For Your Renting Pleasure

being-john-malkovich-headerWeek after week I apparently find ways to theme my rentals without realizing it beforehand.  Scratch that, I totally did it on purpose, and you know it’s true cuz I said totally.  A couple of weeks ago I went with creature features, and this week’s selection of The Nines and Being John Malkovich has me going for films in which reality is not really all it seems to be, creating odd words that raise questions, both for the betterment, and detrimental to, the film.

The Nines (2007)

You caught me; this film drew my attention while I was strolling through the options in the Netflix Instant Queue because Ryan Reynolds was on the cover art.  The story description is what sold the film for me.  At its basic level, it can be described as a movie in which stories intertwine in a way that will be determined by the watcher throughout, though it doesn’t really take full advantage of this until “all” is explained in the end.  However, we’re not talking in the Crash sort of way, but rather three separate stories in which the same actors are used in different parts.  Sounds slightly confusing, but it serves its purpose to the truth of the story.

In addition to Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy (who just had an phenomenal turn hosting SNL) and Hope Davis play three different roles throughout the movie, including one turn in which McCarthy plays herself.  Elle Fanning also makes a couple of appearances as well back in her “Don’t the Fannings make adorable children?” days.  Unfortunately I can’t really go into much more in order to keep from giving away the connecting factor that is eventually revealed at the end, but I will say this:  I appreciate what the film was trying to do.  It was nothing new, and in all honesty I think it could have been done a little more effectively (especially considering the questions I can’t quite figure out surrounding a camcorder in the movie), so unfortunately other than the performances in the film I am left being pretty indifferent to it.

Final Grade:  C

Zac’s Homework Assignment: (A section of my week devoted to filling in my “films viewed” list with more of the classics from the 80s, 90s, etc that Zac thinks I am doing a disservice to myself by not having seen them already)

Being John Malkovich (1999)

This movie was just weird.  There, I said it.  But this time around, the weirdness of the world created is what makes this movie enjoyable.  Granted my parents didn’t like it for a lot of the reasons that I did, so it’s clearly not for everyone.

The premise of this film is found in the title itself, but to put more words to it, it goes a little something like this: John Cusack’s character finds a tunnel in his office that leads to the brain of John Malkovich.  At first, it is simply an opportunity to see 15 minutes of someone else’s life through their eyes, but eventually it becomes something more.  If you really want to give it meaning, then it raises questions about Hollywood and the control in which actors have over their own lives and all that jazz, especially considering Cusack’s character is a puppeteer (which provides the opportunity for some truly amazing puppet show moments), but in all honesty it’s just a quirkily fun ride in which any underlying message (if there is one) doesn’t really matter.

Cameron Diaz plays Cusack’s animal loving wife whose world is brought into great question when she takes a trip down the tunnel, and she does an amazing job playing someone slightly off from her usual roles.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of her here that you see time and time again in the other films that fill up her resume, but her character here was just far enough off that my mom didn’t even realize it was her until she finally asked who it was about half way through.  Then again, it could have just been the hair.  And not to be left out, Catherine Keener also has a large part in the film as someone who draws the attention of the majority of the characters to a comedic effect.

There are plenty of questions that remain after this film as well, from why the heck there is a 7.5 floor in this building, why the secretary thought everyone spoke with a speech impediment, etc, but when all is said and done these elements just add to the quirkiness of this film and don’t really need answers.  So again, it may not be a film for everyone, but if you are one who enjoys odd films and scripts, then this is definitely something you must see.  Plus, an added bonus is that you will then be able to make connections to other things you have seen that most likely pay homage to this, from the tunnel in Coraline to the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer titled “Restless” that is reminiscent of an amazingly edited section of this film involving traversing the subconscious.  So do yourself a favor and just embrace the journey.

Final Grade:  B+