Saturday, 6 December 2014

Drive Hard (2014)


Tagline: This heist is about to go into overdrive
Cusack plays: Simon Keller

I think we have a contender. Yep, the highly coveted worst Cusack film category may have a new entry in the shape of Drive Hard. Even on seeing the trailer I knew this was gonna be a bad ‘un but I diligently made the popcorn and revved up the DVD player.

This is straight to DVD fare, that much is obvious from the get go. Despite the two leads (Cusack and Thomas Jane) being American it is set in Australia for no real reason, other than, I’m guessing they got some money or it was cheaper to make it there. This means the rest of the cast is comprised of no names (I didn’t even recognise anyone from Neighbours lurking in the background).

The plot. Thomas Jane is a former race car driver who now works as a driving instructor. Turning up for work he find’s Cusack's Simon Keller waiting, in need of a driving lesson. Mid lesson Keller stops off to pop into the bank…..and rob it, turning Thomas Jane into his getaway driver. They drive HARD for a while as the plot, reasoning etc unfolds yadda yadda.

The positives – Cusack has a few good lines and he hams it up/phones it in as the sort of villain of the film. He is the best thing in it, but there’s not a high bar set as some of the acting is piss poor. The bits in the car between Cusack and Jane are probably the best parts as their relationship develops from hostage situation to sort of buddies.

 photo john-cusack-drive-hard.jpg

The negatives – tries to make what would be a serious and dangerous situation into something funny. Some films can deliver this slick jet black humour well, but alas this is not one of them. Jane’s wife and child react to his potential status as criminal/hostage/life in serious danger by running around laughing and accusing him of infidelity. Also, an old lady pops up with a gun and starts flipping the bird at people. Jolly japes? Not really, just head in hands cringe.

To take it to a cosmetic level, Cusack is not looking at his best in this film. He’s gaunt, wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses and sucking on a e-cigarette vaporizer throughout the whole thing. Such a badass.

 photo rlt9XvM.png
You don’t have to watch this, I‘ve taken one for the team on this occasion.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Grand Piano (2013)

 photo sq_grand_piano_ver3.jpg

Tagline:  Play or die
Cusack plays: Clem

From the trailers I've watched we're now moving into a fairly gun heavy phase of the Cusack Challenge...

Grand Piano is a Hitchcock inspired high suspense thriller, which sees concert pianist Tom (Elijah Wood) prepare to make his comeback after suffering stage fright and a breakdown in the past.  His wife, friends and family assemble in the audience but moments before he begins he finds a note written on the sheet music - "Play one wrong note and you die"  (DUM DUM DUMMM!)

The mysterious Clem is armed with a gun trained on him, and if he plays just one note wrong people are going to get hurt. Speaking to him through an ear piece he delivers his demands and starts to act on his threats as Tom tries to call for help.

 photo 53.jpg

Cusack is largely off screen in this role as the threatening voice, ably assisted by an accomplice (in the shape of Bill from Bill and Ted!). The film gallops along, and is a brisk 90 minutes running time (10 of which are pretty piano music over the credits), so it's a good pick when you don't have much time to fit in a film. However the speed with which they deal with some of the events and sorta silly reasoning for Cusack's demands, meant I had to go back and rewatch part of it.

So overall, nothing groundbreaking but  certainly worth a watch.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, 3 October 2014

Maps to the stars (2014)

 photo maps-to-the-stars-poster.jpg

Cusack plays: Self-help guru type Dr Stafford Weiss

This was a double bill with the rather good Gone Girl so I had rather a lot of 18 rated cinematic action for one evening. This also meant sitting through two sets of trailers for horrible jumpy horror films with things like dolls coming to life in them.

This film might be tricky to review, as I didn’t know too much about the plot going in and I think that might be good for others too, to watch the madness unfold without much warning. So, it’s a David Cronenberg take on the nastiness that is Hollywood. His last few films haven’t been as shocking as some of his earlier stuff, but I would say this is more of a step back towards the shock factor – I’m sure you will both laugh and hide behind your fingers or turn away at certain parts.

Vague plot  - Julianne Moore is a washed up former star, currently trying to revive her career by playing her own (now dead) actress mother in a new film. She hires a new assistant, who upon arriving in Tinseltown takes a ‘maps of the stars’ sort of tour with Limo driver Robert Pattinson.  Moore (looking like an older Lindsay Lohan) tries to tackle her mommy and other issues by seeing Dr Stafford Weiss (Cusack), whose therapy seems to involve rubbing and massaging her problems out of her. That’s all I knew from reviews and all I think you need to know at this point, because the rest of it will reveal itself in both a humorous and horrifying fashion. I hadn't even seen the trailer (below), which like most trailers gives away far too much.

 photo Map-To-The-Stars.jpg
While I know bugger all about what Hollywood is actually like, this feels grubby enough to be close to the truth and there’s an in interesting mix of fictional characters (although no doubt heavily based on real people) and real famous people (Carrie Fisher cameos as herself and there are namedrops galore).

Cusack plays a complex, but ultimately fairly horrible man (he uses the C word! John!) and it’s definitely one of his best roles and films for a while. I thought it might just be a token small role but he gets a decent amount of screen time. He also wears glasses at one point. I like him in glasses.

Overall, I would recommend this film, but it does contain a fair bit about abuse and incest and there are some quite violent and gory parts. You have been warned.

Adult World (2013)

 photo MV5BMjIzNDY1NjgzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzMzMDEwMTE_V1_SY317_CR00214317_AL_.jpg

Tagline: When life gets hard, rise to the occasion.
Cusack plays: Writer Rat Billings

This film is just so ‘meh’ that it’s taken me weeks to bother actually writing about it. Thank goodness I don’t write for a living – which is what the main character, Amy, aspires to do – and become a poet of great renown. Having left college mum and dad don’t want to finance the dream anymore so she has to find employment. Her place of work? Adult World – a rather old-school adult bookstore/ video rental type of shop. Meanwhile a chance meeting with one of her favourite writers (Cusack) leads her to attempt to shape a mentor/protégé type of relationship. Oh, and also there’s a sort of love story with one of the other shop staff.

 photo adult-world-movie-stills-4ed0d21b32f6bb0a.jpg

There isn’t much to love about this film, unless you particularly identify with the lead character. I’m too old to feel any sympathy for her (just get a job and grow up hen) or enjoy any of the quirky little things like – the transvestite co-worker! The old people who own the shop! Learning life lessons! Zzzzz.

On the other hand it’s not so annoying that you really end up hating it. It just comes and goes, it’s pretty short and nothing terrible or dark happens. Blah. It’s all just…fine, yeah, whatever. And that extends to Cusack, I can’t imagine this was much of a stretch to act. I’m definitely past my ‘finding myself’ movie phase, but this might appeal to some teenagers and creative sorts out there.