The Wolf Hour

Vampire Owl: I am not happy about the fact that the werewolves are getting more attention.

Vampire Bat: It is pretty much clear that they are not referring to those creatures.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that it could be about other wolves.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not. You can refer to animated or survival movies.

Vampire Owl: There is only one kind of wolf which is interesting for the movie-makers.

Vampire Bat: The season of the werewolves is over. They have lost it.

Vampire Owl: Such monsters are never out of the equation.

Vampire Bat: They survived in both Underworld and Twilight because the movies had vampires playing the bigger roles.

Vampire Owl: I have news that they are looking for something more.

Vampire Bat: Well, I can assure you that it is not about this particular movie.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: June Leigh (Naomi Watts) is no longer what she used to be, as she lives alone in a small apartment in the middle of the city, in the shadows of the books she had written a long time ago, and some of her words had turned her family against her – the rebellious nature had made her an outcast, but she still lives in the apartment owned by her grandmother who is no more. The year is 1977, and there are lots of uncertainties, especially in the neighbourhood where she is living. It is not supposed a nice place for a good-looking lady to live alone, as she is indeed troubled by many things, and the feeling that she is being stalked is just one of them. There seems to be looting and other acts of criminal activity, including arson and murder happening at parts of the neighbourhood, and June keeps herself inside the apartment room at all times, only meeting a grocery delivery boy named Freddie (Kelvin Harrison Jr) whom she trusts to take the trash outside without having to get out or take it down with a rope.

So, what happens with the events here? :: She is supposed to finish her manuscript and publish a book, because she had taken an advance, but that doesn’t really happen as expected, with her burning many pages which she had written. She calls her old friend Margot (Jennifer Ehle) who genuinely tries to help her with the needed support along with some money, but she turns her away soon enough. There is someone who keeps calling her on the buzzer at all times, but doesn’t respond, and she feels that someone wants to break in. She tries to call the police, but Officer Blake (Jeremy Bobb) who comes there is not interested in treating it as a genuine threat. But she can’t stop feeling something terrible happening outside, and even though she wants some money from the publishers, decides to stay inside the room. But things are getting more terrible outside, and with her psychological problems also seemingly getting worse, she would need to think about it deeply and come up with a solution.

The defence of The Wolf Hour :: Naomi Watts’ perfect one lady show makes the movie itself rise above all the possible limitations in a world of confusion and chaos running through the background. The atmosphere created here is also prefect, and we live with the lady within that room, and it nicely maintains two out of the three classical Aristotelian unities of place time and action, with only the second one moving out of line. It does have one principal action and you will find that it exist in a single physical location, the apartment which the protagonist never wants to leave – the only other places we see are in the television interviews of the same person coming in as a flashback, and after the end of action. You have the opportunity to go through the life of a strange, eccentric writer, proving yet again that the most creative writers and other artists can have a certain amount of madness in them, or the society might think so. You also see how Naomi Watts rises to become the character with such ease that we can’t expect anyone else in her place here.

The claws of flaw :: Even though there is the idea given, this is not really that mystery thriller with a touch of horror to go with it. You will feel a little bit misguided regarding the same, as drama keeps on having the upper hand. But whenever the movie struggles, and it does on a number of occasions, there is Naomi Watts to lift it a long way up, and it seems to have made the tale go lazy at times. The movie title also leaves the people confused, and even the description for the film given in different websites are not really accurate, as it stays away from the soul as well as the essence of the movie. It is also quite slow, and you have to admire the leading actress’ skill in not letting us feel the drag much. There could have been many more things in this film, and the fear could have been more real and close to life – there could have been someone psychotic behind the main character or even something supernatural in nature, but this film leaves all of those possibilities behind to make this one just the drama and nothing else.

Performers of the soul :: Naomi Watts is once again brilliant in playing this kind of a role. She had been in an isolated area during a deadly winter storm in the highly underrated thriller movie Shut In which had a twist to remember – the feeling of being stalked or haunted was there too, but here, it feels more psychological, and it gives her more opportunities as almost everything in this movie is about her, even more than any other previous flick. If you go further back, you had Funny Games, where she was taken hostage by psychopaths, and the danger was real at that time. So, she is no stranger to the genre or with playing with this kind of setting – the same is reflected really well here too. Well, for someone who was in The Ring and King Kong, this one is smaller kind of danger, but the scope for performance never gets small. Jennifer Ehle who plays her friend also contributes nicely when she is there. Among the other characters, Kelvin Harrison Jr plays his role nicely to be noted the most, and others also follow in this all-Naomi movie focusing on each element of her.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to show a certain dark side of living through the 1970s in the Unites States of America, especially in the urban area – it is something that would be different even if we consider the scenario in our world in this part of the world, because we remember the 1990s to be much different from the situation we have now. It makes us feel the danger, as well as the imagination of the main character, and we can feel the strange thoughts of the character running through there. We get to have a deep character study of a woman with a magnificent past, someone who let her insecurities take everything out of her, and it becomes another stage of bildungsroman for her, even though quite late in her career. The Wolf Hour is to be watched while taking the same into consideration, instead of what is seen or what is heard – what you might have thought about the film earlier won’t count as you go through this journey as it is indeed different from your thoughts about a mystery thriller.

Release date: 6th December 2019
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Alistair Banks Griffin
Starring: Naomi Watts, Emory Cohen, Jennifer Ehle, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Jeremy Bobb, Brennan Brown

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sibyl

Vampire Owl: I have heard that name before, and not just once.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if you go back in history, sibyls were oracles in Ancient Greece.

Vampire Owl: They had prophesied at holy sites of Greece, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, and their prophecies were supposed to be influenced by the gods.

Vampire Owl: I guess that they also lead to the foundation of many great cities.

Vampire Bat: Yes, because they go a long way back, with Heraclitus mentioning them in the 5th century BC itself.

Vampire Owl: Well, when gods speak through these women, you are forced to accept that it is the truth.

Vampire Bat: What they spoke were also collected in Sibylline Books. The Romans had them.

Vampire Owl: I have seen them at other places too, I am sure about it.

Vampire Bat: Michelangelo shows five sibyls in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. There are other similar art works, and has references in the works of Shakespeare. It is to be seen how this relates the movie here or if it is just a name used for the sake of it.

[Gets an marble cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A popular psychotherapist Sibyl (Virginie Efira) decides to quit her job and become a famous writer as she always wanted to. Her job no longer interested her, and work satisfaction gets to zero despite her patients feeling otherwise, not being able to continue without her expertise in their lives. As Sibyl begins to turn away patients, she has a lot of time, but no inspiration, reaching the writer’s block earlier than she had expected. It is why when she gets a call from Margot (Adele Exarchopoulos), a young new actress caught in a dramatic affair with a popular actor, Igor (Gaspard Ulliel) in the same movie, who is living with the film’s director Mikaela Sanders (Sandra Huller). This seems to be a complicated enough tale for a story as far as Sibyl is concerned, just like the newspapers finding entertainment from the lives of these celebrities who make news from the dress they wear, places they visit, food they eat and the people they meet.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The celebrity life becomes something special for the new writer, as far as entertainment is concerned, as she asks Margot about the minute details of their life, and records them using her mobile phone’s sound recorder to listen to the same later. Becoming further interested and immersed in Margot’s life, Sibyl begins to use Margot’s life as the main source material for her novel, finally seeming to get the inspiration and ideas that she always wanted, and at times, it also reflects moments from her own life. But where will that lead her, Igor and Margot, as Sibyl also has a one night stand with Igor while trying to help them to focus on the film instead of being uncomfortable with each other? None of them are really happy as they try to move to the end of shooting schedule because the film has already been delayed enough for different reasons. Now one has to wonder if it is the movie or the novel that completes first, whether it is the releasing or publishing that will bring the people earlier – Sibyl and Mikaela would definitely want things to speed up.

The defence of Sibyl :: Here we have a complex movie which has elements that go deep into a person’s eventful mind. The main character, even though specialized in dealing with such minds, is not a strong enough person in herself. As the complicated psychologist, the confused writer, the lustful lover and the struggling mother, all of these going safe with the leading lady who plays the main character, the only thing that the movie and the rest of the characters need to do is to follow her. She has easily risen above the level of the whole movie itself, as she is as much natural as she is a complex personality. There are questions about relationships and professional life, as well as love and career, as people struggle to keep both going in the same pace. There are a few dramatic, emotional and romantic moments which stand apart, and we have other moments which come as a mixture of different feelings. The visuals of France are very good as expected.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Sibyl does drag right from the beginning. The slow pace comes on to pull it back a little bit, but we can go past it eventually. The beginning itself was not that great, and the interesting moments takes a little bit extra time to come on the screen. Adele Exarchopoulos who was part of Blue Is the Warmest Colour is also not used well enough in this movie, and she deserved a role close enough to having a similar interest as the main character here. The twenty six year old actress earned such international attention and critical appreciation for that role, that being in a drama movie like this one, she could achieve even more. Adele is indeed that kind of a performer, and she is forced into the shadow of the main character here. The film could have also had some more action in between, and we are left with needing even more.

Performers of the soul :: It is Virginie Efira’s performance that elevates this movie to another level, and we can be only glad that we could witness he same, as it has many sides to it – she plays a character having so many sides, and all of them are indeed interesting. The forty three year old actress brings both experience and style into this movie, and it has to be noted that she looks at least ten years younger in this movie, as there is a certain amount of youthful vivacity in her, and this enthusiasm catches our attention more than anything else. Playing a complicated character like this required quite some skills. Adele Exarchopoulos is more or less known for Blue Is the Warmest Colour, a movie which has been known for its controversy, but was appreciated more – yet, it has to be noted that she doesn’t have that much of a work to do here while Virginie scores highly with each and every moment she is on the screen. But she remains close to her character, and so does Gaspard Ulliel. The rest are just smaller parts of the movie’s proceedings.

How it finishes :: Unlike the other French movies which I have reviewed on this page, this is one film which provides us with the feeling that it is clearly not American or British – maybe, the French feeling is there throughout it, somewhat the same being already there in Portrait of a Lady on Fire which made us feel the same less because it was more or less historical drama. Sibyl is not the kind of movie that everyone would love to watch with a psychotherapist with a complicated past trying to write a novel in which the characters who are from real-life, and they also have some similar problems. There is also the question about the meaning of life being asked, as many events happen with hope not being the strongest thing. The movie makes an interesting slow journey through the lives of these people, who become more or less like the common people rather than the big complex personalities which they seem to be in the beginning, and the movie comes to a simple end.

Release date: 24th May 2019
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Justine Triet
Starring: Virginie Efira, Adele Exarchopoulos, Sandra Huller, Laure Calamy, Gaspard Ulliel, Niels Schneider, Paul Hamy, Arthur Harari

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Raven

theraven (3)

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore — While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door”. These are the first few lines of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, The Raven, which we had to study as a part of our American Literature syllabus for the partial fulfilment of the Masters Degree in English Language and Literature. Even as I found the process of doing seminar about Emily Dickinson more fascinating in this particular paper, my favourite work of that one paper was undoubtedly this poem about this black creature. Later in the poem, we have a better sight of the magnificent dark bird: “In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door — Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door — Perched, and sat, and nothing more”. The poem created such a great supernatural environment with the raven’s unexpected visit to a man who is mourning over his lost love.

Even as this movie takes the title from the same poem, and carries over the same darkness which the poem had in itself, the movie is not directly related to the poem, as it rather fictionalizes the final days of Poe’s life until his mysterious death instead of taking the poem’s imagery forward, and at the same time, gives our poet the powerful image of a crime solver. The use of the image of a literary figure can always be interesting, and as this one poet is considered, he was that big an influence in our question papers that it was quite difficult to take a decision to skip his poems – for that would leave us with not much to score in the exams. There might be many differences between a crow and a raven even as they look the same; as we consider the two movies The Crow and The Raven, they also belong to two different worlds, united only be the presence of murders, deaths and the dark side in both the movies. As the 1994 supernatural action movie is concerned, it remains one of my favourites, but I can’t say the same about The Raven with its investigative thriller atmosphere even as I have my own reasons for liking it.

The story takes us back to the nineteenth century, when Poe (John Cusak) lives his life filled with alcohol claiming to have used up all his literary abilities, and the only other thing he is interested in is the love for one woman, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve). He is loathed by the lady’s rich and influential father (Brendan Gleeson) though. Meanwhile, a group of cops find two dead bodies of a woman and her daughter, and detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) finds out that the crime resembles a murder in the short story The Murders in the Rue Morgue written by Edgar Allan Poe. As more incidents follow, Poe is called to the police station and is asked to help the cops in solving the strange case. At the same time, Emily is kidnapped by the killer who asks Poe to publish a new story. The murderer keeps leaving Poe clues until he gets to that one final clue which would reveal what has lead to this situation, and also that mystery behind the killer should be removed. But as Emily is buried under the ground in a coffin and time keeps running out, Poe is left with less to think and more to act.

I might have to agree that this didn’t work as well as I supposed it would, even as John Cusack and Luke Evans have come up with very good performances and so did the villain who shall not be revealed here. Cusak plays the man who invented the detective genre and blessed us with the best of the supernatural, with so much ease, even as the question remains about how much the character in the movie has deviated from the original person except for the mustache. May be the movie tried to bring too much of the characteristics of the man into one movie which is a suspense thriller with an unnecessary romantic background, thus making it a little too much of a mixture. Poe might not have liked it, but as an admirer of his work, I do; and there is no suspense about it. Alice Eve once again gives her best along with being out of the league, making her way towards the character as she should have. She plays more of a lover of Poe as a poet and his ideas, and plans to marry him despite of the disapproval of her father; and this is one love story which doesn’t have a good beginning or a happy ending.

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! — Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted — On this home by Horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore” – the lines from the poem matches with the depiction of Poe in the movie too, as he accepts his dark imaginations in the movie, and asks if imagining is also a crime. He is shown as a man with no money or fame left, even as The Raven remains one of the most famous works. He finds solace in alcohol as well as his love, and attempts to publish articles instead of fiction which both the editor and the admirers want, and would be something which can bring him fame and fortune again. As he says “Nevermore”, we can see that his character mostly reflects the same man who is the protagonist in his most famous poem. He is there to prove his lines, “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted – nevermore”! So as the title is concerned, we can identify the man more with the protagonist of the poem of the same name, which is more Poe than anywhere else.

The Raven has its own collection of blood and gore, with even a huge mechanical axe-like device used by the murderer to cut a man into two halves, as the machine swings to and fro like a pendulum coming down towards the victim second by second – from Poe’s another work, The Pit and the Pendulum. The whole atmosphere is full of shadows and darkness creating the much needed creepy world. The villain is someone who knows Poe’s imagination more than he himself does, and his characters and stories too well. There is even that question about Poe inspiring those murders. The inspiration for the movie might be many slasher movies which came earlier, that is for sure. There lies the agony, and the sadness which arises due to the fact that this is just a random fictionalized story with lots of areas which could have been better. There could have been further logic and strong connections, but The Raven has taken the easy way out, with three of the skilled leading actors and an addition of the dark atmosphere supported by blood and gore, trying to work the mystery of a literary figure and his works. It does work in parts most of the time, but as a movie which requires that standard of the poem whose title has been taken, there should have been a lot more.

Coming from the man who directed V for Vendetta this is surely a let-down. May be the movie confuses itself a bit about what it tries to achieve, but this is still a good flick for the literature enthusiasts, especially fans of this one poet and his works, even as there can be disappointment about the changes in depiction of the poet, and the lack of anything amazing in the story that made him a crime solver. There was a lot more scope to this idea of the fiction which has been explored here. I liked this movie because I could connect it with Poe’s works which I had to study and it was easy to remember more about him with this movie, even as it would have helped me much better if the movie had released in 2011. This movie is my nostalgia, of my time reading Poe at college. I can’t say the same about others though, and for those who don’t know Poe or haven’t read any of his works, this is better to be avoided. The other choice for you is to read his works, something which might be a tough ask in a world which is ruled by fiction of no real quality. Still, I would suggest you read the poem The Raven, about which I managed to write a lot in my exam, and a reading of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel with it might prove further interesting.

Release date: 9th March 2012
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: James McTeigue
Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jimmy Yuill, Kevin McNally, Sam Hazeldine, Pam Ferris, John Warnaby, Brendan Coyle

therav copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.