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items tagged with John Cusack

War of the Sexless: "Chi-raq" and "In the Heart of the Sea"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-12-13 00:49:02

Teyona Parris in Chi-raqCHI-RAQ

Last month, Spike Lee received an honorary Oscar at the 2015 Governors Awards ceremony. It was an earned and long-overdue recognition, especially given that, for many of us, the writer/director’s Do the Right Thing should’ve made him an Academy Award winner more than a quarter-century ago. (Then and now, Driving Miss Daisy notwithstanding, Do the Right Thing remains the true Best Picture of 1989.) But while Lee’s statuette may have been late in coming, I can’t help but think that the timing of its arrival could hardly be better. His new film Chi-raq, after all, is nowhere to be found in this year’s Oscar conversation. Yet its creator deserves trophies and more for this gut-wrenching, hilarious, deeply profound satire that’s stronger than at least 95 percent of the year’s more-likely awards candidates – and maybe riskier than 100 percent of them.
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Life’s a Beach, Then You Get Meds: "Love & Mercy" and "Dope"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-06-21 01:07:38

Paul Dano in Love & MercyLOVE & MERCY

Receiving a wide national release on the same weekend as Inside Out’s debut, director Bill Pohlad’s Love & Mercy is also an exploration of the brain – specifically, the brain of Beach Boys wunderkind Brian Wilson, alternately portrayed by Paul Dano (during the film’s Pet Sounds-era 1960s sequences) and John Cusack (during Wilson’s heavily-, and incorrectly-, medicated period in the late 1980s). And rather astonishingly for a work of its type, it boasts numerous scenes in which it really, truly feels like we’re allowed to roam around in a legendary musician’s head, feeling what he feels and, even more importantly, hearing what he hears.


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Running, DUFFing, Tubbing: "McFarland USA," "The DUFF," and "Hot Tub Time Machine 2"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-02-23 15:29:26

Kevin Coster and Ramiro Rodriguez in McFarland USAMCFARLAND USA

God, I hate Disney. Not all the time, of course, and in any case, “hate” is probably a strong word. But why does the studio have to keep releasing live-action movies that are inseparable from cartoons, with all of the potentially legitimate conflict inevitably dulled down and scrubbed squeaky-clean? And why does its succession of inspirational sports dramas never feature any actual coaching beyond bland and clichéd motivational speeches? And why do these damned things keep making me weep like a baby?


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Serving in Silence: "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "Jobs," and "Kick-Ass 2"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-08-19 09:06:55

Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels' The ButlerLEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER

While raving to him about Lee Daniels’ The Butler – the glorious, heart-rending, hugely entertaining Civil Rights saga that may showcase the finest performance yet by star Forest Whitaker – a friend asked if it was the sort of movie that needed to be seen at the movies, or if it was something that could wait until home video. I replied that, as much as I think great films should always be seen first in as grandly scaled a format as possible, it was probably a work that wouldn’t lose much in the transition from big to smaller screen. Although director Daniels’ effort covers some 75 years of American history, with Whitaker portraying an eight-term White House servant over more than 50 of them, it’s still a rather intimate epic boasting a mostly understated visual style, and will no doubt play just fine in home-theater settings. (Actually, after the film’s “For Your Consideration” screeners are eventually sent out, I think it’s going to play awfully fine in the home-theater settings of Oscar voters. My first thought on the drive home was that even though it’s only August, this year’s Best Picture, Director, and Actor races were already all sewn up.)


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Prenuptial Agreement: “The Five-Year Engagement,” “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” “The Raven,” and “Safe”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2012-04-29 22:03:44

Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Chris Pratt, and Alison Brie in The Five-Year EngagementTHE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT

Say what you will about the current state of movies. Yet in the history of the medium, have the actors who populate film comedies ever been as across-the-board-excellent as they are right now? It took about 20 minutes for this question to pop into my head during The Five-Year Engagement, and once it did, I’m not sure I ever stopped pondering it; from the stars to the supporting cast to the bit players who show up for all of three seconds, director Nicholas Stoller’s rom-com features an embarrassment of performance riches. The movie itself? Eh, it’s okay.


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