Category Archives: Cusack, John

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Perhaps the closest a Hollywood movie has ever gotten—and probably will ever get—to the free-associative shotgun spray of Salvador Dali’s and Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, this first film by the team of director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is an ingenious, incredibly entertaining, Rorschach blot of a metacomedy.  The primary metaphoric vehicle of Being John Malkovich is a mysterious, slimy tunnel that leads directly from a small door in an obsolete office building into the consciousness of actor John Malkovich. After fifteen minutes spent in Malkovich’s head, however, tunnel travelers are interdimensionally chucked out onto the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike, but the orgasmic thrill of living inside Malkovich’s skull  spurs the characters (including office clerk and formerly unemployed puppeteer John Cusack, his frumpy—yes, frumpy—wife, Cameron Diaz, and sultry business chick Catherine Keener) to repeat the experience and steer Malkovich’s actions into fulfilling their sexual fantasies.  Charlie Sheen shows up, as himself, blabbering about “hot lesbian witches!”

Being John Malkovich
Being John Malkovich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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High Fidelity (2000)

In this adaptation of Nick Hornby’s farcically self-pitying novel High Fidelity, John Cusack plays a going-nowhere record store owner and pop-music obsessive who, after his latest relationship collapses, takes the viewer on a tour of his past romances. With Jack Black and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Cover of "High Fidelity"
Cover of High Fidelity

Say Anything . . . (1989)

Remember when you spent all your years of high school yearning after that one person, despairing of ever having him or her realize you exist? That’s just what happens to Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack). Fortunately, after graduation, she does notice him, and they spend the summer dancing around the possibility of falling deeply in love.  Cameron Crowe‘s Say Anything goes a long way just on charm, from Cusack’s diffident-yet-deeply-ethical everyman quality to Lili Taylor’s awful guitar-strummed songs about lost love, to the pack of nowhere boys (including Jeremy Piven) hanging out at the local Gas ’n Sip and philosophizing about women they know nothing about. Ignore the secondary plot, about Diane’s possibly shady father, and savor the whiff of teenage desires anxiously fulfilled.