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Being John Malkovich

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Being John Malkovich

Image Credit: Being John Malkovich, 1999

If you could crawl into the mind of a celebrity, who would it be? For me, the answer is easy- Nicholas Cage. Not only would it likely be a weird and wacky ride, but I might be able to save him (and the rest of humanity) from some truly terrible films. In this week’s film Being John Malkovich (DVD/Download), one of the great American actors of the 20th century becomes the host du jour. Why did screenwriter Charlie Kaufman choose actor John Malkovich? Because it’s just fun to say Malkovich.

Directed by Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich has all the movie elements I love. Unusual sets (7 ½ floor, anyone?), puppets, good-looking celebrities going ugly (YIKES Cameron Diaz), and famous actors playing themselves. As greasy-haired puppeteer Craig Schwartz, John Cusack slides through the portal into John Malkovich’s mind and eventually opens the actor up to a slew of other people taking possession.  As the film progresses, we start to examine what makes a person uniquely themselves, and how much of our minds are controlled by outside influences.

Although many people try to inhabit the mind of Malkovich, the 105-years-young Dr. Lester has perhaps the biggest claim to this coveted mental real estate. It’s his building where the portal on the 7 ½ floor exists, and he’s spent his life drinking carrot juice to stay vital. Wouldn’t it be great to find a cocktail that reverses the aging process? I’m willing to try if you are. While watching Being John Malkovich, I recommend drinking a Carrot Collins.

Carrot Collins

3 oz carrot juice

¾ oz lime juice

1.5 oz spiced rum

¾ cup ginger beer

1 oz mint simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a collins glass over ice. Stir gently, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Carrot Collins

One of the most interesting scenes in the film is when John Malkovich goes through his own portal, landing inside his own mind. What he encounters is a collection of Malkovich clones, who can speak only his surname; or as he puts it, “a world no man should see.” I can empathize. A room full of Liz Locke’s? TERRIFYING. Cheers!

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Friends With Money

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Friends With Money

Image Credit: Friends With Money, 2006

Middle age is a really weird time for friendships- something I’m finding truer and truer the older I get. Some people in their 30’s and 40’s have kids and a mortgage, while others still live like they did in college and may or may not have a roommate.  Some have flourishing careers that pay lucratively, and some are still figuring it out while working temp jobs.  This disparity, and the conflict it creates, gets examined in this week’s film Friends with Money (DVD/Download).  A thoroughly lovely picture, it asks the question- how do you stay friends with someone after your lives have diverged so completely?  In what ways does money complicate a relationship?

Jennifer Aniston’s character Olivia is (on the surface) the most dysfunctional within her group of friends. She’s working as a maid, chasing after a married man, and obsessively hoarding sample size cosmetics. She falls into a toxic relationship with a younger man, but endures him because… what else is there? Yet as the film progresses, we see that her other three friends don’t necessarily have it all figured out either. The characters played by Catherine Keener and Frances McDormand may have flourishing careers, but their marriages are questionable at best, and McDormand is a simmering kettle of suburban rage. And then there’s Joan Cusack, who has a trust fund, and pretty much no problems. It’s a stance we don’t often see in film and literature; normally more money = less happiness. But thing is, she and her husband are really happy because they don’t spend all their time arguing about money.

Although I find myself most identifying with Frances McDormand’s character (who among us hasn’t wanted to scream at someone who cuts in front of us in the Old Navy line??), I still find Jennifer Aniston’s Olivia incredibly relatable.  I’m such a sucker for sample size anything, particularly cosmetics and alcohol.  So while watching Friends With Money, find some fancy samples at your local liquor store and try them out.  Minimal commitment required.

money bottles

I’m a huge fan of most of director Nicole Holofcener’s films (such as Walking and Talking, Lovely & Amazing, and Enough Said). But Friends with Money is the one that I keep thinking about as things change with my life. The concept of money is so intriguing because everybody is striving for it, hoarding it, or eschewing it, but nobody wants to talk about it. It’s like our lives and relationships are revolving around this completely forbidden subject. Finally with this film, the conversation is started. Cheers!