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In 1990, Stephen Frears and John Cusack teamed up on a wonderful little film called THE GRIFTERS. Critics and cinephiles generally loved the film, and coming on the heels of Frears’ DANGEROUS LIAISONS... it was looking like Stephen was going to be brilliant for many years, but wasn’t. I enjoy the HERO, but not very much. MARY REILLY just... wasn’t working for me. THE HI-LO COUNTRY? Blah. It’s been 10 years since Stephen Frears kicked my ass.

Tonight, my ass was kicked hard.

I woke up early this SXSW Friday morning. The night before I’d been out partying with various members of the AICN gang, specifically a large selection of the AICN GAL PALS and the Dude. This was a film vacation night. Smack dab in the middle of the festival, surrounded by films that we had heard low buzz on, a bit hazy eyed from the low-light world of a theater... Our mouths nearly trapped in the Lock Jaw world of theater induced silence... We decided to cut loose at a local bar/club where Aaron Neville was... Well, being a Neville. I was slinging back 32 oz glasses of Crown and Coke and slurring my speech till 5a.m.... so when I awoke at 10a.m. You better believe I was bright eyed and bushy-tailed.

I started off this day seeing a wretched pile of cinematic dung sans the life of buzzing flies. My back began spasming as I left this showing of this unmentionable heap. I felt listless. Back hurting from terrible Wichita Falls hotel bed, Dad’s neck was assaulted by the Hampton Inn pillow of death. The past 23 days of traveling... the bad back, terrible film and just general exhaustion was beginning to wear me down to a dull point.

As I leaned up against the side of this building next to the PARAMOUNT THEATER, I tried to pop my back, to work out this knot. It began spasming. I could feel the pain jutting through me. A slight gallow’s grimace crossing my face. I am in a very non-personable mood. I really wanted to be at home, in a hot tub, trying to relax the tension that this frigging Tingler had on my frafinugin spine.

Finally, the theater begins to fill in, and I move instantly to my fourth row center seat, snap between the incomparable Claire Standish and the wet minx, Annette Kellerman. In front of me was Tom Joad and behind me was Peter Blood or Flesh Gordon... I can’t recall.

The audience is all a buzz that John Cusack, Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack were there and set to take the stage. And to an indie crowd... thems gods you’re a talking about.

Me? I have my eyes shut, head tilted back, trying to make the screaming pain in my back go away. Annette is trying to massage the knot out, but truth be told, this is the sort of back knot that only a geisha walking upon your back for 17 days can alleviate. Though I appreciate her effort.

Claire tries to soothe me with angelic vocal tidings. But I hurt. Bad.

Charlie, of SXSW and THE SHOW WITH NO NAME fame, steps before the packed 1200+ theater, and does a quick, ‘what a pleasure it is to bring you this film early’ bit and steps from in front of the crowd to some sideline curtains.

People begin to say, “What... no Cusack?”

And then the film begins. Suddenly there was no ‘star-fucking’ desire in the audience. Sure, it’s wonderful to see Garofalo and Jerry Stiller take the stage... but ultimately movies like THE INDEPENDENT and to an even higher degree, HIGH FIDELITY, don’t need it.

HIGH FIDELITY is just wonderful. First there are only two people in the world that could play the lead here. John Cusack and Matthew Broderick... and currently, coming off of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, Cusack is the most right choice. However, had this film remained set in the U.K. it would have been interesting to see who would have filled the various pop stylings of ‘Rob Gordon’. However, I have to say that I can not imagine anyone ever making a better film out of HIGH FIDELITY.

Stephen Frears and John Cusack really pulled the Lou and Babe, 1 & 2 HR. From the writing team of GROSSE POINT BLANK.... comes a film that, for me, had a throbbing pulse that, while not healing my back, made me forget about the knot for a couple of hours.

Did you ever see FREE ENTERPRISE? It was a fun little film that tried way too hard to be cool regarding a geekish lifestyle. It kept trying to force things, make them fit. It tried to hunk everything out. It tried as hard as it could to be this movie to the film geek audience, but ultimately blew it.

HIGH FIDELITY is dead on for the late twenties to mid thirties, music geek lifestyle romantic comedy type a thing.

For about 70% of my life I sold movie, comics, animation and rock-n-roll memorabilia at expositions, and I just have to say that they so completely nailed the snootery that is prevalent between those that sell and those that buy.

The character that Jack Black portrays is downright genius. I remember people coming in asking for Aquaman comics, me pulling out a box that has the entire run through till about 1976, and then them asking for that ‘fishing lure’ version of Aquaman with that damn whaling thing as an arm. Piece of crap. Or folks talking about a smart Hulk with split personalities “grey/green/banner” and me pulling out a shitload of TALES TO ASTONISH when The Hulk ruled.

There is a certain degree of snobbery that comes in. I’d always listen to their side, but then I’d sit them down, and begin taking them through the history of the character. Teach them the meaning of the phrase, “HULK SMASH” and let them be awakened to a newer more colorful universe of Jack Kirby.

Jack Black’s character at one point in the film is getting a guy hooked on the fact that he simply must own this group of albums to be cool. Walking his purchase up... the first golden rule of a great collectibles salesman. You also must entertain and be able to be an encyclopedia.

Now this is just a minor note of the film, as the film belongs heart and soul to John Cusack and his history of failed relationships, the styles and times of each relationship and folks.... this film delivers supremely. Go check it out. It’s a great Frears/Cusack film.

Readers Talkback
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  • March 20, 2000, 2:39 p.m. CST

    Please let this be Cusack's comeback

    by darthpsychotic

    Hey Now!!

  • March 20, 2000, 2:43 p.m. CST

    I'm #1!!

    by qbert

    good review harry

  • March 20, 2000, 2:47 p.m. CST

    what do u mean comeback?

    by mstryoda

    where did he go? i still think everyone of his movies rules. He is one of the only actors i can watch anything that he puts out and love it.

  • March 20, 2000, 2:48 p.m. CST

    That's Better

    by Kraven

    Sorry to hear about your back, big fella, but thanks for the review. I read the novel a couple of years ago, and I was worried about moving it from North London (where I was born!) to Chicago, but from the three reviews I've read so far (including Variety's) it looks like I needn't have worried. Can't wait, and I'll bet it's got a killer ST, too. I can look forward to Hornby's next movie adaptation, the howlingly funny About A Boy.

  • March 20, 2000, 2:48 p.m. CST

    My favorite Cusack film...

    by darthpsychotic

    is located right here: **Hey Now!!**

  • March 20, 2000, 2:59 p.m. CST


    by mrbeaks

    Didn't like THE HI-LO COUNTRY? I thought it was one of the best films of '98. Love that Walon Green script.

  • March 20, 2000, 3:04 p.m. CST

    Don't knock Free Enterprise!!!

    by Doughboy

    It was one the most underrated and underappreciated films of 1999(or was it 1998?). And no, I'm not just saying this because of the William Shatner rap number at the end, although that scene was classic. It's the perfect fanboy picture. There are so many pop culture and movie references, you probably have to see it 10 times just to hear them all. Plus it's got one of the best DVDs I've ever seen. If you haven't seen this movie yet, go rent it right now! And when you're done watching it, come back and flame Harry for calling it a failure.

  • March 20, 2000, 3:10 p.m. CST

    I feel like it's 1986 again!!!!!

    by kindablue28

    So the Gen-Xers are finally growing up. All that coffee we drank is giving us ulcers. All that loafing we did has made us fat. Our smokers coughs are finally becoming productive (not a good thing). And we presently are forced to sit back and watch this latest generation of Techno-Punks destroy themselves through drugs and violence. We were way too lazy to get violent. We would just drink coffee and complain, WHICH WAS AWSOME!!! Just when it seemed like those days of milk and honey had past, some of our favorite John Hughes heros have returned!! I can't tell you how excited I am about this film. It's like we get a new window into the lives of the freshmen in 16 Candles. And is it just me, or does that Record Store look just like the one used in Pretty In Pink? And it's got that grainy Say Anything look as well. I know this isn't a John Hughes film, but I can't help but believe that this takes place in the same universe as. AND I LIKE IT! Didn't you ever wonder what happened to John Bender,or Brian Johnson or at least the people of their generation? We know that they went to college, got degrees in Ancient Eastern Philosophy (or some other useless major). Simple Minds were replaced by Pearl Jam. Coca Cola was replaced by Starbucks and chain-smoking. Now a new decade has turned, and it's time to check back on our little experiment with the generation of slack. The ensemble cast looks excellent! Hell, even Lisa Bonet is back. I used to have the biggest crush on her when I was in the 9th grade. He still looks FINE. And I've been waiting so long for John and Joan to reprise the types of roles that put them on the map; "16 Candles, Say Anything, Better Off Dead, etc."

  • March 20, 2000, 3:26 p.m. CST


    by Pips Orcille

    Well Harry, you like everyone else have the right to an opinion, but hmmm... "Hero"? Geez, that script was so derivative of practically everything in the book of movies. I mean, there is no one, I mean, NO ONE interesting in the film. I mean, no one is really well drawn. Chevy Chase's appearance. Well, I'm glad that he actually takes a less comic role in "Hero", showing there is life after SNL, National Lampoon, Caddyshack, and even Man of the House (which he should have never starred in the first place). However, Chase seemed to have been in the film for just no purpose. He doesn't say anything interesting nor does he actually become a character. Stephen Frears probably chose Chase thinking, "Wow. I got to cast Chevy Chase... He's funny", rather than thinking, "Chase is essential for bringing the Geena Davis character's boss to life, because..." Dustin Hoffman? As in Hook, he's trying to make an impression, not a character. Personally, I got really sick and tired of hearing these people in "Hero" dissing the Bernie Laplante character, not because I didn't want them to, but because they don't explain in concrete detail why. Instead, there's just one-dimensional stereotypes, brief sayings that Bernie should shut the hell up and improve on himself. Yes, he's a loser and an unlikely hero, but at least people could have just explained why they hate him, IN DETAIL. The point is, "Hero" is an ANNOYING film. Everyone is a stereotype.

  • March 20, 2000, 3:33 p.m. CST


    by Pips Orcille

    I should have put, everyone is a stereotype in "Hero". By the way Harry, have you seen The Van and/or The Snapper? Those were also films by Stephen Frears (although British, but still films by Frears), although I don't know why you didn't mention them.

  • March 20, 2000, 3:51 p.m. CST

    The Liquorice Comfits...

    by cabiria

    Man alive, this was an incredible book. I really hope that the film does it justice. JC is perfect for the role of Rob, although I too was worried about the London/Chicago switcheroo. I think it will work here, not like the tragedy in the making that is Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones. Why, why, WHY? Also, has anyone seen Fever Pitch, the brit film based on Hornby's 1st book? It was never released here, and I wanted to see that as well...

  • March 20, 2000, 3:53 p.m. CST

    Free Enterprise was

    by Arfalax

    a nice little movie that I feel deserves a bigger audience. Some of the dialogue felt forced at times but the movie overall was a delight. If you haven't seen Free Enterprise, get to your movie rental pod and check it out.

  • March 20, 2000, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Damn Straight!!

    by Lizzybeth

    Harry doesn't remember this I'm sure, but back when there was an AICN chat I recall chatting with him about John Cusack.. People were saying that he always plays the same character, but anyone who says that hasn't seen The Grifters, as I mentioned. Sure, he always ends up with either low-key parts that are overshadowed by the big showy players or central parts that hinge on charm.. but he always carries it off, and makes it look so effortless that you don't even notice how damn good he is. Hey, why isn't there a chat anymore? I used to be Karma, if anyone cares. Anyway, I am quite pleased to read this extremely positive review! I loved the book, I enjoy everything John Cusack is in if only for the small part that he is in it, but was nonetheless worried about this adaption.. Color me excited! I'll be the first one in the theaters when it gets here..

  • March 20, 2000, 4:17 p.m. CST

    by Ichabod

    Anyway if you want to check out some coolness people. Us Scottish from across the pond have our own version of Hollywood. At the website you will find scenes from famous movies that are taken the complete piss out off. Please visit the site you will knock your socks off laughing. Among the sketches are a great "Alien" take off. And a priceless "American Pie" re-hash. This site will make history. Incidently, "Fidelity" will be crap. It should be set in its native Britain. Where it belongs... Protect your minds, Protect your hearts.

  • March 20, 2000, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Saw it Thursday night--very good

    by MattHat121

    I caught it at a press-junket screening Thurs. night. And, no, I'm not in the press (not really, anyway, I write reviews for the campus newspaper...does that count?). Its definitely one of the best of the far. Its smart, funny, and completely engaging. It's almost hard to call this a romantic-comedy. I mean, sure, its about a guy's trouble with finding the perfect woman, but it didn't play out like any romantic comedy I've seen. It's way too original. What really surprised me was Cusack's performance, which was dead on, all the time. With all the close-ups and speeches directly into the camera, he really had to carry this movie on his shoulders. And he did. Jack Black's career is going to explode after people see this performance. I remember him being in some comedy music duo called "Tenacious D." I saw them a couple times on HBO's "Mr. Show." But I never realized he was this funny.He steals every scene he's in. I also liked all the pop-culture references, which didn't feel cheesy like they did in the "Scream" series. In "High Fidelity" they serve a purpose. It's like Cusack's character says: "Do l listen to pop music because I'm depressed, or am I depressed because I listen to pop music?" It's a very enjoyable movie to watch and I can't see anyone not liking it. Unless, of course, they hate music.

  • March 20, 2000, 5 p.m. CST

    Only actors, pah!

    by Al The Brit

    At the risk of people thinking every time I post it's to say that everything British is good and everything American is crap..... I hate the idea of this movie being set in America. Nick Hornby is probably the best novellist at chronicaling what it is to be a thirty-something Brit, so why does this movie set the story in America. I haven't seen the movie obviously, but I don't see how it could possibly work without some major, major changes, so what's the point. As to the idea that, as Harry puts it, John Cusack and Matthew Broderick are the only actors who could possibly play this part, sorry but I can't see either of them being this particular character. I can't actually think of an American actor who would be right for it. Most horrific of all was the post saying that this was like a John Hughes film. That thought terrifies me. You Americans might have thought John Hughes in some way talented, but sorry, his films sucked big-time, they were horribly sentimental and full of stereotypes who talked in speeches, absolutely the dead opposite of a Nick Hornby book. I will see this movie when it is released over here, and if it is good I will apologise profusely, but I don't think you need hold your collective breaths. Incidentally, to the guy who asked about the Fever Pitch movie. It was okay, though could have been a lot better. Obviously the book was unfilmable in its original form (being basically one bloke's thoughts about football), so it was turned into a kind of menage-a-trois romance story, a boy, a girl and a football team. Taken on its own merits it was enjoyable, but as a momento of the book it was a bit disappointing. Colin Firth was also pretty much miscast in the lead (if you've ever seen Nick Hornby, he's short, skinny and bald).

  • March 20, 2000, 5:20 p.m. CST

    That was probably...

    by Mirrors and Jack

    ...the worst review i have ever read. Is it just me, or is the "review" part of the review missing?

  • March 20, 2000, 5:27 p.m. CST

    I don't like the previews....

    by monkeylucifer

    I read High Fidelity about a year or so ago, and I really enjoyed it, however...The previews look to "jokey", I guess, and that wasn't the tone the book had. I hope that this is just a case of the trailer being tweaked to look like a romantic comedy, which the book really isn't. It's more than that, and I hope the film captures that aspect of the book, which is more about finding out what you want in life, and realizing that you really don't have any idea....and that's okay. At least, that's what I got out of it....the ending was a cop-out though...Oh, and Harry, your starting to meander way more than usual. What started out as a review ended up a tirade against the state of comics today??? Chill out dude, the comic industry sucks now, get over it.

  • March 20, 2000, 5:27 p.m. CST

    Music Geek Lifestyle

    by reni

    High Fidelity looks really good for a U.S. copy, but read the book 'cos that came first kids...

  • March 20, 2000, 5:36 p.m. CST

    Jack Black

    by Tom Lee

    If he's in this movie, be forewarned: avoid it if you don't want your asses blown out. Normally, I would have almost zero interest in this movie in a pre-HBO setting... but with JB in a strong supporting role, I'm there. My question is, where's the Tenacious D movie?

  • March 20, 2000, 6:30 p.m. CST

    80's ????

    by Al The Brit

    One more thing (spotted since my last post). What is all this 80's thing you guys keep on about. High Fidelity was written in 1995 and it had a contemporary setting. It is not set in the 80's. Please don't tell me that as well as changing the country they've decided to turn it into a Wedding Singer copycat, I don't think I could stand it. Incidentally, I am actually not being xenophobic when I object to the change of setting. You do realise that this is an insult to American intelligence, don't you? The only possible reason for changing the setting is that the studios a. Do not think Americans are intelligent enough to have read the book and b. Do not think Americans have the intelligence to go see a movie which isn't set in America, or at least have a big name American actor in one of the lead roles.

  • March 20, 2000, 6:46 p.m. CST


    by Jacob Corbin

    --which is, that he invariably prefers stuff that's "cool" to stuff that's actually *good*. A cheesily-done monster movie or lame-ass '60's Hulk comic is, in his opinion, equivalent to something with actual production values or a redeeming message.

  • March 20, 2000, 7:15 p.m. CST

    So basically you're saying that this makes up for the horror tha

    by Sabrina

    Thank God -- although I loved his nebbish in "Malkovich," Cusack was due for another credible leading man role. I was beginning to worry...

  • March 20, 2000, 8:53 p.m. CST

    whoever did the female casting was high

    by filmuprising

    Iben whatever her name was (Laura) sucked. There are no words to describe how bad she was in this film. From the beginning the audience hates her, despite anything that Cusack's character does. She is completely unsympathetic and wrong for the part. In an otherwise hilarious movie, the casting people really took too much of a leap of faith with her. All of the funniest scenes are ones without her. Lisa Bonet was horrible as well. Lily Taylor's cameo was wasted, although it was fun to see 3 of the SAY ANYTHING kids back together again. Joan was fabulous, as was Jack Black. The movie would have been extraordinary with a better female lead, prompting me to ask, who did Iben sleep with to get the part?

  • March 20, 2000, 9:13 p.m. CST

    Hey, Al The Brit...

    by kindablue28

    I wouldn't expect you to understand American's (and especially my generation's) fascination with John Hughes movies. I don't mean that as a jab. What I mean, is that his films were perfect little morsels of pure AMERICANA. You would have to be a white, suburbanite child of the eighties (not like that's the most admirable thing to be), to even begin to appreciate them. Of course Hughes was no Orson Wells. And you're right, they were completely sentimental, raught with long, self-indulgent monologues, completely dated, and I love every minute of it. I can guarantee you that some people in here who are in their mid-twenties, had fantasies about taking over their school on a Saturday detention, or creating a beautiful woman in their bedroom. Hughes is as American as a filmaker gets. Citizen Cane no, Americana yes. Although I must say that I'm so impressed by Sam Mendes' ability to capture that feeling having never been a part of it. So maybe you Brits can relate... So what movie are we discussing here?

  • March 20, 2000, 9:24 p.m. CST

    Harry, shut the fuck up!

    by Toe Jam

    Goddamnit, I am so sick of Harry's endless drivel about all his fucking geek buddies and his way-too-explicit accounts of all the stupid shit that happens to him on this or that day. It's like he really thinks that people enjoy reading that shit! I clicked on the banner, hoping to read a decent review of the movie, but what do I get? Some goddamned anecdote about his stupid back spasms and how he used to be a geeky fucking expo seller and how Jack Black got it oh so right. Who the fuck cares? Where is the fucking review? My intuition tells me that, despite the excellent talent behind this film, they have fucked it up. I mean, they changed the whole setting from London to Chicago. Even if they got everything else right from the book (which, by the way, is a really excellent read...I highly recommend it), just the fact that they changed the setting is reason enough not to see this movie. And before you assholes post back telling me that I should just go somewhere else and stop visiting AICN if I don't like Harry's piles of shit, I would just like to say that I thoroughly enjoy this site. It is more than worth it to wade through Harry's lakes of piss and crap to get to the good scoops and reviews. But it's just so unnecessary. I'm sure there's someone out there who agrees with me. By the way, where's that review of "Magnolia," Harry?

  • March 21, 2000, 5:21 a.m. CST

    if you don't like the reviews

    by Jed

    go read EW. Ass.

  • March 21, 2000, 9:01 a.m. CST

    What about the feckin' Snapper?

    by JackRock

    Harry, I agree with those other talkbackers who pointed out your ommission of 'The Snapper' starring the amazing Colm Meany. Consider yourself severely chastised! If you haven't seen it already, locate a copy on video immediately and we will consider the matter closed. I really enjoyed 'High Fidelity' (the book) but I'm sure the movie version shouldn't suffer because of its setting - let's face it, geekdom and musical taste snobbery are international phenomenona.

  • March 21, 2000, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Did any of you really even read the book?

    by Toe Jam

    All of you guys (and gals, I presume) are so fucking wrong when you talk about how great the book of "High Fidelity" was in illustrating a guy's fascination with music, and movies, and what not. Yes, Nick Hornby did an excellent job writing about it, but the book is really about a guy who can't get his shit together. He cares more about records and other insignificant shit than he does about what is probably the most important thing in his life--his girlfriend. Finally, in the end, he overcomes his obsession with such things, and learns how to be mature enough to handle a full-time relationship. Hornby was making fun of himself and of guys like Harry, who endlessly think and talk about pop culture. "High Fidelity" is not a book that exalts this type of lifestyle. In fact, it is making fun of it. Maybe some of you should read it and take a cue.

  • March 21, 2000, 11:41 a.m. CST


    by say no more

    The Van was a great little film that was released two or three years ago. Now, that was a great Frears film and you know why? Because it was produced in his homeland, where he makes wonderful little gems of which you surely didn´t even hear of.

  • March 21, 2000, 11:47 a.m. CST


    by say no more

  • March 21, 2000, 12:32 p.m. CST

    I am sooo with you Phojus!!!!

    by kindablue28

    THanks for getting my back on the whole John Hughes thing. I'm glad I'm not alone in my excitement for the Cusaks getting back to their character roots. Also thanks for telling that Limey Bastard (Al the Brit) to go suck yer bangers & mash (paraphrasing). I'm with you. Why do people have to get so fucking serious, and pick on Harry. I don't always agree with him. In fact, I rarely agree with him. But hey, I'm in HIS house!! He built this damm place, so I figure he can talk about the square footage of his left ass cheek for 12 pages if he wants to. Second, obviously this place is filled with people who think they know more about film than everyone else. EVERYONE in here is an elitist of one form or another. Including myself. And I think that's pretty damm cool. It's like evryone in here has ther own specialties, be it Kurosawa, Fellini, Hughes, Bay (if you like shitty movies), etc.. Me, I'd have to say my specialties are Hitchcock, Burton, & Stone. So anyway, from one elitist to another...SHUT THE FUCK UP... Now I really don't remember what movie we were talking about.

  • March 21, 2000, 2:14 p.m. CST

    Aquaman and the Hulk: The Connection?

    by Chiron

    Well, during Harry's diatribe on High Fidelity, he mentioned Aquaman and the Incredible Hulk's turn of events as of the last ten years or so, compared to their storylines in the past. Firstly, Aquaman was constructed to be D.C. Comics (National Publications) answer to Namor the Sub-Mariner at Timely (now Marvel). He was a rip-off, and was portrayed very shoddily for decades, going so far to become a parody of himself. His role on the SuperFriends cartoon was non-existent, and most people only remember him standing there at the Hall of Justice dripping or flying in the Invisible Jet with Wonder Woman. When Peter David took over the writing chores of Aquaman, he did the impossible: he made the character interesting, appealing, and actually worth reading. Yes, he got a beard and long hair, a costume change (orange chain mail?), and lost a hand. But, these were essential parts to re-creating this character. Aquaman is a top tier D.C. character now, thanks to these changes! The Hulk has been a popular character for years, but only because of the constant change. Does anyone remember that the Hulk was actually an articulately spoken charater in his early days, but simple minded and angry at the world? Does anyone remember his intelligent era of the early to mid-80s? No, and Harry did not take the time to mention it. Ironically, it was the aforementioned Peter David whose remarkable multi-year run on the Incredible Hulk that made the most significant impact on the character. The Hulk underwent a variety of changes during this time, but all served to further strengthen the character. It seems that Harry once again has the ability of selective memory recall. He conveys his opinion passionately, but in order to do so, leaves out huge chains of fact so as to get his point across. Or maybe, Mr. Knowles did not even know about the subjects I that case, Harry, do a little more research next time.

  • March 21, 2000, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Do you still use the expression Limey? Just curious

    by Al The Brit

    Okay, I take the point from some of your criticism of what I said, but I still stand by it. I personally can't stand John Hughes movies (except Ferris Bueller which was pretty okay), but if they spoke to you about your lives then more power to them. I couldn't relate to them. In the same way, Nick Hornby speaks to me in a big way. Nick Hornby's books are basically all about what it's like to be British and in your thirties and a wanky screwed up obsessive wreck with a string of failed relationships behind you and a major committment problem, which most of us British guys in our thirties are. That's why, for me, moving the action to the States just doesn't cut it. Fine, enjoy it as a movie on it's own merits (just as Shawshank Redemption was a great movie on it's own merits while being nothing at all like the book), but if you want a story that speaks to you in the way that John Hughes movies spoke to you, get a John Hughes or someone else of his/your generation to write a movie about his life and hang-ups and obsessions and surely that will speak to you more directly. I'd just love to see what could be made of High Fidelity in it's original setting with say Joseph Fiennes or Alan Cumming in the lead.

  • March 21, 2000, 7:25 p.m. CST

    I couldn't come up with anything better...

    by kindablue28

    than "limey". Now I think you see my point. I can completely understand why you wouldn't like John Hughes movies, and why you would be pissed that they moved the location of the book to the States. I'm sure there is plenty of English humor and culture that was probably ditched in the translation. I know I would probably hate for the shoe to be on the other foot; "Hey let's turn 'The Natural' into a Cricket movie!!". No harm no foul.

  • March 21, 2000, 7:26 p.m. CST

    Great, first he was eating his boogers. Now Harry's pukin all ov

    by kindablue28

  • March 22, 2000, 3:01 p.m. CST

    Phojus; re: asses being blown out

    by Tom Lee

    it's a quote from Tenacious D, which, as I'm sure you're aware, is an integral part of the Jables ouevre.

  • March 27, 2000, 4:25 p.m. CST

    I loved Laura

    by luvinfool

    I have to say that I enjoyed every part of High Fidelity and my favorite character was Laura. I though that she was so cute in it. Everytime that I thought I was gonna stop crying I just started right up again. I loved the book, but loved the movie even more.

  • March 31, 2000, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Cusack good, Broderick moderately so-so

    by Roguewriter

    Wow, Harry, despite your awesome almost-always-rightness, I gotta say I'm dumbfounded that you'd place a so-so comedy actor like Broderick alongside a true great like Cusack. If Cusack's range is as broad as my arms flung wide, Broderick's is maybe as big as a baby's arm in comparison. I mean... did you reeeeally buy Ferris Bueller in INFINITY? Otherwise, you still the man, Harry. =)

  • March 31, 2000, 10:02 p.m. CST


    by sweet_man_love

    Seen it today. Love it. Cusack is GOD

  • March 31, 2000, 10:58 p.m. CST

    Too-Tan Woman (Beverly D'Angelo)

    by pjgray

    I was VERY much looking forward to this movie, ever since i read the book. I REALLY want to like it. Truth be told, I basically AM Rob. However, where the &@#$&@#$^ is the too-tan woman? This was my FAVORITE scene in the book! In fact the single scene that i MOST wanted to see on the big screen. It ruined the whole movie for me that it got cut. All i could concentrate on was missing that. He even answers the phone at one point with "Sure i'm interested" (probably talking to the woman) Anyone know details? Was it filmed? (DVD possibly?) IMDB has Beverly D'Angelo as playing the part ( So whats the deal?

  • April 1, 2000, 10:16 a.m. CST

    music of the movie

    by too much tv

    Anyone able to give a list of the music in the movie. I know the soundtrack is out but what about the other songs that were in the movie.

  • April 2, 2000, 1:14 a.m. CST

    Good job, Jed...

    by MrBadExample

    Some people need to be called, "Ass". Lord knows I can't be everywhere.

  • April 2, 2000, 1:25 a.m. CST

    Jeezus Fookin' Chreest

    by Darthawkeye

    Harry-Stop tryin' to be Hunter S. Thompson; it ain't workin'! HF and JC ruled in this movie- great screenplay, very good acting (Jack Black-MY MAN!) Just overall very well done. Not the most wordy review but thas mt 2 cents... and Fuck allaya who disagree, ya fanboy, pansy, anal retentive jagoffs....and if anything is spelled wrong..NO, I AIN'T SORRY!

  • April 2, 2000, 4:31 p.m. CST

    my problem with the movie

    by Lizzybeth

    was that since I've read the book, and all of the cleverest parts were lifted directly from the text, it felt like I knew the punchline to every joke. Faithful, yes. I still have the wavy hand though. Maybe because I'm not a guy. Maybe you all will like it. Cusack was dead-on as Rob though. It's too bad that more often than not I come out of his movies thinking, "gee I like JOhn Cusack" instead of thinking, "damn, what a great movie!" But then, I haven't seen Being John Malkovitch yet.

  • April 3, 2000, 6 a.m. CST

    Cool movie, but I disagree that Matthew Broderick coulda played

    by Cereal Killer

    Too many people act as though Broderick and Cusack are interchangeable and they're not. Cusack is more manic and brings more liveliness to the table. Except for "Ferris Beuller" and "Election" Broderick is always very laid back. He just lacks the right qualities for this movie. Anyway, I thought "High Fidelity" was the coolest film I've seen so far this year. Championship Vinyl looked just like Love Records here in Kansas City (gone now) where I used to spend hours combing thru the racks building up my record collection back before I switched to CDs. I agree with the poster who said that Ibjen whoever was miscast as Laura. She's not attractive and her character was totally unsympathetic and a bitch. I just wanted her to disappear. Nobody mentioned that Catherine Zeta-Jones is in this and she does a semi-nude scene where you see the side of one boob while she's getting dressed. Yowsa. Anyway, I liked the idea in this film that what you like is more important than what you are. I argue with my sister about music all the time because she likes N SYNC and I see this as a character flaw that will one day ruin her life. If I could just get her to listen to some Springsteen or Van Morrison or Bob Dylan maybe I could avert a disaster.

  • April 3, 2000, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Who was Joan Cusack's character supposed to be?

    by Arthur_Bang

    First off, let me just say that I loved this film. Being a big music fan myself, I found myself agreeing with a lot of the song choices that were being brought up. But who was Joan Cusack's character Liz supposed to be in the film? Is it Rob's sister? I thought I had read that she was his sister in the film, and I kept waiting for him to introduce her or say "Hey sis!" but it never happened. BTW, if anyone finds a complete list of the ~60 songs in the film, I'd like to see it too.. I'll probably pick up the soundtrack but it only has a fraction of the songs included on it (and a second volume will only bring that total up to about 30. It does however have those cool Beta Band and Stereolab songs on it.

  • April 3, 2000, 12:31 p.m. CST

    Honestly, I thought this film was going to be Singles Part 2.

    by superninja

    You know...slacker in love crap with the backdrop of a record store. I was very pleasantly surprised, though I pity anyone that saw the film without a girlfriend ;). It had some very nice, very REAL things to say about human nature and relationships. I thought it was very well done, and Cusack and Hjejle seemed like real people. I mean, how many movies do you see where the guy you're supposed to feel for is standing outside of his ex-girlfriends window screaming, "You f@#&ing b!tch!"?

  • April 3, 2000, 4:23 p.m. CST

    horrible, horrible movie

    by whistlerain

    This piece of garbage was very painful to sit through. Watching it reminded me of being at the doctor's office and waiting forever for the guy to show. Absurdly boring and even more tedious. My conspiracy theory for the reason so many critics liked it, they don't want to be seen as square or unhip if they don't get the obscure references to the music or bands. Call it Tarentinoitis, when everyone said "Pulp Fiction" was a great piece of art. It just wouldn't have been cool to call this sad movie what it was, a half-baked production in stlye, not substance. Did we really have to see how to clean up a car after someone's guts get smeared all over the seats? But back to HIGH, my friend and I laughed maybe twice, and one of those times was a Joan Cusak's hair. The audience was equally silent. As for the cast, the Cusaks aren't bad, but Black comes off as just plain rude, not funny. And why was Catherine Zeta even in this mess? She didn't quite fit with these characters. To sum up, if you read the reviews and are expecting something life changing, forget it. If you are expecting a funny movie, you can still forget it. It is hard to even call it a romantic comedy because the "romance" seems so shallow and immature, you probably won't care who hurts who. Rent "The Sure Thing".

  • April 5, 2000, 3:10 p.m. CST

    I liked the book...and the movie! (Horrors!)

    by Ratpack Slim

    Whatever happened to people realizing that books and movies are two different animals, and what makes for a good book doth not necessarily translate to the screen? That said, I enjoyed Hornby's book, AND I liked the movie a helluva lot, too. Sure, I was worried about the London-to Chicago transplant, but I don't think a lot was lost there. In fact, if anything, I was surprised at how closely the writers (all four of 'em, including Cusack) were able to follow the book. Furthermore, (and this'll be the ass-burner, I'm sure), while I liked the book a lot and identified with a lot of stuff contained within, and didn't identify with other stuff, blah blah blah, seeing how Cusack and his fellow thesps brought a third dimension to the characters really filled in the blanks for me, and made even an arsehole like Rob a lot more sympathetic, or at the least, understandable. And just to show I read all the talkbacks, Jack Black does indeed rule the screen every second he's on (Barry Jive, baby), and that Beta Band song kicks ass.

  • April 6, 2000, 9:23 a.m. CST

    I identify all too much.

    by We Don't Torture

    Being a thirtytwo year old, music obsessed, stuck on old relationships, into making lists, not so easily broken down into a neat little identifiable demographic kind of guy, I highly identify with movies like this. I enjoyed Nick Hornby's novel, and I really liked this book. I was one of the guys with the floppy hair, skateboard, big overcoat, and combat boots back in the mid-80s; Cusack is my rolemodel. lol Seriously, though, I really identified with his character of Rob. And I know people that could have been the characters. This movie just struck a nerve with me.

  • April 10, 2000, 8:32 a.m. CST

    I read the book, and...

    by r_dimitri22

    I absolutely loved it. It instantly catapulted into the list of my all-time favorite reads. I greatly enjoyed the movie as well. Although I agree with the poster above who complained that he knew all the punchlines because he had read the book, I quite enjoyed hearing John Cusack spout them. The only thing that went above and beyond the book for me was the scene with Ian in the store. That had me laughing out loud. In the novel, Rob only talks with Ian on the phone. He imagines himself ending the conversation with different ways of telling Ian off. The change there was welcome. Great translation -- any visualization on my part would never have been that good and could not have possibly been so riotously in-your-face. (Seeing the mousy Dick kick Ian while he was down was especially good.) I take issue with some of the other comments here. Now, I've never been to the U.K., but one of the things that I -- an American -- loved about Hornby's book was that I completely related to it (regardless of the setting). Maybe I missed some of the distinctively British stuff, but it read to me like it could have been set virtually anywhere. All that romantic thirtysomething angst is universal, isn't it? And American pop culture and the popular music scene has become more and more global. I got the majority of the pop culture references in the novel, so what exactly is lost in the translation? Is it because the British look differently upon Brits who are obsessed with American pop culture than they do upon Americans who are obsessed with it? A geek is a geek, right? (Incidentally, I thought it was interesting that Reservoir Dogs in the book translated to Evil Dead 2 in the film. Perhaps they felt that Reservoir Dogs was a little too obvious for Americans?) I disagree with the person who mentioned a pat ending. Is it just because Rob Gordon (or Fleming, if you prefer) commits? That was the whole point of the story. And I don't think it's completely sunny when: a) the reason Laura takes him back is simply that her father died and she's too tired to be alone, and b) Rob proposes marriage because he realizes that his whole pursuit of women is a sham/idealistic fantasy. Comfort is not the most romantic of reasons to choose someone. Certainly Rob and Laura make each other happy, but there's a certain point in life -- specifically as it relates to the romantic arena -- at which many people -- in spite of an acceptable level of happiness -- ask themselves: is this it? Another complaint I have a problem with: these people who loved the book and say that the trailer has turned them off. Shame on you. Since when are trailers worth anything? They consistently appeal to the lowest common denominator. They're often filled with spoilers, they make good movies look bad, and they make bad movies look good. Trailers are the bane of moviegoers in my opinion. The result is that people who actually loved the book are not seeing the movie. Way to help the box office, everybody! Let's make sure there are fewer films like High Fidelity and more tripe like Ready to Rumble! More specifics about the movie: I was disappointed that they cut out Rob's spoken realization that maybe "It's not what you like; it's what you're like." They included his initial statement that it *is* what you like rather than what you're like, but they didn't include his reversal or go very deeply into his whole transformation, for that matter. (There's a very good section in the book where Laura takes Rob to her friends' house for dinner. He inwardly scoffs at their record collection, but he must admit to himself that he enjoys hanging out with these people. They're good people.) Anyway, overall it was a great show, I say!

  • April 14, 2000, 3:48 a.m. CST

    UK / US filming (High Fidelity & American Beauty as examples)

    by Zarch

    As opposed to some of the comment already made here, I (Brit) take no issue with a fine UK book being filmed with a US cast - as is often the case (such as American Beauty) foreigners can sometimes portray a better reflection than natives. Who in the UK could perform well the lead role in High Fidelity? And could a US director (instead of the UK's Mendes) really have improved on the satirical look at the American Dream in American Beauty - unlikely. Accept the way things are and enjoy the reults.

  • April 17, 2000, 12:08 a.m. CST

    was anyone else annoyed at the botched Evil Dead reference?

    by MonkeyMonkeyLaLa

    This occurs when Rob is talking about the whole "Laura didn't sleep with him YET" thing. When they're talking about Evil Dead 2, they're really talking about Evil Dead 3 (Army of Darkness), but they keep calling it 2. I was really annoyed at that. That's all.

  • April 21, 2000, 5:04 p.m. CST

    High Fidelity songs

    by jules potter

    here they are: You're Gonna Miss Me by 13th Floor Elevator I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow Crocodile Rock by Elton John Crimson & Clover by Joan Jett Seymour Stein by Belle and Sebastian Walking on SUnshine by Katrina and the Waves Baby Got Going by Liz Phair Little Did I Know by Brother JT 3 I'm Wrong About Everything by John Wesley Harding I Cant Stand the Rain by Ann Pebble The River by Bruce Springsteen Baby I Love Your Way sung by Lisa Bonet Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam by Vaselines Cold Blooded Old Times by Smog On Hold by Edith Frost Hyena 1 by Goldie I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More Babe by Barry White Always See Your Face by Love Soaring and Boring by Plush Leave Home by Chemical Bros. Who Loves The Sun by Velvet Underground Robbin's Nest by Illinois Jacquet Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin Suspect Device by Stiff Little Fingers Dry the Rain by Beta Band We Are The Champions by Queen I'm Glad You're Mine by Al Green Your Friend and Mine by Love Shipbuilding by Elvis Costello Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You by Bob Dylan Get It Together by Grand Funk Railroad Fallen For Youby Sheila Nichols Oh Sweet Nuthin' by Velvet Underground Tread Water by de La Soul Moombeam Song by Harry Nilsson Doing It Anyway by Apartment 26 Juice by Eric B What's On Your Mind by Eric B Good and Strong by Sy Smith Mendocino by Sir Douglas Quintet The Inside Game by Royal Trux The Night Chicago Died by Jack Black Most of the Time by Bob Dylan Lo Boob Oscillator by Stereolab Anti-Circle by The Roots Everybody's Gonna Be Happy by Kinks Homespin by The High Llamas I Get The Sweetest Feeling by Jackie Wilson Let's Get It On by Jack Black I Believe When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever by Stevie Wonder My Little Red Book by Love

  • May 1, 2000, 9:01 a.m. CST

    Fuckin' right!

    by Brimacombe

    What an awesome fucking movie. John Cusack is HOT. I was very happy with the Father Abraham in Smurfland reference. An album of my childhood. Beer beer smurfin' beer, you don't get drunk and it isn't beer.

  • May 3, 2000, 5:04 a.m. CST

    Why America?

    by bantam

    Being from the UK I'm biased, but having read the book when it first came out, my thoughts were; 1: This would be a cool film to make. 2: I hope filmfour make it and not any american studio. THe book? Bears no relation to the film, sadly. The book is fantastic and would have made an A1 first class film, like Fever Pitch, if only it had been scripted and made in the UK. Sorry - the US version doesn't cut the mustard with me, and I think many Nick Hornby fans would agree with me? It's ideal location is Soho, in London, and the whole mood is typically British in the novel. THis is just another typical Yank-ization of something which is typically British. Sorry Touchstone - you just can't get close to the essence of the book.

  • May 9, 2000, 8:25 p.m. CST


    by waxman

    I thought the movie sustained perfection for the first 3/4s and then gounded down into slow-mo. Despite a strong finish, I enjoyed the movie and your review but thought that there was something left to be said. As a Chicagoan, it is easy to recognize that the scenes are quite authentic representations of the Bucktown/Wicker Park "scene" in Chicago. Most notable are the scenes set in restaurants, bars, and "L" train stops. The setting matched the attitudes of Rob and his co-workers towards naive record buyers and outsiders because those who live in the above-mentioned neighborhood claim a degree of sensibility (and sometimes superiority)over those who don't. This attention to detail added authenticity to the themes in the writing. The film reminded me of other films with "young realtively hip guy who struggles with woman and career issues" themes. Rob reminded me of Campbell Scott's character in "Singles." Particulary, Rob's focus on his job choices and how he relates to others, including his old flames, who became urban professionals. To a lesser extent, he also reminds me of Ethan Hawke's slacker character in "Reality Bites" even though that guy was a horrible loser. Both of those films catered to the same audience as "Fidelity." The strength of Cusack's character are that his flaws are less cliche and much more Everyman in nature. That is where this film succeeds and brings more to the table than the Soundtrack-driven young-lost-dude films of the early 90's. OUT.

  • May 24, 2000, 10:27 p.m. CST


    by mrwilliam

    I used to prowl record stores throughout the 1980's (and why not? Movies sucked! Well, at least in comparison to the 1970's-and DON'T EVEN THINK about posting an argument!!!!!!) and this movie brought it all back for me. I could even smell the cardboard and the vinyl!! Plus, that Iben Hjele (I forgot how to spell her name!)was HOT!!!!!

  • May 27, 2000, 7:36 p.m. CST

    Where did the women go?

    by smileyyy

    High Fidelity translated the record store milieu to Chicago just fine (except, why would they put the CDs up on such high shelves? Jeezus, I worked in a record store for years, and that's just INSANITY) -- except that none of the female characters made the transition 'cross the Atlantic. Laura's a lot tougher but more likeable in the book. She knows exactly what she's doing when she breaks it off with Rob "sometimes you have to throw a hand grenade into your life" she says. Dick's girlfriend (played by Sara Gilbert in the movie) ISN'T a kindred spirit, in fact much is made of the fact that Dick feels has to break her of her taste in music. And Marie LaSalle, played by Lisa Bonet, still gets it on with Rob in the book, but she hangs around afterward and they actually become friends. All of them played important roles in the book, but somehow get written into little ciphers so that they test better with the male audience. But, they're just GIRLS, and secondary players, so who the hell cares, right?

  • Aug. 14, 2000, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Great Dialogue

    by StopBruckheimer

    If I made a film, I'd wake up every day and read Harry's Talkback to see how it was doing. Messrs. Frears, Devincentis, Pink, Cusack, Rosenberg, and Hornby if you're reading this, HIGH FIDELITY MADE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD NUMEROUS TIMES! What genuinely crass and REAL dialogue you have. When Jack Black first walks into the store and hears the dreary music: "Wait a second... What the f**k is this?" Awesome. And Laura, ISN'T ANYBODY IN THIS TALKBACK GONNA TALK ABOUT IBEN HJEJLE? She was great. Did the story go anywhere? (Yes, it went into the minds of some very interesting characters). Was it perfectly formulaic? (No, not at all). Definitely worth it if you like good dialogue.

  • Feb. 2, 2001, 4:02 p.m. CST

    The Greatest...

    by Jubieloo

    i think its clear that anyone with any taste in movies whatsoever would love this movie, simply cuz it is WONDERFUL!! the acting, writing and everything else about it is SO DAMN GOOD! Unfortunatly, ur review sucked--there was more info bout ur day than the movie! well for any one who actually wanted to know bout the MOVIE: GO SEE IT, IT KICKS ASS!!! CUSACK AND BLACK ARE HILARIOUS AS IS TODD LOUISO!!! I REALLY CANT THINK OF ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT!