Edgar Allan Poe is the top premiere of the week. Reincarnated by John Cusack, the author of 'The Pit and the Pendulum' is now the protagonist of this thriller, where a killer finds a truly heinous way to 'quote the author'. The film, of course, is entitled The Raven, and is perhaps the reason for including a verse from this famous poem, 'Nevermore'.
We find another villain on the loose in ATM, and some unlovable criminals in Get the Gringo. Ironically, after fleeing to Mexico, the thief played by Mel Gibson does everything to get away from the country by the end of the film.
A less anticipated choice is the bittersweet drama I Wish (O Que Eu Mais Desejo) – lacking any trace of Mel Gibson, explosions, killers or any other atrocities. Instead, it is about a child working towards an otherwise unlikely reunion with her brother.
Sadly, it's all uncomfortably similar to the improbable reunion of good films and São Paulo screens these days.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) wrote a novel that many describe as 'seminal'. His prose set the standard for police narratives and also for those that write fantasy which, even today, stands on its own, despite some annoying people who call it a 'sub genre'. Some consider him the first truly great North American writer. He was also a vigorous poet (his most famous poem is, of course, 'The Raven'), literary critic, journalist, editor and alcoholic, devoting himself earnestly to each of these activities.
The movie The Raven (O Corvo) has no literary background. A killer inspired by Poe’s (John Cusack) tales begins to bring them to life, so to speak, by challenging the writer to enter his own fantasies. A vaguely similar premise worked well for Basic Instinct (Instinto Selvagem), A film of Paul Verhoeven’s, remembered less for that (Verhoeven) and more for the acting of Sharon Stone. Good times.
This, however, is a completely different story. The viewer is deaf, dumb and blind. Viewers who happen to have already read the tales of Poe might have fun recognising the numerous references to the works of Poe. The majority will probably be eager for a loud fast-paced movie, certainly something more in line with the latest Sherlock Holmes, where Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark without his Iron Man costume. Surely that will make the public feel more at ease.
Dir. James McTeigue, USA, Spain, Hungary, 2012. John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen. 110 min.
The Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu was able to explore familiar family drama like no other, careful never to be melodramatic. Wim Wenders dedicated one of his best documentaries to him, Tokyo-Ga. Hirokasu Kore-Era has an old tradition to honour, or at least to observe with the minimum required attention. It has been agreed that I Wish is far from works of art like Late Spring and Tokyo Story yet, it demonstrates dignity and grace in the rocky/rough terrain of human relationships. Two siblings are separated by their parents' divorce. The eldest hears a classmate say that any desire we have whilst two trains cross will come true. In order to meet the family, he will undertake a solitary trip alone to a point where trains intersect.
Dir. Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Japan, 2011. Koki Maeda, Maeda Ohshirô, Ryoga Hayashi, Face Ushida, Kanna Hashimoto. 128 min.
Mel Gibson robs a bank in the US and escapes prison by fleeing to Mexico. Unsurprisingly, the plan has disastrous results. He is caught by Mexican authorities and thrown into a local prison. With the help of a boy, the title of the movie is put into action. The question is: where will Gibson try to escape to? Maybe to Haiti? Or Israel? No, not Israel.
Dir. Adrian Grunberg, USA, 2012. Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, Dean Norris, Aaron Cohen, Patrick Bauchau. 95 min.
Oliver Sherman is an adaptation of the tale Veterans by Rachel Ingalls (whose Last Act: Madhouse had already inspired the movie The Last Sunset by Wayne Wang). The protagonists are two veterans of combat. Sherman visits his former battalion teammate Franklin, who saved his life many years ago, but has since become a husband and the father of two children. The behavior of misfit Sherman gradually begins to annoy his friend and his family, suggesting that the violence before, never left. In fact, it can erupt again at any time.
Dir Ryan Redford, Canada, 2010. Garrett Dillahunt, Donal Logue, Molly Parker, Kaelan Meunier. 82 min.
It's like this: three co-workers (two guys and one girl) are trapped in an ATM and are hunted by an assassin. The suspense created by a film like this – built on a tiny segment of history and spent almost entirely in one place – is the kind of thing that creates a common guilty pleasure, or a really embarrassing one. Ah, yes: they also posted the whole movie on YouTube.
Dir David Brooks, U.S., Canada, 2011. Alice Eve, Josh Peck, Brian Geraghty, Aaron Hughes, Omar Khan. 90 min.