Monday, 19 April 2010

Bob Roberts (1992)

Tagline: Vote first. Ask questions later.
Cusack plays: Host of Cutting Edge Live.

Written, directed by and starring the talented Tim Robbins, Bob Roberts is a mockumentary of a folk singer turned conservative politician and his run for the Senate. It hits all the political buttons - corruption, slander and attempted assassination. Roberts former career means that there are plenty of catchy tunes to hum along to, and the (often dirty) campaigning through music is a nice touch. Look out also for a very fresh faced Jack Black in his first film role.

Cusack pops up for a few minutes as the guest host of Cutting Edge Live, the sketch show where tempers start to flare over the messages Roberts is putting across in his appearance. He's got a scruffy thing going on in his scenes.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Player (1992)

Tagline: The Best Movie Ever Made!" - Griffin Mill
Cusack plays: Himself in a very brief cameo

So technically (playing by my initial rules) I didn't have to watch this one as appearing as yourself means the film is not listed alongside his other movies on imdb. But I did watch all of Broadcast News only to see his back and hear one line, so why not. Plus, I remember enjoying this the first time around when I went through an Altman phase.

This is a enjoyable satire, focusing on Hollywood Studio Exec, Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) who is being sent death threats by a writer he turned down. Famous for its opening tracking shot (7 minutes and 47 seconds!) and massive number of big names, either acting in it or cameoing as themselves. I think its worn reasonably well, for being nearly 20 years old, and I enjoyed it, although perhaps not as much as the first time round.

And Cusack? He's in it near the start at a restaurant with Anjelica Huston (as herself) and Peter Gallacher (in character). He has a couple of lines when Mill spots him. You can just see him in the trailer here...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Roadside Prophets (1992)

Tagline: They weren't born to be wild. It just turned out that way.
Cusack plays: "Symbionese" rebel Caspar

Everyone has to have a road movie on their CV (although Cusack isn't really on the road in this one - he will be later on in Grace is Gone though.). Musicians John Doe and Adam Horovitz play new friends who take off on their bikes to deliver the ashes of Doe's dead friend to a fabled spot in Nevada. Along the way they encounter a number of 'characters' including Cusack's Caspar who spents most of his screen time stuffing food into his mouth, shouting "free food for the poor!" and generally stealing the show. He is billed as "and John Cusack as Caspar" which suggests that anything with him in it at this time was a bit of a draw.

Doe is rather likeable and although Beastie Boy Horovitz isn't that great an actor he gives a sympathetic performance. Certainly keeps you entertained for 90 minutes.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Shadows and Fog (1991)

Cusack Plays: Jack the student

An interesting watch from Woody Allen. There's a strangler on the loose, and Woody is summonded to be on the vigilante task force. He stumbles through the night getting progressively more confused and interacting with circus performers and prostitutes.

Cusack is a student and regular at the local whorehouse, and takes a fancy to Mia Farrow (who has run off from the circus after finding her boyfriend canoodling with Madonna, and ended up staying with the prostitutes for the night (!) ), paying her $700 for sex. That, and reflecting on it are about it for him.

The relatively short runninng time (85 minutes) meant that this kept me interested, and the star studded cast means that big names keep popping up throughout. Cusack must have impressed Allen, as he gets a much bigger part in Bullets over Broadway (1994).

Saturday, 3 April 2010

True Colors (1991)

Tagline: Friendship and betrayal; Its not all black and white.
Cusack plays: Ambitious aspiring politician Peter Burton.

Oh the excitement my best friend and I felt when we discovered there was a film with two of our favourite men in it. The excitement was somewhat squished when we got round to watching it a couple of years ago. This second viewing for the Challenge provided an opportunity to take a look at why it might not have been that great.

Cusack and Spader play law students in the 1980s who then go on to political internships. Cusack, the boy from a poor background is ruthless in his pursuit of power, while Spader wants to do good by becoming a lawyer (this desire is rubbished so much it's as if he is saying his lifes desire is to work in Burger King). You would imagine that Spader would traditionally take on the bad guy role, and the swap doesn't really work that well. Nor are we given enough reasons to properly hate Cusack as his bad deeds aren't really shown on screen. However there is a fantastic/awful ski race, after Cusack confesses to bedding Spader's girlfriend. But overall, not quite as bad as I remembered.