MMI: The Raven
The Raven is, to me, incredibly lackluster. John Cusack does a poor job imitating Jack Sparrow. The use of Poe’s stories is miniscule. And the killer... I think one question sums up this movie: “Who the fuck cares?” If you’re the person who wrote the movie, I’m sorry. If we learned anything from Django Unchained, soft-realism adds emotional punch and pleasure. Why? Because the brain is a predictive machine (see David Eagleman’s Incognito: the secret lives of the brain). Based on sensory input and previous experiences, the brain predicts what will happen (which is why a batter can hit a 98 MPH fastball he really can’t “see”). When those predictions aren’t met, we’re intrigued and often pleased (though it can be disappointing, like if you order your favorite dish at a restaurant and it tastes awful). If you think about this “surprise” factor, you can see how it works in movies that have surprised and pleased you, why traveling makes people happy, why foreigners can be so attractive, etc. etc. etc. Now look at The Raven. As someone who has watched a ton of movies, there’s nothing surprising to me about that movie. The end. The climax. The acting. Nothing shocking. Now insert time-traveling powers and holy shit do you have yourself a movie.
Here you have Poe as a destitute nobody. He’s angry and intelligent but poor and an alcoholic. He finally murders someone. And he murders more and more people in elaborate ways. Then he finds a time machine. He uses it and goes back in time. He stalks his younger self. When his young self goes to bed, Future Poe writes these awesome short stories. Or the ideas for the stories. Young Poe grows up as a successful writer, but is haunted by the fact that he has “lost his muse”. Which is just Future Poe has died so is no longer supplying stories for Young Poe. He ages, becomes an alcoholic, same person as the previous Poe. He commits some murders. Finds the time machine. Has the same idea. Goes back in time. Montage of this repeating. We then have one Poe realize what has gone on. That he has constantly been going back and supplying himself with stories (more stories each time). So he leaves instructions for himself. Go to the Future. We see Young Poe age until he finds the time machine (which is the year 1849, the year Poe dies) and then he disappears to the future. Then he comes back. But he comes back to the moment before he went to the future. So for the first time two Edgar Allan Poes confront each other. The one that is about to go to the future asks the one who went to the future what happens? And Future Poe murders Past Poe. He then goes and writes “Annabel Lee”. I don’t know if we’d have, while writing the poem, the explanation that in the future Poe researched himself and found out that he was a scorned name, a famous writer who went psychotic and murdered the wife that loved him. In the future, there existed paintings of the couple, photographs (when the technology was still so young). And Poe sees the beauty of Annabel Lee, can feel her love. It’s almost like he has memories of the time they had together. And in the same images he sees the darkness in his own eyes, the monster there. So this is why he went back and murdered himself. Or maybe we don’t get this in flashback while Poe writes the poem, but we see it in real time (poe enters time machine, we have this, he returns, and then he murders himself) so we know, we absolutely know why Poe is murdering Poe. Hm. But then Poe, reflective about everything he knows, writes “The Bells”. He then degenerates. His mind ripped apart by his time traveling past and his knowledge of himself. He decides to try to use the machine to go back to Annabel Lee. To save her. But the machine is gone. He spends a week in the place the machine had existed, imagining being with Annabel. When he comes to, when he leaves the room, the entire world is made up of ravens. Every object constructed from tiny tiny ravens. Which is an extremely surrealist expression of the idea of “nevermore” and loss and memory.
Cinema Beans: Shut Up and Play the Hits
James Murphy was understandably surprised when his band's final show at Madison Square Garden sold out. He was also surprised to find out that it was the result of scalpers mass-buying all of the tickets and selling them for outrageous prices. A time machine could have fixed that error right up! We also could have nixed that whole interview from the film, where some dude spits and sputters out some completely moronic and pretentious questions for LCD Soundsystem's front man...who knows nothing about pretension, right? RIGHT?!