[Quick Summary: A puppeteer begins work at a short, rather hum-drum office, and discovers a portal directly into actor John Malkovich's head.]
The reason why Charlie Kaufman is on this danged list three times is because he writes stuff like this:
INT. CAR - NIGHT
Lotte drives. Craig looks out the window. Both are silent.
LOTTE (finally): Is the trial date set?
CRAIG: May 11th.
LOTTE: Why'd you do it, Craig?
CRAIG: I'm a puppeteer.
In that small scene, the audience knows who Craig is.
He's a guy who takes risks, lives on the edge, & connects with others through a weird passion for puppeteering.
He's got a wife who isn't on the same wavelength.
He's kind of crazy, but not insane.
He's going to get in a lot of trouble (& drive the action) because he has this pent up need to express himself, & makes unwise decisions.
So why do we root for Craig? And, more importantly, how did Charlie Kaufman do that?
Kaufman wrote Craig as a man doggedly pursuing a hope & a longing to connect.
Craig may make unwise decisions, & fail, & encounter unbelievable things, but he never has a false moment. And that is why Craig is universally understood.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I don't have to like the character, or his decisions or actions, but I DO have to understand him.
Being John Malkovich (1999)
by Charlie Kaufman