John Cusack

Test Your Knowledge of the Direct-to-Video Vehicles of Yesterday’s Movie Stars!

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Buried among this week’s DVD and Blu-ray releases is a little something called Absolution, an action thriller that teams Vinnie Jones (remember him?) with Steven Seagal. It’s the third film in which the former Under Siege star plays contract killer John Alexander, and if you’re not familiar with the series, don’t worry — you probably aren’t aware of of most of Mr. Seagal’s recent filmography, which (with the exception of his jokey cameo in 2010’s Machete) has consisted of low-profile movies, usually shot in Europe or Asia, and released straight to home video.
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It’s Time For a Moratorium on Celebrities Talking About Politics

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In the spring of 1969, newlyweds John Lennon and Yoko Ono decided to turn the nonstop coverage of their unavoidable celebrity into something worthwhile. They invited the press to join them in Amsterdam for their honeymoon, where they sat in bed for a week and talked about peace. “Yoko and I decided that we knew whatever we did would be in the papers,” Lennon would later explain, so they determined that if they were going to be in front of reporters, they might as well talk about something important. This general perspective has led countless subsequent celebrities to use their fame as currency to speak out on issues they care about — which is, in many ways, admirable. But they’re often blissfully unaware of the full context for Lennon’s influential use of his celebrity.
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How ‘Love & Mercy’ Tells Brian Wilson’s Story and Breaks the Music Biopic Mold

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Tomorrow, director Bill Pohlad’s Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy hits theaters — though it seems a bit reductive to classify it as yet another music legend biopic, as the film takes such great pains to eschew the conventions of those movies and tell Wilson’s story in a unique, unexpected way. I was so taken with the film after seeing it at SXSW that I asked Flavorwire’s music editor/fellow biopic exhaustion victim Jillian Mapes to accompany me for a second viewing, and to share her thoughts on where Love & Mercy falls amid the quietly exciting reinvention of movies about the people who make music.
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Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Movies You Need to See in June

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There was a time, and not long ago, when the hotter months were a little cold at the art house — when indie distributors seemingly didn’t want to get flattened by the behemoths of the summer movie season. But a few years back, some of them seemed to realize that grown-ups also enjoy a nice air-conditioned theater, as well as a movie where flesh-and-blood people talk to each other. So the summer season has become nearly as crowded for indie cinema as for the mainstream; this month, we’ve got 11 recommendations for you, and this is just a handful of the indies, docs, and foreign films that will hit cinemas and VOD in …Read More

Flavorwire’s Guide to 2015 Summer Movies

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This Friday, just like the first weekend of every May since 2007, a new movie based on a Marvel comic book will open in thousands of theaters across the country, will make all the money, and will serve as the official starter pistol for summer movie season. And for many a seasoned moviegoer, that’s a cue for despair; after all, summer has become synonymous with big, bloated, stupid blockbusters of the Transformers school. And make no mistake, there’s plenty of those on the runway this season (how ya doin’, Terminator Genisys, it’s pretty funny that you’re actually going with that spelling). But don’t go into cinematic hibernation just yet; there’s also a steady stream of first-rate indie-flick counterprogramming on the runway, and some of the big movies actually sound pretty good. So, as a public service to you, the discerning moviegoer, we’ve assembled a month-by-month look at what might actually be worth your time and …Read More

The 5 Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ ‘The Sure Thing’

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Your “new” DVD and streaming releases are pretty dire this week, consisting as they do of the dull would-be Oscar contender Unbroken, the charmless Into the Woods, and the merciful conclusion of the Hobbit trilogy. But, as usual, the catalog titles save the day, with two vintage documentaries from Criterion, an off-brand sleeper by Robert Altman, a Rob Reiner sex comedy, and a forgotten but fascinating Wim Wenders odyssey. Plus, Netflix offers a chance to see how two films become one.
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The Best and Worst of the 2015 SXSW Film Festival

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The SXSW Film Festival will continue through the weekend (albeit mostly with repeat screenings and music-related films, pegged to the concurrent music fest), but your correspondent has returned from Austin, with a belly full of BBQ and a head full of leftover images and snatches of dialogue from the 21 narrative and documentary films I took in over my week in Texas. Here are a few thoughts on each, along with the best and worst films I saw there.
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Paul Éluard’s Poem “Liberty” Is the Unseen Star of ‘Maps to the Stars’

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Spoiler alert: this post contains vague references to occurrences at the end of Maps to the Stars.

Maps to the Stars begins in a mode of straightforward, Hollywood-brutalizing satire. We’re introduced, via Cronenberg’s bloodlessly still lens, to the players in the tritest of Hollywood nightmares. Each character reflects a Hollywood type so dominant as to seem, when rendered fictionally, hugely self-evident.
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