Tag Archives: John Cusack

The new Brian Wilson biopic is tremendous. Kimmel asks kids about gay marriage, hilariously. And Chris Christie (remember him?) savaged by one who knows him well

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There’s a moment toward the middle of the new movie about Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s life when Wilson, played by John Cusack, is begging his new girlfriend Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) to leave his house before “the people” who are now controlling his life get back and find out what’s going on.

“Please go, but don’t leave me,” Wilson pleads. “Please go, but don’t leave me,” he says again, and in his face is one of the most nakedly honest, frightened looks I’ve ever seen on a human. This man, at this point in his life, is desperate for companionship but also desperate not to get caught doing something wrong.

It’s a really powerful scene, and “Love & Mercy” is a really powerful movie. I saw it last weekend after hearing mixed reviews of it, with some people thinking the idea of having Wilson played by two actors (Paul Dano as young, high-flying 1960s tortured genius Brian, and Cusack as 1980s, dazed and confused Brian) was too strange.

And I have to admit, the constant cutting back and forth between the 1960s and Dano, and the 1980s and Cusack, was a little hard to get used to at first. Every time they’d switch to the other Brian, I’d be like “Nooo, stay with that one, I really want to see where this is going” before getting sucked into the next scene and being mad when it was cut away from.

But after a bit you get used to it, and the movie does an outstanding job showing just how innovative Wilson was, with his “Pet Sounds” album and creative struggles with Beach Boy Mike Love, and how difficult life was for him inside his own head.

The two leads are both terrific, and this is the best I’ve seen Elizabeth Banks be; her Melinda is strong and tender. Paul Giamatti is as always fabulous, though I wanted to see much more of his Dr. Eugene Landy character developed; how did he get such a hold on Wilson in the 1980s?

Really, really strong movie. 3 1/2 stars from me. Even if you don’t love the Beach Boys music (and they’re pretty hard to hate), it’s a terrific story about an American icon.

**Next up, Jimmy Kimmel did a really funny skit Monday night, wandering into the streets to find children and then asking them questions about gay marriage, in light of last week’s huge Supreme Court announcement.

All the kids are great, but the girl at 1:30 and the last boy are my favorites, especially his answer on why people shouldn’t get married.

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**Finally, remember Chris Christie? Governor of New Jersey, bit of a weight problem, huge problem of being a bully? Guy who was kind of universally declared by the political media in 2014 as the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016?

Yeah, that guy. Hasn’t been much talk about him at all in recent months, as one scandal after another has engulfed Christie, while he continues to put his nasty, aggressive personality on display as much as possible.

Anyway, despite the same writers who adored him and pumped him up now saying he’s got very little chance (and this time they’re right, Christie’s way too abrasive and has pissed off way too many constituencies to be President, plus he’s much too moderate to survive the GOP “God, Guns, and every pregnancy must result in a baby” primaries), Christie declared on Tuesday that he’s running for President, bringing the total number of Republican candidates to, I believe, 432 (my math may be off.)

Perfectly timed to Christie’s announcement is this fantastic, biting column from an NJ.com writer Tom Moran, who’s been covering Christie for 14 years.

Moran pulls no punches, but instead of just a random hit job, he uses specific examples of Christie, lying through his teeth and showing no shame doing it.

Highly recommend this. Man, these GOP debates are going to be “get your popcorn” TV.

Why I’m so excited for jury duty today. A Dave Matthews fan gets a rare surprise. And this “The Butler” movie looks awesome

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Ninety-nine percent of the U.S. population will disagree with me on this.

But I am so, so damn excited for my first-ever trip to court for jury duty today. Been looking forward to it for weeks. Weeks!

I can just hear you screaming “What?” Americans do everything possible to avoid this fate. They fake illnesses. They concoct wild stories about their workplace. I even once heard about a guy who hid in his house and didn’t answer his phone when he was supposed to show up for jury duty.

But I never understood these people, because my whole life I’ve always wanted the chance to be a juror. First of all, I think it’s a fascinating part of our job as citizens: Every once in a great while, we are asked to help decide the fate, guilty or not guilty, of one of our fellow citizens. That’s a tremendous power to have.

Second, I’ve seen “12 Angry Men” so many times that I can practically give you the movie line by line. Of course I know it doesn’t always work that way in real life, but still, to be in a jury room and get to have a spirited back and forth about a person’s innocence or guilt, with people from wildly different backgrounds and have had wildly different experiences than me? Sounds like a great time.

Finally, I just think it’s a chance to actually get to give something back. We take so much for granted in the country; even when things are terrible, for most of us they’re still pretty good compared to how much of the world lives.

For all that we are given, getting to do your legal duty and be a juror seems a small price to pay.

I’ve been waiting my whole adult life for this. Not sure why I was never called until now; at first I thought it was because I was a journalist, and they know we can never be impartial or have no opinion about a case, I guess.
But nope, even after my career changed and I kept voting here in N.Y., I was still never called.

Finally, though, my day has arrived. I’m ready, baby. I don’t care if it’ll be boring today or tomorrow, I don’t care how long the questioning takes; just give me a shot to be a part of our criminal justice system, and I’m one happy dude.

Yes, I know I’m strange. But I can’t wait to get started.

**I don’t usually get excited about movie preview trailers; in the theater, they’re just an impediment to the reason I bought the ticket, and I usually don’t care if I miss it.

But I saw one in the multiplex the other day for this new Forest Whitaker movie called “The Butler,” based on the real-life White House experiences of an African-American man who served eight Presidents, and I could hardly contain my excitement.
Just look at some of the cast: Jane Fonda. John Cusack (playing Richard Nixon! My mind is spinning contemplating Lloyd Dobler now playing Tricky Dick). Liev Schreiber. Alan Rickman. Terrence Howard. Robin Williams (as Dwight Eisenhower). Oprah. Vanessa Redgrave. Melissa Leo.

I mean, that’s a hell of a cast. And then the trailer, which I’ve watched several times now, has me completely riveted. It’s coming out in about a month; I definitely will be there.

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**Finally today, a sweet celebrity encounter. Seems Dave Matthews was out for a pre-concert bike ride in Hershey, PA last weekend when he got a flat tire, and didn’t have a cell phone with him. (Dave, Dave, Dave, bike-riders of the world tsk tsk)

Fan Emily Knaus was on her way to the show with her boyfriend and stopped to help the stranded biker, not knowing who it was.
Matthews was so grateful for the ride to the show, he gave Emily and her boyfriend seats, and took them to dinner afterwards.

Very cool gesture, Mr. Matthews.