John Malkovich, “Like a Puppet Show”
Like a Puppet Show
It’s far too glib to refer to John Malkovich as a “Renaissance Man.” Rather, one should think of him as a sort of neo-neo-classical figure—a person who can be trusted with Plato in a Play-Doh world. Thus, composer Eric Alexandrakis cagily had Malkovich recite an interpretation of the ancient Greek philosopher’s still-provocative Allegory of the Cave over his own original compositions (with photographer Sandro providing the visuals)—surely a recipe for disaster in the wrong hands. But blessedly, collaborating artists (enlisted as “remixers”) were not crassly chosen for holding some lofty position in the musical zeitgeist but for the likelihood that they could add both gravitas and humor to the proceedings.
And so Dweezil Zappa’s “CryoZolon X” contains the mantra, “Malkovich, Malkovich, what the fuck are you talking about?,” while Placebo’s “Cryoplacebo 47/XXY” speaks in dead seriousness to Brian Molko’s not-so-latent desire to be the twenty-first century’s Erik Satie. It provides a stunningly beautiful backdrop to Malkovich’s terrifying report: “The prisoners have been here since childhood / The chains will not allow their heads to turn.” Mind-blowing standouts include OMD’s thunderously Teutonic “Cryocarbon 14C,” the sultry blues of Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon’s “Cryolife 7:14 A.M.” (surely a Yoko and Malkovich duet was inevitable within this strange universe), and The Dandy Warhols’ jittery, epileptic “Platogenia X and the Caves.”
The Allegory itself, of which can be said, “take care not to trust the shadows as reality,” is astonishingly relevant in a time when the postmodern “simulacrum” has veritably co-opted our thought patterns. Being John Malkovich is, apparently, still very much like being John Malkovich. Meta.