Being John Malkovich (1999)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The 7 1/2 Floor
Featurette-American Arts & Culture Presents John H Malkovich
Featurette-Interview With Spike Jonze (Director)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (55:17)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Spike Jonze|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Mary Kay Place
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, In|
First off, I have to say that this is a strange movie, which is probably not a surprise given the title. Secondly, it is nothing like I expected, being so bizarre and unpredictable as to have myself and others around me shaking our heads in disbelief. Take for instance a floor, placed between 7 and 8, which is half-height, forcing everyone to walk bent over. No one says a word. It is just accepted. To get to it, one has to press the emergency stop button on the elevator as it is equidistant from said floors, and pry open the well-worn doors with a crow bar. Then, we meet a speech-impediment specialist who cannot understand a word anyone is saying, and who has the manager convinced he has a speech problem.
Being John Malkovich is just delightfully different and funny in so many ways. As for the plot, well here it is. John Cusack, who by the way looks very different with long hair, glasses and an unkempt beard, is a struggling but brilliant puppeteer. He lands a job with a very strange company as a filing clerk, and finds a small door in this building which opens into a tunnel which leads directly into the brain of John Malkovich. Still with me? Once someone enters this door, they slide into John Malkovich's brain and can experience all that he experiences for 15 minutes. We later find out that John Malkovich is a "vessel body", one which can host mind-hoppers and keep them effectively immortal, however he doesn't know this. If I have lost you at this point, don't panic. Craig (John Cusack) decides to set up shop after hours in his office, charging people off the street to be John Malkovich for $200 per 15 minutes, which turns out to be a good little earner to say the least. With so many people taking the plunge, it all ends in tears as Malkovich ultimately finds out and ends it all.
The plot is pretty out there, but the acting and execution of the script is sublime. John Cusack is brilliant in his role, and his wife Cameron Diaz is utterly unrecognizable, being a scruffy pet-trampled slightly mad brunette. There are many scenes which will have you stunned, a most memorable one being when John Malkovich himself takes the trip into his own mind, although I won't spoil that one for you! This is certainly a movie which demands to be seen a good few times to fully explore the nuances and subtleties that are rife within this very unique story.
Clarity and detail was at all times superb, whilst at the same time having a very film-like nature about the image. There was tons of detail to be seen all around, and there were times when I paused the movie just to bask in the glory that is DVD. There was very little use of edge enhancement, and shadow detail was absolutely exemplary. Black levels were deep yet still retained clarity with no detail lost at all. There were times when this image could have been a mess given some of the low lighting conditions, but this was handled expertly by this transfer. There is little to no film grain visible, and no low-level noise.
Colours were very natural, although slightly understated. Skin tones were essentially perfect, and there was no instances of bleeding or misregistration observed, a quality which is typical of PAL transfers.
There were absolutely no MPEG artefacts observed save for some very minor posterization on the wall of Craig's office. This compression is completely transparent, and is no doubt a result of the entire movie being effectively spread over two layers, since the extras don't add up to much. There were only a smattering of film artefacts. The only let down of this transfer is some minor aliasing inside Craig's apartment, the culprit being a woven lampshade. Since the lamp is always on, the fine vertical detail does tend to shimmer when in focus. This normally wouldn't be a problem, however this particular lamp does feature in a number of scenes, and it is a shame to have to mark down the transfer for this extremely minor problem.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 55:17, during Chapter 19. It is extremely well placed, occurring during a natural scene change and is of no interruption to the movie whatsoever.
Dialogue was always clear and easy to make out, despite the odd instance of vocal looping which called attention to itself by being poorly integrated into the mix. There were no instances of lip-sync problems.
The soundtrack is a very understated one most of the time. There are large passages with no music, however when it does occur it is very good and perfectly suits the strange nature of this film. Tonally, the soundtrack is very natural, with foley effects being well mixed and very clean. An effective instance is when inside Craig's apartment, the neighbour can be heard banging on the walls and screaming, and I actually turned my head in shock, which is exactly the kind of effect it should convey!
The surround channels were used sparingly, however were very well used at times. Inside John Malkovich's head, any noises seemed to come from all around, as in a tight claustrophobic space (I am sure nothing should be read into this, Mr Malkovich). At other times, the surrounds were used to convey ambience in different environments, and as such were very adept in their usage.
The subwoofer was used extensively for adding weight to the music and filling out the bottom end of foley effects, and was very well integrated into the mix.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer is excellent.
The soundtrack is often very dynamic with effective use of the surrounds when needed.
The extras are somewhat ill-conceived, and are simply padding, save for the trailers which are brilliant.
|DVD||Panasonic A-360, using S-Video output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DB-930|
|Speakers||Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive|