Halfway through the Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman peculiarity Being John Malkovich, the actor is expelled from within his own head and onto the New Jersey Turnpike, where he's promptly beaned in the noggin with a beer can by a passerby. It's the perfect analogy for one of the weirdest and most beautiful films of the late-'90s cinematic boom. Its quirk belies a very serious meditation on jealousy and longing, steeped in the bizarre yet using everything from cerebral vessels to marionettes to speak to existential crises. The biggest surprise in a film built on surprises is that the era's oddest story is also a huge downer. But that's how Jonze and Kaufman announced their arrival: They snuck up and walloped expectations like a tin can to the back of the head.

  • Showing at: Academy Theater.
  • Best paired with: PBR.
  • Also showing: Endless Summer (Laurelhurst).