Being John Malkovich

As far as I can tell, regular folk don’t care for movies about movies or films about filmmaking. They used to, back when Hollywood was a more glamourous and idolized place for Americans. Classics like Sunset Boulevard, Singin’ in the Rain, The Bad and the Beautiful and the 1954 version of A Star is Born were among the top-grossing releases of their time. But 60 years later, it seems the only people really interested in stories of Hollywood, actors, directors, screenwriters, et al. are people involved with the film industry — the self-indulgence being one step below all the awards nonsense — and movie geeks, including film critics and fans. If you’re reading Film School Rejects, you’re not one of the aforementioned “regular folk,” and you probably get more of a kick out of stuff like Living in Oblivion, Ed Wood, Get Shorty, State and Main, The Hard Way, The Last Tycoon, The Stunt Man, The Big Picture, The Player, Bowfinger, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Argo than those people do. While it is true that The Artist faced the challenge of being a silent film, another major obstacle in the way of box office success must have been its Hollywood setting. Argo isn’t really literally about filmmaking, though, and that might be working in its favor. Ben Affleck‘s period thriller, which is expected to finally take the top spot at the box office this weekend, is about not making a film, so it should have the opposite result of most movies in which […]

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Over Under - Large

Being John Malkovich was an amazing success story upon its 1999 release. Not only was it a critical darling that got nominated for a bunch of awards, but it also successfully launched the big screen careers of a music video director named Spike Jonze and a lowly TV writer named Charlie Kaufman. In case you didn’t know, those guys have gone on to be big names, and Being John Malkovich earns quite the pedigree by being the start of their careers. On a personal level, I walked out of the movie in ’99 shocked at how unique and inventive it was, and loving how it melded progressive filmmaking with a comic sensibility. Revisiting it all these years later though, I realize it hasn’t aged as well as I’d hoped, and I find myself wondering if it still deserves the level of reverence that it gets. Mabrouk El Mechri’s 2008 film JCVD didn’t get near as much buzz or recognition as something like Being John Malkovich. Maybe that’s because a big chunk of it wasn’t in English, or maybe it’s because it just wasn’t as good—that’s debatable. But the opinion that it showed us a different side of its star, Jean-Claude Van Damme, was pretty universal, and it seemed like it was going to be something of a rebirth for the action star’s career. It’s four years later though, and nothing has really come of it. The man has still been largely relegated to straight-to-video action movies, and any of the […]

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! After a couple of sparse weeks we’re rewarded with a bevy of worthwhile DVD releases suitable for your viewing pleasure including a Criterion edition of Being John Malkovich, the teen super power adventure Chronicle, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, Woody Harrelson playing bad cop/worse cop in Rampart, and Liam Neeson going head to head with wolves in The Grey. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Michael Michael works at an insurance firm, he hangs out with co-workers, he visits his mom and sister… and he has a ten year-old boy captive in his basement. The boy isn’t in chains, in fact he’s treated quite well aside from the captivity and occasional diddling. This calmly mesmerizing little Austrian drama about a few months in the life of a pedophile isn’t a thriller in the conventional sense, but goddamn are the final fifteen minutes suspenseful as hell. It’s a methodical and beautifully acted film that gets under your skin with its normality and subtle unpredictability.

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If Jesus or Tupac ever finally return like we’ve all been saying they will, they should probably do it in a Judd Apatow film or something like that. We love cameos, don’t we? It’s especially delightful when it’s extremely unexpected, and of course extra points if they are playing themselves – or better yet some kind of silly version of themselves. It’s all about recognizing the kind of person you are perceived to be, and then playing off that in a way that makes the audience realize that you are in on the joke. If a celebrity is able to do that, it’s instant coolness.

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The Film: Fight Club (1999) The Plot: Our nameless Narrator (Edward Norton) works for a major auto manufacturer, investigating fatal crashes caused by product defects and running cost-benefit analyses to decide whether it’d be more expensive to recall the deadly cars or to pony up settlements in future class-action lawsuits. Sound like an amoral, soul-murdering job to you? Our Narrator agrees and embarks on a fumbling quest for peace. He gets a hearty shove down the path toward enlightenment when a) his apartment full of “versatile solutions for modern living” mysteriously explodes, b) he strikes up a love/hate relationship with the morbid nihilist Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), and c) he joins forces with soap entrepenuer and terrorist mastermind Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) to found the Fight Club movement.

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When Zoolander came out on September 28, 2001, the production had digitally removed The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers from the New York City skyline in an effort to avoid displaying a devastating image in the middle of a comedy about the world of fashion. If they’d have left it in, it wouldn’t have been the first time the buildings had been featured on film or television. Since they didn’t, it marks the first time the buildings were ever erased. With the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 coming this Sunday, it’s impossible not to be consumed a bit by the gravity of an action that killed so many and lowered a different world view onto all of us. Landon and I talked on Reject Radio regarding the effect that the day had on movies and movie-watchers, but that mostly dealt with the last decade – the world that came after that morning. As a counterpart, here’s a simply-edited montage of the past. Dan Meth has built a view to the movies where the Twin Towers either stood proudly in the background, made prominent appearances in the front of the action, or acted as the set. It’s stirring in its matter-of-factness, and it’s more than a little moving, but it’s ultimately a celebration of a symbol that no longer (physically) exists. Check it out for yourself:

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This week’s Culture Warrior is getting its bunker ready for Y2K.

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spike-jonze-wherethewildthingsare

Attention, New York Rejects! In anticipation of this weekend’s release of Where The Wild Things Are, the Museum of Modern Art in New York has created the first ever retrospective of Spike Jonze’s work. Spike Jonze: The First 80 Years.

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Officially Cool

I just picked some of my favorites from films like Back to The Future, Shaun of The Dead, Robocop, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Jaws, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and Being John Malkovich.

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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