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Archive for 2008

Film4’s Kubrickian Advertisement

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


A couple months after the UK’s take on Gremlins, Film4 has paid homage to Stanley Kubrick (“You haven’t a dook of an idea how to comport yourself public-wise, O my brother!”), one of the most studied and revered filmmakers. To kick off the Film4 channel’s seasonal tribute to the highly guarded auteur, their production house Channel 4 Creative Services concocted a TV spot in homage to The Shining (1980). The following promotional clip takes you through The Shining set in one continuous 65-second tracking shot, a film aesthetic long favored by Kubrick since Paths of Glory (1957), from the director’s point of view.

Channel 4’s KUBRICK SEASON Advertisement

kubrick2The attention to detail is absolutely terrific from the recreated sets that look exactly like the original Overlook Hotel corridors and hedge maze from thirty years ago to the lighting and lens choice — a 25mm Cooke lens that was favored by Kubrick. The amount of visual in-jokes will have die-hard Shining enthusiasts viewing it several times before none have escaped their close attention. I marvel at the prospect that the filmmakers even cast Kubrick’s crew to look like the real-life counterparts including John Alcott, Kubrick’s longtime director of production before his death in 1986. Watch out carefully for a half-dozen dead ringers of The Shining’s most prominent characters. Oh, and the tricycle that appears at the end is the real deal. This is the type of work ethic that makes me beam with joy.

Citizen Kubrick, a new documentary by Jon Ronson will first head off ten of the selected movies from Kubrick’s generous filmography. The chosen films range from the most famous (Lolita, 1962; 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968; Barry Lyndon, 1975) to the most obscure (Killer’s Kiss, 1955; The Killing, 1956). After watching the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001) by Jan Harlan, one of Kubrick’s closest producers, I’m still very curious about the secretive genius. I am also relishing the published 304-page diary by Matthew Modine (Short Cuts, 1993) on the making of Full Metal Jacket (1989).

Woe, Originality, Woe!

by Christopher Beaubien • June 26, 2008 • 3 Comments


June 23, 2009: This article works best when regarded as a contingent whole from a distance rather than one meant for scrutinizing. By recognizing the existence and length of “Woe, Originality, Woe!”, the point is made as sharp as a slashing celluloid projector — fingers and palms are cautioned.

Have you recently felt waist-deep in the remakes that Hollywood is churning out at us? Those suits are approving them faster than a greasy teenager can wrap up and deliver an equally greasy feces-spotted burger. Now you have to understand, the execs are timid and frightened of green-lighting anything new and original. After all, anything untried could fail and cost them their job.

So far this year we’ve seen Peter Segal helmed Get Smart, The Eye, Shutter, Prom Night, One Missed Call, Funny Games, etc. With the exception of the Steve Carell flick, they all sucked, but that didn’t stop future Idiocracy members from making them profitable, which ensure more and more remakes…

Get ready to duck and cover because here they come!

TRAIN (2008) by Gideon Raff < Terror Train (1980) by Roger Spottiswoode.

The Echo (2008) by Yam Laranas < Sigaw (2004) by, you guessed it, Yam Laranas. It will be like George Sluizer remaking his chilling masterpiece Spoorloos (1988) into the Americanized (re: shitty) The Vanishing (1993).

The Valet (2008) by Bobby and Peter Farrelly < La Doublure (2006) by Francis Veber.

Star Blazers (2008) by producer Josh C. Kline < The Japanese anime series Star Blazers (1979). The upcoming movie will be live-action; just think Thunderbirds (2004) — question: did that hurt?


Obituary: George Carlin (1937-2008)

by Christopher Beaubien • June 23, 2008 • Start the Discussion!


Comedian. Teacher. Bullshit-detector.

The Irish-American who tried the FCC by delivering the Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Radio or Television on broadcast radio is gone. At 71 years of age, George Carlin, one of the very best and radical stand-ups, died of a heart failure on Sunday the 22nd in Santa Monica, California.

“Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Radio or Television”

Carlin was extremely influential. I am reminded of Lewis Black, one of his descendants who decreed that “there is no such thing as bad language” because we need those words to convey all the shit we go through. Through his comedy, Carlin channeled important issues like women’s rights, race, religion, and sports.


Viral Marketing on “The Dark Knight”: “Half!”

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


Last time Commissioner Gordon called you up. Then District Attorney Harvey Dent sent you his Call to Action as part of his re-election campaign via e-mail. I admit it. Come election day, I voted for Dent online because I believed in him. I’m glad HE WON! – you can also watch Dent’s Assistant Rachael Dawes endorse her support for him.

Just days after the Gotham Election Board closed on June 12th, we get THIS.

I only believe in him partially now.

Say, does anyone else think this map of Gotham City looks like a face?

July 18th is just a month away.


by Christopher Beaubien • June 18, 2008 • Start the Discussion!


Nearly a month ago, the trailer for the next highly anticipated film David Fincher film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button debuted before the fourth Indiana Jones movie on May 23rd. Now Fincher and Paramount Pictures have officially launched the teaser trailer today. For contemporary movie marketing, this is as good as it gets.


My first viewing of the trailer on the big screen was kind of a transcendent experience. Maybe greater than the one for The Dark Knight coming July 18th. Hell, it’s on par with There Will Be Blood from last year.

THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) Trailer

THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007) Trailer

The angelic and somber score accompanying the teaser of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button comes from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals – Aquarium sans the choir. It has been used in Terrance Malick’s Days of Heaven (1978) and a few Ren and Stimpy cartoons. Except for the odd line of dialogue that bookends the teaser, the music is dominant like a silent picture. It reminds me of the eerie, dialogue-free trailer for Dark City.

DARK CITY (1998) Trailer

Best of all, the David Fincher teaser doesn’t overstay its welcome clocking in at one minute and forty-six seconds. Too many trailers go to the trouble of cramming in every cool visual along with the final confrontation into two minutes and forty seconds. Over-eagerness does not suit a seducer.

button2The F. Scott Fitzgerald short story makes for a compelling hour’s read. It draws parallels to Daniel Keyes’ Flowers For Algernon. A baby is born wrinkled, decrepit and frighteningly able to talk candidly about the indignity of being given a milk bottle. As the time passes, Benjamin Button (nearly named Methuselah, referring to the son of Noah who reached the age of 969 years old) must contend with living a unique life of regressing to youth both psychically and mentally. He is always withheld from the conventional human experience, but strives for it anyways.

Within Fincher’s command after Zodiac (2007), his most successful feature, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button could become an instant classic. So long as Benjamin Button himself is a tragic character. It would be terrible if the filmmakers screwed it up with playing safe and happy with such a volatile and melancholy premise.

The film stars Brad Pitt (12 Monkeys, 1995), Cate Blanchett (The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999), Tilda Swinton (Young Adam, 2003), Julia Ormond (The Baby of Macon, 1993), Elias Koteas (The Thin Red Line, 1998), Jason Flemyng (From Hell, 2001), and Taraji P. Henson (Hustle and Flow, 2005)

Christmas is looking very promising this year.