FILM ANNALYSIS: What you need to know about Spike Jonze and Bennett Miller

Anna Bowman is a senior English and telecommunications major and writes 'Film Annalysis' for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Anna at

Let’s start with Jonze: He began his directorial career with music videos for musicians like Weezer, Beastie Boys and Bjork. Skateboarding videos were also part of his forte – he really was a man of the ’90s, and continues to be to this day. The first film he directed was “Being John Malkovich,” which, if you haven’t seen, is stomach-churningly strange, but also pretty brilliant. He was nominated for an Oscar for the first time with this mind-bending fantasy, so I encourage you to check it out.

Spike Jonze

A couple years after that, he did Nicolas Cage’s “Adaptation,” which was no less weird, but it’s Nick Cage, so what more can you expect? After getting in trouble for the not-so family friendly nature of “Adaptation,” Warner Brothers almost made him reshoot the whole thing. He made some changes and was later nominated for “Best Director” at the Golden Globes for the film — well played, Jonze, “That’s high praise.”

“Where the Wild Things Are” came next after being selected by the author himself for the adaptation, finding no one in almost twenty years who would be suitable for the task. He did a smaller movie called “I’m Here” with Andrew Garfield (which I couldn’t find anywhere) before he really got people’s attention with “Her,” the sci-fi romance about a man and his love for an operating system. This one won the Oscar for “Best Writing, Original Screenplay,” and I could talk about it for days. The shots, the colors, the set design, the costumes… If you haven’t even seen this one, go now — you have time. Run!

As for Miller, his most recent movie is “Foxcatcher,” which you’ve probably heard talk of from the last Oscars season. Yeah, it’s a wrestling movie with Channing Tatum, but it’s got Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo. That’s the magic of Miller — he knows how to draw you in. Who would have thought of Steve Carell for the part of a crazy, stiff, rich guy obsessed with wrestling? Not Carell; in an interview with — you guessed it — David Letterman, he admitted that the reason he took the part was because he wanted to work with Miller.

And who wouldn’t? Before that, he did a little movie called “Moneyball,” which was nominated for an Oscar a whopping six times. Although he didn’t win for that one, Miller is no Oscars rookie; in 2006, Philip Seymour Hoffman took home an Oscar for his performance in Miller’s “Capote.”

Bennett Miller

And can I just say, you haven’t seen a Bennett Miller movie until you’ve seen “The Cruise.” There’s no other film like it. It’s the first and only major documentary Miller has made, and it follows the life of a New York City tour bus guide. I know what you’re thinking: the only thing worse than listening to a tour guide is listening to the life story of a tour guide. But you’re wrong. Tim “Speed” Levitch is a national treasure (sorry about all the Nick Cage references), and he deserves to be recognized. “The Cruise” is a philosophical roller coaster of outlandish narratives and black-and-white visuals that will leave you with some killer new catchphrases.

This is simply a crash course of the genius guests David Letterman is about to interview — I urge you to prepare even more by watching some of the movies I’ve mentioned for yourself. If nothing else, it’s a great excuse to put off homework.


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