5 Movies to Watch After Spike Jonze's Adaptation (2002)

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Bernard requested movie matches to Adaptation (2002) directed by Spike Jonze. Another tough one, Bernard. Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) wrote the screenplay, and the film is a mix of memoir, meta, dark humor, and absurdist fiction. It touches on creativity, the writing process, social anxiety, mental illness, and obsession. When you break this movie down, there's a lot of pieces to love. Although finding a match on plot or genre alone would prove difficult, perhaps there are movies that might give Bernard some of the same experience he enjoyed.

So here you go, Bernard, with my guess for the best match first.

Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton's Ruby Sparks (2012)

Like Adaptation, Ruby Sparks deals with writer's block and social anxiety. Author Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) wrote a good book once but has lost his muse. He's also disconnected and unhappy, occasionally leaving the house to walk the dog or do a book signing. A dream about a perfect girl named Ruby Sparks ignites his creativity and he decides to write again. But something strange happens when he writes about Ruby. She appears at his door. Ruby is real, and whatever Calvin writes comes to pass. This movies about human connection, control, and "catching the muse" surprised me at every turn. 

Marc Forster's Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Harold Crick is a depressed I.R.S. auditor who realizes he's the main character in a tragic novel written by Karen Eiffel. Unwilling to die a victim, Harold decides to make contact with Karen and convince her that his life has value. Although Stranger has more silly, knowing humor, Will Ferrell as Harold, like Nicolas Cage in Adaptation, gives a nuanced and all-out performance, never allowing the character he plays to become an object of mockery. 

Bob Fosse's All that Jazz (1979)

This is a little of a wild card, but hear me out. Although All that Jazz is about a choreographer and Adaptation is about a writer, both movies are meta and autobiographical, created by creatives about themselves and their troubled life. They also feature artists who want to create something true and honest. As Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) realizes his mortal days are at an end, he looks back on his life and the damage he has caused to the people he loves. He imagines a musical review of his life, with his loved ones as key players and invited guests, while also looking back on his time working in the industry. It's an incredible statement on life, creativity, and mortality. Not to be missed. Want to know more about Fosse's life? I just finished the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon and recommend that, as well. 

Lorene Scafaria's Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Although Seeking a Friend has nothing to do with writing, this absurdist science fiction/romantic comedy genre blend features Dodge (Steve Carell), another character, like Charlie in Adaptation, who is his own worst enemy. His failure to connect with other people and finish anything of significance keeps him trapped inside a cage of isolation. After hearing the end of the world is coming, lost souls Dodge and Penny begin a road trip together during which they will help each other accomplish their last wish before its too late. It's another story that sneaks up on the viewer and encourages deep thought and conversation, even though there's fun to be had along the way. 

Richard Ayoade's The Double (2013)

Like Nicolas Cage in Adaptation, Jesse Eisenberg plays two versions of himself, one who is shy and awkward (Simon) and one who is confident and charming (James). Simon has been working at the same office for years and is ignored by all. But when James begins working at the same company and seems to have all of the qualities Simon lacks, Simon finds it strange that no one seems to notice they look identical. Simon's grasp of reality begins to slip. With an eye-catching minimalist style and a dedicated performance from Eisenberg and cast, viewers will go on a mental journey during this film, based on a short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

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