BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999) —Chekhov Shot First

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Craig Schwartz is a puppeteer with a problem. He remains dedicated to The Craft, but the cold cruel world only cares about the gimmicky hacks that think that size matters. His only choice is to endure until one day he finds the key: a portal hidden behind the filing cabinets of his tedious day job, which directly allows him to slid into the cranial cavity of actor John Malkovich like a human meat suit. And that's only really the beginning of the movie...

This feature debut from both director Spike Jones and screenwriter Charlie Kauffman still hits all the cruel, bizarre beats that the duo would become known for. An exploration of the “problem of personal identity” and the salience of “The Self,” this film is at once a deep meditation on long-standing philosophical quandaries and a veritable quagmire of a plot. It’s also just gloriously weird.

Topics Include: how this got made; the visible lack of fill-lighting; the real John Malkovich’s thoughts on the film; the specter of Anton Chekhov over Kauffman’s writing; all those weird insider quote references; the continuity-consciousness theories of John Locke; and the original Charlie Kauffman script (including the full breakdown of the notorious original un-filmed ending’s truly insane twists.)

Episode Safeword(s): “free will”

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