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Blake I. Collier | The Dirty Deacon

B.A. in History from The University of Texas at Arlington | M.A. in History from Texas Tech University | Contributor for Mockingbird | Co-creator of Son of Byford | Lover of horror, hip-hop, beer & anything British | Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus Christ
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Oliver Platt

The Cusack Chronicles: 2012 (2009)
When I first heard about this film, I was thinking, “Great, another disaster film with little to no storyline and based on some thinly veiled scientific explanation.  Not gonna see it.”  Then I saw the preview and there was John Cusack driving a limousine (reprising his role in Identity?) down a crumbling road, weaving around falling buildings, it was at that point that I realized that I had been suckered in to going to see this film.  This was mainly for the simple fact of seeing John Cusack playing lead male in a summer blockbuster film.  If you had asked me if Cusack would have ever taken a script for a summer blockbuster, I would have told you no.  He is just too eccentric to simplistic summer blockbuster male leads.  However, I was once again proven wrong and to my surprise he makes a formidable blockbuster star.  I can’t say that about 2012, though. 
From the same guy that directed The Day After Tomorrow (which I found to be surprisingly entertaining), this apocalyptic tale about the end of the Mayan calendar has a lot of possibility but it ends up killing itself with its own pretension.  All of the character interactions could have been intriguing, but instead the writers went for cliches instead of realistic dialogue.  The scientific explanations are laughable at best and ultimately leave the film impotent in making any kind of serious point.  The highlight of the film, however, revolved around Cusack’s and Harrelson’s characters who were by far the most interesting and even they were tamer than they should have been.  That being said, there is nothing better than seeing Cusack crawl out of a crack in a landing strip in order to run towards a moving plane while the ground is crumbling behind him.  Great scene, made the movie worth watching right there!

The Cusack Chronicles: 2012 (2009)

When I first heard about this film, I was thinking, “Great, another disaster film with little to no storyline and based on some thinly veiled scientific explanation.  Not gonna see it.”  Then I saw the preview and there was John Cusack driving a limousine (reprising his role in Identity?) down a crumbling road, weaving around falling buildings, it was at that point that I realized that I had been suckered in to going to see this film.  This was mainly for the simple fact of seeing John Cusack playing lead male in a summer blockbuster film.  If you had asked me if Cusack would have ever taken a script for a summer blockbuster, I would have told you no.  He is just too eccentric to simplistic summer blockbuster male leads.  However, I was once again proven wrong and to my surprise he makes a formidable blockbuster star.  I can’t say that about 2012, though. 

From the same guy that directed The Day After Tomorrow (which I found to be surprisingly entertaining), this apocalyptic tale about the end of the Mayan calendar has a lot of possibility but it ends up killing itself with its own pretension.  All of the character interactions could have been intriguing, but instead the writers went for cliches instead of realistic dialogue.  The scientific explanations are laughable at best and ultimately leave the film impotent in making any kind of serious point.  The highlight of the film, however, revolved around Cusack’s and Harrelson’s characters who were by far the most interesting and even they were tamer than they should have been.  That being said, there is nothing better than seeing Cusack crawl out of a crack in a landing strip in order to run towards a moving plane while the ground is crumbling behind him.  Great scene, made the movie worth watching right there!

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: The Ice Harvest (2005)
This is probably the one movie of John Cusack’s that is the hardest one to reconcile with his career.  It is oddball.  There are so many reasons to love it (As Witchita falls, so falls Witchita Falls; Oliver Platt; “Turkey lurkey” as some examples), but for some reason I don’t really like it.  However, for some reason I think it is an important film in his career, but I can’t place my finger on why that is.  Maybe eventually it will hit me like a brick to the head and I can come back and make an addendum to this post.  For now, you all get to deal with the tension of the significance of this film and its utter failure at being a good film.  Look on the bright side, Oliver Platt and John Cusack together in film should be compelling evidence for the existence of God. 
Harold Ramis adapted this story into a strangely cynical comedy about the folly of men in attempting to yield to their basest desires.  The setting of the film (Witchita, KS) is brilliant and may, in fact, be the best character in the movie.  Its ice storms and nature signify desolation (in the sense of just the violence of nature), but, also, justice (in that it takes part in the folly of man’s plans).  Even with some very interesting imagery, the movie just is not satisfying beyond that measure.  I hope all of you will watch it, not because Cusack is great in it or anything, but just to help figure out my dissatisfaction with it.  I ultimately do not know how to place this film. 

The Cusack Chronicles: The Ice Harvest (2005)

This is probably the one movie of John Cusack’s that is the hardest one to reconcile with his career.  It is oddball.  There are so many reasons to love it (As Witchita falls, so falls Witchita Falls; Oliver Platt; “Turkey lurkey” as some examples), but for some reason I don’t really like it.  However, for some reason I think it is an important film in his career, but I can’t place my finger on why that is.  Maybe eventually it will hit me like a brick to the head and I can come back and make an addendum to this post.  For now, you all get to deal with the tension of the significance of this film and its utter failure at being a good film.  Look on the bright side, Oliver Platt and John Cusack together in film should be compelling evidence for the existence of God. 

Harold Ramis adapted this story into a strangely cynical comedy about the folly of men in attempting to yield to their basest desires.  The setting of the film (Witchita, KS) is brilliant and may, in fact, be the best character in the movie.  Its ice storms and nature signify desolation (in the sense of just the violence of nature), but, also, justice (in that it takes part in the folly of man’s plans).  Even with some very interesting imagery, the movie just is not satisfying beyond that measure.  I hope all of you will watch it, not because Cusack is great in it or anything, but just to help figure out my dissatisfaction with it.  I ultimately do not know how to place this film.