John Cusack wouldn’t go so far as to call it a misquote, but it wasn’t exactly accurate when a British newspaper recently published the actor admitting he’s only made 10 good movies.
“I was kind of being rough,” laughs Cusack during a recent interview in Toronto.
“(But) eight, 15 — something like that.”
While he seems modest, Cusack also doesn’t beat around the bush. It’s likely been key to his 25 years of big-screen success; when you see a John Cusack movie, you sense you’re getting the real deal.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in War, Inc., a film he can now add to his top-10 list. After all, not only did Cusack co-write, co-produce and star in the hilarious new comedy, but it deals with a political issue Cusack takes very seriously — war profiteering in Iraq. “People can be sombre and serious about it and they should be,” Cusack says about his film’s comedic approach. “With good satire, it’s just as serious but you’re looking at it through a different lens so you can maybe see it clearly.”
What Cusack hopes you see clearly is that the current U.S. government has turned the war into a subsidized for-profit economy for certain corporations.
Influenced by the writings of Canadian activist Naomi Klein, War, Inc. is set in the fictional country of Turaqistan (think Iraq). Cusack plays Hauser, a mercenary employed by an American corporation called Tamerlane (think Halliburton), which owns the contract to reconstruct Turaqistan (by building American fast-food joints and plastering military tanks with corporate logos).
It’s an absurd story but it’s not that far off the mark. As Cusack points out, Kuwait City is littered with American shops and restaurants that only accept a corporate-branded currency or “monopoly money,” as Cusack calls it.
“It’s very hard in absurdism to stay a step ahead of reality right now and that’s kind of scary.”
While Cusack indicts the current administration for its involvement, he also criticizes the Democrats for being silent.
“They can’t try to beat each other and the Republicans and take on (corporations in Iraq),” says Cusack.
“Of course, they could and they should but we’ve got to help them.”
In the end, Cusack’s hopes for War, Inc. is that it will simply move the people.
“There is a complacency. I just think on some level it’s a cop-out to say (people) know everything and they don’t care. I think people do care.”