Tag: John Cusack

  • Shouldn’t a Movie Called Drive Hard Be More Mad?

    First there was The Driver, then there was Drive Angry, and then there was Drive. Now there’s Drive Hard — because why not? Thomas Jane plays former race-car driver Peter Roberts, now a married dad who runs a not-so-successful driving-instruction school in Gold Coast, Queensland. His crisp, business-y, chief-breadwinner wife does nothing but nag him, […]

  • Grand Piano’s Elijah Wood Gives His All to Indie Thrillers

    Like James Bond, Elijah Wood spends his latest film in a tuxedo trying to save a beautiful blonde from an assassin. Only he’s gotta do it sitting down. In Spanish director Eugenio Mira’s tidy thriller Grand Piano, Wood plays first-class concert pianist Tom Selznick, a prodigy nicknamed “Failznick” after choking in the middle of the […]

  • Grand Piano Is an Ambitious, Devilish Little Thriller

    Blockbuster spectacles are a dime a dozen. The thing we almost never see is the ambitious trifle, the smaller movie that strives to tell a story with vivid images rather than dialogue, that uses music lavishly but intelligently, that dances right at us, Nijinksy-style, with unapologetic theatricality, if not outright nuttiness. Grand Piano, a devilish […]

  • Cusack and De Niro in Opaquely Plotted Thriller The Bag Man

    Two things are made abundantly clear by The Bag Man: Hollywood has completely forgotten how to best utilize John Cusack, and Robert De Niro can still be entertainingly menacing if given peculiar material to work with. Alas, listening to De Niro’s criminal bigwig Dragna casually describe how he was motivated to take up his underworld […]

  • The Frozen Ground Offers Little More Than A Callous Police Procedural

    We’re saturated with police procedurals. We’ve got the staccato story beats of Law & Order and the legato measures of season-long mysteries like The Killing and Broadchurch. The Frozen Ground hits the familiar notes. Its dogged cop is Nicolas Cage as Alaska state trooper Jack Holcombe; its crafty killer is John Cusack, playing real-life serial […]

  • The Numbers Station Draws Soulful Performances from John Cusack and Malin Akerman

    A thriller that focuses on only two key characters shouldn’t be hard to explain, yet the plot specifics of the unexciting but sweetly old-fashioned The Numbers Station are hard to nail down. John Cusack stars as Emerson, a CIA hit man suffering a midlife crisis. To give him a rest, the bosses send him to […]

  • The Paperboy

    Precious director Lee Daniels’s Southern Gothic noir pulp presents itself with the doubtful come-hither hospitality of a gator-filled swamp. Moistly set in South Florida in the ’60s, it involves corn-fed creep John Cusack wrongfully on death row and coming to the attention of investigative journalist Matthew McConaughey, whose kid brother Zac Efron tags along for […]

  • Once Upon a Movie Dreary

    At the height of his literary fame, Edgar Allan Poe, who popularized cryptography in his story “The Gold Bug,” was so renowned as a code-breaker that his public would eagerly submit encoded messages for the writer to cipher. The Raven, which stars John Cusack as Poe, his goatee the least of the film’s historical liberties, […]

  • Going the Distance Is a Not-Very-Good Romantic Comedy

    “What really matters is what you like, not what you are like,” says John Cusack in High Fidelity, a very good romantic comedy about a thirtysomething man who can’t maintain a relationship, partially because he’s holding on to stale record-nerd dreams. Going the Distance is a not-very-good romantic comedy about the same kind of guy—Garrett […]

  • Coming of Age On and Off the Baseball Field in Calvin Marshall

    Calvin Marshall (Alex Frost) knows baseball like no one else on his junior college’s team. He’s got discipline, technique, and a love of the game—what he’s lacking is the gift. In life, he’s in the opposite predicament: He’s a natural charmer who’s not so great with the details, which in Calvin Marshall, Gary Lundgren’s scruffy, […]