.
Don't need Magnolia. I can just watch Network and get 95% of the good stuff in Magnolia (except John C. Riley, damn fine performance). No need for fanciful frogs. I can watch lynch if that's the mood I'm in
Keep your frogs, I'm voting for one of the most original and insane movies I've ever seen.
Malkovich is and insanely clever movie about unpleasant people that is, at times, detached and unpleasant to watch. Magnolia also features unpleasant people, and unpleasant circumstances, but it manages to leave us willingly in it's world, drawn in, rather than repelled, by the costs of the deep imperfections of its characters. That is the bolder, riskier approach, and all the more rewarding for succeeding at it.
Malkovich gets spit out into a ditch on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike, but because I'm in Magnolia-land, I have deep, warm, bad feelings about it.