ABC Film Challenge – Romance – H – High Fidelity (2000)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack, Scott Rosenberg (Screenplay) Nick Hornby (Book)

Starring: John Cusack, Lisa Bonet, Joelle Carter, Joan Cusack, Sara Gilbert, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Lili Taylor, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso

 

Plot: Rob, a record store owner and compulsive list maker, recounts his top five breakups, including the one in progress.


Tagline – A comedy about fear of commitment, hating your job, falling in love and other pop favorites.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Story of Finding Love 101

 

Story: High Fidelity starts as Rob Gordon (Cusack) is breaking up with his girlfriend Laura (Hjejle) pushing him into going through his top five break ups and former girlfriends, from high school, college and adult life. Rob owns a small record shop with two employees Dick (Louiso) and Barry (Black) who are always in competition for the music to be played in the story.

Dick & Barry try to help Rob get over his break up by taking him to a local bar to see musician Marie De Salle (Bonet) who has her own unique sound, one that Rob hasn’t heard before. Rob must put his life in order to understand what he is searching for in love.

 

Thoughts on High Fidelity

 

Characters – Rob Gordon is a record store owner who makes top five lists on every possible subject in the music field, he is going through a break up which sees his latest list being his top five break ups, he is looking back at his past relationships to figure out what went wrong and deciding whether to move on with a new love interest. Laura is the latest woman that Rob has broken up with, she is trying to move on, but Rob still sees something with. Dick an Barry are the two employees at the record store, they have different tastes in music which sees them clash at times about what is being played in the store, they also provide friendship for Rob. Marie is one of the woman Rob tries to move on with a musician with new sound. We sees five other women that Rob has been with though his life, ones that have seen things go wrong for him.

PerformancesJohn Cusack in the leading role does bring us a character that is emotional difficult in relationships which works for the film, he has moments of charm and shows his angry mind side too. Todd Louiso and Jack Black both make for most of the comedy in the supporting roles, while Iben Hjejle leads the long list of actresses in the film who are all pick to play the right versions of what we could see them being.

StoryThe story follows one man that has just been through a break up and like a lot of people in break ups looks back at previous relationships to see what keeps going wrong in his life. This story is told straight to the camera, which at times gets annoying, but the idea of looking back at previous relationships does feel like something people do, wanting to know where people are in life too, if they could still miss you, if there is still something between the two. The problems in this film comes from this painting Rob as somebody is can’t find love, but he clearly can, he is just not very good a keeping the relationship together.

Comedy/Music/RomanceThe comedy in the film comes from seeing how Jack Black seems to react to everything. the music in the film shows us just how the record story and music means so much to Rob, while the romance shows us just how love isn’t always the easiest thing to understand.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago which shows the busy nature of the people, while the record store shows us just it can bring the right minds together.


Scene of the Movie –
Barry’s performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Being spoken to through the whole film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a romance film with a difference, it shows how difficult love can be and just what it means to the people who are going through break ups.

 

Overall: Simple Alternative Romance Film

Rating

 

 

Love & Mercy (2014)

Director: Bill Pohlad

Writer: Oren Moverman, Michael A Lerner (Screenplay) Brian Wilson (Based on the life of)

Starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Brett Davern

 

Plot: In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.


Tagline – The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson 

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Look at a Great Musician

 

Story: Love & Mercy starts by taking us to two different stages of Brian Wilson’s life, first the 60’s (played by Dano) as he starts to isolate himself from the band as he works on the latest album for the band, one that gives them a different sound to what the Beach Boys were known for.

The second time is in the 80s where Brian has been struggling with his own health issues dealing with his psychosis, which makes him socially awkward at times, trying to start dating car saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Banks) with the watchful eye from therapist Dr Eugene Landy (Giamatti). We follow both the struggling times Brian goes through and how he deals with them.

 

Thoughts on Love & Mercy

 

Characters – Brian Wilson was one of the greatest musical minds of all time, following two different stages of his life in this film. The 60s version of Brian shows how the success has been making the band one of the biggest in the world, how he wanted to stop touring to work on the next album with a different tone to the music. In this time, we see how the drugs start to take over his life and his obsession with trying to find a new sound risks the success of the band and we see the early moments of his psychosis coming through. In the 80s version we meet a broken man, one that has been through the worst part of his life, but needing guidance and medication to get through the day. He is trying to have a relationship with his disease controlling what he goes through, we see the darkness take over at times. Melinda is a car saleswoman that meets the older Brian and the two strike it off as we see how she tries to get involved in the relationship while dealing with the Eugene figure. Dr Eugene Landy is controlling Brian’s life in the 80s, he has helped him turn his life around after the problems he faced in the 70s, his methods seem extreme and what he puts Brian through are exposed by the end of the film.

PerformancesThe performances here are brilliant throughout, Paul Dano as the younger Brian shows just how wonderful a performer he is, by using certain scenes for his singing skills. John Cusack is great in the older version of Brian showing us that given the right material he can shine. Elizabeth Banks is great in the supporting role looking just as confused and concerned to everything going on in Brian’s life. Paul Giamatti is great too and we know he can always hit the marks in this type of role.

StoryThe story here follows two moments of Brian Wilson’s life, the first is the one where he is trying to change the music and starts to get the first signs on his psychosis, the other is how easily he could become exploited by having someone try and control his life. The first part is a story we could believe happening to a wonderful musician, the second is a story that is hard to believe that someone would do that to someone. This story is set so the stories run side by side showing us how he can be fully functional at times, but how he can become distant and isolated at others. I know this is more about the personal battle Brian goes through, but I would have liked a little bit more on the history of the musical side of his career.

Biopic/MusicThe two moments, well years that we follow in Brian’s life include the 60s and 80s, they are part of the most interesting as it shows the biggest change Brian goes through and the biggest battle he must come up against. We do have moments of the singing, if you don’t know the Beach Boys songs you might struggle to understand what the biggest songs are.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just which era we are going through, they show the lifestyles the characters would be going through without needing to throw in any main stream events.


Scene of the Movie –
Creating God Only Knows.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked to see how Brian ended up under the care of Eugene.

Final ThoughtsThis is a wonderful look at the musician Brian Wilson, follow two parts works too, instead of the full life moments. If you like the Beach Boys this is a must watch.

 

Overall: Beach Boys fans watch.

Rating

 

 

Distorted (2018)

Director: Rob W King

Writer: Arne Olsen (Screenplay)

Starring: Christina Ricci, John Cusack, Brendan Fletcher, Vicellous Shannon, Nicole Anthony, Oliver Rice

 

Plot: A 32-year-old woman suffering from bipolar disorder comes to suspect the proprietor of the state-of-the-art ”smart apartment” she and her husband just moved into is using the building’s residents as unwitting guinea pigs for a ”synthetic telepathy” brainwashing plot with dire global ramifications.


Tagline – Don’t fear the lies. Fear the truth.

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Overly Confusing

 

Story: Distorted starts as married couple Lauren (Ricci) and Russell (Fletcher) move into a new state of the art apartment, with increased security to help give Lauren a better state of mind. With the apartment full of fellow successful people, Lauren sees her husband working giving her time to focus on finding inspiration to return to her artistic ways.

When Lauren starts to believe she is hearing things around the apartment, she starts to investigate believing that the apartment is part of an experiment which is also making it difficult for her to befriend anyone else in the apartment, but it could also be her bipolar disorder effecting her mind, though a meeting with a hacker Vernon Sarsfield (Cusack) could offer some answers.

 

Thoughts on Distorted

 

Characters – Lauren Curran is a sufferer of bipolar disorder and her own personal tragedy, she has spent time in a hospital and is now getting ready to return to her normal artistic life. In her new apartment she starts to believe she is part of an experiment and must learn the truth before becoming part of the experiment. Russell is her husband that is reluctantly supporting him even though he believes she is going off the wagon again, his character is mostly us wondering which side he is on. Vernon Sarsfield is a hacker that knows what is being used in the building technology and how to get around it, he helps Lauren along the way as he wants to bring the system down. When we look at the rest of the residents we go through the motions of who we are focusing on as they fill the generic fillers in the roles in the apartment.

PerformancesChristina Ricci is our leading lady in this film and she is good for the most part, it must have been hard to react to certain flashing images moments. John Cusack is solid enough his character is meant to be withdrawn from the rest and he keeps that in his performance. The rest of the performances are average throughout no one gets the chance shine over Ricci.

StoryThe story follows a couple that move into a new apartment after their own personal tragedy. It follows the wife who is suffering with her own mental disorders who starts to believe the apartment is being used for something very different. This story focuses on the idea of conspiracies which could be very interesting, but the suspense in the story never comes to light early enough and just ends up going into technical terms, rather than showing us what could be going on in the bigger picture. It does sometimes feel like they just throw her bipolar disorder in for the sake of it too. The story also turns to flashing images to try and show the confusions in Lauren’s mind.

Action/MysteryThere is action sequences, though it is soft to watch and never brings you to the edge of your seat. The mystery is around what is going on and what has Lauren uncovered or is it in her head.

SettingsThe locations used mostly keep us in the new apartment and the strange events going on within it, when we leave we feel like we are getting involved in the conspiracy side of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are a weakness in this film because most of the time we just resort to flashing images to show what is happening to Lauren.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act is the most interesting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The flashing images just get annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard action mystery that tries to give us the old conspiracy idea only for it to rely on flashing images to get tell us what is going on.

 

Overall: Standard action mystery film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – D – Drive Hard (2014)

Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith

Writer: Brigitte Jean Allen, Brian Trenchard-Smith (Screenplay) Chad Law, Evan Law (Story)

Starring: John Cusack, Thomas Jane, Zoe Ventoura, Christopher Morris, Yesse Spence, Jerome Ehlers

 

Plot: A former race car driver is abducted by a mysterious thief and forced to be the wheel-man for a crime that puts them both in the sights of the cops and the mob.


Tagline – This heist is about to go into overdrive.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Switch Your Brain off Movie

 

Story: Drive Hard starts as we learn that former race car driver Peter Roberts (Jane) who runs a driving school is struggling with money as his wife Tessa (Spence) pushing him to take on a new job. When Peter goes for his client it turns out to be American Simon Keller (Cusack) who ends up robbing a bank, forcing Peter to be his getaway driver with cops, feds and gangster chasing them through the Australian countryside.

 

Thoughts on Drive Hard

 

Characters – Peter Roberts is a former winning race car driver that is now struggling to keep his driving school open, he finds himself being selected by Keller to be his getaway driver, where he finds that he is trapped in the middle of a crime needing to work with Keller even though he wants nothing to do with the crime. Keller is the seasoned criminal who forces Peter to be his getaway driver, he tries to make Peter a more forward thinking person, as the two end up on buddy comedy level. Agent Walker is the standard fed who is trying to investigate the robbery, we learn very little about her.

PerformancesThomas Jane is good in a role where he gets to play against the usual strong character we have gotten used to seeing him in and he does work well with the unhinged performance from John Cusack. The rest of the cast as fine without being anything special or memorable.

StoryThe story follows a criminal that makes a former racing driver become his getaway driver and over the course of the robbery they become unlikely friends as the whole of Australia is in search for the two. The two together is great entertainment to watch, but most of the other characters just seem to be in something that can only be described as a series of adverts because the story gets dull with them.

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action involves a couple of good chase sequences including one around a city on the Gold Coast of Australia, the comedy comes from the two men working on different sides of the crime as they must learn to work together to escape.

SettingsThe film is set in Australia which is new and refreshing from the usual America setting for a similar story.


Scene of the Movie –
First getaway chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of importance about the rest of the characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard enjoyable action movie that doesn’t have too many brains but will entertain from start to finish.

 

Overall: Action movie 101

Rating

 

 

John Malkovich Weekend – Con Air (1997)

con airDirector: Simon West

Writer: Scott Rosenberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Ving Rhames, Dave Chappelle, Steve Buscemi, Monica Potter, Danny Trejo

 

Plot: Newly paroled ex-con and former U.S. Ranger Cameron Poe finds himself trapped in a prisoner transport plane when the passengers seize control.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Purely Enjoyable Action Film

 

Story: Con Air starts as war veteran Cameron Poe (Cage) returns to his wife Tricia (Potter) but due to the local drinks attacking him 3-1 style one ends up dead and Cameron finds himself facing jail, somehow. We get a montage to show how Cameron spends his time in jail never wanting to meet his daughter but communicating with her through letters.

Cameron is about to be released on a transport that includes his friend Baby-O (Williamson) but also a large number of deadly prisoners including Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom (Malkovich), Diamond Dog (Rhames), Johnny-23 (Trejo), Swamp Thing (Gainey), Pinball (Chappelle) and Garland Greene (Buscemi) as well as other characters. Vince Larkin (Cusack) is overseeing the transfer with Duncan Malloy (Meaney) who are trying to interrogate one of the prisoners on route.

Once in the air Cyrus has arranged a prison escape and as he quotes ‘welcome to con air’. Cameron decides to stay on the plane and protect his friend and female guard, making him the only line of defence between the prisoners and freedom.

Con Air gave us one of the most entertaining action thrillers of the 90s, the story is very thin which is what we need to let the action unfold. Our leading man is the main development as we instantly feel sympathy for him after his imprisonment for defending himself. One man doing the right thing against criminals all works for what we need but let’s face it we only want to see the action unfold and this gives us everything.

 

Actor Review

 

Nicolas Cage: Cameron Poe is the war veteran who gets sent to jail after defending himself in a bar brawl, he has served his time and his coming home on the prisoner transport. Once the prisoners take over the plane he stays to stop them escaping and saving his friend. Nicolas gives us one of the most entertaining action leading performances of the 90’s.poe

John Malkovich: Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom is the leader of the prisoner escape, he has spent most of his life in jail becoming a genius in the process. He is calculated with every move he makes when it comes to this escape making him a villain not to be messed with. John makes for a great villain that stays calm until the very end.cyrus

John Cusack: Vince Larkin is overseeing the prison transfer and is battling with the loud mouth Malloy. He using longer words to annoy Malloy but is the only one to believe that Cameron is the hero on the plane. John works in this role but sometimes feels out of place with the action stars.

Steve Buscemi: Garland ‘The Marietta Mangler’ Greene is a late addition to the transport, he is one of the most notorious serial killers on the planet. He is completing out of his mind but not involved in the main part of the escape. Steve gives us one of the most memorable supporting character that never really seems to be involved with the main story.

Support Cast: Con Air has a big supporting cast that all help show the hero side of Cameron.

Director Review: Simon WestSimon gives us an action film we can all enjoy still 20 years after its release.

 

Action: Con Air has plenty of action from the moment the plane gets taken over to the final scenes.

Crime: Con Air gives us a prison escape on a plane which helps the crime side of the story.

Thriller: Con Air keeps us on edge from start to finish as we watch waiting to see if Cameron will save the day.

Settings: Con Air keeps the settings mostly on the plane with the criminals having rising tension while the scenes outside always feel desperate against the time.
Special Effects
: Con Air uses great effects throughout for all the action sequences.

Suggestion: Con Air is one to switch on and just relax and enjoy. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Bunny.

Worst Part: Malloy is terrible character for the role he is meant to be in the DEA.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final sequence.

Favourite Quote: Garland Greene ‘Define irony. Bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.’

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: The Rock

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars

Budget: $75 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

Tagline: One wrong flight can ruin your whole day

Trivia: The song “How Do I Live” was nominated for both an Oscar as Best Original Song and a Razzie as Worst Original Song. It did not win either award.

 

Overall: Action film that will always be one that is easy to watch.

Ratingcard