CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
Subscribe
Rainbeau Creative
HAL 9000

Archive for 2008

New Trailers for “W” and “Happy-Go-Lucky”

by Christopher Beaubien • August 11, 2008 • 2 Comments

w_top

Poor, poor Dubya. With only half-a-year of his presidency left, Oliver Stone has him in the cross hairs and is ready to fire October 29th.

Two months since we have gotten the all-type Bushism poster, now here is the trailers that have official hit.

“W” Trailer #1:

“W” Trailer #2:

Looks like we’re going to see Dubya as all too human here. Much like how Stone saw Nixon in his excellent 1995 feature as a tragic figure worthy of Hamlet.

Hamlet
A man may fish with the Bush that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that Bush.

Just don’t skimp on the flaws, Oliver!

happy-go-lucky

Switching faces from tragedy to comedy, here is the new trailer for Mike Leigh’s upcoming Happy-Go-Lucky. This one is made for the North American audiences so be sure to take a shot of Insulin Glargine.

Now this trailer is just dying to make this bittersweet British comedy come across as a sweet-and-low Julia Roberts vehicle. A desperate attempt turning indie gold look like mainstream schmaltz. It has the banal Disneyesque-pop music cues, the kid-friendly editing wipes (swooshing sound effects are not optional), the garishly bubblegum-polished graphics, and the voice-over narration of Don LaFontaine in syrupy mode. Is Miramax really stooping this low for a Best Picture nom?

News Flash: a dozen years ago Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies (1996) got the coveted nomination, so have a little faith!

The international trailer that I wrote about 3 months ago is far superior and actually feels like it has the fingerprints of Mike Leigh on it.

The Real Happy-Go-Lucky Trailer

More about this movie

The sophisticated animated graphics with the cute and gritty edge – check! An editing aesthetic that does not condescend – check! The quirky yet somber soundtrack by Gary Yershon – check!

Question: Am I the only one waiting for the melancholy soundtracks of composer and Mike Leigh regular Andrew Dickson (High Hopes, 1988; Naked, 1993; All or Nothing, 2002; Vera Drake, 2004) to be released?

Happy-Go-Lucky will speak for itself (in limited release) on October 10th.

Movie Review: XXY (2008)

by Christopher Beaubien • August 08, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

What Is There Between Him and Her and/or Him?

Adolescence is a trial no matter what gender one is. The conflict can be so crippling that it damages and ultimately defines one as an adult. There have been many films, some good, about experiencing teenage angst and the need to break free or remain grounded. Either way can produce regret later in life. This film XXY has tread new ground by presenting a teenager whose entire identity, both internally and anatomically, is unusual to a majority of people. Funnily enough, the uniqueness of this case makes the experience all the more universal. The teenager is named Alex and is fifteen years old. Alex has a choice this summer that boggles one’s mind toward fantasy. The choice is whether Alex should resume the rest of life as male or female.

Alex is a hermaphrodite. Alex looks like a teenage girl but possesses the make-up of a boy that he/she has deluded with pills of estrogen. Alex is cared for by her parents Kraken (brilliantly played by Ricardo Darí­­n) and Suli (Valeria Bertuccelli) who live, for their child’s sake, in a wooden turquoise cabin near the seaside in Uruguay after moving from Argentina. Her father works as an oceanographer who possesses a protectiveness, even for the wounded sea turtles he studies. The key for observing this challenging and brave film is by possessing the empathy that Kraken has. He is quiet, smart, unobtrusive, and lashes out only when someone endangers his child. Rarely has a father been portrayed on film with such loveliness.

There is an astonishing sequence late at night where Kraken seeks out a frank older man who presents pictures of himself as a child — pictures of girl! Kraken listens calmly and curiously to the difficult experiences of this struggling hermaphrodite. He is so involved with understanding his “daughter” that he is simply removed from prejudice: “Making her afraid of her body is the worst thing you can do to a child”. This character was so easy for me to gravitate towards. CONTINUE READING ►

Movie Review: THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

by Christopher Beaubien • July 22, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

Gotham’s Finest! Consequently, also its bleakest.

I wept throughout the last two minutes of The Dark Knight and applauded rapturously throughout the end credits. This is the Batman movie I have been waited for ever since I discovered the Batman comics at the age of five. It is unrelentingly grim; however, it is also very optimistic because the power of good, slight as it is, glows against the darkness. When hopelessness engulfs its victims, true heroism at its most intangible and mysterious can shine in the corridors of the heart. Here, sacrifice is the key to combat such harrowing evil. I love exhilarating tragedies. This film has a prominent place on my list of the best films of the decade alongside the Dardenne Brother’s Le Fils (2003), Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (2007), Nicole Holofcener’s Lovely and Amazing (2002), Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and Mike Nicols’ Wit (2001). I love this movie so much that, despite the obvious legalities attached to this proposition, I want to ask Christopher Nolan’s permission to marry his movie.

In terms of on-screen performances, I’d like to do something rather radical, and focus on the work of Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent first. My first confrontation with Eckart was as Chad, the all-too-credible venomous charmer in Neil Labute’s In The Company of Men (1997). In that film, Chad persuades his pal Howard (Matt Malloy), an earnest lemming, while on their business venture out of town to play a cruel joke on a pretty, deaf woman (Stacy Edwards). It was a small masterpiece about how a sterile, corporate environment breeds nihilistic alpha males, nebbishes and their victims. Eckhart’s work was phenomenal in depicting misanthropy with such unnerving — in the worst sense of the word — humanity. This was a character actor to watch out for.

Throughout the last ten years, I’ve seen him shine in the corners of Your Friends and Neighbors (1998), Nurse Betty (2000), The Pledge (2001), and Conversations with Other Women (2005). Finally, Jason Reitman cast Eckhart as an earnest tobacco lobbyist in Thank You For Smoking (2005), which launched him into the mainstream as a leading man who could dive in the taboo stream (“It is in our best interest to keep Robin (Cancer Boy) alive and smoking!”) and retain his likability – he could smile his way through manslaughter if he wanted.

As Gotham City’s new White Knight, District Attorney Harvey Dent, Eckhart has finally delivered an astonishing performance in a mainstream blockbuster. Eckhart is so good that he deserves nomination talk along with Heath Ledger, who I will write about later. Throughout the first half of the picture, Eckhart is perfect as the passionate, though moody D.A. with his brooding forehead and easy smile. So eager to hang up the cape, Batman (Christian Bale) looks to Dent as a fearless crusader, his equal minus the mask, who could take down the mob and return Gotham to form. They both give one another strength like yin and yang: “You can’t quit!” Dent is a man who would rather face on powerful criminals in court (“I haven’t finished question him, your honor!”) than hobnob alone with stuck-up socialites at his re-election fund raiser. He simply prefers to make his own fate.

CONTINUE READING ►

The Latest DARK KNIGHT Poster

by Christopher Beaubien • July 08, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

dark_knight

Only eleven more days left…

“Normal criminals usually have logical motives, but the Joker’s insane schemes make sense to him alone.”
—Batman in The Laughing Fish by Paul Dini.

FUN FACT:

veidt

The Joker was inspired by Gwynplaine, the title character with the deformed grin, in The Man Who Laughs, who was played by Conrad Veidt.

Smile everyone!

Movie Review:
THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER (1989)

by Christopher Beaubien • July 06, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

Served Scolding, Heavily Trysted, and Blood-Thirsty!

This sumptuously lurid play, by Peter Greenaway, on depravity, sexual oblivion, and Jacobian revenge remains the most accessible and compelling in his filmography. It is also one of the few films I hold closest to my heart. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) is simultaneously simple and deceptive beginning with the film’s title. The main characters could stand for an angry allegory about greedy Thatcher-inspired bullies exploiting the working class citizens of Britain. Then again, perhaps this tale of excess, rape, and cannibalism is a heightened account about deeply wounded souls.

Le Hollandaise is a grotesquely bourgeois restaurant where the thief Albert Spica (Michael Gambon, Gosford Park, 2001), his wife Georgina (the indispensable Helen Mirren, Gosford Park and Last Orders, 2001), and his goons (Tim Roth and Ciarán Hinds) dine every night. We are introduced to Albert as he force-feeds a lowly member of the kitchen staff owing money his excrement, and elaborating on its value: “I eat the very best and that’s expensive!”

The cook, Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer, Diva, 1981) stands up to the thief’s boorish threats concerning his offered “protection” with a collected reserve that masks deep rage – “If you button your expensive jacket, Mister Spica, you feel less…empty inside, Mister Spica.” Seated in the center of the operatic dining room, Albert’s hostility extends toward everyone around him, including the patrons. Georgina, who Albert crudely dubs, “Georgie”, often berated and beaten by her husband, is quietly defiant. She makes eye contact with Michael, a quiet intellectual (Alan Howard, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003) as he eats and reads in the corner. Their infatuation leads to many excuses for a rendezvous in the opulent lavatory, where she and tender, love-handled Michael make desperate, explicit love as a means of escape.

Their sexual escapades take them behind closed doors in the kitchen, a secret quietly kept by the restaurant’s workers. Albert, obvious to being a cuckold, continues displaying his virtuoso nastiness with loud, arrogant (and darkly hilarious) commentary punctuated by violence: “I think Ethiopians like starving!” and “Human milk should be considered a delicacy.” Everyone around him is reduced to frightened submission. One night, he invites Michael to his table where he picks on his reading habits, “Does this stuff make money?” After having badly-bruised Georgina dictate how wonderful her life is (“Tell Michael you live in a big house and you spend a thousand pounds a week on clothes!”), she retaliates with news about her gynecology appointments (“Being infertile makes me a safe bet for a good screw.”) Albert drags her across the parking lot for that one. CONTINUE READING ►