Being John Malkovich (No spoilers)

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kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu

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Nov 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/16/99
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(No spoilers in this message)

So has anyone seen the new movie "Being John Malkovich"? I saw it this
weekend, and found it interesting and only slightly disturbing. But
mostly, pretty well done.

I was thinking about it a couple days later (I know it's a good movie when
it randomly shows up in my head days later), and realized that the movie had a
lot in common with the IF idea, where you become the adventurer (especially
games where the PC is someone who's not like you, based on gender, occupation,
number of heads, etc.).

For those who haven't heard of it, it's a movie about a guy who finds a
way to enter John Malkovich's head (see out of his eyes, etc.) for 15 minutes.
There's a lot more in the movie---identity, sexuality, manipulation, and other
Important Themes---plus humor, plus some stuff that's disturbing (disturbing
as in still bothers you after a few days, not "Yuck. Intestines!"). And a
couple scenes that I thought were brilliant (both in their ideas and in their
using special effects for a reason): namely, the "Malkovich Malkovich" scene,
and the subconscious scene.

Anyway, I figured you folks have been thinking about the philosophy of IF for
a long time. So if you haven't seen it, I definitely suggest seeing it. (I'm
not an employee of whatever company made it :) And I'd be interested in
hearing any other thoughts about it.

-Amir Karger
kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu


John Hill

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Nov 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/20/99
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kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu wrote:
>
> (No spoilers in this message)

Well maybe one or two...
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> couple scenes that I thought were brilliant (both in their ideas and in their
> using special effects for a reason): namely, the "Malkovich Malkovich" scene,
> and the subconscious scene.

ILM-style sfx almost never justify their existence, but the Malkovich
Malkovich scene couldn't work without them. All of ILM's past efforts
have been leading up to this one fine moment, so now they can stop.



> Anyway, I figured you folks have been thinking about the philosophy of > IF for a long time. So if you haven't seen it, I definitely suggest
> seeing it.

One reason I thought "Being John Malkovich" was a very good movie was
that it was so well constructed, e.i. a linear, foreshadowed story that
built on previous scenes. BJM has a cool setting for a game, but I
don't think the story itself would translate well.

OTOH, the ending of BJM had a
(hey, hey buddy, this is the spoiler)
freaky, claustrophobic feel that IF has sometimes given me.
(I'm thinking of Spider and Web, and er...Symetry.)
Certain situations in a game allow the weaknesses of the IF medium to
be used as strengths, like the situation of being trapped.

Mary McMenomy

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Nov 22, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/22/99
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----------
In article <80rrgl$j45$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu>, <kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu>
wrote:

>I was thinking about it a couple days later (I know it's a good movie when
>it randomly shows up in my head days later), and realized that the movie had a
>lot in common with the IF idea, where you become the adventurer (especially
>games where the PC is someone who's not like you, based on gender, occupation,
>number of heads, etc.).

I think you're right that IF *could* raise some of the issues that are dealt
with in BJM, but I think it usually doesn't. Classic puzzle-based IF
doesn't do much to delineate the player character; much IF that *does* work
with the PC seems to recreate the feeling of reading a book with a good
point-of-view character. Which is to say, you're drawn into the experience
of being that person, albeit temporarily, and there is no real feeling of
conflict or alienation.

Where the experience of playing IF deviates from that of reading a book, and
into the realm of BJM, is when the PC has to do things that you (the player)
aren't comfortable with -- shooting someone riding in a carriage, eg., or
(to take an example from Vindaloo that bothered me way more than it had any
right to) strangling a chicken. And I think the better written the work of
IF, the greater the impact of that "uncomfortable" or "unnatural" action --
though sometimes the dissonance is so extreme that I just quit playing. I
didn't finish Chix Dig Jerks because I really didn't care to pretend to be
that sort of person.

I'm reminded of an experience I had playing a board game. It was one of
those complicated simulations from Avalon Hill where the rules take about
three weeks to learn; this one was a game of trade and colonization in the
New World which took into account all sorts of effects such as weather,
trouble with the native population, and so on. As the simulation played out
I was forced to realize that in order to win the game, I had to kill off the
native American population in my sector of the board. This wasn't an
explicit part of the game as spelled out in the rules, just an effect of the
way the simulation worked. So I did -- they were just little cardboard
tokens, after all -- but in real life that would have been morally
untenable. It was a very strange experience.

-- Mary McMenomy

Neil K.

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Nov 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/23/99
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<kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu> wrote:

(spoilers removed)

Say. You know, it's generally considered poor form to lie in the subject line.

For example, when I saw this message I read that it had no spoilers.
Whereas, in fact, you revealed the entire basic premise of the film in
your post. So what's your idea of a spoiler if that isn't one? Something
along the lines of "Cameron Diaz was...


WEARING A WIG!", maybe?

- Neil K.

--
t e l a computer consulting + design * Vancouver, BC, Canada
web: http://www.tela.bc.ca/tela/ * email: tela @ tela.bc.ca

kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu

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Nov 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/24/99
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Neil K. <fake...@anti-spam.address> wrote:
: <kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu> wrote:

: (spoilers removed)

: Say. You know, it's generally considered poor form to lie in the subject line.

: For example, when I saw this message I read that it had no spoilers.
: Whereas, in fact, you revealed the entire basic premise of the film in
: your post. So what's your idea of a spoiler if that isn't one? Something
: along the lines of "Cameron Diaz was...

Hm. I'm not a big Usenet user, but my impression from a lot of lurking has
been that spoilers means either giving away the ending or giving away
specific, important plot points. I think I gave away significantly less
than a movie review would have given, and less than the TV trailer would,
too.

But I apologize nonetheless.

-Amir

Neil K.

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Nov 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/25/99
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mcc...@erols.com (TenthStone) wrote:

> One might note that the title gives away said plot point.

You don't think that title could be interpreted in a number of ways?

TenthStone

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Nov 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/26/99
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On Thu, 25 Nov 1999 03:38:14 -0800, fake...@anti-spam.address (Neil
K.) wrote:

>In article <81h024$puo$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu>, kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu wrote:
>
>> Hm. I'm not a big Usenet user, but my impression from a lot of lurking has
>> been that spoilers means either giving away the ending or giving away
>> specific, important plot points. I think I gave away significantly less
>> than a movie review would have given, and less than the TV trailer would,
>> too.
>

> Right. Such reviews and trailers are laden with spoilers, as many a film
>geek will lament.
>
> Sorry if my previous post sounded a little pissy. Thing is, I'd just come
>back from the movie. (Which was absolutely terrific and which I enjoyed
>immensely.) However, I was irked that the main crucial scene of discovery
>had its dramatic tension lessened slightly for me, because I knew
>basically what was about to happen. And Malkovich is definitely the sort
>of film you want to go into knowing nothing about what's going to happen.

One might note that the title gives away said plot point.

If I know what you're talking about. Which I might not. Since I
haven't seen the movie.

One of the these days.

----------------
The Imperturbable TenthStone
mcc...@erols.com tenth...@hotmail.com mcc...@gsgis.k12.va.us

TenthStone

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Nov 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/26/99
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On Thu, 25 Nov 1999 23:04:35 -0800, fake...@anti-spam.address (Neil
K.) wrote:

> mcc...@erols.com (TenthStone) wrote:
>
>> One might note that the title gives away said plot point.
>

> You don't think that title could be interpreted in a number of ways?

Heh.

Really, not beyond Being Like John Malkovich, and my experience is
that filmmakers who pull that sort of thing try to be a bit more
subtle.

Of course, the exact method of being is certainly up for question.

Sean T Barrett

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Nov 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/26/99
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TenthStone <mcc...@erols.com> wrote:
>(Neil K.) wrote:
>> mcc...@erols.com (TenthStone) wrote:
>>> One might note that the title gives away said plot point.
>> You don't think that title could be interpreted in a number of ways?
>Really, not beyond Being Like John Malkovich

Let's see:
Being John Malkovich: a biography (or autobiography) of John Malkovich
Being John Malkovich: the tale of a Walter Mitty type who dreams of being
a relatively famous actor
Being John Malkovich: a SCI-FI story in which aliens abduct a number
of human BEINGS, one of whom is Mr. Malkovich,
whom they label with the title

etc. etc.

Sean Barrett

Adam Cadre

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Nov 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/26/99
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Sean Barrett wrote:
> Being John Malkovich: a biography (or autobiography) of John
> Malkovich
> Being John Malkovich: the tale of a Walter Mitty type who dreams of
> being a relatively famous actor
> Being John Malkovich: a SCI-FI story in which aliens abduct a number
> of human BEINGS, one of whom is Mr. Malkovich, whom they label
> with the title etc. etc.

Or it could be a throwaway. Maybe the protagonist is a bald, dumpy
guy whose workplace is full of younger, less dumpy people, and at one
point he mutters, "I'm a John Malkovich in a world full of John
Cusacks" -- and this is the only mention of Malkovich in the film.
This sort of thing happens all the time -- "Fargo" didn't take place
in Fargo, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" isn't about people scared
by stream-of-consciousness, etc. I remember my brother once grumbling
that "you'll be reading this 300-page book and on page 215 the narrator
mentions that her shoes need to be cleaned and that's the only mention
of the shoes in the whole book but the book is called MY DIRTY SHOES.
What the hell is that?"

-----
Adam Cadre, Sammamish, WA
http://adamcadre.ac

Bonnie Montgomery

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Nov 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/27/99
to
What impressed me about "Being John Malkovich" was how unexpected were
some of the ways the characters developed, the words that came out of
their mouths, and how the plot unfolded. Would that all movies took you so
far off the cliche path. And that is what I think would attract us IF
types, we who admire the use of objects in novel ways...

Here's how much I wanted to see BJM...

The day after it opened here in San Jose, Chris Nebel and I began to walk
downtown to catch a matinee. No sooner had we crossed the street in front
of our house, but a whoosh of fluids drenched the lower half of my body
and started filling up my shoes. Being 36 weeks' pregnant, I correctly
surmised that my water had broken. "Darn!" I said as I padded back to the
house leaving wet shoeprints, "I had really wanted to see that movie!" I
called my midwife as I waited for the contractions to begin. I told her
what I had been doing when my water broke, and she said, "You still have
time. Go see the next showing." What a cool health practitioner, I knew I
was right in choosing her. We did go to the next show! My contractions
obligingly slowed down for the first half of the film, but started back
full force as we made our way back to the parking lot. Our daughter was
born about six hours later.

At the time I was impressed by the strange and odd directions the film
took my mind, but childbirth certainly took me to far stranger places, so
I am a bit fuzzy on movie details. I would certainly like to see the film
again in a few months.

Totally OT, I often thought that IF porn should have commands that could
be typed one-handed, but I find that one-handed typing is equally useful
in other situations, viz. this message has been written completely
left-handed as I use the right to hold my breastfeeding baby.

Bonnie


In article <80rrgl$j45$1...@news.ycc.yale.edu>, <kar...@fermi2.chem.yale.edu>
wrote:

> (No spoilers in this message)
>

> So has anyone seen the new movie "Being John Malkovich"? I saw it this
> weekend, and found it interesting and only slightly disturbing. But
> mostly, pretty well done.
>

> I was thinking about it a couple days later (I know it's a good movie when
> it randomly shows up in my head days later), and realized that the movie had a
> lot in common with the IF idea, where you become the adventurer (especially
> games where the PC is someone who's not like you, based on gender, occupation,
> number of heads, etc.).
>

> For those who haven't heard of it, it's a movie about a guy who finds a
> way to enter John Malkovich's head (see out of his eyes, etc.) for 15 minutes.
> There's a lot more in the movie---identity, sexuality, manipulation, and other
> Important Themes---plus humor, plus some stuff that's disturbing (disturbing
> as in still bothers you after a few days, not "Yuck. Intestines!"). And a

> couple scenes that I thought were brilliant (both in their ideas and in their
> using special effects for a reason): namely, the "Malkovich Malkovich" scene,
> and the subconscious scene.
>

> Anyway, I figured you folks have been thinking about the philosophy of IF for

Paul O'Brian

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Nov 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/29/99
to
On Sat, 27 Nov 1999, Bonnie Montgomery wrote:

> [a long story that peaked with:]

> Our daughter was
> born about six hours later.

Congratulations to you both! (Actually, to all three of you!)

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@colorado.edu http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian
"Sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears."
-- Paul Simon


okbl...@my-deja.com

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Nov 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/30/99
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In article <fake-mail-251...@rich-53-0160.direct.ca>,

fake...@anti-spam.address (Neil K.) wrote:
>
> You don't think that title could be interpreted in a number of ways?

Only if one had avoided the movie posters, the previews, the reviews,
the interviews, the "making of"s, etc. ;-)

--
[ok]


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.

Wonder Boy

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Nov 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM11/30/99
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On Tue, 30 Nov 1999 okbl...@my-deja.com wrote:

> In article <fake-mail-251...@rich-53-0160.direct.ca>,
> fake...@anti-spam.address (Neil K.) wrote:
> >
> > You don't think that title could be interpreted in a number of ways?
>
> Only if one had avoided the movie posters, the previews, the reviews,
> the interviews, the "making of"s, etc. ;-)
>

This thread is already too long, but I, for one, was very glad I
had already seen the movie when I read the post that started all of this.
-jon
"If I got stranded on a desert island (with electricity)/
And I could bring one record and my hi-fi/
I'd bring that ocean surf cd (Relaxing Sound of Ocean Surf)/
So I could enjoy the irony." - Dylan Hicks


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