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Adam Truscott Spews A Sprawling Review Of John Cusack’s Unfulfilled Career Ending With “The Numbers Station”

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Screeners. I bloody love them. I remember Phil sending me these beauties… Dragon Storm! Diamonds Of Metro Valley! And of course, Denizen!

Good times. Cutting my teeth. Being a boot boy to Philip. His bitch, basically. Watching terrible, god-awful films. Just so I could write on my favourite web-site. “Stick with it, and I’ll let you write about Dennis Quaid”, he’d say (in a vaguely sinister way). “Ha. You old bastard.”, I’d reply. “You had me at John Carpenter.”

But Screeners are a curse too, you know? You get harangued by the Director on twitter. (Not why I left, by the way. That was because I was harangued by skirt).

You feel pressure. You feel like you have to hound for poster quotes. But Live For Films has always been about a bit more than that for me. Like really long sentences. And the naked dancers Philip gets in for us on a Friday. So I can’t sit here and say I loved Painting By Numbers (Titled changed to Number Station. Unneccessary in my opinion). Although I can say I liked it. Or at least, bits of it.

But lets start where we left off.

In a Hot Tub Time Machine with a bevvy of beauties.

Back in the 80’s where everything is cool, and OK again. No racism. Pre bad AIDs, or the HIV. It was a more innocent time. A time when John Cusack could do no wrong. He’d starred in Top Gun with Tom Cruise, and followed that up with an Oscar Winning Turn as a black NFL player, in the underrated Jerry Maguire. Then… And I could go on. Except none of it is real. Cusack never went on to have a career anything like what I would have had him do. *Yes* he’s been in some of my favourite films. Grosse Pointe Blank is a seminal film for me. High Fidelity, smashing the shit out of the fourth wall, is an underrated gem. Grifters is sexy as you like. And Con Air, on account of its ludicrousness, is a minor masterpiece. Shit. I even liked Raven. But sometimes, with some people, that will never be enough. He’s not made a decent film since 2000, for me. There’s been no Cameron Crowe revival. No star turn in Rodriguez’s Sin City movies. No Tarantino western.

There’s seriously not many films where I don’t think: “John Cusack would’ve done a better job in this. Shit. Whatever happened to John Cusack? What an odd career he’s had. Great hair, mind. Great. Hair.”

Number Station is a different beast, though. It’s one of those frustrating films that has a good premise – that then gets bungled as the film plays out in a single environment with very little light. And you see its ending a mile off. The score is standard, and although there’s plenty of shooting, you never feel any “oomph”. Certainly not the oomph I’ve been promised with Dead Man Down. Which, however tardy it looks, at least got a cinema release. Jesus. When did I become such a snob?

Oh, John. You beautiful bastard. Remember when you used to stand with your boombox and play me songs that made us long to be in each others arms? You in your mac, and me in my Go West vest. God. Those were innocent times. Better times.

It’s worth mentioning Cusack shoots several people in the face, and Malin Ackerman still makes me feel kind of funny. But that’s it. It’s not enough. Malin Ackerman doesn’t even sing! It’s like she’s learnt nothing from Rock Of Ages. Nothing. And don’t worry. I’m consistent. If Farrell is sleep walking through Dead Man Down, I’ll call him for it. Even if the end shoot out promises more blood and bang for my buck than Cusack can muster here.

Oh, John. Remember the 1-2 of Grosse Pointe and Con Air? You were untouchable. We’d meet up on the wing of an abandoned F-14 and reminisce of how you (probably) turned Top Gun down. Because you wouldn’t want to ruin your perfect hair with a helmet. And I understood. I. Understood.

So what bothered me? What encouraged a ramble of Cusack’s career, rather doing what I originally planned? Which, for those still awake, or staring in disbelief that Phil lets me write this shit, was to review the film in code. A number code. Here’s an excerpt;

“133454485 5 587587 58758 785 8558758 5858129 9 99 797 99 67 6868 68 67 57 5”

Roughly translated as: John. Dear John. Remember how we used to grease our hair up and dance to Solsbury Hill, hoping Crowe would call you for the lead in Vanilla Sky? Ha. Oh how we danced. And then partied in the hot tub. But not in a gay way.

Also, any film that has an Irish sidekick and doesn’t cast Brendan Gleeson is onto a hiding for nothing. It’s just poor form. It’s not like he’s busy.

Secondly, Ethan Hawke was cast and dropped out.

That means John Cusack is starring in Ethan Hawke’s sloppy seconds. And that’s just not cricket, man. This is John Cusack. He was in that film about being in John Malkovich’s head. Now? People are debating on iMDB whether Tony Shaloub would’ve been better in the lead. I had to iMDB who the fuck Tony Schaloub was. Whats the world coming too?

There’s a third thing, now I think about it. The underrated Safe House did this better two years ago.

John Cusack is starring in Ryan Reynolds sloppy seconds, too. A new low.

So you gather my anger. You can see I love Cusack, and am just a bit flat by where he finds himself. That said, I liked Raven, so…

I’m going to watch Top Gun. I’ll dream of John Cusack being wingman to Peter Gabriel in the final dog fight.

Oh, wait…

I’ve just remembered he was in Thin Red Line, too.

For. Fucks. Sake.

Being serious for a second… The Numbers Station is out in the US, now. It doesn’t seem to have a UK release date, yet. Hopefully that has nothing to do with my review. I want you to see it. So Cusack can go to Paramount with a big fat stogie and say, “You know what I’m thinking? Grosse Pointe Blanker”.


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