John Cusack

Christoph Waltz

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily roundup of all the casting news you care about, and maybe (probably) one or two items you don’t. Some info has finally leaked about James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller’s upcoming sequel to The Muppets. Turns out it’s going to be a caper movie, somewhat along the lines of The Great Muppet Caper, but with more of an international flair. How international? So international that THR is reporting they’re closing in on signing Christoph Waltz to play one of the main, non-Muppet roles—that of an Interpol inspector. Other important parts for humans are said to include a Russian femme fatale and a male lead with mysterious intentions. Actors looking to land the part should start sending in their shifty-eyed head shots now.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s where Hollywood moms come every day to find out if their actor kids have gotten a job. Remember that movie about the day JFK got shot that Tom Hanks was putting together because these days he’s such a history loving, lame dad? It’s called Parkland, and it just put together an awesome cast. According to Collider, director Vincent Bugliosi has signed the terrific trio of Paul Giamatti, Jackie Weaver, and Billy Boy Thornton to headline the cast. There’s no word on what characters they’ll be playing, but my guess is Giamatti will be JFK, Thornton will be Jackie O, and Weaver will be Lee Harvey Oswald. Makes sense, no?

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the paperboy

The Paperboy is, to put it bluntly, quite like a swamp. It is hazy, disorienting, and full of disgusting images. It is so densely packed and so haphazardly arranged that the experience of watching it is not unlike trying to find one’s way out of the Everglades with only a machete and a faulty compass. With this, his third feature, Lee Daniels has created a fictional universe in which rhyme and reason, focus and direction, and even basic character motivation seem like forgotten concepts. It is the sort of film that makes you miss Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s amazing. Ostensibly, this is a Southern-fried film noir, riffing on such films as In the Heat of the Night and Mississippi Burning. Matthew McConaughey is Ward Jansen, a muckraking journalist for the Miami Times, back in his tiny home town to expose the wrongful conviction of Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) for the murder of the county sheriff. He was given the tip by Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), who is currently engaged to Hillary even though they’ve never actually met. Ward’s partner is the dashing and difficult Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo), a sort of British take on Virgil Tibbs. They hire Ward’s buff brother Jack (Zac Efron) as their driver. All of this is narrated by the Jansen’s former maid, Anita Chester (Macy Gray). In the ensuing detective drama not much actually gets investigated. It’s the summer of ’69, the air is sticky and sweltering, and the entire cast is in […]

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After the critical and commercial success of Precious, director Lee Daniels most likely had offers flooding into his office. Considering the way he describes the post-Precious period, that was indeed the case. There were plenty of movies Daniels could have made and for large sums of money as well. In the end, Daniels decided to followup Precious with The Paperboy, a movie many have called “pulpy.” Pulpy material usually doesn’t equal commercial success, but after making a hit, Daniels decided to stick with his gut even if his gut told him to turn down millions. The Paperboy, as ludicrous as it certainly is at times, remains a personal story for Daniels. Some may not see through the sweat and violence of the picture, but he saw this as another tale filled with people he knows well and who we don’t see on screen often enough: characters with a death wish. The world those characters inhabits is one you’ll either love or hate. Here’s what director Lee Daniels had to say about his artist side superseding commercialism, when the magic happens on set, and why he really shows Zac Efron in his underwear so much:

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Over Under - Large

Being John Malkovich was an amazing success story upon its 1999 release. Not only was it a critical darling that got nominated for a bunch of awards, but it also successfully launched the big screen careers of a music video director named Spike Jonze and a lowly TV writer named Charlie Kaufman. In case you didn’t know, those guys have gone on to be big names, and Being John Malkovich earns quite the pedigree by being the start of their careers. On a personal level, I walked out of the movie in ’99 shocked at how unique and inventive it was, and loving how it melded progressive filmmaking with a comic sensibility. Revisiting it all these years later though, I realize it hasn’t aged as well as I’d hoped, and I find myself wondering if it still deserves the level of reverence that it gets. Mabrouk El Mechri’s 2008 film JCVD didn’t get near as much buzz or recognition as something like Being John Malkovich. Maybe that’s because a big chunk of it wasn’t in English, or maybe it’s because it just wasn’t as good—that’s debatable. But the opinion that it showed us a different side of its star, Jean-Claude Van Damme, was pretty universal, and it seemed like it was going to be something of a rebirth for the action star’s career. It’s four years later though, and nothing has really come of it. The man has still been largely relegated to straight-to-video action movies, and any of the […]

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The Paperboy Movie Lee Daniels

Now don’t tell me that when you heard that Precious director Lee Daniels was directing a film about a love-crazed lady (played by Nicole Kidman) who is obsessed with a man on death row (John Cusack) that you thought, “yes, this will be fantastic and insightful and awards-worthy and dramatic and searing.” You did? But then you heard that Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron were co-starring as brothers who investigate the potential wrongful conviction of Cusack, who also get mixed up with Kidman, and it’s all kinds of wacky and crazy and embarrassing and you changed your mind? No? Really? But then you heard that Kidman pees on Efron in an act of love at some point in the movie and you remembered, “oh, yes, Lee Daniels. Hack.” Good. That said, wow, can The Paperboy arrive in theaters now? The film’s first trailer is positively off the wall, the sort of marketing that includes review pull quotes that include words like “pulpy,” “sweaty,” and “down and dirty” in order to sell the film. And while Kidman doesn’t urinate on Efron in this first trailer, it just might contain a glimpse of her face while in the act (in other news, can you believe this movie?). Check it out after the break.

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2012 Movie Roland Emmerich

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: 2012 (2009) The Plot: Disaster filmmaker extraordinaire Roland Emmerich gives audiences his vision of how the world will end in this 2009 blockbuster. As the clock ticks closer to December 21, 2012, geologists and other scientists discover various anomalies happening to our planet. Solar flares are tossing neutrinos across space, and they are impacting the Earth’s mantle. They predict global catastrophe as the crust shifts and the Earth’s plates rearrange. Eventually, massive earthquakes wipe entire cities off the globe while one family, led by John Cusack, makes an escape in a limousine of awesomeness.

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The Paperboy John Cusack

Last year’s Cannes Film Festival featured this year’s Oscar winning Best Actor performance thanks to the inclusion of the wonderful The Artist in competition, and though the films seem to have been chosen for their artistry and provocative subtexts more than any really commercial pointers (as always happens the year after the festival is deemed “too commercial”), there have been some seriously fine performances this year as well. There wasn’t an Uggy this year, but there was a murdered pooch in Moonrise Kingdom, a bitey Killer Whale in Rust & Bone, and a striking performance from an armadillo in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Me and You, so we’ll have to wait and see who emerges with the best animal performance. Probably won’t come from Madagascar 3 though…so for the time being, let’s stick to the humans.

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The Paperboy Movie Lee Daniels

For a long time heavy-weight director Pedro Almodovar attempted to bring an adaptation of Peter Dexter‘s excellent novel “The Paperboy” to the screen, and a cursory glance at the story details of that novel confirm exactly what promise the Spanish auteur saw in that potential project. The book focuses on the case of death row inmate Hillary Van Wetter, convicted for the death of a local sheriff who murdered his cousin, and whose romantic relationship with letter-writer Charlotte Bless leads to the involvement of two investigative journalists from Miami who look into the possibility of Van Wetter being innocent. Without wanting to give away too much, as the book progresses, all is not what it seems, leading to a catastrophic ending. It seems that Almodovar was not the man to bring a film version of The Paperboy to life, and Precious director Lee Daniels stepped in to offer his own take on the story, investing a good deal more social outrage and shifting the focus onto the younger brother of one of those journalists. Zac Efron plays that brother – Jack Jansen – a former swimmer kicked out of college for an angry act of vandalism, and Matthew McConaughey his elder brother Ward, who enlists the help of writing partner Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) to investigate Van Wetter’s (John Cusack) innocence, at the behest of local vamp, and regular inmate letter write Bless (Nicole Kidman).

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Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid longing for the good old days, when movies about historic figures were about those historic figures and not the slapdash way they might be jammed into a straightforward genre piece. That’s clearly a passé way of thinking in the age of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but sometimes old-school is the way to go. The life of Edgar Allan Poe was fascinating and mysterious enough to warrant a new movie about it, to be sure. You could call it The Raven and cast John Cusack as your lead. Amusingly enough, there is indeed a movie opening in theaters this weekend called The Raven and it does star Cusack as Poe. Unfortunately, it’s basically a waste of time, forgoing the opportunity to tell the poet’s extraordinary story for a mundane detective narrative that recasts him as Sherlock Holmes (the one Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created, not Guy Ritchie).

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“Yes, the same Jane Fonda who has been described as a communist, was part of the “F” the Army too and is an enemy sympathizer.” “Perhaps Fonda will be perfect at mangling history on film, since she’s certainly done that in real life.” “Of all people Hollywood could haven chosen to portray Nancy Reagan in a new film, they come up with Jane Fonda. It’s like they’re trying to offend half of America before the movie is even made. ” “Arch-liberals Fonda and [John] Cusack playing a pair of major figures on the Right? Conservatives should stock up on antacids starting … now.” That’s Townhall.com, News Busters, The Lonely Conservative and Breitbart.com in response to the Variety story that writer/director Lee Daniels (Precious) has hired Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan for his new movie The Butler, which follow the story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served under eight, count ‘em, eight presidents during his career.

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Last night, my Twitter feed coughed out a story from THR, an exclusive report about casting rumors for Lee Daniels‘ (Precious) potential next project, The Butler. At the time, I was too stunned (and too busy laughing hysterically) by how completely wrongheaded a few of the potential stars seemed to be for their respective roles to pen something on the subject. I’ve yet to fully recover, but my typing hands are itchy. The Butler is the true life story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who worked under eight presidents, spanning the years of 1952 to 1986. Danny Strong wrote the script (with a re-write from Daniels), based on Wil Haygood‘s 2008 Washington Post story “A Butler Well Served by This Election.” You can read the full story HERE, which is a wonderful tale not just about Allen, but about life (and race) in the White House (and America). The story also paid particular focus to the election of Barack Obama – it was published on November 7, 2008, just days after he was elected – and days after Allen himself cast his vote for the first African-American president. But while the story behind The Butler is phenomenal, and Daniels’ apparent first choice to play Allen (David Oyelowo) is pretty great, the rest of the rumored casting for the film is a big bag of “wait, what?”

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In The Paperboy, Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey play reporters from Miami hired to prove the innocence of a death row inmate (John Cusack). The woman who hires them is the highly sexual Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) who has fallen in love with the inmate despite never meeting him. She’s convinced he should be free, and that they should be married. The movie is based on the novel by Pete Dexter (who wrote the screenplay), and it’s being directed by Precious helmer Lee Daniels. With one Oscar-nominated film under his belt, it will be interesting to see if he shoots for a second. It will also be interesting to see if they keep the harrowing ending to the novel, because if they do, things are about to get a lot darker. A new poster for the film is making the rounds, and it’s the kind of artwork that makes most poster artists seem lazy (as if they need help). It’s a fantastic throwback style with a little too much eye-liner. Check it out for yourself:

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“I will send you to hell!” You know, I’m not quite sure The Raven is going to be an accurate bio pic of Edgar Allan Poe. The Se7en-esque murder mystery aside, why isn’t Poe acting like a big alcoholic in this portrait of his final days? Where’s the binge drinking? Where’s a mean drunk? Sadly, an intoxicated John Cusack is nowhere to be found.

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Few upcoming productions amuse me quite like Scott Walker’s feature debut, Frozen Ground. Despite an impossibly generic title, the film is already packed with some major “wha-huh?” casting – namely in that it’s a film about a serial killer that is set to star Nicolas Cage and John Cusack, but with Cusack as the murderer. I’m so sold. Now High School Musical’s very own Vanessa Hudgens has joined the cast, set as a near-miss victim who escapes Cusack’s clutches, lives to tell the tale, get the bad guy, and so on and so forth. The film is based on the true story of Robert Hansen (Cusack), a “serial predator” who essentially launched his own version of The Most Dangerous Game in the Alaskan wilderness. A regular dude to everyone else, Hansen was a total maniac who reportedly abducted more than 24 women to serve as his own prey. Hansen’s style included hiring a prostitute and paying her, after which he would kidnap, torture, and rape her. Following that, he would tie up his prey, and fly them to his cabin in the Knik River Valley in his own airplane. After that, he’d release his victim, only to stalk her and kill her (Hansen was a very experienced hunter) with a gun and/or knife. A real gem that Robert Hansen. Hudgens will play a character based on teenage Cindy Paulson, who escaped from Hansen while she was actually hand-cuffed in his plane, just before he took off for the cabin. Cage […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly round-up of movie news and informational links that will marry whomever it damn well pleases, male, female, alien or otherwise. Except /Film’s Page 2, that bitch never called it back. She thinks she’s so cool because she’s on a “legitimate” film site that “people actually read.” Bitches be trippin’. Our most photogenic story tonight, a first official look at John Cusack in The Raven (working title) as the tormented Edgar Allen Poe. Lets face it, if that hair (facial and cranial) is real, we should be impressed. Also impressive is the expansive amount of Cusack-related news included in tonight’s edition of Movie News After Dark, so stick around.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this shit late at night, what do you expect?

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Movies We Love

In the immediate wake of high-school graduation from Generic High-School Hoops McCann, an aspiring cartoon artist, is searching for a subject for his love story. Believing he’ll never find inspiration in Generic he decides to take his best friend up on his offer to spend the summer in Nantucket. On their way to the island Hoops helps save a small-time musician, Cassandra, from some motorcycle thugs and begins a friendship that soon develops into a romance. When his new summer love interest’s home gets threatened by a rich family looking to expand their estate Hoops, along with his newfound nerd compatriots on the island, come up with a plan to save Cassandra’s home and exact revenge on their tormentors.

While probably not as well known as writer/director “Savage” Steve Holland’s other ‘80s teen comedy Better Off Dead I will be bold and state that this follow up is funnier. It makes me laugh harder. Better Off Dead is one of the most imaginative teen comedies ever and holds up extremely well to repeat viewings without ever losing any of its potency, but if I’m going to pick one off my dvd shelf to watch seven times out of ten I’ll grab One Crazy Summer for one simple reason. Better Off Dead does not have Bobcat Goldthwait anywhere in the movie whereas One Crazy Summer has him almost everywhere in the movie, and if he’s in the scene at all that scene will be funny – and I will laugh until I feel like I’m about to throw up. He invokes involuntary bulimia in me.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; you should be ashamed.  That’s right, this is the internet column that makes us all look bad.  And by us, I don’t mean film critics, but rather any responsible film-watcher/eater of food.  Each week I shake and bake my favorite bad movies for your reading displeasure.  These movies are very un-bueno but have a certain indefinable quality that makes them impossible not to love.  Actually, if that quality still comes across as undefinable after you read the piece, I really haven’t done my job have I?  To add extra awesome sauce to your Friday, each week I pair the film with an appropriate snack food that promises to ruin your beach season.  This week we take flight with none other than Con Air.

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Not THE Jack, as in Jack the Ripper, though I think Cusack would make a fabulous Ripper. Who would suspect him?He’s just so nice, so amiable, so cool.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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