Films featuring
John Cusack

1408

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1408 seems to prove the existing axiom that, when adapting Stephen King to the screen, restraint trumps excess almost every time. The best adaptations of the author’s work, The Dead Zone, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption, eschew raw grand guignol gore for the rich characterizations that exemplify King’s best writing. Ninety-percent of the disposable films bearing his name are guilty of the same crime, namely tossing overboard the elements that raise even mediocre King stories above the genre’s normally low standards.

1408

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The Thin Red Line

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Terrence Malick’s first film as director in twenty years assembles various pieces of a great film into a mediocre one. The Thin Red Line is a meandering, obtuse rumination on the dehumanizing effects of war and will test the patience of even the most indulgent filmgoer. It runs close to three hours but probably only contains about two hours of story worth telling and not all of that feels like it comes from the same story.

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The Ice Harvest

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Modern film noir isn’t the easiest style to successfully bring off, at least not without appearing overly cute or self-conscious about it. This blood-soaked mix of dark humor and double cross manages to navigate that minefield without making the audience look at their watches until the end credits roll.

The last film to so adroitly combine noir elements, ironic humor and a byzantine plot was Wild Things and The Ice Harvest is good deal less trashy and more sophisticated than that potboiler.

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Runaway Jury

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Be forewarned, while I normally avoid giving out plot spoilers in my reviews, I feel like it’s necessary this time to fully get my opinion across.

Runaway Jury is probably one of the more morally bankrupt mainstream movies I’ve seen. It stacks the deck completely in favor of one side in order to justify the deplorable actions of the film’s hero, which amount to no less than subverting the justice system to suit his own agenda. The fact that he is, in effect, giving the film’s villain a taste of his own medicine is completely irrelevant when our protagonist is also sinking to the same level or lower.

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