Being John Malkovichis a movie so original and audacious, it deservedly made the careers of director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, both making their feature-film debuts. The basic premise? Well, that’s hard to pin down, but in short, a frustrated file clerk (John Cusack) discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich, hidden behind a file cabinet in a Manhattan office building. But even if you’re not immediately enticed by the endless possibilities here, sit tight — you should probably partake of this 1999 cult classic anyway. Being John Malkovich remains as funny and insightful as ever, thanks largely to a script that predicted today’s obsession with technology-enabled voyeurism. John Malkovich certainly thinks so: In the best of several extras created for Criterion’s new edition of the film, The Daily Show with John Stewart’sJohn Hodgeman interviews the actor who bravely starred in a project seemingly crafted to belittle him. Malkovich now concludes that the movie’s message is simple: “Be who you are. People today don’t find that to be enough.” Image quality may seem a little soft and murky by today’s standards, but the Blu-ray only lives up to the director’s intentions, which he here describes as “dingy naturalism to play against the sci-fi.” The audio is another story. Outrageous rear-channel sound effects do an amazingly good job of putting you (and several other people) inside Malkovich’s head. How can you resist?
Video: 1080p, 1.85:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: Selected scene commentary with Michel Gondry; All Noncombatants Please Clear the Setdocumentary; featurettes including “An Intimate Portrait of the Art of Puppeteering,” "American Arts & Culture Presents John Horatio Malkovich: Dance of Despair and Disillusionment," and “7 1/2 Floor Orientation”; “John Malkovich and John Hodgman” interview; Spike Jonze photos; trailer; TV spots; printed booklet. Studio: Criterion.