The Raven (2012)

THE RAVEN (2012)

Director: James McTeigue
Writers: Hannah Shakespeare, Ben Livingston
Stars: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans
Trailer: [Link]

The Raven
Synopsis:

A bunch of murders happen and John Cusack tries to play Edgar Allan Poe, who is the inspiration behind said murders. A chase is afoot!

 

Review:

I’ve unfortunately been spoiled in the past with very talented portrayals of Edgar Allan Poe, which hurt my appreciation of this movie. If anyone has ever seen Stuart Gordon’s The Black Cat, starring Jeffrey Combs, you’ll sure know that he plays a compelling and balanced Poe, something Cusack struggles with. I was lucky enough to see a representation of An Evening With Poe, his theater monologue and I don’t believe that anyone will ever get as close to portraying this American poet and author.

Poe was a drunk, yes. And arrogant, too. The problem with Cusack’s performance is that he seems to be channeling his inner Hunter S. Thompson instead of the other, more famous writer. Mind you, I love both terribly; it just so happens that they’re not the same person. For all his faults, Poe was still a lot more gracious.

Of course, none of this really matters when the movie he’s portrayed in seems nothing more than a quick cash grab from the DaVinci Code thriller wave. It really feels that way, too; we’re going from one clue to the next, with adventure and chases everywhere with Poe in the lead, gun in hand. And like the DaVinci Code, the movie starts falling apart the moment one tries to imagine how the bad guy set everything up. For instance… SPOILER FOR THE REST OF THE PARAGRAPH… “Hopefully Poe will realize that the paper I signed under the newspaper is wet even though it was covered with the newspaper, so that he knows I’ve read the story before it was printed in the newspaper! Because if there’s one thing we have in the 19th Century, it’s extremely accurate weather that predicts precisely when it’s going to rain because I need Poe to know I put the paper there before the newspaper and I’m using the rain as the hint!” Stuff like that. It’s frustrating. I kept groaning every time they uncovered a new clue; there was no way any of those could have been successfully planned. It was all TV magic logic.

The action scenes are tacky and useless. Seriously useless. Pay attention to the ball, theater and cemetery scenes and tell me what point they had, except to pad the run time? Everything that happens in these scenes is either undone or forgotten later on. They could be cut and we wouldn’t lose anything. And the ending didn’t pay off. Obviously, those who know Poe, know how he ended. The movie tries to tie-in their story to Poe’s last days and it feels cheap. Terribly cheap.

I’d stay far away from this movie. If you want to see Cusack in a thriller, get Identity, a much much much better movie. If you want some Poe, get The Black Cat. Both are on Youtube!

Score:

♥ 1/2

A Stream of Gems

A friend is asking people over Facebook to suggest movies to watch and it’s always annoying when I want to share my movie experiences but have no way to actually get them a copy of the movie. Some I’ve seen at festivals, some I’ve found years past when my …acquiring ways… weren’t as legal. Nowadays though, I have Netflix and Youtube to thank for playing a lot of movies I consider misunderstood or barely known gems.

I’ve decided to share some with you.

 

PONTYPOOL (2008)

I have a special love for “one room” movies. Reservoir Dogs made great use of this but I think Pontypool bests it in some ways. Yes, I went there. No, the dialogue is not better; rare are those who can defeat Tarantino in dialogue-writing (directing is another story). But the way the movie is set and develops while always staying in that same late-night radio station is special and intriguing. Saying more would be to reveal too much but let’s simply say that it’s probably one of my favorite horror movies simply for the fact that it doesn’t spend any time trying to wow you with props and effects. It’s the story that gets you and in this, it achieves a very Lovecraftian feeling. This movie is available on Netlix.

 

 NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984)

It’s funny because the trailer sells it as this very 80s movie and you’ll probably start thinking you’re going to watch a National Lampoon sort of thing and while you end up getting that 80s feel, the movie is really nothing like it. They’ve basically taken the story of Day of the Triffids and taken out the deadly sentient plants. Add to this probably the first 80s female protagonist who isn’t either a super serious martial artist or a weak lover (she’s a cinema clerk / arcade gamer with a bad mouth) who isn’t getting rescued at every scene and you get a refreshing take on the whole “the world after everything blew up” trope. This movie is available on Netflix and Youtube.

 

A BOY AND HIS DOG (1975)

Is it me or were people unable to correctly portray movies in trailers in the 70s and 80s? This looks like a Terry Gilliam movie and the clown music isn’t helping. What you’ll find instead is a quirky, yet very dark movie about a boy (played by Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame) and his telepathic dog trying to survive the harsh wastelands of a post-WWIII land. Beware: it gets dark. This movie is available on Youtube. And a side note: if you start thinking that this feels a whole lot like the Fallout game franchise, it’s because it’s been a huge influence over the games.

 

EVEN DWARVES STARTED SMALL (1970)

Good luck trying to understand what this movie is about simply by watching the trailer… Herzog is weird, I think we all know this. In 1970, he made this. It’s definitely not for everyone. I think you should wait until you have a couple hours to waste, gather some friends, open a bottle of bourbon and watch it. You’re not going to understand most of it. That’s okay. I don’t think it’s meant to. I’ll try to explain it, though: an insane asylum for dwarves (whose employees are also dwarves) is taken over by the inmates who, for close to two hours, will break everything they see, try to have sex with one another and laugh at camels until they shit themselves. Eventually the asylum employees also go mad. Watch the director yell at a tree! It’s.. special. You can find this movie on Youtube.

Class of the 198X: Beaches, street gangs and party beats

MY GIRL WANTS TO PARTY ALL THE TIME PARTY ALL THE TIME PARTY AAAAAAAAAAAAAALL THE TIIIIIIIIME!

What is it about eighties movies that feel so different than anything else produced since the birth of cinema? Was it the porn camera filters? The music? The weird “nothing obvious is happening but we’re under nuclear threat all the time” vibe? The Beer Apostles and I have discussed this at some time or another and never were able to really put our finger on it. Personally, I think it’s the availability of cocaine and synthetic music…

Still, there’s one thing we all agree on; eighties movies need a few things to make it truly eighties. Ninjas, street gangs, beaches, mustaches, midriff shirts, short shorts, rock bands, explosions, drug deals, a ton of cops, high schools, Caucasian jock bullies, punks (dozens of them), graffiti, saxophones.

So we decided to sit down and watch what we felt mostly captured ALL (or most) of those. As always, we strove to watch movies we hadn’t seen, which is no easy task when you combine the movie-watching experience of the whole gang. We’ve also created an 80s movies Bingo card as means of rating.

80s bingo

Without further ado, here’s what we ended up watching.

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