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People we like: John Malkovich

For the past twenty years, John Malkovich has constructed a diverse range of characters known for their offbeat sensibilities and passionate emotions. He recently completed his feature directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs, a politically charged thriller set in Central America. We celebrate this event with a presentation of this new work and a brief overview of some of our favorite performances from this gifted actor, who continues to surprise audiences with his daring choices.

Special thanks for producer and HFA board member Michael Fitzgerald.


Director John Malkovich in Person SOLD OUT!
February 28 (Friday) 7 pm

The Dancer Upstairs

Directed by John Malkovich
US/Spain 2002, 35mm, color, 124 min.
With Javier Bardem, Juan Diego Botto, John Malkovich

Actor and producer Malkovich makes his directorial debut with this taut and finely layered political thriller, adapted from the 1996 novel by Nicholas Shakespeare that drew on the author’s own experiences as a journalist during the search for Abimael Guzman, leader of the Peruvian guerrilla group Shining Path. In Malkovich’s highly cinematic adaptation, a Latin American nation nears collapse under assault from a dangerous terrorist movement. Bardem portrays idealistic lawyer-turned-police detective Agustin Rejas, who attempts over the course of twelve years to catch the mysterious guerrilla leader Ezequiel (Malkovich). The brains behind the bloody revolution that threatens the country, Ezequiel is as elusive as Rejas’s superiors are corrupt and the military is brutal. In the midst of the chaos, Rejas finds respite in a soulful relationship with his daughter’s dance teacher. As he draws nearer to his prey, the two are forced to choose between love, country, and self.

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February 24 (Monday) 7 pm

The Sheltering Sky

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
UK/Italy 1990, 35mm, color, 138 min.
With John Malkovich, Debra Winger, Campbell Scott

Based on the novel by Paul Bowles, Bertolucci’s film chronicles the gradual deterioration of an American couple’s marriage as they journey through the deserts of North Africa in the late 1940s. Beautifully photographed by Vittorio Storaro, this expansive, handsome film is a rich and exotic amalgam of psychopathology and eroticism—a moving portrait of an overwhelmingly isolated world where love is subverted by disease and madness. Malkovich delivers a complex performance as Port Moresby, the self-absorbed, manipulative husband who is paralyzed by his malaise.

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February 24 (Monday) 9:30 pm

True West

Directed by Allan A. Goldstein
US 1984, video, color, 110 min.
With John Malkovich, Gary Sinise

Originally produced by American Playhouse for PBS, this adaptation of one of Sam Shepard’s most notable works features incredibly daring and often hilarious performances from its stars, Malkovich and Sinise. The story concerns a screenwriter facing an impending deadline who is pushed to the edge of sanity by his wayward brother. As the tables turn, the writer realizes that he can be just a devious as his sibling.

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February 25 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Dangerous Liaisons

Directed by Stephen Frears
US 1988, 35mm, color, 119 min.
With John Malkovich, Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer

Set against the lavish backdrop of the eighteenth-century French aristocracy in advance of the French Revolution, Stephen Frears’s deliciously cinematic adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s stage play, based on the classic novel by Choderlos de Laclos, revolves around the duplicitous machinations of two former lovers in a match of sex as gamesmanship. Malkovich is brilliant as the roguish Vicomte de Valmont, who is enlisted by the even more devious Marquise de Merteuil (Close) to deflower the virtuous Madame de Tourvel (Pfeiffer). Frears’s reliance on close-ups is an effective framing device through which the intensity of the film’s multiple seductions and betrayals emerges.

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February 25 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm

Of Mice and Men

Directed by Gary Sinise
US 1992, 35mm, color, 115 min.
With John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Ray Walston

Based on the classic novel by John Steinbeck, this tragic Depression-era tale of two brothers wandering the country in search of steady work gets a fresh rereading thanks to outstanding performances by both Sinise and Malkovich. The actors build on their long-standing professional relationship, forged at Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre (which the pair helped to co-found), and capture the earnestness of Steinbeck’s protagonists with restrained sentiment.

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