John Cusack

Update: Spike Lee’s Upcoming Film, ‘Chiraq,’ Is a Musical Comedy that Doesn’t Star Kanye West

UPDATE, 5/12/15: Pitchfork reports that a representative for the film denies claims that Kanye will be appearing: “Contrary to… Read More

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Flavorwire’s Guide to 2015 Summer Movies

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

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

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. … Read More

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The Best and Worst of the 2015 SXSW Film Festival

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. … Read More

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Paul Éluard’s Poem “Liberty” Is the Unseen Star of ‘Maps to the Stars’

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. … Read More

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‘Birdman,’ ‘Maps to the Stars,’ and Hollywood’s Current Vogue for Self-Obsession

“Pray that those that eat, those that are eaten, and the act of eating be universally devoid of self,” celebrity therapist Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) says smugly in Maps to the Stars, director David Cronenberg’s big, wet defecation on the deadening influence of Hollywood. He’s quoting the Dalai Lama, he says, but long before his cushy life goes up in flames, it’s clear that Weiss’ Buddhist wisdom is all smoke and mirrors, a vain stab at profundity from an exceedingly shallow man. Indeed, here, as in other recent depictions of Tinseltown’s insider baseball, such noble sentiments ring false, or are otherwise crushed by an industry no longer much interested in altruism. That four films from four directors, each with its own distinct style and tone, should tread such similar thematic ground in this short span of time suggests a certain discomfort with the changing rules of the game, a fear that the dog-eat-dog business of filmmaking threatens to annihilate a particular brand of film art. Call it the unexpected anxiety of obsolescence. … Read More

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Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Flicks to See in February

There’s plenty to talk about in the indie film world right now, but most of it is coming off of Sundance — and, sadly, we won’t get to see most of those movies for several more months. But the art houses certainly aren’t going dark this month; we’ve got several terrific new indies out for February (many hitting theaters and home screens after running the festival gauntlet last year). Here are eight that you shouldn’t miss, particularly if you find yourself heading out with someone who’s dead set on, say, Fifty Shades of… Read More

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Ambiguity Is Dead: ‘Say Anything,’ ‘The Sopranos,’ and Pop Culture’s New Closure Obsession

I was 14 years old when I first saw Say Anything…, and when the ending arrived, I didn’t get it. At all. I mean, there they are on the plane, having been through so much stuff: virginity loss, painful break-up, parental imprisonment, even learning to drive a stick shift. (From my current vantage point, as someone who’s never made it past an automatic, that last one sounds the most traumatic to me.) But there they were, heading overseas and trying to make a go of it, but then there’s this business with the ding and a cut to black, and that’s it? What happens after that? Well, 14-year-old me would be relieved to know that NBC is finally setting out to answer that question, via a TV spin-off/sequel that sounds like the stupidest fucking idea since Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? … Read More

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