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High Fidelity (DVD)

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  • You may like the wrong music. Poor you.
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      12.09.2010 10:06
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      A great film which is really worth a watch

      The film High Fedelity is based on a best selling novel and stars John Cusack, Jack Black, Todd Louiso and Iben Hjejle.

      The film sees music lover Rob Gordon (Cusack) owning a record shop which employs two clerks (Black and Lousio) which is doing just about enough to stay afloat. The thing that has sunk in his life is love - as his long time girlfriend (Hjejle) leave him. This sparks him to look at his past experiences the only way he knows how - by picking his top five, ranking them in order and going to find out why they left him and now with someone else!

      The film is great and the production quality is very high. The performances here are top notch with Cusack being at his best here both droll, witty and yet there is something about his openess within the film that makes you root for him even when he's just been a fool. Black here is unrestrained and at his mad best while Louiso plays the quiet guy down to a tee.

      The films plot is fresh and original and this is not a your average rom-com. The thing about the film is that he makes so many mistakes while trying to put things right that make you think "does she really want to be with him?" and at times you really think that she shouldn't. Its only the expert performance by Cusack here that allows you to warm to the guy and anyone else playing wouldn't have been able to pull it off. there is a british feel to the film, which makes sense as the book is. Its more a rom-com aimed at music lovers as the music here is diverse and varied. Making for a entertaining soundtrack to the film.

      Overall I loved this film as there is something everyone in it. When you watch it you will begin to make alot of top 5's yourself too!

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      02.04.2010 03:02
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      Great book, great film.

      There aren't many authors that I consider myself a fan of - I'm not a great reader and rarely find an author that I enjoy reading more than a couple of books of...Nick Hornby, however, I generally rate pretty well...And amongst his books, High Fidelity is maybe my favourite.

      It's also pretty rare that I see a film of a book and don't feel completely let down by it...and despite the rather unnecessary move from London to Chicago, I really don't feel too let down by the movie adaptation of High Fidelity at all - I think it's a well made film...and whilst you're never going to have the same amount of detail in a 2 hour film, High Fidelity does a good job of keeping the feel of the book alive, including a good number of Rob's "top five" lists and other titbits of musical trivia.

      The story revolves around Rob Gordon, the owner of a struggling music store, and his struggling relationships - with his partner, his girlfriend and, occasionally, his customers. The linear plot is somewhat limited, but the film is cleverly constructed with flashbacks and uses a good variety of locations, so it is still compelling viewing.

      Jack Black and Todd Louiso do a really good job as Rob's employees, a pair of rock-snobs that are in the job for the music, not for the money - and Cusack himself is great. He captures the confusion and misery of Rob perfectly, making him seem grouchy, but loveably grouchy. The overly-analytical, self-doubting, emotionally-wobbly sides of Rob's character are all there and sold convincingly and with authenticity.

      As I'd have hoped, the soundtrack to the film is fantastic, many scenes are set against great records - and chronologically appropriate choices are used in the flashback sequences.

      The film's got a really nice, warm, tone to it - there's occasional dry humour throughout - and the slapstick provided by Jack Black is offset by more serious moments elsewhere in the film.

      By way of criticism, Iben Hjejle, playing Rob's girlfriend Laura, plays it a little cold to me. I don't get a great sense of why Rob's with her - she just seems mean throughout most of the film - and the warmth Rob expresses toward her in the book isn't as apparent in the screen adaptation. That, though, is a minor quibble - and certainly not a justification for robbing High Fidelity of it's well deserved fifth star.

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      09.03.2010 15:12
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      Cusack takes on the role of a music buff trying to work out where he went wrong in love

      Nick Hornby's romantic novel gets a US workover here, transporting the tale from the UK over the pond to Chicago to tell of record store owner Rob Gordon (John Cusack) who breaks up with his girlfriend and tries to work out his failed love life through making a music-style compilation of his top 5 breakups.

      I really liked this film, not because of the romance side of things, or because of the plot at all, but because of the music and the acting. Cusack has that ability to give a withering and satirical look to the camera or another character any time he's on screen, and does so here on a number of occasions. He whizzes through the film in a very matter of fact way, trying to explains his unlucky lessons in love to himself and his friends (and us, the audience), and manages to do so with charm and musical insight.

      For in amongst all of this is his collaboration with two best mates: Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (the very excellent Jack Black). Louiso and Black play two completely different characters. Dick is very quiet and shy, while Barry is a complete extrovert, and keen to speak his mind. The three of them elevate themselves above everyone else, and despite the romantic theme running throughout, the truth is that the film is about music, and its power. The trio believe themselves to be the ultimate in musical reference, that if there is anything they do not know, then it's not worth knowing. They are even told this at one point by a regular in complete disgust: they just agree!

      That Hornby's tale and the subsequent script adaptation manages to weave the romance into it successfully is something to be proud of. It almost states that despite everything that you may try to hold dear and sacred in music, it can always be scuppered and manipulated by the power of love. Indeed, we are so blinded by Rob's quest to dive into his past of beauties, whereupon his arrogance takes over, that we don't really see that there are other people looking for love in the film. Dick has a potential romance completely glossed over by a self-centred Rob whose only thoughts are for himself and how he is going to get over losing the latest love in his life, Laura (Iben Hjejle). Hjejle plays Laura very well, being very vague about things but not willing to put up with Rob's issues with ambition.

      In essence, it's clear that all she wants him to do is something he is happy with, so that he can enjoy his life and therefore she hers, but he is SO blinded by his obsession with music, that I almost felt like screaming at the screen for him to just admit that owning the record store IS his dream, that this would likely be enough for him, but it would be futile. He wouldn't be able to hear me, and no doubt I would get some funny looks!

      The musical range covered here is impressive, and as the characters list their Top 5 this and that every now and then, you hear some great bands, artists, albums and their influences mentioned. Cusack has always given an important role to music in his films, and you can see influences such as The Clash in nearly all of the films that he has had some sort of control over. Also included in his films is sister Joan Cusack, here playing Laura's best friend, and the two loves, seemingly, of John's screen life, sister and music, combine strongly here.

      I highly recommend this, especially if you love music. There are some great discussions that take place, with some clever combos of music affecting the way the characters' moods swing, and it's clear that this is a musically influenced film above all else. Sure, the romance is there, but its purpose is really to give some excuse for the musical element to announce itself. Great film, great cast, and of course, great music, from The Clash to Marvin Gaye, and even some Stevie Wonder taking their places.

      High Fidelity is available readily at low prices, and I highly recommend watching it. It's great for music fans, and still really good even if you're not a huge music buff.

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      12.11.2009 16:55
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      Good film

      High Fidelity is a comedy from 2000, starring John Cusack and directed by Stephen Frears. It is adapted from the Nick Hornby novel of the same name.

      On a mini Cusack marathon at the moment! Here he stars as Rob Gordon, an independent recordstore owner, who on splitting up with his girlfriend Laura (Danish actress Iben Hjejle) compiles a list of 5 ex-girlfriends who have caused him more heartache than her (being a bit of a geek it's always lists of 5s between him and his friends, whether its best first tracks on an album or girls). He follows this up by tracking them down to ask them why they broke up with him so he can make sense of why he's destined to be dumped. Some of the answers aren't what he was hoping for. At the same time he has his business to maintain will the help of two more music geeks in Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black). Rob has to learn to grow up and make a decision about what he really wants in life.

      Originally there was some hoo-hah about the fact the location of the book was moved from London to Chicago. What this film makes clear is that location is unimportant- relationship problems are universal. To counter the books use of writing in the first person and in turn offering Rob's inner thoughts, the makers pull off the trick by getting Cusack to address the audience directly to camera. It's a technique that can prove off-putting but works well here, possibly because it's employed so early on in the film.

      Cusack provides us with a very human lead character: He's clever, funny and down to earth, but also capable of being a complete idiot, as most of us can. He represents that time in a man's life where he wants to continue acting like an adolescent but realises he needs to take some responsibility. Hjejle provides a likeable performance as the exasperated Laura and is believable as Rob's love. Tim Robbins is afforded a good cameo as Laura's smug new lover. The only downside on the casting is Jack Black who gives a Jack Black performance - it's a schtick which you either love or hate. I'm the latter.

      Frears directs a well made film and despite having a number of short flashbacks manages to tell the story in an efficient manner.
      Obviously for a film about a music aficionado, the soundtrack is brilliant as well.

      A funny film, and one in which men or women can see at least something of their own relationships in the central one here.

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        04.10.2009 12:24
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        A Good Solid Film

        It has taken me ages to get round to watching this film. Its one that I've always fancied and I always heard really positive reviews of it. So I recently got round to giving it a go.

        High Fidelity came out back in 2000. Its a kind of dark comedy starring John Cusack and Jack Black. Based on the excellent book by Nick Hornby and produced by Stephen Frears the film was nominated for a golden globe and won a few other smaller awards.

        The film tells the story of Rob (John Cusack), a record store owner. We learn about his love life or more to the point lack of it. Rob is a compulsive list maker, he has lists for everything. Top 5 pretty much anythings. Most are to do with music but the film centres on Rob's top 5 breakups. He recounts he former loves and tells the story of how him and his current interest split up. This takes Rob on a kind of vogage of self discovery, he finds out exactly where he is in life and tries to learn from his mistakes to correct his current situation in life.

        John Cusack plays an excellent part. He really does have that brooding lonely guy off to a tee. He is backed up by an excellent cameo from Jack Black who is his usual witty self. There are several other really performances from actors who back Cusack up very well.

        I liked this film as it very clever. I would not say its a really funny comedy, but the story is excellent and it all comes together to be a really good felling film. I could really relate to the charcters and understand there emotions, which always makes a film easier to watch.

        The soundtrack to the film is excellent. Some really good quailty songs crop up. You would expect this when one of the main themes of the film is music and anything to do with classic rock songs and such.

        The film runs for 113 minutes, which I feel is just about right. Any longer and it would have been dragging the story out, but there is just enough to keep you involved for the length of the film.

        The film is rated as a 15. There is quite alot of strong language and some adult content. So if you are easily offended this film is probably not for you.

        The DVD has al the usual features, trailers and a few other extras. Nothing to exciting and to be honest I'm never really that bothered about extras anyway.

        Overall would say this is a really nice little film. It is nothing special and not the kind of film I would watch over and over. But if you have never seen it before it's one that is well worth a watch. Go out and give this one a try.

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          16.09.2009 19:35
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          A good fun movie with a brilliant soundtrack

          High Fidelity would be in my all time top ten movie list definitely. I love it. I love the plot, the characters, John Cusack, the sound track, Jack Black, everything. I even like the DVD disc as it looks like a little record.

          This film is based on the book by Nick Hornby. The screenplay was written by John Cusack, D.V. DeVincentis and Steve Pink. They decided to transpose the setting of the book from London to Chicago which is a town they were familiar with and which has a great music scene.

          The Cast and Characters
          -------------------------------
          John Cusack - Rob Gordon
          Iben Hjejle - Laura
          Todd Louiso - Dick
          Jack Black - Barry
          Lisa Bonet - Marie DeSalle
          Catherine Zeta-Jones - Charlie Nicholson
          Joan Cusack - Liz
          Tim Robbins - Ian "Ray" Raymond
          Chris Rehmann - Vince
          Ben Carr - Justin
          Lili Taylor - Sarah Kendrew
          Natasha Gregson Wagner - Caroline
          Sara Gilbert - Anna Moss
          Bruce Springsteen - Himself (cameo)


          Cusack is brilliant as Rob Gordon. Rob is a thirty-something owner of a record shop who's girlfriend has just dumped him. The film opens with Rob listening to a record in his headphones and begins with his "What came first, the music or the misery" monologue. It's instantly engaging to have the character speak directly to you from the screen. This continues throughout the film, constantly switching between scenes in which the characters are interacting and scenes in which Rob speaks to the camera. It really brings the viewer closer to the action and makes you feel like you are really involved.

          The main catalyst for the story is that Rob's girlfriend Laura has dumped him. He begins by speculating about his all time top five most memorable break ups. This is where we are introduced to the Top 5 Lists that Rob uses throughout the film to describe things he likes and dislikes.

          As Rob goes to work, we are introduced to Dick and Barry. Dick is a quiet, gentle guy who looks skinny and bald and like he is cold! He loves music and is a little bit of a music fascist, but not particularly outspoken about it, just hilariously obsessive. Both Rob and Dick are listening to a Belle and Sebastian song (Seymour Stein) when Barry enters the store. Jack Black is the perfect Barry. He is absolutely hilarious. Barry is an obnoxiously loud, vivacious and vaguely threatening guy who works for Rob. He bursts in the door bemoaning the "old sad b........ music" that Rob and Dick are listening to. He proceeds to put in a tape and turn it up to full volume. "I'm Walking on Sunshine" comes blasting through the speakers and we get a brilliant dance routine from Barry. It's completely ridiculous!

          After the introductory scenes are over the film moves along with Rob's life as he lives through the grieving process of the end of his relationship. We see him at work and out at a club with Dick and Barry. The film is full of wonderfully awkward moments which just add to the overall comedy. Rob, Dick and Barry are music snobs who basically just take the rip out of anyone who knows a little less than them.

          One scene with Barry involves a customer browsing through records while talking to him. He suddenly exclaims "Don't tell me you don't own Blonde on Blonde?!" before putting the record into the guys hands and saying "It's gonna be alright". Hahahaha. I love this part because I could see myself doing the same thing.

          No doubt you will recognise people you know in the characters here. I know so many people, and I would include myself here, who could give you their top 5 songs about break up or top five track one, side ones etc. The top five lists are huge conversation starters with my friends and I. The first time we watched it we missed about half an hour because we were debating what would be on our top five side one track ones. We ended up having to rewind to catch the bit we missed.

          This film is a romantic comedy with a bit more of an edge. Girls like it because it's sweet and funny and has John Cusack and Jack Black. Guys seem to like the dialogue and the violent outbursts! (And the fact that it has John Cusack and Jack Black) And everyone I know loves the music and the constant pop culture references.

          It is a very comforting and happy film which I love to watch on a rainy night. The soundtrack is amazing and includes tracks by the Beta Band, Bob Dylan, Hendrix, Springsteen, the Kinks, the Velvet Underground, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Chemical Brothers, Love and Aretha Franklin... and many more. There really is something for everybody!

          Running Time: 109 mins

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            15.09.2009 15:42
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            A sweet and endearing rom com

            note: also appears in part on The Student Room and Flixster

            High Fidelity is an excellent adaptation of Nick Hornby's 1995 novel of the same name about a man who recalls all of his past relationships. Purists might be a little turned off by the fact that the London locale and cultural context has been changed to an American one, but it's still a very charming film that features some great performances, and also makes a household name of Jack Black.

            The film revolves around Rob Gordon (John Cusack), a man who is obsessed with music, but sadly, his relationships with women just aren't going well. In breaking the fourth wall, he talks to the audience and runs down his misfortunes with the viewer. After being dumped by Laura (Iben Hjejle), he tries to work out what he's doing wrong, by investigating all of his previous failures and seeing what he can do to rectify it.

            The rest of the film consists of him bumming around at the record store, with fellow employees Dick (Todd Louiso) and Barry (Jack Black) as they wax musical and talk about how sad their lives seem to be. Their banter is genial and extremely well written - Black in particular as the unrelenting cynic turns in a solid performance that no doubt helped him make a name for himself and become the star that he is today. Cusack is also very likeable and sympathetic as the lead character, and whilst I am a huge fan and therefore will watch anything that he's done, this is definitely one of his very best films, along with Say Anything. It's honest, it doesn't condescend to its audience, and it's also rather clever both in its maturity and its unique style.

            A highly entertaining film about relationships and music. A wonderful soundtrack with a charming turn-in from Cusack, and Jack Black's his usual wacky self also.

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            25.05.2009 16:40
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            Give it a spin

            I saw this for the third time last week, and was reminded of what a cracking film this is. Having read the book years ago, you always are a little cautious when approaching a film version, especially when the film had relocated the story to America in order to please Hollywood. In fact the re-location gives the film a slightly different feel (in a good way) without straying away from the plot.

            Usually when the lead character 'talks' to the camera/viewer, this can come across as a bit cheesy at times, but in this film it adds a certain charm and feels entirely natural. This is in no small part thanks to John Cusack's performances. Sometimes no matter how good an actor is, they don't 'look' the part, but Cusack seems to fit in perfectly in his role as the owner of the record store.

            Its the record store that provides the film with its most memorable and funny scenes, with Jack Black and Todd Louisio as his nerdy assistants perfectly casted. The scenes help to keep the main plot ticking along ensuring the film doesn't get too heavy on the relationship analysis side of things.

            This is a delightful little film, full of indie charm but with enough appeal to satisfy a more mainstream audience

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              02.01.2009 17:40

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              A really good way to spend an evening

              Oh how I love this film. I so much enjoyed the book that I was really nervous how it would turn out - but I need not have worried. John Cusack is brilliant in the lead role, and this remains Jack Black's best performance to date on the big screen. As a massive music fan, there are so many little moments in the movie to which I can relate, from the quandary he faces when considering how best to arrange his record collection, to the discussions about Top 5s, to what best should go on the mix tape....this is a rom com as well as a beautifully observed commentary on a moment in life which so many men and women get to, when they look back on their lives and wonder whether the best is behind them, and how to move successfully on to the next phase. I would recommend it to any music lover, but probably it will strike a chord most with the over 30s! If you fit into that category and have not seen it, then you are really missing out.

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              06.12.2008 16:26
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              John Cusack in funny, sensitive, not-rubbish book-adaptation shocker!

              Director: Stephen Frears
              Cast: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Todd Luiso, Jack Black.
              Release date: 7th May 2001
              Length: 109 mins (1 disc)
              DVD extras: Deleted scenes, interviews with Stephen Frears and John Cusack, trailer.


              Rob Gordon is an emotionally immature, 30-something vinyl addict. When not holding inane conversations with the two music nerds working in his failing record store, his life consists of days spent reorganising his record collection, mentally making compilation tapes and categorising virtually all aspects of his life into lists. Wallowing in self-pity after his lover Laura (Iben Hjejle ) dumps him for an ageing hippy, he recounts his top-five worst break-ups of all time and decides to track down these ex-girlfriends in an attempt to find out exactly why he's always been a loser in love.

              Adapted from Nick Hornby' best-selling debut novel, High Fidelity attempts to probe the darkest depths of the male psyche whilst concentrating on the history of one man's failed love life. The part of Rob seems almost made for John Cusack, who portrays him as an insecure, selfish, brooding whinger with a permanent hang-dog expression: supremely annoying in spite of his floppy-haired charm but so realistic that he appeals to the self-obsessed element present in all of us, arousing our pity if not exactly our admiration.

              The strong supporting cast includes Catherine Zeta Jones as Rob's shallow socialite ex from college, Tim Robbins as Laura's pony-tailed, tantric sex-expert boyfriend Ian and The Cosby Show's Lisa Bonet as Marie DeSalle, a singer and object of Rob's desire, It is Jack Black, though, who provides the most relief from Cusack's despair. Black manages to steal nearly every scene he appears in as the acid-tongued, deliciously obnoxious record shop employee Barry. He ricochets around the store, insulting every customer whose level of musical knowledge does not match up to his own and forever bullying his shy, geeky Belle and Sebastian-loving colleague Dick (Todd Louiso).

              Having sensibly chosen to let the actors themselves carry the film, Stephen Frears' imagination and skill as a director are nevertheless evident in the unique closing credits. His treatment of Hornby's frequent and long monologues is successful, as Cusack's asides to camera create more of an impression of intimacy between actor and audience than a simple voiceover narration would have done. The film is packed with musical references and its soundtrack, which includes songs by The Velvet Underground, The Beta Band and Stereolab, is not merely used to create atmosphere, but acts as backbone to the story of Rob's romantic history. Anybody who has organised their record collection autobiographically should understand!

              With a universally appealing theme and characters, the English novel translates well onto the American big screen. The extensive introspection by the main character drags occasionally, but this is still an example of well-crafted romantic comedy at its best - comforting but never committing that all-too-common sin of heaping on the cheese. Honestly yet sympathetically, High Fidelity explores a fragile and complex male ego and attempts to explain why men can sometimes act like such idiots. Rob eventually accepts the reality of relationships: that for every piece of lingerie there are many more pairs of old, greying knickers drying on the radiator, and that that's not necessarily always such a bad thing.

              The original version of this review first appeared in The Cambridge Student

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              13.11.2008 23:07
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              High Fidelity is about Real Life

              High Fidelity is a movie about real people living their very real lives. It is a quirky and fun movie with some very likable and interesting characters. The actors who play these characters do a really great job I might add. This movie is so great because it is very easy to relate to, which makes it all the more wonderful.

              John Cusack plays rob, who is an obsessive music collector who is in his early thirties. He owns a record shop where he employs some very interesting characters including, Barry, played by Jack Black and Dick played by Todd Louiso who have a tendency of driving the record shops customers away because they don't share the same views of what great music is that the employees do. Rob is a very immature, but is trying to figure out how to grow up.

              Currently Rob is in a failing relationship with Laura, played by Iben Hjejle, who begins seeing Rob's noisy upstairs neighbor. Laura wanted more from the relationship than Rob was capable of giving. To learn the reason that he is not able to give more and grow up he gets the idea to track down all of his ex's to get their perspective on why their relationships failed.

              This movie is extremely interesting and it deals with some very real issues of relationship failure that so many different people can relate to.

              I definitely recommend this movie.

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              22.08.2008 21:56
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              Very enjoyable movie

              I'll be honest from the start. I first watched this film, not because I had read the book (by Nick Hornby) and loved it, but because I had a crush on John Cusack... I know not the best reason.... But, hey, don't judge me!!

              John Cusack plays Rob Gordon, he is a serial list maker, who has lost his long term girlfriend. To help him 'heal' he examines his 'Top 5 All Time Worst Break Ups'.

              The main trio in this film are John Cusack, Jack Black and Todd Louiso and they work amazingly together, the chemistry just works. Also, backing up the plot, and the other three is Joan Cusack and Iben Hjejle.

              It is based in the suburbs of Chicago, in a record shop called Championship Vinyl. After Rob Gordon breaks up with his girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle), he decides to track down the ex-girlfriends in his Top 5 Worst Break ups. During the journey, he ends up making a list of the Top 5 things he misses about Laura.

              The references to classic music, and star studded cast make it watchable for both men and women. I know most people would say it is a 'Chick Flick', but I know a few men who have enjoyed this film.

              Alot of people could identify with the scenarios laid out in this movie, (if not to the same extreme), which makes the movie easy to watch, and appeals to most.

              It is funny, witty and thoroughly enjoyable.

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              11.08.2008 18:36
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              Top-notch Cusack flick based on Nick Hornby's brilliant novel

              An excellent adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel that moves the story from London to Chicago, retaining the dry wit of the author's world of love, loss and music.

              John Cusack plays Rob, a music-store owner going through a breakup, which prompts him to search out the reasons for his lacklustre luck in relationships and his deadbeat job.

              He tries to make sense of his life by revisiting past flames, one of whom is Catherine Zeta-Jones, a politically and socially-minded over-talker, which seems to suit her quite well.

              Meanwhile, Jack Black plays Barry in the hilarious role that made him famous, a rock / pop know-it-all working at Rob's music store who generally gets on Cusack's nerves.

              Overall, this hilarious movie is well-designed and built on top-five lists of relationships, breakups and music, with an amusing narrative / breaking the fourth wall from Cusack, who confides, shouts and cries at the viewer.

              Well directed, with great characters, and an excellent screenplay, this is one of Cusack's best films second only to "Grosse Pointe Blank". Perfect viewing.

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                05.08.2008 16:29
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                overall a good film, worth a watch

                This is a good movie, one i have watched many a time. It stars the very popular John Cusack, who plays rob, a record store owner. Rob breaks up with his longtime girlfriend Laura, and after much talking in this movie, Rob decides to make a list of the top 5 girls he has broken up with.

                The film, sees john cusacks character, talking to the camera alot, and i wasnt always keen on this, but the movie was definetely a really interesting film. Jack Black is also featured in this movie, and plays his typical type that we all love.

                Throughout the movie, John Cussacks character, constantly talks about his past, and you get a good insight into the character, and one that im sure alot of people can relate to. There are alot of references to songs, and john cussacks character uses these throughout the story, if nothing else the soundtrack is great in this movie. Overall this is a good film, i did feel the story could have been a little more complicated but it keeps you interested and was good to watch.

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                17.08.2005 14:17
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                Overall, great film, bit untidy but lovely for all that.

                Over the years there have been many plays, books, poems, songs and films devoted to defining masculinity. From Shakespeare's 'Seven Stages of Man' and hetero life partners Hamlet and Horatio right through to Laura Mulvey's assertions that the movie camera is a penis and hetero life partners Jay and Silent Bob - the mystery of what makes a man has puzzled Frankenstein, Frank Furter and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

                And in the light of all this, it seems strange that the nearest anyone has come to capturing the essence of manliness is a low-budget film adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel. Now, I must admit I hadn't read the book when I first saw this film but I'm reading it now and I have to say it's a brilliant adaptation so far.

                What makes a man if not obsessive attention to detail? It is the one defining characteristic that encompasses straight men, gay men, bi men and too-ugly-to-score-either-side-of-the-fence men. Whether it's football stats, batting averages or the Starship Enterprise's warp engines, everyguy needs something to memorise, categorise and classify.

                For Rob Gordon, owner of an independent Chicago record store, the passion for nerdistry is channeled into vinyl records and rock music - to the extent where he has driven away his long-term girlfriend, Laura. On a quest to win back his woman, Rob analyses every significant past relationship as he would a Greatest Hits compilation. This merry tale is interspersed with comic interludes from the two assistants at Rob's shop, whose music buff antics Rob both sneers at and indulges in roughly equal measures.

                John Cusack plays Rob, and he has arguably never been better. Cusack is forever at ease with the camera, and his conversational delivery is effortlessly entertaining. This is an especially good thing given that he spends much of the film addressing the audience directly as a narrator. His job is to describe the inner thoughts of a sex-obsessed, self-loathing, selfish and slightly psychotic man in such a way that all the ladies in the audience will still think he's cute and all the blokes will recognise themselves without wincing too severely. He pulls it off splendidly.

                Also on storming form is Jack Black, and of course this is the film that really launched his career. Black steals every scene he appears in with consumate ease, but never lingers long enough to become irritating as he does in, well, every other film he's ever made if we're being brutally honest...

                Catherine Zeta Jones puts in a cameo as Rob's former lover, a pretentious cow stuck in dinner party hell, and even Bruce Springsteen pops up for a little scene.

                But the performances, great as they are, pale next to the splendour of the dialogue and direction. The editing is superbly judged as Rob stomps grumpily from one chapter of his life to the next, scenes cut into each other abruptly and with huge contrasts in colour and tone but there is always either a cool graphic match or a bridging piece of narration to make the transition seem natural and effortless.

                And the script. Well, there's the obvious lines from the trailer, mostly by Jack Black, but on the whole this is Rob's film and it is he who delivers all the profound commentary on man's inability to be satisfied with a reasonable job and a nce girlfriend. This film would be philosophical indeed were it not for the highly hip musical observations.

                Ah, the music. It has to be mentioned, doesn't it? This is a film about people obsessed with vinyl, and so much of the soundtrack is going to be 'of a certain vintage'. But that shouldn't put anyone off - you might not be au fait with Echo and the Bunnymen, but you can still appreciate the hardcore nerd humour behind the references. In fact, the only bits of dialogue which really jar are references to more contemporary and already half-forgotten acts like Belle and Sebastian and the deadly dull Beta Band. There are classic tunes aplenty to hum along to when the observational comedy gets a little too near the knuckle, let's just leave it at that.

                Obviously, when a film has such a wide variety of things going for it, there have to be some drawbacks as well. And there are. It's not a big deal until you watch the film a few times, but you eventually start to notice that the story really is all over the place. People start conversations, there's a hilarious comic interlude or two, and then they finish the conversation. It's a little too long as well - do we really need the teenage band subplot which honestly only acts as a plot fix to get Jack Black singing? There's a little sense that the film ends about fifteen minutes before the credits actually roll, thanks to countless digressions.

                But at its core, well, lads, Hornby finally nailed our gender. Men are listmakers, over-analysers, territorial beings who will engage in psychopathic arguments with people they hardly know over which Beatles album was best, just to establish a pecking order. And deep down, we just want to be loved. Aw.

                Overall, great film, bit untidy but lovely for all that. You've probably already seen it, but catch it again as soon as you can.

                So, in conclusion, I suppose my question is this - what are your Top 5 dialogue moments from this film?

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              • Product Details

                Transplanted from England to the not-so-mean streets of Chicago, the screen adaptation of Nick Hornby's cult-classic novel High Fidelity emerges unscathed from its Americanisation, idiosyncrasies intact, thanks to John Cusack's inimitable charm and a nimble, nifty screenplay (co-written by Cusack). Early-thirtysomething Rob Gordon (Cusack) is a slacker who owns a vintage record shop, a massive collection of LPs, and innumerable top-five lists in his head. At the opening of the film, Rob recounts directly to the audience his all-time top-five breakups-- which doesn't include his recent falling out with his girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle), who has just moved out of their apartment. Thunderstruck and obsessed with Laura's desertion (but loath to admit it), Rob begins a quest to confront the women who instigated the aforementioned top-five breakups to find out just what he did wrong. Low on plot and high on self-discovery, High Fidelity takes a good 30 minutes or so to find its groove (not unlike Cusack's Grosse Pointe Blank), but once it does, it settles into it comfortably and builds a surprisingly touching momentum. Rob is basically a grown-up version of Cusack's character in Say Anything (who was told "Don't be a guy--be a man!"), and if you like Cusack's brand of smart-alecky romanticism, you'll automatically be won over (if you can handle Cusack's almost non-stop talking to the camera). Still, it's hard not to be moved by Rob's plight. At the beginning of the film he and his coworkers at the record store (played hilariously by Jack Black and Todd Louiso) seem like overgrown boys in their secret clubhouse; by the end, they've grown up considerably, with a clear-eyed view of life. Ably directed by Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons), High Fidelity features a notable supporting cast of the women in Rob's life, including the striking, Danish-born Hjejle, Lisa Bonet as a sultry singer/songwriter, and the triumphant triumvirate of Lili Taylor, Joelle Carter, and Catherine Zeta Jones as Rob's ex-girlfriends. With brief cameos by Tim Robbins as Laura's new, New Age boyfriend and Bruce Springsteen as himself. --Mark Englehart, Amazon.com