John Cusack discusses the lasting appeal of Edgar Allen Poe

While making the rounds last week doing press for “The Raven,” Bullz-Eye’s Bob Westal had the chance to sit down with John Cusack to discuss the actor’s new film, his recent star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and other projects in development. But perhaps the most interesting tidbit in the interview is his explanation of why late American poet Edgar Allen Poe has remained so contemporary for all these years:

“I think he’s this classic sort of archetype for all of the shadow parts of ourselves that we don’t want to admit out loud or you’re not supposed to admit in polite company or society. You know, all of these terrors and fears and phobias and anguishes and torments, and also this kind of grave, deep love of language and poetry. I think he’s a genuine genius and he spoke to the language of the subconscious and he was a great poet and artist. A great storyteller; a wild creator of different genres and hybrids of genres and mash-ups of genres. He was a pretty talented man, and he was also just wired way too tight, so it was a volatile mix.”

Be sure to check out the full interview with Cusack at the Bullz-Eye Blog for more on “The Raven,” the possibility of a “Say Anything” sequel, and his upcoming role as Richard Nixon in Lee Daniel’s “The Butler.”

  

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Movie news for a no longer new week

A few items of note…

* Back in 1939, Hollywood’s best-paid screenwriter, Preston Sturges, sold his screwball political satire, “The Great McGinty,” to Paramount for the grand sum of $10.00 on condition that he also be allowed to direct the movie. (I think he might have gotten a buck for the actual directing gig.) To this day, writers often take a pay cut for the privilege of becoming what Sturges used to call “a prince of the blood.”

Today, Mike Fleming reports that writer Dan Fogelman may be about to be paid in the neighborhood of $3 million to direct his first feature. “Imagine” is set to star Steve Carrell and will pair him with an older actor –presumably an aging superstar — who will be playing his extremely absentee rock musician dad who discovers a letter from John Lennon and decides to actually meet his now-middle-aged son for the first time.

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* My colleague Will Harris forwarded me a press release with some exciting news for serious movie fans and fans of serious movies. Screenwriter and director Paul Schrader, still best known as the writer of “Taxi Driver,” but also a fascinating director in his own right with credits ranging from “American Gigolo” and “Cat People,” to “Mishima” and “Auto Focus” is poised to come back with “The Jesuit.” The deal for closed at the ongoing American Film Market, still underway in Santa Monica, and is set to star Willem Dafoe, Michelle Rodriguez, and Paz Vega. It’s a revenge film and, between that title and the Calvinist-raised Schrader’s well known inclinations from past films, you can hope for more than just a bit of spirituality meshing with the blood, guts, and sexuality. The Playlist has more.

* The Playlist also passes along the news that Christopher Doyle, an Australian-born cinematographer who made his name doing absolutely stunning work in Hong Kong for Wong Kai-Wai and others, is going to be making his first film in 3D. That should be interesting.

* From “True Blood” werewolf to Superman? Is it a Great Dane? Is it a lycanthrope? No, it’s Joe Manganiello.

* Hot on the heels of producing “Paranormal Activity 2” and wrapping “Area 51” the very shrewd Oren Peli is going back to the roots of American horror with a film loosely based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe.

* Screenwriter John August responds to a less than intelligent quote attributed to Jessica Alba.

* No, Ahmet Zappa and Michael Wilson aren’t writing “Tiki Room: The Movie” but an Polynesian tale that was inspired by the Tiki Room. I don’t care, as long as the birds sing words and the flowers croon.

  

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An ultra-fast end of the week movie news dump

I’ve basically got an hour here, though some of the news was gathered earlier. Let’s see how we do…

* The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has issued an APB for 79 year-old cinema bad boy, Jean-Luc Godard, director of such groundbreaking classics as “Contempt,” “Breathless,” “Weekend,” “Alphaville,” and others that might be just a little bit of work to sit through (but sometimes work is good for you). It seems they want to give him a lifetime achievement award, but when you’ve made a life of flouting cinema conventions and being lauded more than just about anyone in artsier quarters, an Oscar might not be a guy’s greatest craving. If you have information on the whereabouts of the cineaste, please report it in comments forthwith.

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* You know that standard sitcom episode where the office prima donna is given a new “assistant” and is terrified the new guy is really just a replacement in waiting? I’m thinking the set of “Mission: Impossible IV” might be just a little bit like that and I’m in now way implying that I think the new guy is a vastly more interesting actor than the other guy. Okay, I am.

* John Cusack will be Edgar Allen Poe in a new film inspired by the great writer’s poem “The Raven.” Something tells me it’ll be a lot less funny than the last movie with that title.

* Oh, brave, brave Dennis Miller, taking on sacred cow James Cameron whom no one has ever made fun of or criticized. (Remember the “king of the world” remark? Remember about a million pre-“Avatar” release blog posts and few million others afterwards?) Is THR’s Paul Bond completely in the thrall of rightwing radio memes?

* The long-awaited conclusion of the ultimate cinephile blogger summit is upon us. Yay.

* Director Neil Marshall is moving from his ultraviolent sword & sandals pic, “Centurion,” to a horror movie about cutting edge cuisine. Hold the fava beans and go straight to the nice chianti.

* RIP Ahna Capri of “Enter the Dragon.” Very sad.

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Take that Kyle Smith! A very special movie moment

I could go on and on and on about how stupid I think Kyle Smith’s attempted take-down of the entire Harry Potter series is. But, rather than go on at length with thoughts about how anyone who writes for the mendacious New York Post should think several times before discussing morality in culture, I’ll simply go with a Harry Potter-inspired fantasy movie moment I forgot to include over the weekend.

This one is from perhaps my favorite Roger Corman film, the relatively lavish 1963 B-picture, “The Raven.” Much more a comedy/dark fantasy than a horror film, and only tangentially related to the Edgar Allen Poe poem, it is written by the great horror/fantasy writer Richard Matheson (the novel I Am Legend, both the book and the film “Somewhere in Time,” and innumerable “Twilight Zone” episodes) and featured three of the true greats of old school horror typecasting: Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and (sadly not featured in this video) Peter Lorre. An extremely young Jack Nicholson is also on hand in the kind of bland, male ingenue roles that helped him to consider writing as a career.

I guess this might be the closest the movies have come to Harry vs. Voldemort until the second “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow’s: Part II.” Of course, since I haven’t read the final Potter novel yet, for all I know they settle the whole thing on page 1 with card tricks and an applause meter.

  

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