Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, and Tilda Swinton
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Written by: Charlie Kaufman
speaking? Adaptation is one of the smartest films I have ever
seen. It's intelligent, clever, witty, warm and, I'll spare you the thesaurus,
it's a masterpiece!
To expect the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman to top his brilliant Being John
Malkovich would have, should have been unfair . After that icky-off Human
Nature many fans (okay...me) thought perhaps BJM was just lightning
caught in a bottle. Nope-sca-dope-ski kids! Adaptation may actually top
it - and that is quite a feat.
story is complicated, yet quite simple. We follow Charlie Kaufman (yes the screenwriter-as
interpreted by Nicolas Cage) as he gets hired to adapt a bestseller into a film.
We join him as he lunches with the studio executive (Tilda Swinton) who is trying
to win him over. He's a wreck. We listen to his inner dialog as he tortures himself
with doubt, self-loathing and hysterical phobias; a real screenwriter.
(Nic) leaves the lunch with the job. He visits the set of his screenplay in production,
Being John Malkovich, which comes complete with cameos
of the cast for added realism (and brilliance). Then Charlie heads home.
Here we meet his identical twin brother Donald (also Cage). Donald is the polar
opposite of Charlie in persona. He's gregarious, open, one of those happy people
with a lust for life in general. Don's also a struggling screenwriter who prefers
serial killers with multiple personality disorders and blockbuster formulas. He
is also sweetly in awe of his brilliant brother. You following? Okay.
the book Charlie is commissioned to adapt, "The Orchid Thief," is written
by a New Yorker journalist Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep). He immediately has a difficult
time for several reasons; he falls smitten with the writer, he hates the brouhaha
of the flowing New Yorker style (it lacks details he lives for) and he's so ethical
he fears he'd end up ruining the story as she would want it told.
We flash back to our hero in "The Orchid Thief," John LaRouche (Chris
Cooper) as his life is happening years before. John's in the middle of the everglades,
in the middle of a heist; he's stealing endangered orchids so he can sell them
to hungry collectors. He's a sleazy looking fellow with missing teeth, greasy
hair, and filthy clothes. That whole nine-yards- of- trailer- sod - after-a-thunderstorm
look. But when New Yorker Susan meets him and starts to pen her story, she falls
under a spell of sorts and into his world.
we jump back and forth from Charlie present day, trying to adapt her story, to
her creating her story. And eventually the two shall meet. It's a film about a
film being made, while it's being made, that's been made! Adaptation
is utter brilliance and a true bit of cinematic genius. Kaufman throws in a lot
of industry jokes like the struggle between product and market, the silly terms
"LA" people use in conversation, screenwriting cliches, plot fumbles
etc., etc.. He doesn't miss a joke, a beat, or a syllable. This is perfection.
I may just have the found my once illusive, unstampable, irrevocable "favorite
film." Hmm though I do still adore The
Royal Tenenbaums, Frailty, and The
Shipping News...I take it back..
Cage is back on top. He should be getting a set of golden trinkets this awards
season. His performance as both Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman was mesmerizing.
Yes, I said mesmerizing. Those still bitterly bitter over his gigantic accent
faux pas in Capt Corelli's Mandolin will once again
be tipsy with this fine drink of man.
got balls too. I mean looks-wise he's none too handsome in this! Yechy-poo-poo.
His frizzy Gene Wilder-esque hair is balding, his belly puffy and paunch; Nic
is basically Carrot Top meets Newman gross. While you slip into the brilliant
script (because viewing is mandatory) remember he's really a six foot-something
slab of premium choice manmeat one would like to sauté in the heart fire's
of love. He's a real yumm-a-tini. The fact that he's a bit warped in real life
just makes this bad boy even more delectable. MEOW!
Streep as fragile Susan is impeccable. Gosh, she's just always perfection. This
woman does it all. She pours onto a screen magnifying her subject and drawing
bewitching. She makes little girls want to act! She too should be
in line for bric-a-brac from the people who adorn these items on the few "noticed"
Cooper, who is a chameleon, almost steals the movie from Cage. His John was
wonderfully complex for a simple man. Not a simpleton. That's the magic. When
you first see him, you're thinking, "uh-oh stereotypical redneck straight
ahead." But then you remember Charlie Kaufman wrote this and get that warm
fuzzy feeling again. Purr.
Jonze worked his magic as well. The script certainly isn't easy to string together
coherently, and without flaw. He and his stellar, dare I say perfect, cast do
just that. Keep your eye out for tons of neato keen cameo and surprises
Recommendation: Ghost Orchid blow (I hear it's amazing) and LA Pasta.