DIRECTOR: SPIKE JONZE
CAST: NICHOLAS CAGE, MERYL STREEP, CHRIS COOPER, TILDA SWINTON
Tasked with writing a screenplay based on Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, Charlie Kaufman embarks on a voyage to solve the myriad problems in both his art and life. Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze’s careers seemed to intersect at just the right moment, resulting in a head-spinning film that attempts far more than should be possible in two hours (and somehow pulls it all off). It’s a deeply-felt portrayal of anxiety and insecurity, a meta-commentary on the codified rules of screenwriting, an exploration of “adaptation” in all its forms, and miraculously, a genuinely funny, moving, and enthralling story.
Thinking about source material, and how artists can transform and reshape the work of others, Adaptation came to mind immediately. How did a movie based on a nonfiction book based on an article based on an orchid enthusiast become so much more than just an adaptation? You are what you love—Kaufman found the gem at the center of Orlean’s book, and uses the film to hold this idea up to the light, turning it this way and that, a prism through which all these questions about art-making are explored. Also—this movie is just so funny. Technology vs. horse. Robert McKee! It seems so unlikely that this movie exists, and even more unlikely that it should be so fucking great.