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Being John Malkovich

CRITERION

MOVIE A

SPECIAL FEATURES B

DVD GEEK FACTOR 9

(OUT OF 10)

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This will always be one of my favorite movies. Director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman came up with a unique concept, and their execution of the material is hilarious, dark and timelessly truthful.

God bless John Malkovich for allowing this movie to be made. It's a trippy meditation on what it's like to have your privacy invaded, as well as an interesting take on reincarnation.

John Cusack plays an eccentric puppeteer who gets a job as a file clerk and discovers a portal into the body of Malkovich while peeking behind a cabinet. Catherine Keener plays the mean girl for whom Cusack falls, a woman who only wants to exploit the portal to steal his wife (an uncharacteristically mousy Cameron Diaz). Her affections for the wife depend upon her actually traveling through the portal and going into Malkovich.

This creates one of cinema's all-time-strangest love triangles—which is actually a love square, if you count Malkovich himself, even though other people are inhabiting him. It's not as confusing as it sounds.

All the performers are great, but I especially like Malkovich, who was robbed of an Oscar nomination. I would've loved to see him take home an Oscar for playing himself. (Michael Caine won the Supporting Actor Oscar that year for The Cider House Rules, and was far less deserving.)

Having not seen the film in quite some time, I forgot about Charlie Sheen playing himself as Malkovich's confidant (a role originally offered to Kevin Bacon).

Jonze has made a couple of great movies since 1999 (Where the Wild Things Are and Adaptation), but this remains his best work.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The two-disc set contains a strange and funny commentary from director Michel Gondry, a friend of Jonze who actually gets the director on the phone toward the end of the track. Gondry is a little hard to understand, but that's actually part of the fun. You also get a new interview with Malkovich, who describes how he got involved with the project. (He loved the script, but wanted it to be about somebody else.) The film is also available as a single-disc Blu-ray.


Chronicle (Blu-ray)

20TH CENTURY FOX

MOVIE C

SPECIAL FEATURES C

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 4

(OUT OF 10)

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This is one of those "found-footage" films that have annoyed me—and this one annoys me the most, because its premise is good. (Some high school kids get superpowers from a meteor, and things go nuts.) I hated the found-footage gimmick; it's a completely unnecessary distraction to a potentially good story. However, the film was a pretty big hit, and a sequel is supposedly on the way. Oh, boy.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You can watch the theatrical version or the director's cut. You also get a deleted scene.


Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

MAGNOLIA

MOVIE C

SPECIAL FEATURES B-

DVD GEEK FACTOR 5

(OUT OF 10)

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I love these guys. I loved their Adult Swim show, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and especially love their oddball show created for John C. Reilly, Check It Out!

But I don't love this movie. I don't even like it very much—which shocked me, considering the talent involved. Performers include Will Ferrell, Will Forte, Reilly, Zach Galifianakis and Robert Loggia. And, of course, creators Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are two very funny guys.

The plot is—not surprisingly—quite silly: Tim and Eric have blown the money of a bad man (Loggia) by making a crappy love-story movie starring Johnny Depp—while not realizing that Depp was, in fact, a Depp impersonator. They need to make a billion dollars fast to save their hides, so they go to work for Ferrell at his rundown shopping mall. Gross humor ensues.

Some of the bits are funny. I like Reilly as a strange wild man raised in the mall who is constantly sick, and there's a fun running gag involving a crazy wolf. I also liked Ferrell's character and his need to watch Top Gun over and over again.

But much of the humor is too over-the-top and disgusting—especially when one of the men takes a bath in diarrhea; it's about as gross as anything you will ever see. While I did love the TV show, I thought they started incorporating too much diarrhea in the program during the later seasons. Seriously.

I hate to see these guys come up short. They are a couple of bizarre men, and their humor is an acquired taste. Even though I have acquired a taste for their humor, I couldn't get into this one.

These guys have a funny film in them. Just cut it out with the diarrhea ... please.

SPECIAL FEATURES: An audio commentary from Tim and Eric, along with deleted and extended scenes. You also get a Shrim Dance screensaver. If you see the movie, you will know what Shrim is. If you know what Shrim is, you will be scared.

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