Forgot to put up my review of Adaptation, the latest movie from the Jonze/Kaufman team. Saw it Christmas Eve with dangergirljones, mrsloane and my brother Dan. Spike Jonze (director) and Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter) are the pair responsible for Being John Malkovich. Yet again, they masterfully merge real and fictional characters into a story about breaking free of self-bondage.
The main character is Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage), fresh off his success as the screenwriter for Being John Malkovich he is asked to write an adaptation for Susan Orlean's book, The Orchid Thief. Seeing as how there is not much in the way of a story to the book, Kaufman becomes stymied in his efforts. His twin brother Donald Kaufman decides to do something with his life by becoming a screen writer as well. Charlie wants to write introspective movies full of character development. Donald wants to write movies with explosions and car chases.
In an attempt to unblock himself, Charlie decides to meet Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep). He can't, because he is a socially awkward chicken shit, and so Donald takes his place. They discover not is all as it seems with the lovely Ms. Orlean.
Okay, so that is the basic plot. Some of the characters are real. Some of them are not. And they are never really clear which ones are which. And how much the people resemble their real life counterparts is an open question. Charlie is introspective, tongue tied. He never knows when to make a move. On the set of Being John Malkovich and at parties surrounding the movie, he is basically ignored. He doesn't know how to insert himself into the camaraderie. Frankly, if you want to know what I was like 10 to 15 years ago, look at Charlie Kaufman.
Donald is outgoing. He is everything that Charlie wants to be but is too scared to try. Because he can't bring himself to change, he resents Donald greatly.
Susan Orlean is a New York intellectual. She writes for The New Yorker. John LaRoche (Chris Cooper), the orchid thief, doesn't appear to think too much, but lives life fully for the moment. Orlean looks to LaRoche, the subject of her story, to help her find passion instead of the distanced study which is her usual mode of viewing the world.
The story is complex. Harder to follow at times than Being John Malkovich. It wasn't quite as original, in that I expected to have the weird mixing of real people. And it doesn't get as off the wall as Malkovich did. I enjoyed it more because I identified with CHarlie Kaufman much more than I did with any characters in their earlier movie. Nicholas Cage and Chris Cooper both should receive numerous awards for their work in this movie. Cooper's part is smaller than his starring role in John Sayles Lone Star so he probably won't get as much notice as Cage, who plays both main characters.
One of the things that amazes me about Spike Jonze is that he has turned out two incredible, quirky, complex movies. But his start was in music videos; most famously he directed The Beasty Boys, Sabotage. While all his videos are pretty good, it would be hard to predict that he would go in this direction.
Anyway, see this movie. Unless you liked movies like Armageddon or that Godzilla remake from a couple of years ago. If guns, explosions, car chases, tits and ass is the extent of what you like in movies, you will not like this movie. Me, I generally tend to hate those films, and I loved this.