best films: #80: ADAPTATION (2002)
It seems there’s no topping the purely enjoyable quirkiness and innovation of Charlie Kaufman. (For further proof, see entry #97.) And as evidenced by Adaptation, it’s clear that his uncanny ability to string together the most convoluted of plots into a pleasing film is a gift to moviegoers. To sum up the gist of Adaptation, the movie is about the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicolas Cage in easily his only tolerable performance) writing the movie you’re watching. So, he’s writing a movie about the writing of the movie he’s writing about. Tripped out yet? Aside from the impossibly genius screenplay, the film is blessed from some excellent supporting turns from Chris Cooper (who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that year) as orchid hunter John Laroche and Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean, real-life author of the real-life book The Orchid Thief. Cage’s character is given the task of adapting Orlean’s book about Laroche into a screenplay, but he’s met with the daily struggles of being an insignificant loser along the way. Cooper is delightfully crass and unkempt, with his pseudo-mullet and missing teeth, and his step away from character acting was a much deserved win at the Academy Awards. And Streep’s Orlean, brimming with a need to unleash her wild side, is spot-on, genuinely relatable (at times), and entirely hysterical.