Posts Tagged ‘The Raven’

Media Update 5/30/19

May 30, 2019


John Wick 3: Parabellum

The John Wick series caught me off guard when it first came out and I was instantly enamored of it. I have been a Keanu Reeves fan since Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and he has only gotten better with age. The John Wick franchise is the best of both worlds when it comes to action movies. If you want to tune out and watch awesomely spectacular action scenes then this movie accommodates you. If you want a whole world and tons of lore that you can explore and read deeply into, this movie is also for you. I have seen both reactions based on what that person chose to see in the movie. I am a huge fan of both sides of the coin. The fight scenes in this movie continue to be innovative and surprising. The movie is full of them. There are excellent martial arts scenes and there are gunplay scenes that are absolutely insane. Also, the movie dives into a hidden world behind our own. Each movie continues to peel away layers and there are still new layers underneath. Keanu Reeves is so good. This feels like the role that he has evolved to fit in perfectly. The movie also has an all-star cast each at the top of their game including Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Lawrence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, and Anjelica Huston. I am looking forward to what further sequels will yield as the next movie is already scheduled. I definitely recommend it.


Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

A few months ago, I watched the latest documentary on Ted Bundy and I was fascinated since it was not something I lived through. At the time, Netflix was advertising a controversial movie (this movie) which would dramatize parts of the Ted Bundy story. The main complaint was that they cast Zac Effron as Ted Bundy and Effron is a well known hunky and adorable actor. I felt like people were missing the point. The insidious part of the Bundy story was that he was so handsome and charismatic that people dismissed red flags and let him kill way longer than a less attractive person would have gotten away with. This movie focused on Ted Bundy and the woman who fell in love with him. As women were turning up dead, Ted Bundy was dating and then became engaged to a woman who already had a daughter. Elizabeth Kloepfer (in the movie they used her pseudonym of Liz Kendall) stuck by Bundy even after he was accused (and after she reported him the police as a possible suspect several times). In the movie, they play all the big moments of the story and it is hard not sympathize with Liz as she tries to navigate a relationship as her world keeps crashing down. Part of that is how well Lily Collins portrays a fragile and complex character based on a real complex person. Zac Effron is amazing and unnerving as Bundy, acting like a smiling shark. The movie also follows him trying to use his time in law school to work on his own cases and appeals. It is a fascinating movie that encapsulates the weird position that Elizabeth found herself in during an entirely weird and terrifying case.


Highlander: The Raven

The Highlander series is so strange. It has a long history of disjointed sequels to a pretty good fantasy movie. At some point, they sort of rebooted everything by creating a television series that I remember watching a bit of. In the late nineties, this show was created as a spinoff. The premise of the show is that an immortal thief named Amanda has led a long life of crime and adventure. Now she is bored with it all and seeks atonement by helping to solve crimes. Coincidentally enough, most of the crimes involve immortals somehow. Still, I found the concepts interesting. At least they did not introduce the concept of immortality and then forget it. Each immortal has spent their infinite life differently but each seems stuck in a loop, a sort of limbo. It is an interesting contrast to Amanda’s search for change and meaning. Still, Elizabeth Gracen does a great job with the character. Paul Johannson plays an ex-cop that works with Amanda to solve crimes. He is alright but, as you might see in the trailer, he is kind of bland. The show is late nineties as heck and feels kind of like the production values of shows like the original Charmed. I liked it well enough but I do not really recommend it. It also only went one season because the stars hated each other and nobody watched.

Music of the Week:
Interpol – Evil

Czarface X Ghostface Killah – Mongolian Beef

Lord Of The Lost – Loreley

Ava Max – Sweet but Psycho

Don Broco – Greatness

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Killers”
– I watched more Supernatural Season 14
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 2
– I watched more Ash vs. The Evil Dead Season 3
– I watched more Tuca and Bertie Season 1
– I started watching Game of Thrones Season 2
– I started watching Arrow Season 7
– I started watching Riverdale Season 3
– I started watching The Flash Season 5

The Raven (1963)

October 7, 2016

I am from Baltimore, Maryland. I am pretty sure I have mentioned this over and over at this point but it always bears repeating because I am proud to call the city my home. I was born, raised and currently reside in the city after an extended stay in New Jersey. So there are certain things that happen when you grow up in Baltimore. A lot of people watch Orioles games, watch Ravens games or go to the Senator Theater. What you definitely do as a kid in Baltimore is you hear the name Edgar Allen Poe a lot and you read and listen to The Raven a lot. The man was inescapable in Baltimore since he was a fixture there in the years before his death. He is buried in the downtown area and there was a long, mysterious tradition surrounding his gravesite that captivated our imaginations. In fact, my senior prom was held in the church that is attached to the small graveyard where his grave rests. And yet, it took reviewing The Raven (2012) to realize that today 10/7/2016 is the anniversary of his death.

Last year I reviewed The Abominable Doctor Phibes and I briefly talked about Vincent Price. Vincent Price is a legend. He has an instantly recognizable voice that has been imitated but never truly replicated. A lot of people go deep and rich when they are trying to be scary. Sometimes actors will make their voice raspy and full of hisses and grating sounds to be scary. Price had a slightly high pitched voice that normally would be innocuous without the acting talent behind him. The force of his personality can be felt in every word and the importance of his words is clear in every single tone. Horror is difficult because the smallest thing can make things seem silly and it sucks the fear right out of you. Older horror movies can suffer from this. However, a lot of the earlier horror movies drew power from using the principle of less is more. A lot of their performances were more subtle because they knew that the ideas themselves could be scary enough. It is not the only way to go about it and it is not necessarily better but it is different from a lot of the big budget films that come out now.

Vincent Price begins the movie by reciting part of the famous poem and, admittedly, the movie could have ended right after he was finished. Few people can recite horror monologues like Mr. Price did. My mind goes back to the terrifying monologue he did as a cold open on The Muppet Show. He has a way of building tension out of nothing and creating an urgency in my gut. Of course, the original poem is about a student longing for his deceased love while falling into madness while talking to a raven. In this, the protagonist is a former sorcerer who is tasked with turning the Raven back to human form. The title character is played by the legendary Peter Lorre who was probably most famous for messing with Humphrey Bogart characters. The two are joined by another horror legend in Boris Karloff who was in a ton of stuff but most famously he played Frankenstein. (Both the Monster and the Doctor in different movies). Karloff is always super creepy. His looks alone are enough to be menacing but his voice just adds to the feeling. Of all people, Jack Nicholson shows up as well. Rounding out the cast are actresses Hazel Court and Olive Sturgess.

The movie is certainly a long way from the dark and romantic poem full of longing and madness. There are plenty of horror elements to the movie. There is a little body horror, mind control and the living dead and these moments have more weight because they are surrounded by lighter stuff. The 1960s saw a peculiar movement that inverted the usual values of what made something “good” or “art”. This was the camp movement which used a certain kind of comic acting to parody more serious ventures. This movie came out shortly before the Addams Family and The Munsters premiered which utilized traditional horror elements in more comic subplots. Of course, this is not strange since Abbot and Costello did it fifteen years earlier. I am more than willing to see the funny side of Halloween since laughing at Death is the only way we can get by sometimes. The movie did a great job mixing a few horror elements in with heavy fantasy elements and plenty of comedy. While the jokes are funny, there is an undercurrent of spookiness that definitely gives me a good Halloween feeling.

Overall, this was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. While it was not a very scary movie, it was definitely suffused with the same spirit that lives in Halloween. I really had no idea what to expect from this movie since I knew the poem was not an hour and a half long. There is only so much you can stretch that original but brilliant poem and I am glad they did not attempt it. Instead, they introduced an original fantasy story that also homages the original poem just enough to be respectful. The ladies are mostly used as props but when they get a chance to act, you can see that they gave it all they had with few opportunities. Peter Lorre provides a lot of funny lines which I understand were mostly improvised. Nicholson was not great but he definitely got better with age. Boris Karloff is manipulative and politely creepy and I really liked his character. Vincent Price is very likable in this and he has unmistakeable charm. The thing was put together by legendary Roger Corman who definitely embraced camp and Richard Matheson who has had a prolific career. I definitely recommend this if you are in the mood for something a little less scary this year.

Media Update 3/24/2016

March 24, 2016


The Raven

I was told that this movie wasn’t very good. It was not the kind of thing I would see in theaters but I always thought I would watch it. One of the many drums I repeatedly beat on in this blog is that I am a Baltimore boy born and raised. Baltimore is deep in my heart and I will always look to Charm City for the rest of my life. I almost watched this movie around last Halloween but I do like to ration a little spookiness throughout the year. Poe is especially a legend in Baltimore so I was interested to see a period murder mystery in the vein of his stories. The movie does an excellent job touching on a lot of his best works, especially the stories that involved murder (which is most of them). John Cusack is excellent as Poe himself, an alcoholic writer who constantly scraped for a living. The movie is a fun set of murder mysteries with a lot of dark and brooding charm. It also involves the last day of Edgar Allen Poe which is still one of my favorite mysteries. Don’t be afraid to check this one out.


Rise of the Guardians

Since we’re just a few days away from Easter, I thought I would finally check out Rise of the Guardians. To my surprise, I find that the movie is set in the days before Easter and Easter itself which I promise you I did not plan. I am not the biggest Dreamworks fan but I am a fan of alternate, bad ass interpretations of holiday figures. It’s an obscure fandom but I can dig it. The movie is surprisingly sweet and touching. I really need to stop saying this about Dreamworks/Disney movies because I say it almost every time. The movie is pretty exciting as it has a lot of almost anime-style magical combat scenes with very fluid animation. The movie also has a lot to say about belief, the eyes of a child and how knowledge of self is essential to how you live your life. The movie surprised me in places but also hit just the notes I was expecting at other points but that’s fine. It’s not the best-animated movie by far but it’s a great watch especially during the holiday season. That includes a lot of seasons.


A Fist Full of Dollars

I love a solid Western with the right tone and the right amount of action and character development. The imagery of the Old American West just lends it to really good movies. Though, when it comes down to the competition between Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, I will always pick Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood is a great actor and every movement and sound he made back in the day was important. He had the famous squint and a great, grizzled voice. His characters often minded their own business and were sucked into conflict like a wandering samurai. He almost never started the fight but he sure as hell was going to finish it. Add on the brilliant music of Ennio Morricone and some great direction and character work from the rest of the cast. This one was a movie I probably should have seen a long time ago. I don’t know what I was thinking but don’t make the same mistake I did and check this one out if you’re one of the few who hasn’t seen it.

Links of the Week:
Iron Maiden – Speed of Light
Celia Cruz – Guantanamera
Second Sound Barrier Trailer
Manic Street Preachers – Walk Me to the Bridge
Magic Sword – In The Face Of Evil

Weekly Updates:
– I’ve been glued to watching Lucifer this week
– The Peoplve vs. OJ was used as an incentive for homework
– I watch Last Week Tonight every week even when its on hiatus
– I’ve gotten back into the Daily Show
– I need to get away to see a movie in theaters
– I can’t wait until Batman v. Superman is out so I can ignore it easier


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