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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Aug 15: Adaptation


Aug 15: Adaptation

"A lovelorn screenwriter turns to his less talented twin brother for help when his efforts to adapt a non-fiction book go nowhere."
Directed by: Spike Jonze, Rated: R, 114 minutes

Two Cages. Two Nicolas Cages. In one film. If that alone doesn't sell you on Adaptation, throw in Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. Yeah, shit's going down. Not only does Adaptation have a terrific cast (all three leads were nominated for Oscars with Cooper taking one home) but the script is ridiculously smart and delightfully original. It creates a story so layered, yet so simple and masterfully blends fact and fiction until you can't tell the difference between the two. Writer, Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine) manages to adapt two different stories at once while combing it with a half-auto biography, creating an unusual breed of film. 

Cage overload. 

The story follows Charlie Kaufman (Cage), a struggling screenwriter who's run into a bad case of writer's block. He's desperate, looking for a way to adapt Susan Orlean's (Streep) novel, "The Orchid Thief" into something as creative as Being John Malkovich. Yes, the film references actual events on multiple occasions and it's incredibly unique in this method of storytelling. Along with following Kaufman, the focus of the movie continually shifts to Orlean and the processes she goes through in writing an article for the New Yorker about an Orchid farmer named John Laroche (Cooper). Orlean hopes to turn the article into a novel (the one Cage struggles to adapt). Yes, the film jumps around in every direction, while going backward and forward in time, jumbling everything together in a faux-mystery where the audience just sits back and watches everything play out. As I stated before, Adaptation is very layered and complex, but when you watch the film and begin to understand it, it turns out to be quite simple. Kind of.

The right way to talk to yourself. 

When discussing Cage's best performances, Adaptation has to be put at the top of the list. His Charlie Kaufman is neurotic and sex-crazed and the adaptation he's struggling to write takes a huge toll on him. He begins to lose control of his life and his sex dreams (when he actually sleeps) makes him all the more awkward around the women he desires. On the other hand, Donald (Charlie's twin who Cage also plays) is a confident aspiring screenwriter who thinks his newest story, involving a multiple-identity cop/killer, has the potential to be the next Silence of the Lambs. While Charlie struggles, Donald flourishes and the two completely different characters balance out the film perfectly. Cage shows great talent (real talent) and is able to jump back and forth between the two with ease. Along with Cage, Streep and Cooper both give incredible performances. Streep's Orlean has her own struggles as she writes her novel and slowly begins to fall in love with her subject, Laroche. Cooper as Laroche steals the show in the few bits he's actually in and is completely deserving of the Oscar he was awarded. Laroche is quite the character and while at first he appears to be the dirty red-neck obsessed with flowers, he actually turns out to be a rather layered character. 

*maniacal laugh*

I highly recommend Adaptation. It's like nothing you have ever seen and crafts a story so original you almost need to watch it again to appreciate it. As the pieces of the film come together, the surprise of the story as well as its genius comes to the front and center and you're baffled by how well it's made. A lot of films go around and come full circle by it's conclusion, but with Adaptation it takes that notion to an entirely different level. The film is a movie completely aware of itself, and the story on screen becomes the actual story being written inside the film. Again, I may have lost you, but give this film a chance and you can see what I mean. It's simply remarkable and needs to be watch. 

The Good:
incredible performances by the three leads as well as solid supporting performances from a lot of recognizable faces
The Better:
a genius script that leaves you baffled at how well it's written
The Cage:
at his best, as two different people

Overall: 9.2/10
Four and a Half Cages out of Five

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At August 16, 2012 at 5:39 AM , Blogger Benend said...

I watched this and Being John Malkovich for the first time yesterday. My mind was completely blown.
Adaptation, especially, is pure genius. It works on so many different levels and blurs the lines between reality and fiction. I feel like I need to watch it at least two more times to fully appreciate it!

At August 16, 2012 at 7:38 AM , Blogger TheVern said...

Great review. I agree with you that 2 Cages are better then one.

I have awarded you with a Liebster. To accept, please go here.

At August 16, 2012 at 10:50 AM , Blogger Sati. said...

Awesome review! I really like this movie it's very unusal and definetly refreshing, the script is absolutely fantastic. Cage was great here and along with Matchstick Men I think those are his last two great performances.

At August 16, 2012 at 1:27 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah, definitely! I forgot a lot about the film until re-watching it. I completely forgot how genius the script was and kept thinking about how talented Kaufman is to write something like that. It's genius.

At August 16, 2012 at 1:28 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Liebster #2. Woo. Thank you! I'll get your answers sooner than later but won't be passing it along.

At August 16, 2012 at 1:29 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah. Matchstick Men, Lord of War, Adaptation are probably his three best performances in my opinion. He clearly has the ability to kick ass... he just needs to hone in on that a little more frequently.

At August 16, 2012 at 7:08 PM , Blogger MT said...

Hey man, 8MM.

At August 16, 2012 at 7:08 PM , Blogger Nick said...

At August 29, 2012 at 5:19 PM , Anonymous alleyandthemovies said...

I really enjoyed this one. And the Cage rating system made me laugh out loud, haha. I finally got to cross this off my movie bucket list.

At August 29, 2012 at 6:47 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Good God your bucket list is ridiculous! lol. How have you not seen The Dark Knight?!


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