Love & Mercy (2014)

Love & Mercy
Director: Bill Pohlad
Writer: Oren Moverman, Michael A. Lerner
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Dee Wallace, Joanna Going, Brett Davern, Erin Darke, Graham Rogers
Seen on: 21.6.2015

Plot:
Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) works as car saleswoman and one day, a guy (John Cusack) strolls into her shop, interested to buy. Turns out, he is Brian Wilson, formerly of The Beach Boys. Brian seems a little off and is accompanied by two bodyguards and a doctor – Eugene (Paul Giamatti). Nevertheless he manages to pass on a message, a cry for help, to Melinda. Even when he was young, Brian (Paul Dano) has had mental health issues, but now he seems completely under Eugene’s control – and apparently not doing very well.

Love & Mercy has an interesting structure and a cast that absolutely shines. I was completely immersed in the story. Yet it is also interesting to think about what has been left out of the story.

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Maps to the Stars (2014)

Maps to the Stars
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Bruce Wagner
Cast: Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird, Sarah Gadon, Olivia Williams, Carrie Fisher

Plot:
Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) just arrived in Hollywood and is chauffeured around by Jerome (Robert Pattinson). But it quickly becomes clear that it isn’t her first time in the city, even if she hasn’t been in a while. She gets a job as an assistant to ageing actress Havana (Julianne Moore) who is obsessed with her mother (Sarah Gadon), also an actress who died at a very young age. For that she is in therapy with Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) whose unconventional methods are also selling pretty well as books. Stafford’s son Benjie (Evan Bird) is a child actor himself and has just been released from rehab, despite being only 13 years old. Now he and his mother Cristina (Olivia Williams) try everything to get his career back on track. But things in Hollywood are treacherous indeed.

Maps to the Stars was an interesting look at Hollywood with a stellar cast. It does make me wonder how much of it is actually realistic (since it is touted as such an honest look at Hollywood) but pushing that aside, it is definitely a smart, engaging film.

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Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles
Director: John Hughes
Writer: John Hughes
Cast: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, Justin Henry, John Cusack, Joan Cusack

Plot:
Samantha’s (Molly Ringwald) life is pretty awkward at the moment. Her sister is getting married which has thrown her entire family into confusion. So much so, that it appears that they forgot Samantha’s sixteenth birthday. But that’s only a small part of Sam’s problems. She’s also in love with Jake (Michael Schoeffling) who has a gorgeous girlfriend (with actual boobs) and barely knows Sam exists. Or so she thinks. The only guy who is actually hitting on her is a major geek (Anthony Michael Hall). And there is a school dance that very night.

Sixteen Candles is sweet and fun and despite the fact that it is obviously a product of its time, it’s a somehow refreshing film. But it’s not great.

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The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Based on: James Jonesnovel
Cast: Nick Nolte, Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Elias Koteas, Ben Chaplin, Dash Mihok, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Miranda Otto, Jared Leto, John Travolta, George Clooney, Kirk Acevedo, Mark Boone Junior, Nick Stahl

Plot:
The Guadalcanal is an important strategic point in World War II. Therefore a group of soldiers is brought in to battle for an airfield held by the Japanese which quickly turns into a slaughter with pressures from within and without rising for everyone.

I never liked Malick movies. I wanted to watch this one anyway because it’s a classic and so I decided to jump at the chance when it was shown at the Filmmuseum in Vienna. Now that I have seen it, I can say: I really don’t like Malick movies.

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The Butler (2013)

The Butler
Director: Lee Daniels
Writer: Danny Strong
Based on: Wil Haygood’s article
Cast: Forest WhitakerOprah WinfreyDavid Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Nelsan Ellis

Plot:
Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) grew up on a cotton farm where he officially wasn’t a slave anymore but he practically was. When he was old enough, he left there and after a period of hardship was lucky enough to find employment. Bit by bit he works his way up to becoming a butler and finally gets recruited into the White House. But racism is still a major issue.

The Butler has a great cast and the time passes rather quickly when you watch it, but it’s a manipulative film (which I was prepared for and which isn’t generally bad) that is so sweet that it leaves you in desperate need of insulin to manage it. And that was just too much.

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Pushing Tin (1999)

Pushing Tin
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Glen Charles, Les Charles
Based on: Darcy Frey‘s article “Something’s Got To Give”
Cast: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Jake Weber, Kurt Fuller, Vicki Lewis, Matt Ross

Plot:
Nick (John Cusack) is an air traffic controller – a job with a lot of responsibility and pressure. But he’s extremely good at it, he loves it and he’s happy with his wife Connie (Cate Blanchett). That is, until Russell (Billy Bob Thornton) shows up. Russell is aloof, cool and calls Nick’s entire standing into question. Threatened by everything about Russell, Nick gets into a giant pissing contest with him.

Pushing Tin has very funny moments and a pretty good cast, but boy does that testosterone-fueled competition between Nick and Russell get exhausting. A little more focus on the women would have made the movie so much better.

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2012 (2009)

2012 is the newest movie by Roland Emmerich, starring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson and Oliver Platt.

Plot:
Scientists make a discovery: the world is ending in 2012, the Mayans were right. So, the most powerful men of the world hatch out a plan, don’t tell anyone about it and then in 2012, one righteous man tries to save his family.
Honestly, who cares about the plot? The plot is not important.

2012 delivers what Roland Emmerich promised in Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow: Nobody can destroy the earth just like he does. You just need to ignore the science (ridiculous), the story itself (been there, seen that times one hundred) and the (mostly) mediocre acting and enjoy the Special Effects. Since nothing about this movie is outrageously offensive, that’s easily done.

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