Jack Black - Supporting ActorEdit
Jack Black was born on August 28th, 1969, in Santa Monica, California. Attending UCLA, Black became a member of the Tim Robbins Actors Gang, a Los Angeles-based performance troupe that has spawned the likes of John Cusack, the star and one of the screenwriters of High Fidelity. Although he is better known for his more recent and popular roles as Ned Schneebly in Richard Linklater’s “School of Rock” and Po in Dreamworks’ film series “Kung Fu Panda”, Jack Black finally scored his breakthrough role as Barry in Stephen Frears’ “High Fidelity”. Barry is a happy go lucky man who works in Championship Vinyl with and for John Cusack’s character, Rob Gordon. Much like his actual self, Jack’s character Barry is an aspiring musician who loves in your face, loud and fast music. Barry provides a wide variety of important dynamics that add to the story, from comic relief to inspiration. After breaking through with High Fidelity (2000), Black went on to star or appear in in his gigantic list of more popular films. Those films include: Saving Silverman (2001), Shallow Hal (2001), Orange County (2002), School of Rock (2003), King Kong (2005), The Holiday (2006), Nacho Libre (2006), Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006), Kung Fu Panda (2008), Tropic Thunder (2008), Year One (2009), Gulliver’s Travels (2010), Bernie (2011), The Big Year (2011), Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011), and even more that are not mentioned. Jack Black is currently spending time with his family, made up of his wife Tayna Haden and their son Thomas Jack.
John Cusack and his screenwriting partners had a hard time narrowing down the soundtrack for High Fidelity, due to the fact that their characters Rob, Dick and Barry are all such music snobs. Due to the fact that Rob and his buddies run a record store in Chicago, the movie revolves around their musical interests. The three of them are all into a different genre of music. Rob is into the classics. He connects with the music because he can sense the misery in the melody. As you find out in the film, Rob and his misery tend to be best friends. Rob is also very open to both Dick and Barry’s musical interests, although he feels his musical taste is far more adapt. Dick is a fan of laid-back soft rock, while Barry is into the hard hitting, up beat music. There is a scene in the film in which Barry takes Dick’s “Belle & Sebastian” tape to turn on his “Katrina & the Waves” tape, on full volume.
The soundtrack includes 15 songs:
3. "I'm Wrong About Everything" - John Wesley Harding
4. "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" - The Velvet Underground
7. "Fallen for You" - Sheila Nicholls
13. "The Inside Game" - Royal Trux
14. "Who Loves the Sun" - The Velvet Underground
Although Nick Hornby's 1995 novel High Fidelity takes place in London, Stephen Frears decided to apply a shift in pace by switching the setting to the rambunctious Chicago, Illinois. Being filmed mainly in the well known Wicker Park District of Chicago in 2000, High Fidelity gives off a certain feel that the audicnce would love to still love to be present in time. From the shots of the busy streets underneath the pouring rain, to the detailed architecture inside Rob's apartment. High Fidelity's Chicago made its viewers almost desire the misery that Rob gripes about throughout the whole film, while he smokes a cigarette and listens to his vintage vinyl records. Rob's place of work, "Championship Vinyl", is an appealing work space due to its location as well as the character interaction that goes on there. With Rob's hard headed narcicism mixing in with Barry's free spirit and Dick's gloomy nonchalance, High Fidelity's viewers want to visit Championship Vinyl to come away with far more than a couple of records in their hands. They want to experience the fascinating dynamic between character interests displayed on screen at all times in the store. Aside from the regular spots in the film, there are old fashoned bars, movie theatres, lounges and restaurants that all give off the same vibe. They give off the vibe that Chicago is the place to be. Not only that, but also a vibe that ties in with Rob's Character. Rob's well known enmity towards women and his deep seeded misery because of it are so obsurd that they become comical throughout the film. Due to its cold gloom and blue feel, Chicago seems to be a comfortable place that welcomes misery and allows people to get to wallow in it together. Stephen Frears twist on the film by shifting settings is a well inserted example of director genius, and nothing short of it.
"The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations: Exploring Film Locations around the World." The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2013.
Scene Analysis - "Yet"Edit
Rob Gordon is a middle aged man living in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. High Fidelity follows Rob as he fights through his breakup with his current girlfriend, Nora, while he misconstrues the breakup with others he has gone through in the pas, accumulating a list of his top five breakups of all time. After gaining some insight into Robs casual work environment as the owner of a record store, Frears allows his viewers to really connect with Rob’s misery. In this scene, Rob fights himself with the idea of hearing from his ex girlfriend that she had not slept with her new boyfriend “yet”. He wants to know how to feel about the word yet, because it leaves a lot of loose ends untied. He does not know if they intend to, or if she is withholding it because she still feels connected to Rob in that way. Trying to gain reassurance, he asks his employee and friend Barry what he would think if Rob told him he had not seen Evil Dead 2 “yet”. In the end Barry makes Rob even more worried and confused, giving him another thing to be miserable about while he smokes a cigarette and listens to some of his favorite music. This scene displays Rob's insecurity, due to his worry and need for reassurance.
The setting of Chicago, Illinois, in the 2000's era, adds an entirely new dynamic to the film the that the novel High Fidelity did not incorporate in it's story. The windy city is known for its busy, rambunctious popularity, including the rude and boisterous Rob Gordon. The element of gloominess and cold that Chicago brings to the table, setting-wise, adds to the story in a huge way. Chicago's attributes also tie in with Rob's inner despair, thus making a perfect setting for him to tell his stories of heartbreak and loss.
The Star - John CusackEdit
Born on June 28, 1966 in Evanston, Illinois, John Cusack was the fourth of five children, including bona fide actress Joan Cusack. He and his siblings were born to a math teacher mother, as well as a film maker-actor father. It goes to show where John and his sister found their interest and spark for acting. Cusack dove into the entertainment field at the early age of 8-years-old when he joined the Piven Theatre Workshop and became a child commercial voiceover actor. He was one of the busiest voiceover actors in Chicago by the age of 12-years-old.
Cusack made his first full acting appearance in the popular teen comedy Class, directed by Lewis John Carlino. John’s thus noticeable bizarre, off the wall acting style caught the attentions of such directors as John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Planes Trains and Automobiles, etc.), as well as animators like Savage Steve Holland, winning him his very first roles in movies like Sixteen Candles and Better Off Dead. From there, John made himself known when he starred in Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything, the 1989 classic. He went on to earn his first role as a grown up in the 1990 Stephen Frears film, The Grifters. After filming that picture, Frears made his interest in working with John quite apparent.
In the year 2000, Cusack was casted as the lead role in Stephen Frears’ interpretation of Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel, High Fidelity. Frears simply changed the setting of the story from London to Chicago, and named John Cusack’s character Rob “Gordon’, rather than Rob “Fleming”, as it is in the book, still keeping the title. The film was placed in the American Film Institute’s top 10 movies of the year 2000, and was nominated for multiple more awards, such as best-adapted screenplay.
Since 2005, John has stepped away from the screen and has focused on blogging for The Huffington Post. Cusack is currently at the age of 44-years-old, and has already made an everlasting impact on the acting community.
"John Cusack Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.
"High-Fidelity - Cast, Crew, Director and Awards - NYTimes.com." High-Fidelity - Cast, Crew, Director and Awards - NYTimes.com. N.p., 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.
The Director - Stephen FrearsEdit
Making a name for himself in the mid-80’s, Stephen Frears would go on to be a name that was that of no stranger to anybody in Hollywood. He was born on June 20th, 1941 in the city of Leicester, England. He attended hand graduated from high school at Gresham’s School, Norfolk, and later went on to study law at Trinity College, Cambridge between the years of 1960 and 1963. After getting his degree, Frears went on to work with such directors as Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz, as well as actor Albert Finney at the Royal Court Theatre. This is the time period in which Frears did his work to co-create films like Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), The Burning (1967), Charlie Bubbles, (1968), and his very first feature film debut in 1971, Gumshoe.
Beginning in the 1980’s, Frears directed a collection of bigger, better-budgeted television shows. He did Bloody Kids (1980), Walter, (1982) Walter and June (1982), and Saigon: Year of the Cat (1983). He counted the television successes as small stepping-stones towards the climax at which he hoped his career, as a film director would one day reach. He returned to the feature film world with his 1984 instant classic, The Hit, starring Terence Stamp, John Hurt and Tim Roth. Although it had a large number of flattering reviews and was made for 175 thousand dollars, it was not quite the comeback Frears was hoping for. After he finally made his comeback the following year with the film My Beautiful Laundrette for 87.4 thousand dollars, Frears was known for having greater things to come. The world of a Hollywood director was laid out in front of him.
Frears went on to make many hit films during his prime, such as Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), The Grifters (1990), Hero/Accidental Hero (1992), The Snapper (1993), Mary Reilly (1996), The Van (1996), The Hi-Lo Country (1998), Liam (2000), and finally High Fidelity (2000), starring John and Joan Cusack, as well as Jack Black.
Despite his box office disappointments Frears is a well know director in Hollywood. Respected for his vision and his perseverance and hard work, Frears will be remembered for all of his dedication to the world of Hollywood, and the role he played in it as a director.
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