Sunday, December 10, 2006

John Cusack

"I'm paranoid schizophrenic. I am my own entourage."
-- Eddie Thomas (John Cusack), America's Sweethearts

In most John Cusack movies I have seen, the man plays the same kind of guy. Smart, articulate, funny, and an ability to seem serious and sincere while spouting nonsense. And guess what? I don't mind. If this man never does anything different in his entire movie career, I for one will not complain.

I think I first saw him in the wonderful High Fidelity. He spends most of the movie talking to the audience directly. And trust me, it's a lot of talking. He's not a particularly nice guy in that movie, and you wish he'd grow up a bit, but you end up rooting for him anyway. Then I watched Grosse Point Blank, a movie funnier in the imagining than in the seeing. What I liked about him in that movie was how he played it really straight, and that's what made it funny. It's like watching Buster Keaton - the funniest thing about Buster's movies is how extraordinary things happen around him and he's totally stone-faced.

There have been quite a few others - Runaway Jury, America's Sweethearts, Serendipity, Max, Being John Malkovich, Con Air, Must Love Dogs... No, I haven't seen Identity. I will, eventually.

But I guess if I had to quote one important role that I think defines his screen persona, itwould be Say Anything. Cameron Crowe's directorial debut starring Cuack, Ione Skye and John Mahoney is the best teen romance I have ever seen. It has an actual plot that isn't about the boy and the girl kissing in the end. In some ways, the Cusack character is only incidental to the movie's main subject, which is about the honesty that exists (or doesn't) between a father and his daughter. But he is the one that gives the movie its soul. Definitely a must-watch in my book.

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