Posts Tagged John Cusack

STEELE PICKS: Best Films of 2015

I’m not a film critic although when I worked at Harvard Business School I was the film critic for The Harbus and it was great fun going to screenings and interviewing actors such as Claire Danes, Rose Byrne, Donnie Wahlberg, Rose McGowan, Aidan Quinn, Andie MacDowell and David Cronenberg.

I’m a music critic and a book critic. That’s my focus. I can’t do everything. Yes, I cover the occasional television program.

I love film. I love indie film. I try to see a new film in the theater each week and my Netflix account [both streaming and DVD] remains quite active. I saw about 200 films this year. I don’t always pick the award winners but I pick what truly moved me. 5/20 of these films directed by women. 9/20 written or co-written by women. Many strong, intriguing female protagonists in these films.

Far from the Madding Crowd
directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
screenplay by: David Nicholls
starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen


directed by: John Crowley
screenplay by: Nick Hornby
starring: Saorsie Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson


directed by: Todd Haynes
screenplay by: Phyllis Nagy
starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler


The Diary of a Teenage Girl
directed by: Marielle Heller
screenplay by: Marielle Heller
starring: Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgaard

The Diary of a Teenage Girl_Key Still-0-2000-0-1125-crop

directed by: Tom McCarthy
screenplay by: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
starring: Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton


directed by: Sean Baker
screenplay by: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
starring: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian


directed by: Sarah Gavron
screenplay by: Abi Morgan
starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep


directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
written by: Emma Donoghue
starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers


While We’re Young
directed by: Noah Baumbach
screenplay by: Noah Baumbach
starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver


Love and Mercy
directed by: Bill Pohlad
screenplay by: Oren Moverman, Michael A. Lerner
starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks

love and mercy

directed by: Paul Weitz
screenplay by: Paul Weitz
starring: Lily Tomlin, Sam Shepard, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden

grandma f

directed by: Denis Villeneuve
screenplay by: Taylor Sheridan
starring: Emily Blunt, Benecio Del Toro, Josh Brolin

sicario film

Mistress America
directed by: Noah Baumbach
screenplay by: Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach
starring: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke


Steve Jobs
directed by: Danny Boyle
screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen

steve jobs film

Infinitely Polar Bear
directed by: Maya Forbes
written by: Maya Forbes
starring: Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky


McFarland, USA
directed by: Niki Caro
screenplay by: Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, Grant Thompson
starring: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez, Carlos Pratts , Johnny Ortiz


The Age of Adaline
directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
screenplay by: J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz
starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford


directed by: Jennifer Phang
screenplay by: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang
starring: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams


Digging for Fire
directed by: Joe Swanberg
written by: Jake Johnson, Joe Swanberg
starring: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, Orlando Bloom


I Smile Back
directed by: Adam Salky
written by: Paige Dylan
starring: Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles


directed by: Spike Lee
written by: Spike Lee
starring: Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack


notable performances: Bryan Cranston in Trumbo; Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road; Will Smith in Concussion; Amy Schumer in Trainwreck

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That’s life. So much less satisfying than fiction.

John Cusack stars as Edgar Allan Poe in this macabre and darkly humorous blending of fiction and reality. With a serial killer using Poe’s stories as a blueprint, Baltimore police turn to the author for assistance. It’s particularly personal for Poe as his reputation and the life of his girlfriend are both at risk.

Being a fan of both Edgar Allan Poe and John Cusack, I enjoyed every moment of The Raven.

written by: Ben Livingston, Hannah Shakespeare
directed by: James McTeigue

John Cusack
Luke Evans
Alice Eve
Brendan Gleeson

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film review: War Inc.

“It’s the first war outsouced to private enterprises.”

This ironic, savvy political satire is set in Turaqistan, a country occupied by an American private corporation, Tamerlane, run by a former US Vice-President (Dan Aykroyd). John Cusack plays a hitman, a character not unlike that in one of my favorite Cusack films (mainly for the nostalgia of my high school class) Grosse Pointe Blank (a film he also co-wrote). His dry, sarcastic, breathy, rapid fire delivery is there as well as his dissatisfaction with his career choice. He seems to thrive on playing conflicted hitmen. In another war related film earlier this year, he wasn’t as strong as a widower whose wife died in Iraq in Grace is Gone).

Brand Hauser (Cusack) gets an assignment to kill the oil minister because his plan to build a pipeline will ruin the plans of Tamerlane, the company that controls every aspect of this country. As a cover, Hauser will run a trade fair in the Green Zone (aka Emerald City) that highlights capatilstic delights and features the marriage of pop star Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff) to the son of the Emerit.
This ironic, savvy political satire is set in Turaqistan, a country occupied by an American private corporation run by a former US Vice-President (Dan Aykroyd). In this Muslim Country, America is welcomed in tongue-in-cheek manner with American style diners, a Jack in the Box restaurant and shameless advertising. The details are brilliant: the battered looking villagers are wearing crocs! The military hummers have advertisements on them, like taxi cabs. An erratic zealot dispatches Cusack to kill a leader in Turaquistan and he really does not want to be there. He meets a liberal, sexy journalist (Marissa Tomei) and tries to help the Arab pop star version of Britney Spears.

Everything gets outsourced. The spread of commercialism throughout the war is on full display. There’s money in war which I think anyone who’s ever seen a 60 Minutespiece on security or the “re-building” of Iraq knows. War Inc. possesses an absurdity but also so many layers and clear thinking about the consequences of our actions on a global and national scale. It’s obvious in its anti-war stance but in a clever, entertaining manner.

We all love John Cusack. Any Gen Xer does and he succeeds in this outrageous, provocative film. Marissa Tomei has chosen some fantastic roles of late (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) and I admire her for not relegating herself to the over 35-year-old mom roles. Joan Cusack plays a raving, over-the-top, eyes bulging, blabbering (saying everything we are thinking) assistant who cannot get out of this awful country fast enough.

Rated R, in limited release.

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