Director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman have made a number of great films, separately and together, but the both men’s best work—so far, anyway—is in Adaptation., a funny and philosophical riff on the paralysis of infinite choice. Nicolas Cage plays both a dweeby Kaufman and his more confident (and fictional) twin brother Donald. While Charlie sweats over how to adapt Susan Orlean’s digressive, intimate nonfiction book The Orchid Thief, Donald quickly knocks out a ridiculous but studio-friendly screenplay about a sympathetic serial killer. Meanwhile, the real Kaufman and Jonze turn the story of two very different brothers into a freewheeling film that touches on natural selection, mutation, chemical attraction, and the liberating rigidity of Hollywood formulas—all while delivering a decent synopsis of Orlean’s work. Adaptation. tests the audience’s patience with a third act that embraces phoniness, but the movie’s ending is ultimately of a piece with the rest of what Orleans, Kaufman, and Jonze—and even screenwriting guru Robert McKee (played by Brian Cox)—are all trying to say about what happens when nature and organisms alike make a definitive choice. Adaptation. airs on Starz Cinema tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern (or at 1 p.m. this afternoon, for all you struggling screenwriters who work at home).
January 29, 2015 Cable Pick Of The Day