Arts preview: John Cusack at Palace Theatre

Erica Thompson

Top five John Cusack films: “Say Anything,” “Being John Malkovich,” “Con Air,” “Grosse Point Blank” and “High Fidelity.” For a limited time, the latter two will be shown in theaters across the country. Oh, and Cusack will be there to watch with attendees and participate in a moderated discussion.

Columbus was lucky enough to secure a showing of “High Fidelity” at the Palace Theatre on Friday, Feb. 15. Based on the book by Nick Hornby, the film features Cusack as Rob Gordon, a music-obsessed owner of Championship Vinyl. In the record shop, he and his quirky employees (portrayed by a charismatic Jack Black and Todd Louiso) construct top-five music lists for myriad occasions and serve customers with more smirks than smiles.

In a recent phone interview, Cusack said he recognized the characters in Hornby's book from those who populated the record shop he visited while walking home from high school in Chicago. (As one of the film's screenwriters, Cusack shifted the story's setting from London to the Windy City.)

“They were the same guys,” he said. “They were … trying to live their lives autobiographically through certain albums and songs. … I definitely had a personal basis for wanting to do something about record stores [and] that culture.”

Not only a “love letter” to music and Chicago, the film is also “a comedy about men and men's insecurities,” Cusack said.

Those insecurities come out in Gordon's relationships with women, which he revisits in the aftermath of a breakup with his girlfriend, Laura. For those who haven't seen the movie, it doesn't reach a typical fairytale conclusion, but resolves in a more refreshing, realistic manner.

Following the screening, Cusack will take questions from the audience about not only “High Fidelity,” but his 30-year career as an actor, producer and writer. (The Q&A will be moderated byAlive's Erica Thompson.) Though it's easy to associate him with his slew of successful films in the '90s and early 2000s, he has acted consistently in recent years, appearing in movies like Spike Lee's “Chi-Raq” and several direct-to-video-on-demand projects.

“Sometimes you'll do a movie because you want to do it, and you'll do it for no money. And then you'll do another movie just as a job to pay the bills,” he said of his approach.

Cusack is also known for being politically outspoken, penning pieces for HuffPost and meeting with whistleblower Edward Snowden. Last year, he participated in a conference with Bernie Sanders at the Sanders Institute.

“I've always spoken my mind,” Cusack said. “I don't think you can separate art from politics.”

But he also realizes events like the forthcoming “High Fidelity” screening may provide an escape from “Trump and all the horror and craziness,” he said. “But if someone asks me directly, I'm not going to shy away from the question.”

7:30-10:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15

34 W. Broad St., Downtown

Palace Theatre