Tuesday, February 2, 2010

#12-Adaptation (2002)


This shouldn't happen often, but it very well may, it seems, that I have reviewed two films, by the same film maker directly in a row. I got Charlie Kaufman fever, and I apologize. Charlie Kaufman, once again, the most original mind in Hollywood today, brings us his third motion picture to be reviewed on my site, that film being Adaptation. This film, is also very original, even though it is based on a novel, not really. The film is about Charlie Kaufman (no that's not a typo), who in reality was hired to write an adaptation for a book called The Orchid Theif, Kaufman was having trouble for the script, so instead wrote a fictionalized screenplay about him trying to write the screenplay. It was an interesting idea, and the studio liked, so though the film bares very little resemblence to the original, it still counted as an adapted screenplay.

The film follows a few main characters. Firstly, there is Charlie and Donald Kaufman, twin brothers both played by Nicolas Cage, Charlie is hired to write a script for a novel by Susan Orlean, played here by Meryl Streep. The Orchid Theif is about a nursery owner, who goes out and steals endagered species, and tries to cultivate them, or so he claims, this man is John Laroche, and is played by Chris Cooper, who won an Academy Award for his performance. The film flashes between three different time periods, of Laroche committing these acts, Orlean writing her novel and getting information, and Kaufman trying to write the screenplay. It was a very interesting way to go about things, and I enjoyed it greatly.

The film has a very large, and a very impressive cast. Nicolas Cage is always hit-or-miss for me. He definatly is a hit here. Though he looks little like real-life Kaufman, I can safely assume that he portrays him well, considering it is Kaufman writing himself. Whether or not the character is 100% true to form, I still thoroughly enjoyed his performance. Meryl Streep also gives a winning performance as Orlean, whose film version, is nothing like the real-life verison, real Susan Orlean made that very clear (you'll know why after the film). But I think that the real winner here was Chris Cooper. He got his first Academy Award nomination and win for this film, and he certainly deserves it. He is always convincing as the somewhat illiterate, yet startlingly insightful Laroche, who is an amazing character on his own.
"Damn, that's a voice-over again."

As much as a praise the film, that does not mean that it is without faults. The film is very quirky, and very funny, filled with in refrences for film-fans and movie-buffs, but unless you know the background knowledge for the film, you won't get all of the jokes, which are all very funny. Also, the film seemed very choppy at times, it's never really a fast-paced movie, but it is never really slow-paced either. I don't know if that is really a bad thing or not, but it was certainly noticed. This is also one of the most serious of Kaufman films, not serious as in dark and depressing (that would have to go to Synechdoche), but serious as in it is his least fantasitcal, especially if you don't know the background information.

The film is also very nice everywhere else. You've already heard my love of Kaufman from two other reviews, so I won't waste anymore space here. I feel that Spike Jonze really stepped up his game here from Being John Malkovich. While he was very good there as well, I felt that he was even better with Adaptation, getting to mess around with some cool lighting, and daydream techniques. From a technical standpoint the film is very nice too, with a good score, and some nice camera work and cinematography.

Overall, I felt that the film was very nice. It was fun, entertaining and original, of which are things film should be. Plus, we have the always clever writing and dialouge of Kaufman, some excellent direction by Spike Jonze, and great perfromances from the entire cast. However the film won't be for everyone, I can tell you that right now, with its quick ending, strange pace, and weird story, some people will definatly dislike the film. The cast did an excellent job, but so did the crew, with some great camera tricks, and some fun music.

I Give Adaptation A:

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