Raven Maniac: Cusack as Poe

It’s been kind of a heavy week, and today I say we cruise into the long weekend with a bit of levity.  Something light and fun, like stashing still-beating human hearts under the floorboards of your bedroom.

John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe……talk amongst yourselves.

Gifts of the Poe gravesite visitor

I discovered EAP when I was in the third grade.  My incredible teacher Rosie Galperin would allow us to turn off the lights, put our heads down on our desks, and listen to LP’s of Vincent Price reading Poe.  It was the real deal: The Pit and the Pendulum.  The Tell Tale Heart.  Hop-Frog.  Stuff so terrifying I didn’t even know what was going on half the time, but I knew it was brilliant and cut into the marrow of human fear. 

I get the impression this EAP film will be something entirely non-literary and more murder mystery, but if one can accept that, it could introduce interest in Poe to a new generation of readers.  I’m pretty sure you would get sued today if you let 8 years olds listen to those records, which is just a damn shame.  Oh, and p.s., Mrs. Galperin claimed to be an actual witch.  We ate it up with a knife and fork, but naturally that wouldn’t exactly play today either.

Let’s start with The Biggest Issue, which is for many of us, John is Lloyd Dobbler.  I love Lloyd, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve grown up since 1989 and so has John.  If you still conjure only Lloyd when you hear John Cusack’s name, you need to catch up.

You can Google John’s film career, I won’t go through the list.  But keep an eye out for a movie called Identity, which is incredibly entertaining and more than a little creepy.  As far as versatility, don’t miss this rather stunning collection of Cusack movies montaged to turn him into 007.

More than one voice has decried that Johnny Depp is not being cast as Poe.  Really?  Because a muscled sexy pirate is just what I think of when I think of Poe, how about you?

I could sort of see the point of view (also popular) that Robert Downey, Jr., would be a good candidate, but I disagree.  Again, too fundamentally attractive in a traditional sense and too cool to get the job done.

John Cusack is a solid choice.  He’s pale, brainy, and attractive in the way only depressed, intelligent guys in black who shun the sun can be.  Poe was a depressed intelligent guy in black.  Cusack will need more to make it work, but I think the foundation is not bad.

Now………Steve Buscemi.  We might be going somewhere very serious there.  But nobody asked me.

7 thoughts on “Raven Maniac: Cusack as Poe

  1. I think most actors cary baggage from old roles or have styles that dominate their parts. Usually those styles dictate how they are cast, far as I can tell. Thus Cusack was great in High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank, as well as Pushing Tin. I love Cusack and yes, Lloyd is burned into my brain, bringing back all sorts of youthful memories. The Sure Thing does the same for me, including the memory of shotgunning my first beer.
    I also think actors tend to have far more chops than what we see in their most famous roles, much like visual artists have much more in their reportoire than what made them famous (if they are famous). I’ll be interested to see Cusack in this role. I think Deppe is almost too obvious a choice in that it would create no controversial buzz- he is incredibly flexible, probably the actor I respect most these days (a pity Cage is a true, flesh and blood sellout); I don’t have any stylistic associations with him as I do with Cusack or Downey (or Clooney for that matter)- 3 fantastic actors who successfully bend roles to themselves it seems, rather than bending themselves to the roles. Downey is brilliant, but he tends to flex his smartass quippy muscles as a default setting.
    Buscemi is great, but I have a hard time imagining him as eery.
    And concerning Cusack as Poe, an analagous if more extreme situation that I thought worked (not sure what that says about my taste) was Dracula with both Reeves and Ryder- weird casting and I like the movie a lot. Besides that, though, sometimes the easiest casting decisions aren’t the best way to go.

    “Lloyd, Loyd, null and void……dissed in the Malibu, doesn’t know what to do.” From memory. What a great movie.

    • Heavens, where to begin. I am with you on all of your thoughts, save Buscemi, who is just plain eery/creepy to me (also hilarious — can never get over him dabbing tiny pieces of paper napkin on his wounds after he gets shot in the face in Fargo, as if he cut himself shaving…..I laugh till the tears come, and I don’t usually think violence and blood is funny).

      That interpretation of Dracula is one of my favorite movies, too. That weird personality trait of both Ryder and Reeves where they are sort of disconnecting from you all the time just as they get close is perfect in those roles. Nothing like getting sucked into the underworld to make slow motion disconnect perfect.

      What did you think of Cage in Leaving Las Vegas?

      And concerning the baggage from old roles, the man who pops to mind as having avoided that brilliantly is Daniel Day Lewis. Thoughts?

      I’ll see your loser rap in the parking lot and raise you this from memory: “I gave her my heart. And she gave me a pen.”

  2. Yes, DD Lewis is brilliant. And he has avoided the typecast trap. The general thinking on Cage is that he could have been great but didn’t mix roles enough b/t indies and big Hollywood, something Deppe has mastered. Cage’s finest hour was probably in Leaving Las Vegas. I think the frustration with him is that he has so much untapped potential as a pure actor, but has traded it in for big $$$ and let himself be the overacting cheeseball that he needn’t be. Ironically, my understanding is that he has had serious financial troubles despite his big flicks. Two actors getting on in years (probably our age or a bit older) are Penn and Oldman. Those guys could do anything. I also greatly respect Benicio del Toro.
    But what about women? Who are the great female actors? Streep? Robin Wright Penn? Emma Thompson? Definitely Dench and Mirren. Dench is one who can do anything- syrupy sweet to insanely creepy.

    • I like all the female actors you cite. I want to BE Judi Dench……….she is the absolute bomb. And Helen Mirren, lord. Both Dench and Mirren are just too cool to be believed. The are the kind of women who totally redefine for me what it means to be female. In the US we still haven’t quite gotten to the understanding that it can mean you are powerful, intelligent, and sexy in a new way as you enter the second half of life. So maybe they are the Penn and Oldman of the female set. Benecio is amazing, good catch on the amazing list. I also like Sissy Spacek, Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ellen Page, and Julianne Moore. I think Nicole Kidman is a wonderful actor, but she like others is hampered by her beauty in many roles. The Hours, now you can really see what she is capable of there. I like Julia Ormond a lot, too. I thought she was stellar in Legends of the Fall.

  3. Portman may be my favorite, starting as a kid in The Professional. If you’ve never seen Closer and want to feel soiled by the human condition, check it out- so seedy and well done, also a good Julia Roberts bit, one of her best. JJ Leigh is also at the top of my list- The Machinist is one of my top movies, and she is excellent as Christian Bale’s love interest (though he lost so much weight for the role it is hard to wtch at times- btw, I consider him brilliant, top tier). Holly Hunter is also tops, though my opinion may be skewed by my thinking that she is hot- but I’m confident that she really is an excellent actress, movie star attraction aside. Julianne Moore totally deserves her elite place in the film world. I will take exception with Kidman in The Hours- I know it’s subjective but I couldn’t stand that movie. I think she’s good in general but tends to fall into the stylishly wooden genre, which is inhabited by some serious actors, nonethelss. I think she’s a notch behind the others you listed as a pure actor.
    Speaking of Dench, she is great in James Bond flicks; and I must say my favorite Bond is now Daniel Craig- I rate him very highly as an actor, one of the best.

    • You may be right on Kidman. Maybe my expectations of her are lower than the others, I’m not sure. I’ve avoided Closer like the plague because I am afraid I will abandon all hope. I’ll probably see it some day…..and Daniel Craig, O-M-G. He IS 007 to me now, though I hear the series is in trouble with contract disputes. Boooo…..JT, it’s probably a good thing we don’t live in the same town. I see a lot of beer drinking and film critiquing and annoyed family members in that scenario. 🙂

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