being spike jonze

With the recent successes of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, director Spike Jonze is all the rage in postmodern film snob circles (depends on who you ask whether that's a good or a bad thing). But what's even more surprising is that Jonze's past projects are just as daring, funny, and intimidatingly intelligent as his more recent work.

- Three Kings (1999)--Jonze stars with George Clooney, Ice Cube, and Marky Mark in this post-Desert Storm drama. David O. Russell's direction is inventive even while his script suffers from multiple personality disorder. But Kings' flaws are easy to ignore considering the intense strength of the leads. Jonze plays the ignorant but well-meaning Conrad Vig, who seems to represent all that's wrong with the United States; it's a surreal performance, and one that's even weirder to watch as America blindly stumbles about in the detritus of the latest war in Iraq.

- Beastie Boys Video Anthology (2000)--Jonze directed the best video ever made by the Beastie Boys, or anyone else for that matter: "Sabotage," in which Jonze reinvents the Beasties as the stars of a '70s cop drama, complete with mustaches, walkie-talkies, and some badass car chasin'.

- Jackass (2002)--Jonze not only serves as a producer for the cinema-scale Jackass crew's exploits, but he also conceives and takes part in some of the stunts (perhaps most brilliant is when Jonze gets in old age makeup, hops on one of those motorized scooters, and proceeds to hold up traffic, start fistfights, and terrify onlookers by rolling down hills while screaming that his brakes have gone out). Jonze brings a sense of clever premeditation to the sketches that almost makes you feel okay about laughing your ass off over shit that's so goddamn retarded. Almost. ERIK HENRIKSEN