Friday, 16 January 2009

Odds and endings

Two more oddball films I've seen and enjoyed, again with only the most tenuous connection to sci-fi...

Being John Malkovich (1999) by Spike Jonze is hard to describe - the story of desperate puppeteer John Cusack who discovers a hole in an office-wall leading into John Malkovich's head is just the start of a story that gets more surreal each scene - and just when you think this film could quite happily exist just as a playground for bizarre unconnected ideas, the ending unexpectedly wraps the story up into a neat gothic horror that actually makes sense of most (not quite all) of the plot.

Compare to Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate, released the same year, in which Johnny Depp's character, a rare books dealer on the trail of a demonic spellbook of some kind is constantly uncovering clues that seem to hint at an ultimate secret - while the ending is at least consistent with the quest, there's a real sense that the film just stops without pulling the strands together, or explaining the picture that is presumable clear to the character. This is the opposite: a fantasy film that does need an ending but lacks one.

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