"High Fidelity" is a Chart Topping hit!

High Fidelity

After watching the previously reviewed "Say Anything" you must follow that up with the 2000 film "High Fidelity".  Another John Cusack classic that's heavy on great music.  It's next to impossible not to like this movie.  It was directed by Stephen Frears and based on the book by Nick Hornby.  It co-stars Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Lili Taylor among others.

Cusack plays regular guy Rob Gordon who owns a record store called Championship Vinyl were he works with the crazy off the wall Barry, obviously played by Jack Black.  Barry is obnoxious and rude to customers but has a deep love for music and his friends.  Then there is the quiet and meek Dick, who looks like a cross between Michael Stipe and Moby.  It doesn't seem that Rob has changed much over the years and things are sort of at an impasse.  He is having one of those "What does it all mean?" things.

The story is structured as a sort of mix tape of romantic misery.  Rob talks directly into the camera and counts down his top 5 break ups of all time all while currently in the middle of another one.  His apartment is wall to wall records where he sits and wallows among the stacks upon stacks of vinyl.  He admits to being cursed in love and is determined to find out why.  "My guts have shit for brains".

His current soon to be ex-girlfriend Laura says she has outgrown him and moves out. Later we find out that she has shacked up with there upstairs neighbor Ian (Robbins), a new age hipster douche bag.  Rob is full of typical male insecurities and when problems come his way he is usually reluctant to do anything about it, but now he is determined to track down the top 5 women who broke his heart and find out what really happen and if he really is cursed.  He has the support of his sister Liz, who is John Cusack's real life sister Joan.  We also get some more top 5 lists and a short lived fling with a beautiful musician played by Lisa Bonet.  Rob regains his self confidence and realizes that he wants Laura back, but is it too late. This calls for the ultimate mix tape.  Their is a real honesty and truth to Rob's character and it shows on screen.  Its a fun movie to watch so don't let the words romantic comedy get in the way.

In the spirit of Rob here are my Top 5 movies starring John Cusack
1. Say Anything
2. High Fidelity.
3. Being John Malkovich
4. 1408
5. Identity

You Can "Say Anything" But see this Classic Movie!

Say Anything

This classic 80s teen romance was the debut feature from Cameron Crowe who also wrote the script.  It stars John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler, a vision of what was going to hit Seattle in the early 90s, a sort of pre-grunge era.  Dobler's classic trench coat and laid back attitude sets the tone for this story of surprising honesty and originality.  Ione Skye co-stars as Diane Court, the school valedictorian and Lloyd's object of affection.  Lili Taylor and John Mahoney also give memorable supporting performance.

Its graduation day for Lloyd and he has no set plans for his future except for maybe kickboxing.  He is the ultimate underachiever who lives with his sister and nephew, his friends are mostly female, most notably the guitar playing Corey (Taylor). Conversely Diane lives with her dad and has won a prestigious fellowship to study in England in the fall.  She's had little time if any to socialize with her classmates and has few relationships beyond her father (Mahoney) who runs the nursing home where she works.  Lloyd decides to call Diane after seeing her at graduation and talks to her father, he takes a message and adds it to the pile.  She calls him back and she agrees to go out with him to a graduation party.  Lloyd is a mixed bag of nervous excitement when he picks her up.  They seem to be the perfect opposites attract couple.  Lloyd is a complex character as he is smart and sympathetic, but also impulsive and directionless.  He lives for the now with no regard for the future.  They have a great time at the party, Diane finally gets to let go and have some fun and feel accepted with people her own age.

Diane only has the summer to be with Lloyd before she leaves for England and must decide if Lloyd is worth risking her future for.  Her father is obviously opposed to their relationship.  Exactly how strong is their love anyway? Another interesting little distraction comes into play when the IRS come knocking and ask to see the books for nursing home.  Diane's father has always done everything he could to support his daughter even it meant breaking the law.  She is put in a tough position as she is finally told the truth about her father.  

Going against everthing she feels and looking towards the future Diane takes her fathers advice and breaks up with Lloyd.  She gives him a pen wanting him to write to her.  Lloyd will not let her go that easily as he puts his heart on the line to get her back, with one of the most iconic scenes in teen movie history.  Across the street from her bedroom window he hoists his boom box over is head and blasts their song Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes".  Of course this would only work in an 80s movie.  After she learns the truth about her father she seeks out Lloyd at the gym and they get back together.  Lloyd is going with Diane to England and will do what he does best, to support her and be their for her in what ever she does.

When it comes to Rachael Leigh Cook "She's All That"

She's All That

While the previously reviewed "Easy A" is a great example of the classic teen comedy done right, the 1999 film "She's All That" is quite the opposite.  This movie has been mocked and parodied to death, but is it really that bad?  Rachael Leigh Cook is the only reason to see this movie and she does her best with the material given. The rest of the cast is stocked with the late 90's version of the Brat Pack: Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Anna Paquin, a young Paul Walker not to mention others.

The story is packed to rafters with cliché piled on top of cliché.  Cook plays Laney Boggs, a "nerdy" artist type.  Her clothes are splattered with paint, her hair always in a ponytail not to mention she wears glasses, by the rules of high school movies she is a hideous freak.  We then arrive at the jump off point to our familiar story.  Prinze plays Zack Siler (not to be confused with Stewie's Family Guy Parody Zack Sawyer) the jock and hottest, richest guy in school.  His equally rich bitch of a girlfriend has just dumped him right before the prom, dude bogus!  He was dumped for a conceited douche bag (played by Matthew Lillard) who's claim to fame was being on the MTV's "The Real World".  On the rebound and looking to change things up a bit Zack and his friends make a bet the he can turn any girl into the prom queen .  Right on queue the messy and clumsy Laney stumbles on by. Little does he know that through Laney he'll learn more about himself and loving another person than he ever though he could. (silent giggle).

First of all Laney is obviously the hottest girl in school even in her "ugly" phase.  She's smart, expressive, and a strong independent girl.  Smelling his bullshit a mile away Laney keeps her distance but he is very persistent.  She eventually gives him a chance and they start to bond.  Before going to their first big party as a couple, Zack's sister Mackenzie (Anna Paquin) comes over to make Laney "pretty".  This consists of taking off her glasses, cutting her hair and putting some make-up on leading up to the grand staircase entrance/reveal.  The party turns out to be a disaster and leaves Laney feeling more alone than ever.  Zack is also still harboring some strong feeling for his old girlfriend Taylor.  Then Laney becomes aware of the contest she kicks his ass to the curb.  Coincidentally Taylor also becomes available and wants Zack back bigtime.  Does he go back to his old cheating girlfriend or try to repair things with Laney?  Not so fast Zack, in the mean time his best friend Dean (Paul Walker) has eyes on Laney and she uses him to make Zack jealous.  But like all teen movies everything comes to head at the prom, where for some reason there is a big choreographed dance number and everyone is a professionally trained dancer.

Teen movies follow a pretty strict formula and very rarely do anything original or daring. "She's all That" is a used text book example, but as I said in the beginning Rachael Leigh is pretty awesome in this.  She really is all that.  So if your lookin' for some cheesy romantic 90s nostalgia this is quite the goldmine.

"Easy A" is Essential Teen Comedy Viewing

Easy A

"Easy A" was the surprise sleeper hit in the fall of 2010 and propelled the funny and charismatic Emma Stone to Hollywood stardom.  This movie was surprising because its not the 1980s or late 90s for that matter and the chances of a teen comedy being successful, funny, and profitable all at once is pretty rare.  But every generation needs its "Breakfast Club, American Pie, etc.  A movie that portrays the modern teenage experience.  A film that is honest and relatable without being cheesy or pandering.  "Easy A" is all of these and will take its place in the hall of fame of great teen comedies.

Emma Stone plays Olive Pendergast, a sort of revamped Molly Ringwald for today's generation.  The film knows its place in teen movie history and its crush on the 80s is very apparent with numerous reference all the way to the big ending.  This is not a bad thing but a wonderful homage to the memorable films that preceded it.  The story as a whole also plays like a modern retelling of "The Scarlet Letter" with Olive being Hester Prynne "Except without Demi Moore and all those bubble baths"

It started with a lie.  To get her best friend off her back about losing her virginity Olive says she slept with an older guy.  In literally a few hours the whole school knows and now the once clean cut Olive is the newly minted school slut.  Lies and rumors are the foundation of any high school society and now Olive has to figure out her next move with the help of her closeted gay friend Brandon played by Dan Byrd.  Brandon feels frustrated and depressed for not being able to be who he really is so they make a deal.  Olive pretends to sleep with him at a party so everyone will think he is straight, just until he gets through high school.  She then plans to give the people what they want and become the biggest phony slut she can be.  Word of the deal leaks out and guys start approaching her wanting the same deal.  They offer her money (she prefers gift cards) just to be able to say they did things with her.  She even starts to dress the part complete with a red "A" or scarlet letter.  This eventually becomes a problem and things get a little to real and she must try to put a stop to it.  She plans a to tell the whole story in a web cast that is played sporadically throughout the film.  This also plays havoc with her own crush on Woodchuck Todd, the school mascot and a long time friend that she has feelings for.

Emma Stone is not alone as the supporting cast is phenomenal.  Her cool and progressive parents are Thomas Hayden Church is Mr. Griffith a no nonsense teacher that is looking out for Olive and concerned about her recent changes.  Lisa Kudrow has a small but essential part as the school guidance counselor, who also happens to be married Mr. Griffith.  Before losing her mind and wondering off to crazy town Amanda Bynes plays a Christian Jesus freak named Marianne, Olive's arch enemy.
played by Patricia Clarkson and Stanly Tucci, who are normally seen in dramatic roles so it was quite the refreshing change.  Its also refreshing that their characters are portrayed as real people and not the clichéd movie parents that just don't understand.   

The script is clever, sharp and witty throughout.  Its satirical, heartfelt and just a heck of a lot of fun.  Now that I've run out of adjectives to describe this little piece of awesomeness it's time to "bucket list this bitch".

The Rockport Reviews Top 5 Films of 2014

The Rockport Reviews Top 5 Films of 2014

It was an interesting year in movies, a lot of good movies, but very few great ones.  There is still a handful I have yet to see so the list could possibly change.  So with out anymore needless blabbering here's this years list.

The Top 5 (in no particular order)
Only Lovers Left Alive

Honorable Mentions
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Under the Skin, Blue Ruin, & The Immigrant 

Best Horror Movie
Oculus - Not so fast Babadook

Best Documentary
Life Itself - The incredible life story of the late Roger Ebert

Best Actor
Jake Gyllenhaal (Enemy & Nightcrawler)

Best Actress
Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Snowpiercer)

Most Audacious Taboo Crushing Gross out film of the Year

Wetlands - Bodily fluids abound