Mifune (2000)

Mifune
Type Feature Film
MPAA Rating R
Runtime 1hr 39mins.
Genres Drama, Comedy, Romantic Comedy
Keywords N/A
Status Released
US Release Date
  
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    By:

    "What came first," Rob Gordon (John Cusack) desperately wants to know, "the music or the misery?" Over-stimulated by the sounds coming out of his outsize headphones, morose Rob is seizing the moment of his breakup with Laura (Iben Hjejle) to reflect on "the thousands of hours of heartache, rejection, pain, misery and loss" he experienced while exposing himself to wave after wave of popular music. "Did I listen because I was miserable," he wonders, "or was I miserable because I listened?" Further proof of how funny we can be when we're at our most despondent, "High Fidelity" is a sharp and satisfying romantic comedy about the difficulty of commitment that utilizes Stephen Frears' incisive direction and some very knowing and sophisticated writing to give actor Cusack one of the best roles of his career. That is saying something, because Cusack, talented as well as shrewd about what he gets himself into, doesn't go in for weak material. Rob Gordon, a part Cusack had a hand in writing, is specifically tailored to his everyman persona, to his gift for intimacy with the audience and his ability to humanize characters who are difficult and potentially off-putting. The last time out for Cusack and writing partners D.V. DeVincentis and Steve Pink was "Grosse Point Blank," in which the actor played a hit man with a career crisis; "High Fidelity" presents them with a character who faces a less lethal kind of challenge. (Scott Rosenberg of the glib "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" and "Con Air" also gets a writing credit.) The Cusack pack had the advantage of starting from Nick Hornby's fine novel, a delightful book that is very savvy about the vagaries of relationships, especially from the male point of view. It's Rob, using either voice-over or direct talk to the camera, who preserves the book's first-person quality as well as chunks of its dialogue. "High Fidelity" presents him as someone who's his own worst enemy, a tortured and grumpy eternal adolescent who doesn't have to hide his weakness for being a real jerk to gain our sympathy. Given his opening rant about the pernicious effect of lyrics, it's not a surprise that Rob's life is pop music. He owns Championship Vinyl, a Chicago establishment (smoothly moved from the novel's London) that's a shrine to old-fashioned phonograph records and mecca to obsessive geeks who "spend a disproportionate amount of their time looking for deleted Smiths singles and 'ORIGINAL NOT RERELEASED' underlined Frank Zappa albums." This universe's two biggest geeks, Dick and Barry, a.k.a. "the musical moron twins," just happen to work for Rob, and as played by Todd Louiso and Jack Black are the comic center of the film. Dick is the sensitive flower while Barry is rowdy, abrasive and downright hilarious. They join Rob in insulting the customers, making abstruse jokes about the Beta Band and Ryuichi Sakamoto and constructing an endless number of all-time Top 5 lists, from Top 5 dream jobs to Top 5 songs about death ("Leader of the Pack," "Dead Man's Curve," "Tell Laura I Love Her," etc). Though the Championship Vinyl store (magnificently created for the film by a crew that includes production designers David Chapman and Therese DePrez, art director Nicholas Lund, set decorator Larry P. Lundy and property master Timothy W. Tiedje) is real enough to be a character in its own right, it's not the best place for empathy, and that's what Rob needs after his break with Laura. Initially he faces the split with bravado, yelling at her that she doesn't even make his all-time Top 5 list of memorable split-ups (yes, he has one), but that fighting spirit is not fated to last. As the pain of Laura's absence (and her possible connection with someone else) sinks in, Rob is forced, for perhaps the first time, to think about his life and confront his difficulty with romance and commitment. "What's wrong with me? Why am I doomed to be left?" he wonders plaintively and, in an attempt to find out, thinks back on that list of all-time memorable ruptures, amusingly reconsidering liaisons with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lili Taylor and others. * * * Director Frears, who is noticeably good with realistic relationships that have a touch of comedy in them ("The Snapper," "My Beautiful Laundrette"), knows his way around this scenario. Under his guidance, Cusack's painful but funny reexamination leads to a getting of wisdom that is no less welcome for coming years later than it should have. Cusack, with his ability to project glowering desperation and a sense of aggrieved entitlement, is perfect for this role. As Laura, the woman he can't live with or without, Danish actress Hjejle (recently seen as a prostitute-turned-housekeeper in that country's "Mifune") displays both faultless English and a formidable sense of integrity that allows her to more than hold her own in fairly heady company. For it's a tribute to how well "High Fidelity" has been written (and to the respect other performers have for Cusack and Frears) that the film employs quite a number of excellent actors in small roles. In addition to Taylor and Zeta-Jones, there are parts for Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Lisa Bonet, Sara Gilbert and Natasha Gregson Wagner. The film's music (more than 50 songs are listed in the credits, with artists ranging from Aretha Franklin to Stereolab) is expertly chosen, and there's even a cameo by Bruce Springsteen, giving sage romantic advice. Of course Rob needs it, but whether he can take it is, obviously, quite another story. * MPAA rating: R, for language and some sexuality. Times guidelines: contemporary profanity and some sexual scenes. es: Brockovich is a torrent of profanity.

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Name Credit Credited as Role Id Sort Order
Mogens Rukov Screenplay n/a 120778 4000003
Anders Thomas Jensen Screenplay n/a 120778 4000002
Soren kragh-Jacobsen From Story n/a 120870 4000004
Christian Gronvall Assistant Director n/a 163 5000001
Torben Forsberg Cinematographer 2nd unit cinematographer 402 6000002
Anthony Dod Mantle Director of Photography n/a 120780 6000001
Soren kragh-Jacobsen Screenplay n/a 120778 4000001
Signe Jensen Executive Producer n/a 174 3000003
Daniel J Paustian Actor Horny Business Types 1 1000031
Peter Rygaard Actor Horny Business Types 1 1000030
Soren kragh-Jacobsen Director n/a 2 2000001
Birgitte Hald Producer n/a 3 3000001
Morten Kaufmann Producer n/a 3 3000002
Philip Forbes Camera Operator n/a 239 6000003
Erik Thal-Jansen Camera Operator n/a 239 6000004
Hans Moller Sound Designer n/a 120915 14000003
Morten Degnbol Sound Designer n/a 120915 14000002
Thor Backhausen Other accordion 120795 26000001
Jens E Christensen Other organ 120795 26000002
Edith Nielsen Other organ 120795 26000003
Kristian Eidnes Andersen Sound 2nd unit sound 120816 14000001
Karl Bille Performer nature tone flute Flutist 120819 8000004
Vagn Rose Assistant Editor n/a 203 7000002
Valdis Oskarsdottir Editor n/a 172 7000001
Nulle Og Verdensorkestret Music n/a 120781 8000001
Christian Sievert Music guitar 120781 8000002
Jacob Moth Music guitar 120781 8000003
Jens Basse Dam Actor Fat Redneck Businessman 1 1000029
Christian Gronvall Actor Rud's Friend 1 1000028
Ellen Hillingsø Actor Lykke 1 1000010
Susanne Storm Actor Hanne 1 1000009
Sidse Babett Knudsen Actor Bibbi 1 1000011
Søren Fauli Actor The Voice 1 1000012
Søren Malling Actor Palle--The Pimp 1 1000013
Mette Bratlann Actor Nina 1 1000008
Paprika Steen Actor Pernille 1 1000007
Jesper Asholt Actor Rud--Kresten's Brother 1 1000003
Iben Hjejle Actor Liva 1 1000002
Sofie Grabol Actor Claire--Kresten's Wife 1 1000004
Emil Tarding Actor Bjarke--Liva's Brother 1 1000005
Anders Hove Actor Gerner 1 1000006
Keld Norgaard Actor Claire's Father 1 1000014
Kirsten Vaupel Actor Claire's Mother 1 1000015
Christian Sievert Actor Herning 1 1000024
Esben Pedersen Actor The Dead Father 1 1000023
Arthur Jensen Actor Rud's Friend 1 1000025
Albert Pedersen Actor Rud's Friend 1 1000026
Morten Flyverbom Actor Rud's Friend 1 1000027
Ole Mollegaard Actor Gerner's Friend No 2 1 1000022
Rasmus Haxen Actor Gerner's Friend No 1 1 1000021
Klaus Bondam Actor Priest 1 1000017
Torben Jensen Actor Greying John 1 1000016
Lene Laub Oksen Actor Hooker No 1 1 1000018
Line Kruse Actor Hooker No 2 1 1000019
Sofie Stougaard Actor Woman in Bakery 1 1000020
Anders Wodskou Berthelsen Actor Kresten 1 1000001
Synopsis
Kresten is a newly married man who claims he has no family. He suddenly learns that his father has died and that his retarded brother is alone on the abandoned family farm. He must confess to having had a family all along, and being ashamed of his rural background. When he goes to the farm, he tries to get out quickly by hiring a housekeeper to look after brother Rud. But the housekeeper isn't what she seems, and some unexpected guests force Kresten to stay longer. Meanwhile, his wife back in Copenhagen is getting restless, and his relationship with Rud is blossoming.