Stars In Their Eyes: Fame is a Frame

Life’s tough as a street-art puppeteer, but when Craig Schwartz (cunning John Cusack) starts a deadbeat day job in an office where the ceiling’s so low everyone has to bend over, he discovers a way out—a secret tunnel into the mind and body of John Malkovich (playing himself, sort of). Spike Jonze’s first feature Being John Malkovich renders identity as the playground and prison it is. When everyone wants to be known, rather than to try to know, celebrity is the pinnacle of success. To the star-obsessed, being known might mean not having to know yourself, and if you don’t like yourself, this must be freedom. Dropped into the body of someone else, though, might allow for the ironic discovery that others are just as limited as you are. I laugh every time I think of Cameron Diaz—so thoroughly unglamorous she’s a sight gag— in a cage with a monkey; and Malkovich at home halfnaked, his paunch smiling at the fantasy of celebrity perfection.

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