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Blake I. Collier | The Dirty Deacon

Contributor for Mockingbird | Co-creator of Son of Byford | Contributor for Christ & Pop Culture
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Joan Cusack

The Cusack Chronicles: War, Inc. (2008)
Welcome to purely commercialized and privatized American occupation.  In an exaggerated, and intentionally comical, portrayal of what happens when imperialism is brand operated under the informal control of nations.  Strangely enough (and scarily enough), this film parallels some major trends in American cultural and political imperialism.  John Cusack took the gloves off in making this film in order to address some pretty weighty political issues about privatized military para-troops and cultural coercion in the Middle East.  Not only this, but this is the closest to a sequel that Grosse Pointe Blank that Cusack fans can expect.  Joan Cusack and Dan Akroyd make appearances which is only the beginning of the blunt and subtle similarities between the two movies.  Hauser (Cusack) is a hit man who is hired by the ex-vice president (Akroyd) to delete a Middle Eastern oil minister while under the disguise of a trade show producer pawning Tamerlane (the privatized American company in charge of the occupation and military presence) products.  He must also deal with the marriage of an Eastern Britney Spears (Duff) and a left-wing journalist (Tomei) in the midst of it all.
The comedy reaches absurd levels in this film, to the point of being truly absurd, at times.  However, that being said, there are some truly inspiring potshots at the state of America’s presence and perception by the world.  Privatized military and occupation is not as far-fetched at one might think and, so, the laughs are tinted with a healthy dose of serious contemplation.  This film is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it anyway as classically funny as Grosse Pointe Blank, but, with all of that aside, it is an entertaining and often humorous film to watch.  Think of it as Martin Blank on an international level with more at stake, both in narrative and in message.  This review was brought to you by Tamerlane.
The Cusack Chronicles: War, Inc. (2008)
Welcome to purely commercialized and privatized American occupation.  In an exaggerated, and intentionally comical, portrayal of what happens when imperialism is brand operated under the informal control of nations.  Strangely enough (and scarily enough), this film parallels some major trends in American cultural and political imperialism.  John Cusack took the gloves off in making this film in order to address some pretty weighty political issues about privatized military para-troops and cultural coercion in the Middle East.  Not only this, but this is the closest to a sequel that Grosse Pointe Blank that Cusack fans can expect.  Joan Cusack and Dan Akroyd make appearances which is only the beginning of the blunt and subtle similarities between the two movies.  Hauser (Cusack) is a hit man who is hired by the ex-vice president (Akroyd) to delete a Middle Eastern oil minister while under the disguise of a trade show producer pawning Tamerlane (the privatized American company in charge of the occupation and military presence) products.  He must also deal with the marriage of an Eastern Britney Spears (Duff) and a left-wing journalist (Tomei) in the midst of it all.
The comedy reaches absurd levels in this film, to the point of being truly absurd, at times.  However, that being said, there are some truly inspiring potshots at the state of America’s presence and perception by the world.  Privatized military and occupation is not as far-fetched at one might think and, so, the laughs are tinted with a healthy dose of serious contemplation.  This film is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it anyway as classically funny as Grosse Pointe Blank, but, with all of that aside, it is an entertaining and often humorous film to watch.  Think of it as Martin Blank on an international level with more at stake, both in narrative and in message.  This review was brought to you by Tamerlane.

The Cusack Chronicles: War, Inc. (2008)

Welcome to purely commercialized and privatized American occupation.  In an exaggerated, and intentionally comical, portrayal of what happens when imperialism is brand operated under the informal control of nations.  Strangely enough (and scarily enough), this film parallels some major trends in American cultural and political imperialism.  John Cusack took the gloves off in making this film in order to address some pretty weighty political issues about privatized military para-troops and cultural coercion in the Middle East.  Not only this, but this is the closest to a sequel that Grosse Pointe Blank that Cusack fans can expect.  Joan Cusack and Dan Akroyd make appearances which is only the beginning of the blunt and subtle similarities between the two movies.  Hauser (Cusack) is a hit man who is hired by the ex-vice president (Akroyd) to delete a Middle Eastern oil minister while under the disguise of a trade show producer pawning Tamerlane (the privatized American company in charge of the occupation and military presence) products.  He must also deal with the marriage of an Eastern Britney Spears (Duff) and a left-wing journalist (Tomei) in the midst of it all.

The comedy reaches absurd levels in this film, to the point of being truly absurd, at times.  However, that being said, there are some truly inspiring potshots at the state of America’s presence and perception by the world.  Privatized military and occupation is not as far-fetched at one might think and, so, the laughs are tinted with a healthy dose of serious contemplation.  This film is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it anyway as classically funny as Grosse Pointe Blank, but, with all of that aside, it is an entertaining and often humorous film to watch.  Think of it as Martin Blank on an international level with more at stake, both in narrative and in message.  This review was brought to you by Tamerlane.

The Cusack Chronicles: Martian Child (2007)
What happens when you adopt a child who thinks that he is a martian?  That is exactly the premise behind this film.  So many aspects of this film could have easily led it down a very cliched and emotionally shallow path, but Menno Meyjes, the director of Max, another Cusack vehicle, is able to keep the messages of the film from being overly simplistic, which these types of family films often fall into.  They take shortcuts in finding solutions for conflicts between the kids and the parents.  However, even though it does fall into this at times, the overall point of the film has a much deeper, introspective meaning.  The emotional and psychological effects of child abandonment and abuse present themselves in relatively realistic ways in the film.  David (Cusack) is a widower who is just figuring out life without his beloved wife and decides to adopt a child, because it had always been a wish of his wife’s.  The creative side of the film is that it does seem, at times, that Dennis may in fact be what he says, though the viewer already knows the inevitable conclusion. 
John Cusack does a great job as a single father who finds a portion of his heart that needs to be expended to this adopted child, but, knowingly, does not have it all together.  He is often figuring out how to survive in the same world.  It is the interaction between John Cusack and Bobby Coleman (who also was in Must Love Dogs) that makes the film.  There is a natural ease in how they act together.  I think the strongest point of the film is the very pro-adoption stance that the film takes.  At one point, David states, “I don’t want to bring another kid into this world. But how do you argue against loving one that’s already here?”  That line alone expresses a very Christian theme that we often overlook in this world.  Yes, it is good to have your own children, but there are tons of children out there that don’t have families, people who love them, role models, etc.  Whether they can be found in America or overseas, there is a need there and to not, at least, weigh that option of giving love to those who are orphaned, abused, abandoned, or so forth is, in fact, selfish on our parts.  The movie provides something challenging to people to open their hearts to children who are already living that are in need of love and a home.  This is ultimately the message that makes this movie a solid effort by all involved in it. 
The Cusack Chronicles: Martian Child (2007)
What happens when you adopt a child who thinks that he is a martian?  That is exactly the premise behind this film.  So many aspects of this film could have easily led it down a very cliched and emotionally shallow path, but Menno Meyjes, the director of Max, another Cusack vehicle, is able to keep the messages of the film from being overly simplistic, which these types of family films often fall into.  They take shortcuts in finding solutions for conflicts between the kids and the parents.  However, even though it does fall into this at times, the overall point of the film has a much deeper, introspective meaning.  The emotional and psychological effects of child abandonment and abuse present themselves in relatively realistic ways in the film.  David (Cusack) is a widower who is just figuring out life without his beloved wife and decides to adopt a child, because it had always been a wish of his wife’s.  The creative side of the film is that it does seem, at times, that Dennis may in fact be what he says, though the viewer already knows the inevitable conclusion. 
John Cusack does a great job as a single father who finds a portion of his heart that needs to be expended to this adopted child, but, knowingly, does not have it all together.  He is often figuring out how to survive in the same world.  It is the interaction between John Cusack and Bobby Coleman (who also was in Must Love Dogs) that makes the film.  There is a natural ease in how they act together.  I think the strongest point of the film is the very pro-adoption stance that the film takes.  At one point, David states, “I don’t want to bring another kid into this world. But how do you argue against loving one that’s already here?”  That line alone expresses a very Christian theme that we often overlook in this world.  Yes, it is good to have your own children, but there are tons of children out there that don’t have families, people who love them, role models, etc.  Whether they can be found in America or overseas, there is a need there and to not, at least, weigh that option of giving love to those who are orphaned, abused, abandoned, or so forth is, in fact, selfish on our parts.  The movie provides something challenging to people to open their hearts to children who are already living that are in need of love and a home.  This is ultimately the message that makes this movie a solid effort by all involved in it. 

The Cusack Chronicles: Martian Child (2007)

What happens when you adopt a child who thinks that he is a martian?  That is exactly the premise behind this film.  So many aspects of this film could have easily led it down a very cliched and emotionally shallow path, but Menno Meyjes, the director of Max, another Cusack vehicle, is able to keep the messages of the film from being overly simplistic, which these types of family films often fall into.  They take shortcuts in finding solutions for conflicts between the kids and the parents.  However, even though it does fall into this at times, the overall point of the film has a much deeper, introspective meaning.  The emotional and psychological effects of child abandonment and abuse present themselves in relatively realistic ways in the film.  David (Cusack) is a widower who is just figuring out life without his beloved wife and decides to adopt a child, because it had always been a wish of his wife’s.  The creative side of the film is that it does seem, at times, that Dennis may in fact be what he says, though the viewer already knows the inevitable conclusion. 

John Cusack does a great job as a single father who finds a portion of his heart that needs to be expended to this adopted child, but, knowingly, does not have it all together.  He is often figuring out how to survive in the same world.  It is the interaction between John Cusack and Bobby Coleman (who also was in Must Love Dogs) that makes the film.  There is a natural ease in how they act together.  I think the strongest point of the film is the very pro-adoption stance that the film takes.  At one point, David states, “I don’t want to bring another kid into this world. But how do you argue against loving one that’s already here?”  That line alone expresses a very Christian theme that we often overlook in this world.  Yes, it is good to have your own children, but there are tons of children out there that don’t have families, people who love them, role models, etc.  Whether they can be found in America or overseas, there is a need there and to not, at least, weigh that option of giving love to those who are orphaned, abused, abandoned, or so forth is, in fact, selfish on our parts.  The movie provides something challenging to people to open their hearts to children who are already living that are in need of love and a home.  This is ultimately the message that makes this movie a solid effort by all involved in it. 

The Cusack Chronicles: High Fidelity (2000)
As we wind down the 90s period of John Cusack’s career, we hit an all-time crowd favorite.  A person could absolutely despise Cusack as an actor (or even as a person) but they cannot (with any consistency) dislike this film.  If you could name the second movie that women bring up when Cusack is in the conversation (#1 being Say Anything), it would be High Fidelity.  I think, but hear me say that I don’t know, that women want to imagine their ex’s in this way.  They want to think that at one point in that guy’s life they hit an existential barrier in their life (if not just love life) where they try to figure out what they have done wrong this whole time.  And, to be honest, I think there may be some truth to this fantasy.  Who doesn’t want to create a huge Top Five list of truly important and life-changing events in their lives.  That is what this movie is about, well, that and music.
I will fully admit, and I am ashamed of this, I did not like this movie the first time I watched it.  The second time I watched it, I didn’t dislike it, but there was still no connection there.  This is the third time I have watched it.  I must say, that though it is still not my favorite, that I am starting to get it.  It is starting to make sense for me.  Watch a few more times and it might make the Top Five Greatest John Cusack Movies, but right now…not so much.  It is a great movie, with a great supporting cast and Cusack is damn good in it.  Hell, it will probably make the top ten, but top five material it is not.
As I watched this film again, I recognized that I could pick out more of the music from the soundtrack than I could before, which means that I am gaining ground on my lifelong course in music appreciation.  But I have this sneaking suspicion that, in the end, the movie itself does not equal the soundtrack that marks its minutes and seconds.  The cynical part of me says that the reason why people love this film is because it plays like a solid and well-planned out mixtape.  The characters are just the embodiment of the music and they are confined to be nothing more than that.  Take the music away and I think this would be a largely forgettable film except to those eccentrics out there, mainly John Cusack fans. 
Don’t get me wrong, there is merit in this film and Stephen Frears poured his large directing soul into it and it shows, but I ask myself and all the fans of this film: In the end, do you really remember the film or do you just remember the music?  Do you remember the characters or do you just feel like going home and reorganizing your record collection autobiographically?  Do you really connect with the existential angst of Rob Gordon or do you just want to go home and start making your own Top Five lists?  High Fidelity is a tough film for me.  I don’t necessarily like it, but I also don’t hate it and part of me kind of loves it, but, in the end, I ask: What came first, the music or the misery?
The Cusack Chronicles: High Fidelity (2000)
As we wind down the 90s period of John Cusack’s career, we hit an all-time crowd favorite.  A person could absolutely despise Cusack as an actor (or even as a person) but they cannot (with any consistency) dislike this film.  If you could name the second movie that women bring up when Cusack is in the conversation (#1 being Say Anything), it would be High Fidelity.  I think, but hear me say that I don’t know, that women want to imagine their ex’s in this way.  They want to think that at one point in that guy’s life they hit an existential barrier in their life (if not just love life) where they try to figure out what they have done wrong this whole time.  And, to be honest, I think there may be some truth to this fantasy.  Who doesn’t want to create a huge Top Five list of truly important and life-changing events in their lives.  That is what this movie is about, well, that and music.
I will fully admit, and I am ashamed of this, I did not like this movie the first time I watched it.  The second time I watched it, I didn’t dislike it, but there was still no connection there.  This is the third time I have watched it.  I must say, that though it is still not my favorite, that I am starting to get it.  It is starting to make sense for me.  Watch a few more times and it might make the Top Five Greatest John Cusack Movies, but right now…not so much.  It is a great movie, with a great supporting cast and Cusack is damn good in it.  Hell, it will probably make the top ten, but top five material it is not.
As I watched this film again, I recognized that I could pick out more of the music from the soundtrack than I could before, which means that I am gaining ground on my lifelong course in music appreciation.  But I have this sneaking suspicion that, in the end, the movie itself does not equal the soundtrack that marks its minutes and seconds.  The cynical part of me says that the reason why people love this film is because it plays like a solid and well-planned out mixtape.  The characters are just the embodiment of the music and they are confined to be nothing more than that.  Take the music away and I think this would be a largely forgettable film except to those eccentrics out there, mainly John Cusack fans. 
Don’t get me wrong, there is merit in this film and Stephen Frears poured his large directing soul into it and it shows, but I ask myself and all the fans of this film: In the end, do you really remember the film or do you just remember the music?  Do you remember the characters or do you just feel like going home and reorganizing your record collection autobiographically?  Do you really connect with the existential angst of Rob Gordon or do you just want to go home and start making your own Top Five lists?  High Fidelity is a tough film for me.  I don’t necessarily like it, but I also don’t hate it and part of me kind of loves it, but, in the end, I ask: What came first, the music or the misery?

The Cusack Chronicles: High Fidelity (2000)

As we wind down the 90s period of John Cusack’s career, we hit an all-time crowd favorite.  A person could absolutely despise Cusack as an actor (or even as a person) but they cannot (with any consistency) dislike this film.  If you could name the second movie that women bring up when Cusack is in the conversation (#1 being Say Anything), it would be High Fidelity.  I think, but hear me say that I don’t know, that women want to imagine their ex’s in this way.  They want to think that at one point in that guy’s life they hit an existential barrier in their life (if not just love life) where they try to figure out what they have done wrong this whole time.  And, to be honest, I think there may be some truth to this fantasy.  Who doesn’t want to create a huge Top Five list of truly important and life-changing events in their lives.  That is what this movie is about, well, that and music.

I will fully admit, and I am ashamed of this, I did not like this movie the first time I watched it.  The second time I watched it, I didn’t dislike it, but there was still no connection there.  This is the third time I have watched it.  I must say, that though it is still not my favorite, that I am starting to get it.  It is starting to make sense for me.  Watch a few more times and it might make the Top Five Greatest John Cusack Movies, but right now…not so much.  It is a great movie, with a great supporting cast and Cusack is damn good in it.  Hell, it will probably make the top ten, but top five material it is not.

As I watched this film again, I recognized that I could pick out more of the music from the soundtrack than I could before, which means that I am gaining ground on my lifelong course in music appreciation.  But I have this sneaking suspicion that, in the end, the movie itself does not equal the soundtrack that marks its minutes and seconds.  The cynical part of me says that the reason why people love this film is because it plays like a solid and well-planned out mixtape.  The characters are just the embodiment of the music and they are confined to be nothing more than that.  Take the music away and I think this would be a largely forgettable film except to those eccentrics out there, mainly John Cusack fans. 

Don’t get me wrong, there is merit in this film and Stephen Frears poured his large directing soul into it and it shows, but I ask myself and all the fans of this film: In the end, do you really remember the film or do you just remember the music?  Do you remember the characters or do you just feel like going home and reorganizing your record collection autobiographically?  Do you really connect with the existential angst of Rob Gordon or do you just want to go home and start making your own Top Five lists?  High Fidelity is a tough film for me.  I don’t necessarily like it, but I also don’t hate it and part of me kind of loves it, but, in the end, I ask: What came first, the music or the misery?

The Cusack Chronicles: Cradle Will Rock (1999)
There are some definite similarities between this film and Bullets Over Broadway, minus the simple fact that they are both about the theater and arts.  However, where Woody Allen’s film was more about the absurd (as all of his films are), this one deals with the relationship between art and politics.  Though I know where Tim Robbins stands politically (since he wrote and directed), he still makes some very insightful observations through the eyes of Depression-era society.  He could not have rounded up a stronger ensemble cast for this film, however the stand-outs were easily John Turturro and Cherry Jones who probably had the most interesting characters in the film.  The best parts of the film were surrounding the home life of John Turturro’s character as he maneuvers between his old world (an ever-increasingly fascist Italy) and new world values (his love of the perceived freedom that America gives him to pursue his interests in arts) and the congressional hearings between Senator Dies and Cherry Jones’ character, the head of the Federal Theater Agency.  The rest of the film was good, but these parts stood out from the rest.
Cusack, who played Nelson Rockefeller, did a good job of playing a falsely refined, greedy Capitalist who used art for political advantage and profit.  He does not have an incredibly big role and there was nothing that really stuck out about the character to make it an even remotely memorable performance for Cusack.  Overall, it was a good one time view, but did not really have enough to draw the viewer back to another viewing.
The Cusack Chronicles: Cradle Will Rock (1999)
There are some definite similarities between this film and Bullets Over Broadway, minus the simple fact that they are both about the theater and arts.  However, where Woody Allen’s film was more about the absurd (as all of his films are), this one deals with the relationship between art and politics.  Though I know where Tim Robbins stands politically (since he wrote and directed), he still makes some very insightful observations through the eyes of Depression-era society.  He could not have rounded up a stronger ensemble cast for this film, however the stand-outs were easily John Turturro and Cherry Jones who probably had the most interesting characters in the film.  The best parts of the film were surrounding the home life of John Turturro’s character as he maneuvers between his old world (an ever-increasingly fascist Italy) and new world values (his love of the perceived freedom that America gives him to pursue his interests in arts) and the congressional hearings between Senator Dies and Cherry Jones’ character, the head of the Federal Theater Agency.  The rest of the film was good, but these parts stood out from the rest.
Cusack, who played Nelson Rockefeller, did a good job of playing a falsely refined, greedy Capitalist who used art for political advantage and profit.  He does not have an incredibly big role and there was nothing that really stuck out about the character to make it an even remotely memorable performance for Cusack.  Overall, it was a good one time view, but did not really have enough to draw the viewer back to another viewing.
The Cusack Chronicles: Cradle Will Rock (1999)
There are some definite similarities between this film and Bullets Over Broadway, minus the simple fact that they are both about the theater and arts.  However, where Woody Allen’s film was more about the absurd (as all of his films are), this one deals with the relationship between art and politics.  Though I know where Tim Robbins stands politically (since he wrote and directed), he still makes some very insightful observations through the eyes of Depression-era society.  He could not have rounded up a stronger ensemble cast for this film, however the stand-outs were easily John Turturro and Cherry Jones who probably had the most interesting characters in the film.  The best parts of the film were surrounding the home life of John Turturro’s character as he maneuvers between his old world (an ever-increasingly fascist Italy) and new world values (his love of the perceived freedom that America gives him to pursue his interests in arts) and the congressional hearings between Senator Dies and Cherry Jones’ character, the head of the Federal Theater Agency.  The rest of the film was good, but these parts stood out from the rest.
Cusack, who played Nelson Rockefeller, did a good job of playing a falsely refined, greedy Capitalist who used art for political advantage and profit.  He does not have an incredibly big role and there was nothing that really stuck out about the character to make it an even remotely memorable performance for Cusack.  Overall, it was a good one time view, but did not really have enough to draw the viewer back to another viewing.

The Cusack Chronicles: Cradle Will Rock (1999)

There are some definite similarities between this film and Bullets Over Broadway, minus the simple fact that they are both about the theater and arts.  However, where Woody Allen’s film was more about the absurd (as all of his films are), this one deals with the relationship between art and politics.  Though I know where Tim Robbins stands politically (since he wrote and directed), he still makes some very insightful observations through the eyes of Depression-era society.  He could not have rounded up a stronger ensemble cast for this film, however the stand-outs were easily John Turturro and Cherry Jones who probably had the most interesting characters in the film.  The best parts of the film were surrounding the home life of John Turturro’s character as he maneuvers between his old world (an ever-increasingly fascist Italy) and new world values (his love of the perceived freedom that America gives him to pursue his interests in arts) and the congressional hearings between Senator Dies and Cherry Jones’ character, the head of the Federal Theater Agency.  The rest of the film was good, but these parts stood out from the rest.

Cusack, who played Nelson Rockefeller, did a good job of playing a falsely refined, greedy Capitalist who used art for political advantage and profit.  He does not have an incredibly big role and there was nothing that really stuck out about the character to make it an even remotely memorable performance for Cusack.  Overall, it was a good one time view, but did not really have enough to draw the viewer back to another viewing.

The Cusack Chronicles: Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
The time has come to review my favorite all-time movie.  There are two films that should (emphasis on should) come to mind right off the bat when one thinks of John Cusack.  Say Anything and this film.  I think this is because they denote major shifts in Cusack’s career.  Say Anything took him from forgettable to recognizable.  Grosse Pointe Blank took him from his nineties slumber to stardom.  Admittedly, it should be recognized that this film came out the same year as Con Air which was truly Cusack’s first attempt at a mainstream film role.  1997 was a good year for Cusack, though not because of Con Air, but because he was finally becoming recognized as a legitimate choice for male lead and he was now sought after.  Grosse Pointe Blank was also the beginning of a production company that he began with some friends called New Crime Productions and this film put them on the map with critical acclaim.  So what’s the hook of the film?
A hit man goes back to Detroit and goes to his ten-year high school reunion and he has to delete somebody while he is there.  Perfect plot.  There is so much richness in that single idea and the writers and director hit the perfect stride in putting it on screen.  I have probably watched this film in excess of seventy times and I am pretty sure I can quote the entire movie.  Scary? Nerdy? Obsessive?  Maybe so, but I don’t care and don’t you think “obsessive” is a strong word?  The supporting actors are brilliant as well, including Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Dan Akroyd and Joan Cusack.  This film has everything in it: action, drama, romance, comedy (in spades), philosophical pondering, deeper issues of purpose, life and death, and irony.  It may be in fact the most perfect film that has been seen by the least amount of people, which is why I implore you to taste and see that it is good (yes, I did just go Biblical on you!).  Cusack’s performance is incredibly eccentric and memorable and I used to think it was perfectly acted but now that is in question since I watched City Hall which might just take the cake for acting.  However, he will be remembered for Martin Blank long before he will be remembered for Kevin Calhoun.  At least if I have anything to do with it.
[Leaving a message on Dr. Oatman’s machine] Dr.  Oatman, please pick up, pick up! It’s Martin Blank! I, I’m standing  where my, uh, living room was and it’s not here because my house is gone  and it’s an Ultimart! You can never go home again, Oatman… but I  guess you can shop there.
Well said, Martin, well said.
The Cusack Chronicles: Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
The time has come to review my favorite all-time movie.  There are two films that should (emphasis on should) come to mind right off the bat when one thinks of John Cusack.  Say Anything and this film.  I think this is because they denote major shifts in Cusack’s career.  Say Anything took him from forgettable to recognizable.  Grosse Pointe Blank took him from his nineties slumber to stardom.  Admittedly, it should be recognized that this film came out the same year as Con Air which was truly Cusack’s first attempt at a mainstream film role.  1997 was a good year for Cusack, though not because of Con Air, but because he was finally becoming recognized as a legitimate choice for male lead and he was now sought after.  Grosse Pointe Blank was also the beginning of a production company that he began with some friends called New Crime Productions and this film put them on the map with critical acclaim.  So what’s the hook of the film?
A hit man goes back to Detroit and goes to his ten-year high school reunion and he has to delete somebody while he is there.  Perfect plot.  There is so much richness in that single idea and the writers and director hit the perfect stride in putting it on screen.  I have probably watched this film in excess of seventy times and I am pretty sure I can quote the entire movie.  Scary? Nerdy? Obsessive?  Maybe so, but I don’t care and don’t you think “obsessive” is a strong word?  The supporting actors are brilliant as well, including Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Dan Akroyd and Joan Cusack.  This film has everything in it: action, drama, romance, comedy (in spades), philosophical pondering, deeper issues of purpose, life and death, and irony.  It may be in fact the most perfect film that has been seen by the least amount of people, which is why I implore you to taste and see that it is good (yes, I did just go Biblical on you!).  Cusack’s performance is incredibly eccentric and memorable and I used to think it was perfectly acted but now that is in question since I watched City Hall which might just take the cake for acting.  However, he will be remembered for Martin Blank long before he will be remembered for Kevin Calhoun.  At least if I have anything to do with it.
[Leaving a message on Dr. Oatman’s machine] Dr.  Oatman, please pick up, pick up! It’s Martin Blank! I, I’m standing  where my, uh, living room was and it’s not here because my house is gone  and it’s an Ultimart! You can never go home again, Oatman… but I  guess you can shop there.
Well said, Martin, well said.
The Cusack Chronicles: Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
The time has come to review my favorite all-time movie.  There are two films that should (emphasis on should) come to mind right off the bat when one thinks of John Cusack.  Say Anything and this film.  I think this is because they denote major shifts in Cusack’s career.  Say Anything took him from forgettable to recognizable.  Grosse Pointe Blank took him from his nineties slumber to stardom.  Admittedly, it should be recognized that this film came out the same year as Con Air which was truly Cusack’s first attempt at a mainstream film role.  1997 was a good year for Cusack, though not because of Con Air, but because he was finally becoming recognized as a legitimate choice for male lead and he was now sought after.  Grosse Pointe Blank was also the beginning of a production company that he began with some friends called New Crime Productions and this film put them on the map with critical acclaim.  So what’s the hook of the film?
A hit man goes back to Detroit and goes to his ten-year high school reunion and he has to delete somebody while he is there.  Perfect plot.  There is so much richness in that single idea and the writers and director hit the perfect stride in putting it on screen.  I have probably watched this film in excess of seventy times and I am pretty sure I can quote the entire movie.  Scary? Nerdy? Obsessive?  Maybe so, but I don’t care and don’t you think “obsessive” is a strong word?  The supporting actors are brilliant as well, including Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Dan Akroyd and Joan Cusack.  This film has everything in it: action, drama, romance, comedy (in spades), philosophical pondering, deeper issues of purpose, life and death, and irony.  It may be in fact the most perfect film that has been seen by the least amount of people, which is why I implore you to taste and see that it is good (yes, I did just go Biblical on you!).  Cusack’s performance is incredibly eccentric and memorable and I used to think it was perfectly acted but now that is in question since I watched City Hall which might just take the cake for acting.  However, he will be remembered for Martin Blank long before he will be remembered for Kevin Calhoun.  At least if I have anything to do with it.
[Leaving a message on Dr. Oatman’s machine] Dr.  Oatman, please pick up, pick up! It’s Martin Blank! I, I’m standing  where my, uh, living room was and it’s not here because my house is gone  and it’s an Ultimart! You can never go home again, Oatman… but I  guess you can shop there.
Well said, Martin, well said.

The Cusack Chronicles: Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

The time has come to review my favorite all-time movie.  There are two films that should (emphasis on should) come to mind right off the bat when one thinks of John Cusack.  Say Anything and this film.  I think this is because they denote major shifts in Cusack’s career.  Say Anything took him from forgettable to recognizable.  Grosse Pointe Blank took him from his nineties slumber to stardom.  Admittedly, it should be recognized that this film came out the same year as Con Air which was truly Cusack’s first attempt at a mainstream film role.  1997 was a good year for Cusack, though not because of Con Air, but because he was finally becoming recognized as a legitimate choice for male lead and he was now sought after.  Grosse Pointe Blank was also the beginning of a production company that he began with some friends called New Crime Productions and this film put them on the map with critical acclaim.  So what’s the hook of the film?

A hit man goes back to Detroit and goes to his ten-year high school reunion and he has to delete somebody while he is there.  Perfect plot.  There is so much richness in that single idea and the writers and director hit the perfect stride in putting it on screen.  I have probably watched this film in excess of seventy times and I am pretty sure I can quote the entire movie.  Scary? Nerdy? Obsessive?  Maybe so, but I don’t care and don’t you think “obsessive” is a strong word?  The supporting actors are brilliant as well, including Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Dan Akroyd and Joan Cusack.  This film has everything in it: action, drama, romance, comedy (in spades), philosophical pondering, deeper issues of purpose, life and death, and irony.  It may be in fact the most perfect film that has been seen by the least amount of people, which is why I implore you to taste and see that it is good (yes, I did just go Biblical on you!).  Cusack’s performance is incredibly eccentric and memorable and I used to think it was perfectly acted but now that is in question since I watched City Hall which might just take the cake for acting.  However, he will be remembered for Martin Blank long before he will be remembered for Kevin Calhoun.  At least if I have anything to do with it.

[Leaving a message on Dr. Oatman’s machine] Dr. Oatman, please pick up, pick up! It’s Martin Blank! I, I’m standing where my, uh, living room was and it’s not here because my house is gone and it’s an Ultimart! You can never go home again, Oatman… but I guess you can shop there.

Well said, Martin, well said.

The Cusack Chronicles: Say Anything (1989)
The toughest part about reviewing this movie is balancing it relative cult status and its iconic image of sensitive guy Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) with a fair review of the movie as a movie within the history of film.  It is not an easy balance.  This is the role that 90% of all people born in 1985 or before think of when they hear the name John Cusack.  That being said, I feel I should be fairly critical of the film, even though I think it is one of Cusack’s classic roles and his first shot at a legitimate acting part.  In other words, its hard to separate the movie from the buzz that delivered Cusack’s career on a silver platter. 
This is a story about a boy and a girl.  He is lower middle class and a less than average student with no real goals in life and she is from an upper middle class, wealthy home with all of the opportunities open to someone of her intelligence including a full fellowship to a school in England.  Lloyd Dobler is in love and takes a chance which ends up creating a chain of events that culminate in love, loss, and familial discovery.  Though it can be said to have a happy ending, it is not the normal “everything-works-out-and-there-is-no-conflict-left” ending.  I think that is one of the things that saves this movie from romantic drama blah-dom.  I think it would be fair to say that the reason why this movie is celebrated both in a legitimate classic way and also in cult fan-dom is because of its director, Cameron Crowe.  Yes, the man behind Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire and, one of my all-time favorite films, Elizabethtown helmed this film.  He is the master at making romantic story-lines empathetic to the audience.  He draws the viewer in and he is good at drawing out complicated emotions in his films.  I, personally, think that Elizabethtown is his magnum opus when it comes to that ability.  However, Say Anything was his first film.  It was not perfect by any means and it suffered from its film decade.  It couldn’t help but be an 80s film.  It was easily one of the best 80s films and it showed a more interesting side to the 80s, but it could have been much better if it had been made a decade or two later. 
The only down side to that critique is that John Cusack would not have been the star and the film would have suffered because of that.  Let’s face it, Cusack is what drew people in.  Up to this point, he had only been a cameo guy or the funny young romantic comedy guy who was doomed to be buried in 80s obscurity.  So what is it about this film that catapulted Cusack’s career and made him one of the few 80s actors to make it out?  I am not sure that I can answer that; I don’t think that anyone can really answer that.  To be honest, most people only remember the scene above, but I doubt they can actually recall what the movie was about.  In the end, I find myself wondering how correct the complete cynicism of Chuck Klosterman, in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, when he complains that Lloyd Dobler represents the man that doesn’t exist, yet women long for, really is.  The good, sensitive guy who is relentless in their love and would literally hand over their man card for that one girl.  I am not sure if Klosterman is right or if guys have caused society to forget a relic of the past, the gentleman.  Either way, Lloyd Dobler seems to be our last vestige of the romanticism that is either gone or just scandalized in present society. 
The Cusack Chronicles: Say Anything (1989)
The toughest part about reviewing this movie is balancing it relative cult status and its iconic image of sensitive guy Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) with a fair review of the movie as a movie within the history of film.  It is not an easy balance.  This is the role that 90% of all people born in 1985 or before think of when they hear the name John Cusack.  That being said, I feel I should be fairly critical of the film, even though I think it is one of Cusack’s classic roles and his first shot at a legitimate acting part.  In other words, its hard to separate the movie from the buzz that delivered Cusack’s career on a silver platter. 
This is a story about a boy and a girl.  He is lower middle class and a less than average student with no real goals in life and she is from an upper middle class, wealthy home with all of the opportunities open to someone of her intelligence including a full fellowship to a school in England.  Lloyd Dobler is in love and takes a chance which ends up creating a chain of events that culminate in love, loss, and familial discovery.  Though it can be said to have a happy ending, it is not the normal “everything-works-out-and-there-is-no-conflict-left” ending.  I think that is one of the things that saves this movie from romantic drama blah-dom.  I think it would be fair to say that the reason why this movie is celebrated both in a legitimate classic way and also in cult fan-dom is because of its director, Cameron Crowe.  Yes, the man behind Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire and, one of my all-time favorite films, Elizabethtown helmed this film.  He is the master at making romantic story-lines empathetic to the audience.  He draws the viewer in and he is good at drawing out complicated emotions in his films.  I, personally, think that Elizabethtown is his magnum opus when it comes to that ability.  However, Say Anything was his first film.  It was not perfect by any means and it suffered from its film decade.  It couldn’t help but be an 80s film.  It was easily one of the best 80s films and it showed a more interesting side to the 80s, but it could have been much better if it had been made a decade or two later. 
The only down side to that critique is that John Cusack would not have been the star and the film would have suffered because of that.  Let’s face it, Cusack is what drew people in.  Up to this point, he had only been a cameo guy or the funny young romantic comedy guy who was doomed to be buried in 80s obscurity.  So what is it about this film that catapulted Cusack’s career and made him one of the few 80s actors to make it out?  I am not sure that I can answer that; I don’t think that anyone can really answer that.  To be honest, most people only remember the scene above, but I doubt they can actually recall what the movie was about.  In the end, I find myself wondering how correct the complete cynicism of Chuck Klosterman, in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, when he complains that Lloyd Dobler represents the man that doesn’t exist, yet women long for, really is.  The good, sensitive guy who is relentless in their love and would literally hand over their man card for that one girl.  I am not sure if Klosterman is right or if guys have caused society to forget a relic of the past, the gentleman.  Either way, Lloyd Dobler seems to be our last vestige of the romanticism that is either gone or just scandalized in present society. 
The Cusack Chronicles: Say Anything (1989)
The toughest part about reviewing this movie is balancing it relative cult status and its iconic image of sensitive guy Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) with a fair review of the movie as a movie within the history of film.  It is not an easy balance.  This is the role that 90% of all people born in 1985 or before think of when they hear the name John Cusack.  That being said, I feel I should be fairly critical of the film, even though I think it is one of Cusack’s classic roles and his first shot at a legitimate acting part.  In other words, its hard to separate the movie from the buzz that delivered Cusack’s career on a silver platter. 
This is a story about a boy and a girl.  He is lower middle class and a less than average student with no real goals in life and she is from an upper middle class, wealthy home with all of the opportunities open to someone of her intelligence including a full fellowship to a school in England.  Lloyd Dobler is in love and takes a chance which ends up creating a chain of events that culminate in love, loss, and familial discovery.  Though it can be said to have a happy ending, it is not the normal “everything-works-out-and-there-is-no-conflict-left” ending.  I think that is one of the things that saves this movie from romantic drama blah-dom.  I think it would be fair to say that the reason why this movie is celebrated both in a legitimate classic way and also in cult fan-dom is because of its director, Cameron Crowe.  Yes, the man behind Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire and, one of my all-time favorite films, Elizabethtown helmed this film.  He is the master at making romantic story-lines empathetic to the audience.  He draws the viewer in and he is good at drawing out complicated emotions in his films.  I, personally, think that Elizabethtown is his magnum opus when it comes to that ability.  However, Say Anything was his first film.  It was not perfect by any means and it suffered from its film decade.  It couldn’t help but be an 80s film.  It was easily one of the best 80s films and it showed a more interesting side to the 80s, but it could have been much better if it had been made a decade or two later. 
The only down side to that critique is that John Cusack would not have been the star and the film would have suffered because of that.  Let’s face it, Cusack is what drew people in.  Up to this point, he had only been a cameo guy or the funny young romantic comedy guy who was doomed to be buried in 80s obscurity.  So what is it about this film that catapulted Cusack’s career and made him one of the few 80s actors to make it out?  I am not sure that I can answer that; I don’t think that anyone can really answer that.  To be honest, most people only remember the scene above, but I doubt they can actually recall what the movie was about.  In the end, I find myself wondering how correct the complete cynicism of Chuck Klosterman, in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, when he complains that Lloyd Dobler represents the man that doesn’t exist, yet women long for, really is.  The good, sensitive guy who is relentless in their love and would literally hand over their man card for that one girl.  I am not sure if Klosterman is right or if guys have caused society to forget a relic of the past, the gentleman.  Either way, Lloyd Dobler seems to be our last vestige of the romanticism that is either gone or just scandalized in present society. 

The Cusack Chronicles: Say Anything (1989)

The toughest part about reviewing this movie is balancing it relative cult status and its iconic image of sensitive guy Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) with a fair review of the movie as a movie within the history of film.  It is not an easy balance.  This is the role that 90% of all people born in 1985 or before think of when they hear the name John Cusack.  That being said, I feel I should be fairly critical of the film, even though I think it is one of Cusack’s classic roles and his first shot at a legitimate acting part.  In other words, its hard to separate the movie from the buzz that delivered Cusack’s career on a silver platter. 

This is a story about a boy and a girl.  He is lower middle class and a less than average student with no real goals in life and she is from an upper middle class, wealthy home with all of the opportunities open to someone of her intelligence including a full fellowship to a school in England.  Lloyd Dobler is in love and takes a chance which ends up creating a chain of events that culminate in love, loss, and familial discovery.  Though it can be said to have a happy ending, it is not the normal “everything-works-out-and-there-is-no-conflict-left” ending.  I think that is one of the things that saves this movie from romantic drama blah-dom.  I think it would be fair to say that the reason why this movie is celebrated both in a legitimate classic way and also in cult fan-dom is because of its director, Cameron Crowe.  Yes, the man behind Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire and, one of my all-time favorite films, Elizabethtown helmed this film.  He is the master at making romantic story-lines empathetic to the audience.  He draws the viewer in and he is good at drawing out complicated emotions in his films.  I, personally, think that Elizabethtown is his magnum opus when it comes to that ability.  However, Say Anything was his first film.  It was not perfect by any means and it suffered from its film decade.  It couldn’t help but be an 80s film.  It was easily one of the best 80s films and it showed a more interesting side to the 80s, but it could have been much better if it had been made a decade or two later. 

The only down side to that critique is that John Cusack would not have been the star and the film would have suffered because of that.  Let’s face it, Cusack is what drew people in.  Up to this point, he had only been a cameo guy or the funny young romantic comedy guy who was doomed to be buried in 80s obscurity.  So what is it about this film that catapulted Cusack’s career and made him one of the few 80s actors to make it out?  I am not sure that I can answer that; I don’t think that anyone can really answer that.  To be honest, most people only remember the scene above, but I doubt they can actually recall what the movie was about.  In the end, I find myself wondering how correct the complete cynicism of Chuck Klosterman, in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, when he complains that Lloyd Dobler represents the man that doesn’t exist, yet women long for, really is.  The good, sensitive guy who is relentless in their love and would literally hand over their man card for that one girl.  I am not sure if Klosterman is right or if guys have caused society to forget a relic of the past, the gentleman.  Either way, Lloyd Dobler seems to be our last vestige of the romanticism that is either gone or just scandalized in present society. 

The Cusack Chronicles: Broadcast News (1987)
This James L. Brooks written, produced and directed feature looks at one goes on behind the camera of a broadcast news station and the characters that inhabit that often vapid and shallow world of the evening news.  The story follows the lives of the workaholic News Producer (Holly Hunter), the clueless and stupid News Anchor (William Hurt) and the underappreciated News Reporter (Albert Brooks) as they get entangled in the wiles of the job and of love.  Brooks’ character loves Hunter’s character, but her character loves Hurt’s character.  The same old song.  Nothing new there, but I will give Brooks credit for not delivering a cliched romance movie ending.  Overall this was a pretty dull and trite film that only delivered on caricatures and stereotypes and less on reality and subtlety.  However, that is pretty much James L. Brooks, in general.
John Cusack had one line in this film and there is no certifiable way to tell if it was actually him in the scene because the audience never sees his face.  However, IMDB seems dead certain that it was him and from listening to his voice speak that one line, it did resemble his speech, so I am willing to accept that it was actually him.  As far as acting went for Mr. Cusack in this film, I have never heard the phrase “sons of bitches” delivered with such power and clarity as I did when he spoke it in a moment of anger after being fired as he was walking towards the door.  These are the priceless moments in the timelines of an actor’s career.
The Cusack Chronicles: Broadcast News (1987)
This James L. Brooks written, produced and directed feature looks at one goes on behind the camera of a broadcast news station and the characters that inhabit that often vapid and shallow world of the evening news.  The story follows the lives of the workaholic News Producer (Holly Hunter), the clueless and stupid News Anchor (William Hurt) and the underappreciated News Reporter (Albert Brooks) as they get entangled in the wiles of the job and of love.  Brooks’ character loves Hunter’s character, but her character loves Hurt’s character.  The same old song.  Nothing new there, but I will give Brooks credit for not delivering a cliched romance movie ending.  Overall this was a pretty dull and trite film that only delivered on caricatures and stereotypes and less on reality and subtlety.  However, that is pretty much James L. Brooks, in general.
John Cusack had one line in this film and there is no certifiable way to tell if it was actually him in the scene because the audience never sees his face.  However, IMDB seems dead certain that it was him and from listening to his voice speak that one line, it did resemble his speech, so I am willing to accept that it was actually him.  As far as acting went for Mr. Cusack in this film, I have never heard the phrase “sons of bitches” delivered with such power and clarity as I did when he spoke it in a moment of anger after being fired as he was walking towards the door.  These are the priceless moments in the timelines of an actor’s career.
The Cusack Chronicles: Broadcast News (1987)
This James L. Brooks written, produced and directed feature looks at one goes on behind the camera of a broadcast news station and the characters that inhabit that often vapid and shallow world of the evening news.  The story follows the lives of the workaholic News Producer (Holly Hunter), the clueless and stupid News Anchor (William Hurt) and the underappreciated News Reporter (Albert Brooks) as they get entangled in the wiles of the job and of love.  Brooks’ character loves Hunter’s character, but her character loves Hurt’s character.  The same old song.  Nothing new there, but I will give Brooks credit for not delivering a cliched romance movie ending.  Overall this was a pretty dull and trite film that only delivered on caricatures and stereotypes and less on reality and subtlety.  However, that is pretty much James L. Brooks, in general.
John Cusack had one line in this film and there is no certifiable way to tell if it was actually him in the scene because the audience never sees his face.  However, IMDB seems dead certain that it was him and from listening to his voice speak that one line, it did resemble his speech, so I am willing to accept that it was actually him.  As far as acting went for Mr. Cusack in this film, I have never heard the phrase “sons of bitches” delivered with such power and clarity as I did when he spoke it in a moment of anger after being fired as he was walking towards the door.  These are the priceless moments in the timelines of an actor’s career.

The Cusack Chronicles: Broadcast News (1987)

This James L. Brooks written, produced and directed feature looks at one goes on behind the camera of a broadcast news station and the characters that inhabit that often vapid and shallow world of the evening news.  The story follows the lives of the workaholic News Producer (Holly Hunter), the clueless and stupid News Anchor (William Hurt) and the underappreciated News Reporter (Albert Brooks) as they get entangled in the wiles of the job and of love.  Brooks’ character loves Hunter’s character, but her character loves Hurt’s character.  The same old song.  Nothing new there, but I will give Brooks credit for not delivering a cliched romance movie ending.  Overall this was a pretty dull and trite film that only delivered on caricatures and stereotypes and less on reality and subtlety.  However, that is pretty much James L. Brooks, in general.

John Cusack had one line in this film and there is no certifiable way to tell if it was actually him in the scene because the audience never sees his face.  However, IMDB seems dead certain that it was him and from listening to his voice speak that one line, it did resemble his speech, so I am willing to accept that it was actually him.  As far as acting went for Mr. Cusack in this film, I have never heard the phrase “sons of bitches” delivered with such power and clarity as I did when he spoke it in a moment of anger after being fired as he was walking towards the door.  These are the priceless moments in the timelines of an actor’s career.