Movie News

MORIARTY's Review Of The Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman ADAPTATION!

Published at: Sept. 30, 2008, 3:48 p.m. CST by Moriarty

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

This movie shook me.

I read the script last year. I read a few early reviews. I walked into the theater pretty sure I knew what I was going to see.

And I was wrong. Almost entirely wrong. See, I underestimated Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman. I expected something surreal and genre-bending and provocative, and it’s all of that, but it’s more. What I saw hit me in a deep, personal place and left me reeling as I staggered to my car afterwards. I took a few minutes before I even started the engine, trying to explain what I was feeling to my girlfriend, who could see that I was having a complicated reaction. The DGA is less than five minutes from my house, but in those five minutes, driving home, I began to shake. It felt like a shock wave was hitting me. By the time we reached my driveway, there were tears in my eyes, and I almost had to be helped inside. She talked me down over the next couple of hours, both of us digging into the film and what it makes you think about, simply letting it take us wherever it was going to, enjoying it as one of those rare film experiences, a total immersion.

ADAPTATION is like nothing else I’ve seen in recent memory. It is a complete original. It burrowed under my skin and worked its way into my entire system as I watched it, and no matter what I’ve watched since, ADAPTATION is what I continue to think about. I feel like I do on the far side of my first experiment in altered consciousness all those years ago, like I’ve just opened some new doorway in my brain, and I don’t know where it might lead, but I know it will be someplace I’ve never been before. I think the reason it made me so emotional after seeing it is because ADAPTATION is also one of the bravest pieces of film art I’ve ever seen. And it was made and released by a studio.

I think the word I’m looking for starts with an “m,” but it’s not “masterpiece”.

I think the word I’m looking for is “miracle”.

For one thing, I had given up on Nicolas Cage. It came to a head not long after he won the Oscar for LEAVING LAS VEGAS, but it had been brewing for a while. I still remember the charge of seeing VALLEY GIRL in the theater when it opened and wondering who this remarkable bag of freak was. RACING WITH THE MOON and BIRDY were both films I really liked when they came out, but it was the back to back punch of PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED and RAISING ARIZONA that convinced me that Cage was one of the best, someone worth paying close attention to. MOONSTRUCK, VAMPIRE’S KISS, and WILD AT HEART were gifts for the faithful, films that we could point at to prove that Cage was the one defining whatever envelope there was to push in acting. He was Crispin Glover crazy, but he managed to get the leads in these films. The things he tried were either inspired or retarded, and that fine line is what made him so fascinating.

And then he hit a dry spell. And for Cage, a dry spell can be a majestic, horrifying thing, full of films so terrible they defy description. Films like ZANDALEE and FIREBIRDS and GUARDING TESS and IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU and TRAPPED IN PARADISE. I started to wince when I would hear his name, and it was only the occasional RED ROCK WEST that gave me hope. His collaboration with Mike Figgis yielded one of his very best performances, and he deserved that Oscar. He made self-destruction a spectator sport, and he managed to give real, angry voice to a character that almost no one else could have made sympathetic. I hoped that Oscar sent him a message about his gifts as an actor, that it rewarded him for doing that same sort of brave, on the edge work that defined him at the start of his career. I hoped it was the start of a second, better stage in his filmography.

And instead, I got THE ROCK and FAMILY MAN and CON AIR and CITY OF ANGELS and GONE IN 60 SECONDS, and somewhere in there, I just gave up. I just got tired of watching him piss away these prime years of his life, when he’s still young enough to do almost anything. He was no longer an actor, as far as I was concerned. He was a movie star. To me, the difference is that movie stars play themselves, or some slight variation on themselves, while actors vanish into their roles, becoming someone else.

In ADAPTATION, Nicolas Cage The Actor comes roaring back to life, creating not one but two of the year’s most interesting characters, giving the best performance as twins since Jeremy Irons in Cronenberg’s seminal DEAD RINGERS. First, there’s Charlie Kaufman, the film’s lead. We see the world through his eyes, and it’s positively deranged of him to make himself a character in this film. I am surrounded by evidence of his reality. Right now, I’ve got an invitation on my desk for a set of screenings of CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, written by Charlie Kaufman. I’ve got an advance DVD for review of HUMAN NATURE, written by Charlie Kaufman. And sitting on my stack of scripts to be read is ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, the latest and hottest script by... yes... Charlie Kaufman. He’s a real person, but after seeing this film, I don’t know if there’s room for a different face than the one Cage gives him. He’s got a remarkable coiff, a strange sort of thinning orangey afro, his skull showing clearly through it from most angles. He is hunched, pushed over, like someone’s got their thumb on him. When we first get a glimpse of Charlie, he’s hanging back, on the edge of things behind the scenes on BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, which is being directed by Spike Jonze. We see a startling recreation of the production of that film, with Malkovich himself making a heartfelt plea on behalf of the extras in the scene. Charlie walks outside, feeling like he’s in the way, and we see him plunge headlong into life as a “hot” screenwriter. I typically hate movies about filmmaking because the details are always exaggerated, cartoonish, inaccurate. People prefer to play the stereotypes instead of the way things really are, even though they know better. In this film, Jonze and Kaufman achieve an effortless, perfect portrayal of life in modern Los Angeles working in films. This is the way it feels.

And based on the portrayal, you’d guess that it doesn’t always feel good. Kaufman is insecure, even in his success, and he feels a constant pressure to produce according to expectations. As I type right now, I glance down at my fingers on the keys, and I see that the nails on several of the fingers are chewed down to the quick and even past, ragged and awful. I’m stressed right now, working about sixteen hours a day, and I’m terrible to myself at times on some subconscious level. There’s something about the horror of facing a blank page that does this to people.

Cage’s other performance, as Charlie’s twin brother Donald, is remarkable because of how easy it is to simply accept him as a separate person from Charlie. The FX work by Gray Matter FX is exceptional, nuanced and sophisticated, and they’ve laid these two people into the same frame in a way that Bob Zemeckis could only dream of as recently as BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 (1989). They interact. They play off of each other in unexpected ways. They couldn’t be more different in the way they attack life. Charlie is the strong one in some ways. After all, he’s the one who has the movie in production, the one who has the house in the Hollywood Hills. Donald doesn’t even have a home of his own. He has to crash with his brother. He seems to embody everything that Charlie hates about the business he works in. Donald talks about “The Industry” and he quotes Robert McKee, a guy who gives seminars on screenwriting, and he seems to believe there is some magic formula that you can just copy that will give you a great script, guaranteed.

But there’s one way that Donald is completely superior to Charlie. He has the ability to connect with people. He meets the makeup girl (Maggie Gyllenhaal) on the set of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, and they fall into the exact sort of light, casual relationship that Charlie dreams of, but seems incapable of initiating. There’s a heartbreaking subplot involving Judy Greer as a waitress at a local diner, and a major part of the film deals with the friendship Charlie has with Amelia (Cara Seymour), a lovely British girl who obviously cares about him. He can feel the tension between them. He even seems like he wants to make the right move and connect with her, but he’s frozen, paralyzed by himself and his own self-image and his fear of failure, and he never quite works up the nerve. He never quite says the right thing. And when he sees the way Donald is able to make those connections, it tears him up inside. It manifests as a sort of thinly veiled contempt for his brother.

Charlie gets hired to adapt a book called THE ORCHID THIEF into a script by Valerie (Tilda Swinton), who does a spot-on-perfect job as a development executive. Her first meeting with Kaufman is eerily accurate, right down to the almost inappropriate level of zeal that Charlie shows when he talks about how he’d approach adapting the book.

Of course, as soon as he gets the job, he freezes. I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights recently as the enormity of the job I’m doing for Revolution really started to hit me. There have been all sorts of things going on that have really turned the pressure up for my writing partner and me. It’s a great thing, but it’s also terrifying in that jump-out-of-an-airplane sort of way. You just have to have faith that the chute’s going to open. You have to trust that you’ll find your voice and the script will come to life. Charlie begins the process of converting THE ORCHID THIEF into screenplay form, and as he does, we’re drawn into the world of the book, just as he is.

It’s a nonfiction story, expanded from an article that originally ran in THE NEW YORKER, by Susan Orleans (Meryl Streep). It concerns John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a charismatic figure who was arrested for removing rare plants from a Florida preserve. It was part of a larger plan by Laroche to breed these plants, including the elusive ghost orchid, using local Seminole Indians to handle the plants in an effort to circumvent local wildlife laws thanks to a loophole. At first, Laroche is an anecdote that she tells to great comic effect at a dinner party, but she is drawn to him. She becomes completely absorbed in her efforts to understand him.

And as he writes this, as he starts to piece the story together, Charlie Kaufman finds himself drawn to Orleans. He becomes completely absorbed in his efforts to understand her. The parallel between how he approaches his work and how Orleans approaches her work can’t be missed, but it’s the differences between them that distinguish them. Susan’s part of the world. She’s got a life. She’s got a husband. She works with other people at this magazine, a social creature. Charlie is fascinated by her because of the world she seems to symbolize to him. Her book is beautifully written, moving, and it impacts Charlie deeply. Still, he can’t quite hand himself over, heart and soul, to what he’s writing, and that’s the step that really brings something to life. So much of my work week is dedicated not to the act of writing, but the creation of the right space in which to write. It’s a process of shutting out the world. It’s a process of slipping completely into this thing you’ve created. It’s crucial. Charlie’s problem is that he writes in circles, so obssessed with the work that he begins to double back on himself.

When Charlie comes up with the notion of writing himself into the script, and he begins to write the film that we’ve been watching the entire time, it’s a moment so strange, so completely odd that it wouldn’t seem possible for an audience to maintain any real sense of sympathy for the characters onscreen. I mean, it’s such a self-referential, inside-joke type idea, clever to a fault. It is a testament to the considerable gifts of Kaufman and Jonze and Cage that the considerable tonal shifts in the film all seem to work. The concept takes a particularly daring turn in the last third of the film, and it’s this section that is causing considerable controversy with some viewers. People either buy what happens, and they allow themselves to feel the experience intuitively, or they resist, they fight it, and they let themselves get derailed. I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s horrible. I think it makes you feel very, very deeply for a character who should be a two-dimensional cartoon, but somehow isn’t. I think the use of Robert McKee as a character is the single most inside joke I’ve ever seen in a studio film, but I think it makes perfect thematic sense, and it’s not a stunt in any way. I think it’s brave. I think it subverts expectation by fulfilling certain expectations to a fault. I think it’s both obvious and broad and somehow subtle at the same time. It’s a triumph, and it will piss many, many people off.

Make sure you stay till the very end. The last few moments of the film are the punchline to the entire thing, and they’re worth sitting for those few extra moments and letting this movie wash over you. Lance Acord (BUFFALO 66, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) is the director of photography, and he’s working in a very particular palette that manages to create as distinct a world as the best work by The Coen Brothers or David Lynch. This is style as substance. Everything counts. Every level of the image and the performances. Chris Cooper is spectacular as Laroche, ferocious and filled with child-like wonder and burned out distraction and sudden, mercurial anger, all in equal measure. It’s the most vivid performance he’s ever given. There’s a disturbingly real prosthetic he wears as Laroche, his front teeth all smashed out and never replaced. There’s a moment that explains those teeth that is as horrifying a moment as I’ve seen in recent memory, shocking and sudden and real, and it almost sent me scurrying for cover when I saw it.

Credit for this film must ultimately rest on the shoulders of Spike Jonze, who continues to prove himself one of the most singular voices of his generation, able to work in three-minute music videos and features with equal impact. He’s capable of directing the year’s most cerebral exercise in high comedy, yet he also produced and appeared in the year’s most deliriously lowbrow big studio film, JACKASS. It’s that range that makes him dangerous, and there’s the sense that he’s enjoying his career more than anyone else will ever enjoy it. He’s got his own private joke, so dense and brilliant that he can’t possibly share the whole thing. We get crumbs. We get the bits he can spare. As great as ADAPTATION is, I still get the sense he’s warming up. It’s just too effortless. He understands the comic rhythms of Charlie Kaufman on an almost chemical level, the same way Charlie finally finds the true heart of Susan Orleans, the same way Kaufman somehow maps his own heart. By the end of the film, Charlie has made a major step forward. He’s been transformed by his own work. He’s beaten back self-doubt and fear and he’s created something that fills him with pride. It’s given him a better sense of his own voice. And, for the first time, he finds the courage to use that voice. And it’s still scary, and what happens isn’t exactly what he hopes for, but at least it happens. At least it’s real. At least Charlie’s finally committed to life. He has adapted. He is changed, and in that change... in all change... there is the potential for something great. That greatness, however transitory, however elusive, is all we can hope for, and it seems that for everyone in this film, it is in that trying, in the struggle itself, that grace is found.

Trust me... ADAPTATION is one of this season’s finest gifts, and I sincerely hope you find that it’s just your size when you try it on.

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback

comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Nov. 22, 2002, 8:52 a.m. CST

    Wake me up when it's over

    by Glass

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 9:01 a.m. CST

    Well, I don't have any pending development deals with major stud

    by Aquatarkusman

    So it may not resonate as strongly with me. However, anything with Maggie Gyllenhaal and a flower larceny subplot HAS to be good.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 9:19 a.m. CST

    THIS is why I come here

    by Basher_Tarr

    Thank you once again, Moriarty for a truly profound essay. Not only has it amped up my desire to see this film as soon as possible, it validates why I choose to come to this site. I don't come for the fever-dream ramblings of a fat man in Austin, I come to this site for thought provoking essays about film and the love of film like the previous excellent example. Best of luck with your screenplay, thanks for remembering and taking the time to grace us geeks with your words and your thoughts.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 9:41 a.m. CST

    another great one

    by deftone

    wow. between this piece and mr. beak's piece, i'm so fired up to see Adaptation! why oh why isn't it coming out tomorrow??? Plus, I'm so glad to see Nic Cage coming back out of the abyss of not so hot movies he seems to have been in lately. Do we have another Oscar performance on our hands???

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 9:50 a.m. CST

    i wrote an adaptaton once

    by FafTheHappyPie

    i called it "I Am Gordo: The True Story of the Space Monkey that Went to Space and Changed Space History for Everyone, In Space." its a biopic of Gordo, the first monkey in space and its a touching tale that will delicately pull your heartstrings, as well as a mind-blowing mind-blower that will blow your mind. i sent this script to Harry and Moriarty and neither of them have reviewed it or gotten back to me about it and you both suck Harry and Moriarty for not reviewing "I Am Gordo"! you fear my script because it is cutting edge! you have no spines! praise it now!

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Faf...

    by Monkey Lover

    Your script sounds enticing. Monkeys? Space? Two elements for a surefire hit. Perhaps you could post the script on the web somewhere and give us all the URL so we may read your masterwork. I will then send my review into AICN and you will achieve fame!

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Being John Malkovitch critisised in haiku

    by Fitzroyce

    Being John Malkovitch Tedious and overwrought Best left unseen

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 10:10 a.m. CST

    i really think...

    by blckmgk13

    that Moriarty should just plan a coup already. I mean really now, Harry cannot even compare to Moriarty's mastery of critical film analysis. No offence Harry...

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 10:12 a.m. CST

    nice review

    by Eat_Your_Peas

    I truly hope Nick Cage has pulled his shit together. Although Firebirds is one of the greatest movies of all time, that is, if it had come out of my ass! And I too would like to read the script for "I Am Gordo:...". I love monkeys. Especially monkeys in space. Who change space history. And it might be cool if the Gordo movie included a midget riding a unicycle.//It's a secret message. From my TEETH!

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Love Jones

    by Ghost_NYC

    Spike is the new renaissance man. High brow/Low Brow and all in between. I have been looking forward to a good Nic Cage movie for a while and I hope Mori's raving are in no way influenced by his current gig. I give anything Spike does a chance and have high hopes for this. Extra Buzz is also being generated by Streep who like all actresses her age are an under-utilized natural resource....The ghost is gone...

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Well done, Mori...

    by rap12

    Even if I have sometimes felt that there has been some overreaction to some of the films you and Harry have reviewed (BLOW comes to mind most prominently), I have high hopes for this film and this review hasraised those hopes higher still. Charlie, Spike, et al., are doing the most innovative work in Hollywood right now; more power to them. Good luck on your own effort; I hope some years from now, when you have made the leap from Internet website to filmmaker, you will be doing stuff like this. Peace.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 10:24 a.m. CST

    A remarkable bag of freak....

    by cookiepuss

    Okay, Drew - that was by far the best stuff I've read on this site EVER. If the movie is half as insightful or inspiring as the last paragraph of your review, then we're in for a treat. I had a similar reaction after seeing BEING JOHN MALCOVICH - that something so odd, so beautiful, so quirky and so fucking funny could come out of the cesspool that is Hollywood left me SHATTERED.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 10:36 a.m. CST

    jeeze...

    by frank cotton

    moriarity, get a grip. when a guy starts crying over a film about WRITING, it's time to see a shrink.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Her name is ORLEAN

    by MrGizmo

    No "s" - Maybe you should read the book.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Whoa

    by 007-11

    That's intense, sounds like you had a reaction similar to when I saw Moulin Rouge. I wasn't even going to bother to see this movie until now. You've done it again Moriarty.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 11:38 a.m. CST

    A bit of a conundrum. I hate Nick Cage (prolly only the 'movie

    by empyreal0

    ...but I'll see this movie anyway. Sometimes, on rare occasions, Mori is wrong. But this is rare. I didn't much care for Punch-drunk Love, which he loved, but I must admit it was original and definitely news-worthy.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Sounds great

    by WeedyMcSmokey

    However, these Hollywood insider movies are becoming a little self-serving - a genre that seems to delight in its own mistaken sense of importance. That said, Being John Malkovich was damn near brillant - but not as much conceptually as in the execution. The subject matter was wierd enough, but it was the film itself - pacing, dialogue, arc, etc. that really made that film great. I look forward to the same. I think will have to give Moriarty a little slack here, and maybe take this review with a grain of salt - it is a movie about writing a movie, in the midst of him writing a movie. Its pretty natural

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 11:57 a.m. CST

    SNOOOOOOOOOOOOORE

    by sigma957

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 12:02 p.m. CST

    SNOOOOOOOOOOOOORE

    by sigma957

    pardon me...for the premature posting....um...what i was going to say is SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE.....jeebus....did i get this right?...a movie about movie makers?....who fucking cares?...yes BJM was a good movie, but jesus....we really have run out of good stories haven't we?....by the way....can someone confirm for me....a friend told me that Rainbow Six is being made into a movie now?....anyone got a scoop on this?

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 12:42 p.m. CST

    "The writer's overripe style was revealed to be that of...

    by The Pardoner

    ... some guy called Moriarty." --- Anyone notice how Harry's reviews of "serious" movies attempt to be progressively more disciplined, while Moriary has begun to write essays on the salt content of the tears he shed over a reference to a Walt Whitman poem in a movie about psycho Martian sharks consuming Israel? Pull it together pal... "a writer is a man among men", so start acting like one.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 1:25 p.m. CST

    Knew this had to be good

    by GypsyTRobot

    Saw the trailer with "Punch Drunk Love", had me a-running for my internet sources. Chris Cooper and Maggie Gyllenhaal, brought to you by the makers of Being John Malkovich, how can you go wrong?

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Quick survey of early reviews

    by GypsyTRobot

    on rottentomatoes and mrqe - all good. The only negative comment I've seen so far was that the middle drags a bit, otherwise the reviewers are raving about how fantastic the movie is. See http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/movie/review.asp?mid=2045416 for example. And now I won't feel so bad having a mild crush on Chris Cooper, even if he is missing teeth and sporting a mullet.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 2:15 p.m. CST

    Genetic super-soldier

    by Aquafresh

    I have a great idea. Its about a genetic super soldier... who is also a VAMPIRE! May I have a development deal now? Oh, & there is no way in hell that this film will live up to this gushing review. That is the true dark side of positive AICN reviews.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 2:25 p.m. CST

    the ego

    by ZO

    to compare his Universal soldiers 2 crap to this is beyond me

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 2:42 p.m. CST

    sigma957

    by WeedyMcSmokey

    I think you're joking. I mean, its a total bore to be engaged in a good story, one that is original and provocative - but that Rainbow 6 thing sound like stuff gets blowed up real good! I reckon you won't fall asleep there - it'll be loud, with shiny pictures and no one else will notice the warm pile of drool accumulating at the corners of your mouth.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 3:54 p.m. CST

    Bitchinnnnnn'...

    by Monkey Lover

    Being John Malkovich was ace, you idiots. Orson Bean was piss-funny talking about that carrot or whatever it was.

  • I remember Harry having a similar reaction as Mori did to "Adapation" after viewing "The Flintstones- Viva Rock Vegas!"

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 5:18 p.m. CST

    Is there a possibility that they were pumping some sort of whack

    by barkalounger

    You know, the kind that makes you a whack-nut? Just curious.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 6:58 p.m. CST

    Another Review, Another Girlfriend Reference OR... The Man's Got

    by jollydwarf

    Is it just me (it isn't), or does this guy have serious anger/emotional issues? Harry's the benevolent, gushing geek that gets caught up in the healing powers of a good film and Moriarty sounds like his biggest compliment is to end up sobbing like Jonathan Davis going through regression therapy for the first time. To quote Tom Petty, "I can't decide which is worse." Nevertheless, I AM looking forward to this film.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Feeling a bit insecure regarding haikus right now.

    by Fitzroyce

    123456 1234567 1234 Seventeen syllables equals a haiku, right? If not, then this is a pretty bad start to my career as "TalkbacK poster who critisizes through haiku".

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 8:55 p.m. CST

    manure transportation

    by haiku tunnel

    "adaptation" will <> resonate for writers but <> i just shovel shit.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 9:52 p.m. CST

    BEN AFFLECK..People Magazine's sexiest MAN OF THE YEAR...*forces

    by RonJeremysYambag

    Faf...I like the way you think. Dammit...we need more monkey movies...especially the scifi genre....put a monkey in pants, and I'm there. Can we all agree that Spike Jonze is one of the most talented/diverse/underrated dudes out there? Can we? The guy is a decent actor too...damn him....probably hung like a steed, too.

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 10:36 p.m. CST

    Important Question: Please Read

    by Starks23

    Is it technically possible for Nicolas Cage to be nominated for both BEST and SUPPORTING ACTOR categories with his roles? Because the 6th rules says... "6. In the event that an actor or actress receives a sufficient number of votes to be nominated for one achievement in one category and for another achievement in the other category, both achievements shall be eligible. " Because they are different charecters, with very different qualities. (I know, he probably won't even be nominaed for one but just asking if it's possible technically.)

  • Nov. 22, 2002, 11:46 p.m. CST

    I saw a screening of this...

    by Alanna Banana

    ...and it was fucking fantastic, whether you happen to be a writer or not. Don't let Moriarty's emotional excesses frighten you off; you won't likely leave in tears, but you will be very impressed.

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 4:51 a.m. CST

    But...but...I LIKED "The Rock" :(

    by HappyHamster

    *sniff*

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 8:49 a.m. CST

    Boy, all this good stuff in theaters is just too much for Moriar

    by CoolDan989

    First it's the Kill Bill trailer, now it's Adaption. Poor Moriarty is so smothered by cinematic goodness he can't breathe! Someone please release an awful movie! This looks like a job for Ishtar! Joel Schumacher, are you there? Why don't you be a pal and help Moriarty, John Travolta?

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Well try spelling 'adaptation' correctly next time FafTheHappyPi

    by workshed

    and you might get it read (or was it full of speeling(sic) mistakes?).

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 11:49 a.m. CST

    You and Harry could stand to get real lives

    by freeze2215

    I usually am a big fan of Mori's reviews - except the ones like this one. "I sat for five minutes without starting the car," I started shaking," "By the time we reached my driveway, there were tears in my eyes, and I almost had to be helped inside," - how emotionally crippled do you have to be to get these kinds of physical symptoms from watching a movie? Go up to another article and you've got Harry discussing how the new Bond movie made him cry. I really used to dearly love this site, especially when Harry did the entire thing, before he became this egotistical jerk who has books ghost-written for him (anyone who has read the site for years could tell that the book was definitely NOT in your writing style for the most part, Harry) and it had true news and scoops to report. Now it seems like the two of you are having a pissing contest to show who is the most "sensitive male" out of the two of you. I've worked in an ER for 15 years - when you've seen a 3-year old burned from head to toe from an errant space heater, or had a 30 year old father of two have his head crushed in an MVA, and had to be the one to go tell his family what happened and the result, then come back and talk to me about being "shaken" about something. Getting that upset from watching a film of some screenwriter trying to come to grip with his neuroses - I don't think so, no matter how well made a film it is (I have seen and loved Adaptation - I just didn't become incontinent of bladder and bowel while watching it). Your girlfriend must be terribly tolerant of "woos-ism." Mr. Beaks has a review that, while passionate about the film, doesn't make him appear to be mentally unstable. Please, both of you, grow some gonads and join the rest of us who live in the real world - it's not such a bad place - I promise.

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 3:12 p.m. CST

    Things that make me cry....

    by Aquafresh

    The death of a loved one or pet. Breaking up with a signifigant other. Being broke and jobless. Maybe some horrible global catastrophe. "ET".... when I was 12. But something tells me, as much as I expect to enjoy "Adaption", I wont shed a tear or suffer some sort of emotional breakdown. I like the idea of a couple of tubby, longhaired guys with facial hair bawling their eyes out like schoolgirls who've been dumped on prom night.

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 4 p.m. CST

    Hey Workshed...bit of advice....

    by RonJeremysYambag

    Lighten on being Mr. Spellcheck....it's the internet, not The New Yorker. dickhed....

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 4:05 p.m. CST

    so this movie is about. . . .

    by STRIDER355

    a bunch of rich Hollywood types whining about how horrible their lives are. . ."oh no, I've made it big and there's SOOO much pressure on me. . .oh boohoo I have a job millions would kill for and my life is sooooo STRESSFULL. . . whaaa..." I loved MALKOVICH but this movie sounds as stupid as ShiterBerg's last "movie about Hollywood" was. Fuck these guys. . .Me and everyone else in film school would die to be in their shoes and all they can do is make movies about how BAD it is?!? Bullshit. I say we all boycott it. YA!!

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 5:42 p.m. CST

    "Being John Malkovich" behind the scenes in "Adaptation?"

    by a goonie

    Too good to be true. That is the kind of mind-blowing post-modernism that inspires me in my own work. What a brilliant idea. That means you have Malkovich playing Malkovich playing Malkovich. Fuck that's great. I've been damn well looking forward to this movie ever since I first heard the plot synopsis, and now, with Mori's review, my excitement level grows ever larger.

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 5:50 p.m. CST

    CAGEY

    by TomVee

    Bad Cage flicks: You forgot 8MM and that crap where Cage is locked in a boxing arena, tracking down an assassin. But let's be kind: THE ROCK has its moments, especially any scene with Sean Connery, and CON AIR was simply the best damned movie that came out that year. When Cage says he's going to show everyone God and advances on the bad guy, it is time to splooge big time. By the way, ADAPTATION sounds like pure crap. And anyone who read every word of the torturously long review need to get a life. Really.

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 5:58 p.m. CST

    Weedy

    by sigma957

    hey weedy....i see we have a difference of opinions....fine....my point is i go to movies for some real entertainment....not to see some movie about a guy who wants to be more like someone else....guess what...we all have things about us that we would like to change, be more like someone else....etc. I see this all the time...i dont need to spend $9 to see it on the big screen. Maybe some people do....but i am not one of them. You enjoy your movie, i'll enjoy mine.

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 7:25 p.m. CST

    The only thing worse...

    by Oompacabra

    ...than movies about making movies is theater about making theater. Sounds like a pretty masturbatory project to me. I prefer movies that I feel good walking out of anyway. Call me crazy.

  • Nov. 23, 2002, 9:33 p.m. CST

    caged

    by hank quinlan

    Yeah, I know. Cage has made some missteps. But in the middle of that he made The Rock, a hilarious, offbeat action hero Cage or anyone else has yet to duplicate and FUCKING Face/Off for christsakes, yet another astonishing performance in the middle of one big setpiece after another. And finally can someone, anyone PLEASE give him someedit for Bringing Out the Dead? This movie was a mini masterpiece by both Scorsese and his star. It was subtle and engrossing. And hey, he still makes Adaptation once in a while. Yes, Gone in 60 Seconds blew.

  • Nov. 24, 2002, 12:23 a.m. CST

    Was there any info about the movie in that novella?

    by Eyegore

    I started skipping paragraphs after the second looking to find out what makes this movie so great. Nevermind.

  • Nov. 24, 2002, 1:38 a.m. CST

    Mori, are you sure this was your reaction to the movie? It sound

    by SLEAZY DINOSAUR

    Seriously, I plan on seeing this movie, it looks pretty good, but was that for real, or just some creative writing?

  • Nov. 24, 2002, 6:53 a.m. CST

    Get a grip!

    by FreeJack

    I am in emotional turmoil over this turgid and edifying essay on the incomprehensible depth of human character required to pen a satisfying and artful film. Not twice, but thrice, I found myself in tears, a deep well of sorrow where my heart should be as I realized that not another human being on the face of planet earth could have expressed so clearly and thought-provokingly the essence of Adaptation. This writer's heartfelt, emotional missive has SHATTERED me. As the tears streamed down my face and my body quaked with uncontrollable spasms of simultaneous joy and pain...my girlfriend slapped me across my face and said, "Get a grip, you big pussy!" Seriously, Moriarty - it IS possible to take filmmaking a little TOO seriously. Shit, I've worked in the business for years and have YET to meet another person as touchy-feely about this stuff as you and Harry get. Take a pill!

  • Nov. 24, 2002, 9:34 a.m. CST

    go moriarty go

    by Roli

    Some of you maybe not be understanding the man, but let me tell you. What he felt,did or thought was in no way wrong. I am just sorry for those who can't be touched. Who sealt themselves up so nothing can change them. poor souls, you'r stuck.

  • Nov. 24, 2002, 11:19 a.m. CST

    And did I forget to mention...ONE MORE TIME...that I'm WRITING A

    by heywood jablomie

    Clearly, Moriarty's penny-ante development gig has made him think he is the bastard stepchild of Robert Towne. Lighten up, dude. It's not that hard to scratch up a little dough to write in Hollywood. Lots of people have done it. And watch how money of those people ACTUALLY GET A MOVIE MADE. So quit trumpeting yourself and stick to things you're good at --like overrating "The Ring."

  • Nov. 24, 2002, 3:54 p.m. CST

    This review was so good..

    by LivingTribunal

    ...that I think I am going to cry. It is truly a miracle. Greatest review ever. Sob.

  • Nov. 24, 2002, 4:34 p.m. CST

    Adaptation

    by Stingubus

    I had the opportunity to see this movie today. It was truly an amazing film. It was just so bizzare and funny and insightful... I loved it. I would recommend this to anyone who's ever even tried to write anything. The movie just takes such an interesting look at the creative process (but it's so much more), I think you will really appreciate it.

  • Nov. 25, 2002, 7:35 a.m. CST

    The DGA is less than five minutes from Moriarty's house, and he

    by deathwish6

    Lazy fucking cunt. I'll read the review now....five minutes, jesus.

  • Nov. 25, 2002, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Where's Bringing Out the Dead

    by maplebob

    What the hell? How can you list the ups and downs of Cage's career and not mention Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead? I mean, your catalogueing went past it with Gone in Sixty Seconds. I don't get it. Bringing Out the Dead may be the most forgotten movie by a major director ever, and for no other reason than people just weren't ready for its tone. Just because its truly original doesn't mean your brain can't process it.

  • Nov. 25, 2002, 6:31 p.m. CST

    Great review, Moriarty.

    by whytee

    I saw Adaptation at the Cinematheque this saturday. Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman and Nicolas Cage were all there and did a q&a afterwards. This is one of my top three of the year, what a phenomenal movie. Charlie Kaufman was gracious after the screening and let weirdos like me muscle in and ask him questions. The script was devious, brilliant, but also deeply emotional. Anyone who has ever tried to write, or self-loathed, or faced down a deadline in a panic will totally see themselves up there. Moriarty's reaction is totally understandable and he's got the stones to be honest about it.

  • Nov. 25, 2002, 8:42 p.m. CST

    Nic Cage should've played Andy Kauffman

    by Grand Digital

    Cause he looks like him. And...he would've been good. That's it. Bye.

  • Nov. 25, 2002, 9:46 p.m. CST

    Resume

    by Dr. Noodles

    Hell of a show, hell of a show...

  • Nov. 25, 2002, 10:46 p.m. CST

    Cant think of anything original to say...

    by panamared2000

    I cannot think of anything original to say except... (insert banal Jay and Silent Bob quote here).

  • Nov. 26, 2002, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Adaptation

    by schlepprock

    I am not a writer. I have no ties to the film industry and could care less about those that inhabit it, but -- having seen "Adaptation" I had a nearly identical reaction to it as Moriority. What you guys don't get from any of these reviews is the fact that, while the film has a writer as its main character, it is in no way a film about writing. It is a film about sweeping life-changing issues relevant to all of us. The title is not about the adapatation of a book (well -- superficially), it is about the choice we all must make to survive as human beings; the way in which we must adapt to our surrounding in order to live and feel valued. It was easily the most moving film I have seen in years.

  • Dec. 9, 2002, 9:29 p.m. CST

    Harry's reaction

    by stuntrocker

    was the same as mine. we had the chinese food buffet at shanghai river. It was cool seeing a movie about Moriarty. (harry says charlie is mori sans bong) solo un chiste. Mo be right about nick cage though. That's the first thing I said. I thought he'd actually become Keanu Cage. And Chris Cooper?! When he got his leg shot in A Time to Kill and got on the stand and said 'Turn'm Loose!' that was cool.

  • Dec. 9, 2002, 9:54 p.m. CST

    What's really strange

    by stuntrocker

    is to think that in real life Susan Orlean(played by Meryl Streep)wrote Surf girls of Maui which became "Blue Crush" and "The Orchid Thief" which was adapted into "Adaptation" by Charlie Kaufman who wrote "Being John Malkovich". Good stuff, but what I think was missed is that Susan Orlean probably had secret salty lesbian love with the surf girls of Maui and that should have been depicted with Meryl Streep and Kate Bosworth.

  • Dec. 13, 2002, 7:26 a.m. CST

    Couldn't agree more

    by sharktrager

    Why are people complaining about a review that shows how much a film has affected the reviewer. I just saw the movie and TOTALLY understand what Mor is talking about. This film has got to me in a big way and I like the feeling. What's this talk about working in ER and seeing people die so how can a movie move you? That's irrelevant. Go back to work. If you like movies and haven't seen anything in a long time that's made an impact then this one comes along and hits you like a tsunami then you need to say it. Just wait for all those reviews that are written by reviewers who write about writing about reviewing a movie about a man writing a movie about a man writing a movie ad infinitum. Adaptation is sublime on many many levels whether intentional or not. It is a film worth discussing and relishing. You watch it and even during the film you smile because you know this is something special.