No great actor has as much fun as John Malkovich. Whether he's further enlivening a Coen Brothers movie, or portraying the evil mage Galbatorix in 'Eragon' ("I suffer without my stone"), Malkovich is clearly relishing every moment -- and it infects even his dumbest movies with a gratifying sort of dissonance. We're supposed to be rolling our eyes at Galbatorix, not laughing giddily, but here we are. And if Malkovich doing one of his famously impressionistic "accents," as in 'Rounders' (Russian) or 'Johnny English' (who knows?), forget it; during the former, I remember laughing so hard that tears streamed down my cheeks.

So it seems that if any major star would be up for an extended and prominent bit of self-mockery, it would be Malkovich. And by some accounts, "self-mockery" is exactly what he did when he took on the role of "John Malkovich" in Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman's 1999 masterpiece 'Being John Malkovich'. But it's more than that. In playing an outraged actor who discovers that an out-of-work Manhattan puppeteer leading a stream of looky-loos through a portal into his head, Malkovich didn't just make fun of himself; plenty of actors have done that. Instead, he distilled his on-screen persona, his inimitable John Malkovichness, to its essence.

categories Features, Cinematical