Joaquin Phoenix to Enter Poe House
Rumors surface of Joaquin Phoenix ending his exile to play master of macabre
According to Dread Central , who got the news from the India Times of all places, actors Joaquin Phoenix will play Edgar Allan Poe in an upcoming adaptation of Daniel Stashower’s novel The Beautiful Cigar Girl. The novel follows Poe’s involvement in an unsolved murder case that he would later adapt into his short story "The Mystery of Marie Roget."
This news is a slippery slope because the India Times article that Dread Central cites is taken from Oscar-winning "sound recordist" Resul Pookutty (Slumdog Millionaire), who claims to have been hired to recreate the sounds of New York circa 1854. So whether or not this holds water or not is still frankly a little dicey. Still, if the rumor’s true, it’s potentially intriguing news. Phoenix is a wonderful choice for the role as he plays emotionally drained obsessed-types with aplomb.
At the same time, do we honestly need another pseudo-autobiographical bit of historical fiction about how Poe’s real life, especially his failed marriages, his debts and his alcoholism, shaped his writing? That strand of unimaginative biopicism that treats personal trauma as a cause for artistic genius is so dull, especially when dealing with an essential writer like Poe. Too few people take Poe’s macabre writing seriously because they dismiss it as florid exorcisms of Poe’s own, ahem, spirits. But his Tales of Mystery and Imagination is a seminal anthology and the stories within, especially stuff like The Black Cat, Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Tell-Tale Heart are vital works of short fiction.
The only time I can recall enjoying a pseudo-autobiographical story of Poe’s life affecting his art was the Stuart Gordon-directed episode of Masters of Horror where Poe is played by a caterwauling Jeffrey Combs and the piece that he supposedly created based on his real-lie is "The Black Cat." What other pseudo-biopic bits of historical fiction do you like? There’s got to be at least one other fan of the Lovecraft omnibus film Necronomicon out there.