I saw Being John Malcovich (BJH) last night at the Davis. It was enjoyable; Funny in a clever way. Great, sexy, off-kilter performance by Catherine Keener, playing Diaz&Cusac's character's Crush. She made a lot of weird choices that worked in her performance. Most reviews I've read mention the word "weird" & "surreal" and I guess it was a little. But a portal to John Malcovich's brain seemed pretty rational to me. I guess "surreal" just means comedic trope most of the time. When you grow up watching stuff like Monty Python, Star Trek,MTV, CNN, climbing into someone's brain and getting spit out into a ditch doesn't seem, well, weird. We've seen weirder just in the little promos MTV used to have.
Speaking of tv, I thought BJM was like a really good episode of the Simpsons. Lot's of characters acting strangely, authority figures saying abusurdly incongrous things. Think about it! Homer finds a portal to his neighbor Ned's brain and takes advantage of it. It just sounds right.
Which still makes this a good movie with a lot of ideas floating around. Most films wish they could be as good as the Simpsons at their yellow best.
But I'm still all about Rushmore. I love Rushmore and yes, I will marry Rushmore. Anyway, I'm still measuring other movies by Rushmore, which is not fair, I realize. Rushmore was, as my friend Jim H. said,(and he wasn't being sarcastic) truely a "feel-good movie." And not all films are meant for you to leave feeling good, like maybe you fell in love with someone and you just know it's mutual.
I've felt that way after seeing Star Wars, Chung-King Express, Grosse Point Blank, just to mention a few, and most recently I felt that way after reading "Love and Longing in Bombay:Stories" by Vikram Chandra.
And I realize some great movies (not to mention all works of art) can leave you feeling destroyed, sad beyond words, bothered, jumpy, mad, grumpy, puzzled, hungry. I think.
But Rushmore left me feeling,damn,she loves me.
And so it tops my movie list of 1999:
Only two movies listed cause I need to go do something else. Besides, they are the only ones I can think of right now cause I'm simple. It says so on my special bus pass.
I'm going to get Jim H. to write a top 10 and post that cause he knows what he's talking about. I bet Jim wants to marry Eyes Wide Shut. Jim's Top Ten: RUSHMORE might be about as good a movie as I've seen in 1999, but I saw it early enough in the year to include it on my top 10 for 98, which is kind of dumb, considering I'm not a critic and I'm not published. Since few saw that list, I thought about including it, but screw it, it's in my top 10 of the decade, that's good enough. I'm not sure that any of the movies this year made me feel like marrying them or anybody else for that matter, but I sure liked them a lot...it was a pretty good year for films in general, big ones and little ones. I think though that I like the films that destroy me and tear me up or leave me with a lot of different feelings. That's why the three top movies on my list are about people who are going through some disturbing times in their lives (sometimes really disturbing) and come out not necessarily changed like Scrooge or Michael J. Fox in THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS or Mel Brooks in LIFE STINKS to give some fine examples, but aware that they've been through something and have made it out alive...Anyway, this is a lot of preamble for a top 10 list of a nobody, so here it is. 1. MAGNOLIA Yeah, my brother's in it (he plays the two pharmacists) and it doesn't really open in Chicago until 1/7/00, but I've seen it twice already and I'm convinced it's the work of a master. Sure, it's got flaws, but it has guts to spare and it takes more chances than any Hollywood film this year. All of the acting's great and you'll probably be talking about it for weeks after. 2. EYES WIDE SHUT If you had told me a year ago that the two best movies of the year would star Tom Cruise, I probably would have countered with "Yeah, and that Bruce Willis ghost movie's gonna be a big hit too!" Anyway, I've really re-evaluated Cruise (he's amazing in MAGNOLIA and decided that he is good for some things. I've only met a few people who were as blown away by the Kubrick film as I was, but most people found it absurd and laughable and boring. What can I say, I was hypnotized from the opening shot, both times I saw it. What might have come off as laughable to some was filled with mystery and fascination to me. Nothing is easily explainable in the universe of this move and that's what I dug about it. 3. ELECTION The film that probably had the most fun with the medium of movies and was an entirely accurate portrayal of the lifestyles of middle-class midwesterners. Also the funniest movie of the year and even more right on about sex than EYES WIDE SHUT. Matthew Broderick, although more consistently likeable than Cruise, really amazed me on this one, especially since he sandwiched it between GODZILLA and INSPECTOR GADGET. 4. RATCATCHER A really heartbreaking film about childhood set during a garbage strike in Glasgow during the seventies. It showed during the film festival and I caught it twice. An amazing feature debut by the director Lynne Ramsay. This is as close as I came to crying in a movie this year, last year was BABE: PIG IN THE CITY. This movie has a lot of brilliant asthetic choices that stick with you for a long time. A window looking out into a field, a father getting sliced with a knife while a little girl gets strawberry sauce poured on her ice cream cone, a young boy twirling around in his mother's almost threatening drapes and minutes later drowning in a creek. Dozens of moments like that in this film. 5. THE STRAIGHT STORY The next closest I came to crying in a movie this year. I liked the Lynch weirdness and the corny midwest stuff mixed together. A good match and a really beautiful movie to look at. Great pure cinematic moment: Farnsworth pulls in his lawnmower into a barn and waits out the rain. 6. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH The next funniest movie of the year and just plotwise, entirely inventive, although I agree with Andrew that if you've seen two episodes of Monty Python, you can easily imagine and accept an absurd concept like a portal into John Malkovich's brain. Most overlooked thing in the movie: Malkovich's performance. 7. I STAND ALONE A really shocking French movie that played about a week at the Music Box. I was prepared to see something really unpleasant along the lines of MAN BITES DOG, but what I got was a completely fleshed-out performance of a working-class guy on the brink of insanity. The film is really scary, especially when you realize you've been rooting for the main character, a violent butcher, because the point of view is so thorough. It's shot in CinemaScope so try to see it in a theater. 8. eXistenZ I love Cronenberg and there was enough weird, dreamlike stuff to keep me riveted. I liked it more than THE MATRIX, which puts me in the minority, I know, but it was just super weird and fun. I can't think of two more that I liked so much that I'd single them out like these eight, so I'll rattle off the rest in a couple of categories. High honorable mentions: THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, THE LIMEY, THE INSIDER, AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE DREAM LIFE OF ANGELS, TOY STORY 2, DETROIT ROCK CITY, DICK, MR. DEATH: THE RISE AND FALL OF FRED A. LEUCHTER JR., THE MATRIX, FELICIA'S JOURNEY, FIGHT CLUB, BELFAST, MAINE (Fred Wiseman doc.), LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE worth mentioning: AMERICAN PIE, SLEEPY HOLLOW, THE GREEN MILE, MAN ON THE MOON, GO, BLACK CAT, WHITE CAT, AUSTIN POWERS 2, OFFICE SPACE, THREE KINGS, CRUEL INTENTIONS, SUMMER OF SAM, IN DREAMS, IRON GIANT. biggest disappointments: THE MUSE, STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 totally overrated: BOYS DON'T CRY, BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, PRINCESS MONONOKE the worst: ENTRAPMENT, MANSFIELD PARK, END OF DAYS haven't seen, don't want to: DOGMA, THE MESSENGER haven't seen, want to: ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, CRADLE WILL ROCK, STUART LITTLE top 10 for the decade coming soon.previous next