Friday, 16 March 2012

The Raven (2012)

Tagline: The only one who can stop a serial killer is the man who inspired him.
Cusack plays: He IS Edgar Allan Poe.

Over 150 years after his death at the age of 40 mystery still surrounds the death and last days of American author and poet Edgar Allan Poe. This film imagines what might have happened if he'd spent his final days chasing a serial killer around Baltimore who is chopping up and murdering people in the style of some of his stories. The hunt is given extra urgency when Poe's ladyfriend is abducted and imprisoned by aforementioned nutter.

The film starts off, murdering aside, in a quite lighthearted and comedy style, with drunky Poe/Cusack rolling about taverns getting pissed, begging for work and flirting away. It then becomes a reasonably engaging whodunnit, with some misdirection (lingering shots willing you to believe certain people are dodgy), clues and culminating in gun fights on horseback.

"Is this your lamp?"

At just under 2 hours it still felt a bit like it was dragging in parts, and while I won't be adding it to the DVD collection I would probably watch it again in the future. Lots of British actors feature, including (hold onto your hats ladies of a certain age) Mr Bates from Downton Abbey. Cusack drops some weight and gets a reasonably dashing 'tache and goatee, and turns in what I deem a respectable performance.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Shanghai (2010)


Tagline: In a world filled with secrets, solving a mystery can be murder.
Cusack plays: Secret agent/journalist Paul Soames

I'm back! Over a year since my last review I have returned to the Cusack Challenge as there are new films to be watched. And even though I've been away its good to know some things never change - Cusack will be there playing a writer, in a suit, standing in the rain. Starting to wonder if these things are contractual...


Shanghai sees Cusack's Paul Soames travelling to Shanghai ("the Paris of the Orient") in the months before Pearl Harbour, initially planning to meet up with a friend/fellow naval intelligence agent, but upon hearing of the friend's murder starts digging into who did it and why. Working undercover as a journalist (his editor being the Earl of Grantham from Downton Abbey!) he falls in with local crime lord (Chow Yun-Fat) and his wife (Gong Li). Tensions rise both personally and politically...

This film seems to be aiming for a detective/crime/noir from the 40s or 50s vibe, down to the Cusack voiceover - "Connor was a lot of things, but he wasn't a fool". It's partially successful - I wasn't sure where the plot was going - problem being I didn't really care all that much either. Things only get really entertaining in the last 20 or so minutes when the action is ramped up and the guns , explosions and scenes in the rain kick in.

Would I recommend you see it? Nope, not really...