Tag Archives: John Cusack

The Set of 400: #144 – My Favorite Surprise Poultry

Today! Because guilt is petit-bourgeois crap. An artist creates his own moral universe –

Bullets Over Broadway (1994)

Directed by Woody Allen (x7)

Starring John Cusack (x3), Dianne Wiest (x3), Chazz Palminteri (x2), Jennifer Tilly (x2), Mary-Louise Parker (x2), Rob Reiner (x2), Tracey Ullman (x2), Jim Broadbent (x3), Jack Warden (x2), Joe Viterelli, Harvey Fierstein (x2), Edie Falco, Debi Mazar, Tony Sirico, John Ventimiglia, Tony Darrow

If you were to take the entire Set of 400 up to this point, feed it into a computer, and have that parse out all the elements that might make up the perfect film geared toward this guy, it may well spit out Bullets Over Broadway. It’s the seventh Woody Allen movie on the list, it’s from a year I proclaim to love more than almost any other in cinema history: 1994, it’s a movie about a play, it’s a movie about gangsters, it’s a movie about writers, it features a ton of future Sopranos actors, it was nominated for and won a slew of awards – Bullets Over Broadway kinda has everything for me.

Ah, theater!

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The Set of 400: #248 – My Favorite Jewel Thief

Today! Because nobody’s looking for a puppeteer in today’s wintry economic climate –

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Directed by Spike Jonze

Starring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener (x2), John Malkovich (x2), Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place, Charlie Sheen (x2), Willie Garson (x5), W. Earl Brown (x2), Octavia Spencer (x2)

Featuring the greatest single performance where someone is credited playing himself, Being John Malkovich’s crazy premise could’ve easily overwhelmed the movie. Seriously, it feels like this film was one casting misstep away from Being Charlie Sheen, and who knows how it would’ve played out. Hey, maybe great – maybe that’s all Sheen would’ve needed to re-jumpstart the film career, never do Two and a Half Men, never have catastrophic public meltdowns, and would now be regarded as one of the pillars of the acting community. Instead, he starred in a sitcom on FX for a few years and lost his damn mind. This is all speculation about what could’ve been, of course.

Instead…

By all indications, it was Being John Malkovich the whole way across, and we are better for it as a people. Wildly creative, and surprisingly touching, this movie bends reality to the near breaking point while still grounding it in a believable-ish reality. Finding a door that leads into another person’s head! And making the decision that not only is it a famous actor’s head, but have them gamely play themselves and in such extraordinary fashion as to blur this 4th wall (5th wall?) and create something so indelibly new and unpredictable. Continue reading

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