Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Jack Bull (1999)

Tagline: All men want justice. Few are willing to pay the price.
Cusack Plays: Horse Trader Myrl Redding.
Family Connections: Written by father Dick, who also has a small role as the Jury Foreman. Brother Bill is apparently also in there somewhere.

Hmm, he must have wondered, what genre haven't I had a crack at yet - aha a Western! There's horses, guns and its set in Wyoming as the area is set to become officially part of the United States. Horse Trader Myrl gets mighty pissed off when a neighbouring big shot rancher mistreats two of his horses and his Crow Indian Caretaker Billy. When the law fails to make amends he takes it into his own hands and goes vigilante to make the bastard pay! Mostly bad things then ensue.

This is the second time I've seen this made for TV (HBO) film and I really like it. The performances are excellent (John Goodman is scene stealing in his role as the judge), the story is engaging, and quite heartbreaking by the end. It's a lot better than some of his films which made it to the cinemas. Dad Dick wrote the script and its produced by John's company New Crime. Friend John C McGinley also co-produces and co-stars.

Mr C is properly grown up now and looking quite gorgeously rugged in this one. It's also the first time he plays someone's dad onscreen.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Thin Red Line (1998)

Tagline: Every man fights his own war.
Cusack plays: Captain John Gaff

The Thin Red Line was released at around the same time as Saving Private Ryan, and consequentially was overlooked by some, although many contend its a much better film. Ryan is probably more accessible and tear jerking, but this is also a good film (and it was nominated for 7 Oscars). The action focuses on the battle of Guadalcanal (in the South Pacific) and instead of having one of two leading men, its stacked full of big names (Clooney, Penn, Travolta, Harrelson, Nolte). If there's a lead its arguably Jim Caviezel as Private Witt, although a lot of the heart comes from Ben Chaplin pining for his wife back home. I also thought that a young wide eyed Adrien Brody did a lot with his few lines and limited screen time and made a real impression.

The first cut of the film was a bum numbing 5 hours, and was then cut down to 2 hours 40. This editing meant completely cutting the appearances of talents such as Billy Bob Thornton, Mickey Rourke, Bill Pullman, Gary Oldman and Martin Sheen. People who thought they had big roles had them reduced to only a few lines.

Cusack is impressive as a captain who leads a charge to take a bunker on a hill where the Japanese are holed up and shooting at them from. He stays cool and gets the job done. What a man.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

This Is My Father (1998)

Tagline: A Journey Of The Heart.
Cusack plays: The pilot, Eddie Sharp

Very much the brothers Quinn film with Aidan as the lead and Paul writing and directing. History teacher James Caan travels to Ireland with his nephew to track down his own heritage and see if he can find out about the father he never knew. Thankfully the B and B owners mother has been around for years and can fill him in. The action then flashes back to rural 1939 Ireland to see his pretty 17 year old mother fall for an shy older farm worker (Aidan Quinn).

I found this enjoyable and touching, although the Cusack appearance is very short and sweet. He meets the couple one night on a beach after landing his plane and takes their picture. And guess what, the photo has a part to play in the story. Caan and Quinn are both excellent and it's a shame that lead actress Moya Farrelly, playing Fiona, didn't seem to do much after this.

The (spoilery) trailer doesn't make it look so great.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

Tagline: Welcome to Savannah, Georgia. A City Of Hot Nights And Cold Blooded Murder.
Cusack plays: John Kelso

Rather interesting (if a little long) film based on the book of the same name. John Kelso is a writer sent to cover a millionaires Christmas party in Savannah, Georgia. After befriending the man, Kelso then walks in to find the man (Kevin Spacey) has shot and killed his young lover/handyman, Jude Law. Was it self defence? A murder trial follows and Kelso ends up embroiled in the case and the city's strange residents, including drag queen Lady Chablis.

Apparently Cusack's performance in Grosse Point Blank persuaded director Clint Eastwood that he was right for the job, and he gives a pretty good account of himself. Its hard playing the straight man (literally) to a drag queen and the flamboyant Spacey. I have a hunch the book might be more enjoyable and maybe I'll get to it one day.

Fun fact: There are two Lex Luthors in this film - Spacey, and Michael Rosembaum from Smallville.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Anastasia (1997)

Tagline: Discover the Adventure Behind the Greatest Mystery of Our Time
Cusack Plays: Dimitri

Oh yeah, I'm doing the animations too, check my dedication to the cause. Anastasia is a non-Disney animation, loosely based on the story of the Russian Princess Anastasia and the urban legend that she escaped when her family were slaughtered. The film sees her living as a poor amnesiac orphan called Anya who is recruited by John Cusack's Dimitri to pose as the real Anastasia and get her grandmother to stump up reward money.

Its an interesting story and there are some nice songs. Alas Cusack doesn't do any singing. Boo.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Hell Cab aka Chicago Cab (1997)

Tagline: Do you dare pay the fare?
Cusack plays: Scary Man

The title and poster are a little misleading. It looks more like some kind of killer car or murder wagon. In reality, this is a film following a Chicago cab driver on a long shift, who experiences all kinds of customers from rape victim, druggies, drunk old lady and Cusack's Scary man. Who sits there looking scary and smoking while directing the cabby to drive down the street. A really good central performance by central character Paul Dillon as he tries to keep it together and finish the shift. He, Cusack and regular collaborators Pink and DeVincentis also produce the film which is based on a play.