CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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The 28th Annual Vancouver International Film Festival 2009 Opens

by Christopher Beaubien • October 01, 2009 • Start the Discussion!

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One of the many upsides to living in a beautiful city like Vancouver (besides the freshest tap water this side of the Pacific Ocean) is that it holds one of the five biggest film festivals in North America. The Vancouver International Film Festival opens today. About 640 screenings of the 360 films to come from eighty countries will be shown over the next sixteen days (October 1 – October 16). That means we Vancouverites and visiting film buffs can see movies as far as award-winners at Cannes, Telluride (TIFF), et al. to those that will never get distribution here. Without the interference of a ratings board, anything goes. Along Granville Street, and from Seymore to Howe, the cinemas are our roller coasters, our bumper cars, our Tilt-A-Whirls. It’s a good comparison seeing as how the line-ups won’t be any different.

I am still disheartened that Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime (2009), a semi-sequel to his wonderful Happiness (1998), is not playing in the festival. After it played last month at Telluride to a very warm reception, Life During Wartime didn’t get distribution like so many others. Unless Solondz distributes it himself or keeps selling to those willing to take a risk (Hello Lions Gate Films!), it might be a long while to view. On the bright side, the Coen Brothers’ new film A Serious Man will have a Sunday morning sneak preview at the Park Theatre on October 11 before opening nationwide on October 16. The Coen film, unlike Telluride, will not be part of the VIFF. I am catching the Sunday screening so for me, it is part of the festival.

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The Victims of Colorization

by Christopher Beaubien • August 15, 2009 • 7 Comments

Film Still from “It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

“Keep Ted Turner and his goddamned Crayolas away from my movies.”
— Orson Welles

Vandalized Black-and-White Films (141)

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
30 Seconds over Tokyo (1944) (Turner Colorized Classic)
36 Hours (1965) (Turner Colorized Classic)
The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)
An Ache in Every Stake (1941)
Across the Pacific (1942) (Turner Colorized Classic)
Action in the North Atlantic (1943) (Turner Colorized Classic)
Africa Screams (1949)
Air Force (1943) (Turner Colorized Classic)
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
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DVD Releases: Synecdoche, New York, Pinocchio, Let the Right One In and More!

by Christopher Beaubien • March 10, 2009 • Start the Discussion!

This has to be a record! Five of my choices for the Best Films of 2008 are being released today on DVD. To top it off, a real Disney classic has been given the pristine treatment. What a stellar date this is for film lovers.

Pinocchio (2-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition) (1940)

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Pinocchio is arguably the best animated feature film that Walt Disney Studios initially released. This beautifully rendered animation directed by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton S. Luske makes my heart go out to the immortal two-dimensional format. It’s true that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) directed by David Hand was a revolutionary pioneer of animated features, but Pinocchio easily trumps Snow White as a compelling narrative.

About the video quality on Blu-Ray, David Boulet from dvdfile.com writes:

With Pinocchio, every brush-stroke, the rich texture conveyed by the surface of the canvas or paper, the consistency of the watercolor wash, or the density of the pastel chalk, is all displayed with dazzling purity. The effect is like being absorbed into a moving picture full of life and infused with the spirit of the artisans that crafted it together. Such nuance, which was obscured by the added artifacts of multi-generation film-print production for its original audience now breathes a new life of clarity for high definition viewers today. I can’t complain. I don’t think that Walt or his artists would either.

The DVD has a number of extras including documentaries, deleted scenes, and an indispensable audio commentary by Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg and J.B. Kaufman.

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Shirley Walker’s Contribution to “Apolcalypse Now” (1979)

by Christopher Beaubien • February 09, 2009 • 1 Comment

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Before becoming the next best thing to the likes of film composer Danny Elfman, Shirley Walker made her mark as a conductor for a few renowned films such as Randa Haine’s Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Jonathan Kaplan’s The Accused (1988). Her greatness was matched by the production of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) as her first gig in Hollywood. On the Internet Movie Database, Walker is listed as a synthesizer musician in the film’s music department. The original music credit goes to its director (listed as Francis Coppola) and his father Carmine Coppola. Coppola’s wife, Eleanor, was too busy documenting its production with stunning material that would later become Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991), written and directed by Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper who also made the wonderful film, The Man From Elysian Fields (2001). Like Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (1982) and its accompanying documentary Burden of Dreams (1982), Hearts of Darkness presents the production as harrowing an experience as Apocalypse Now.

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If I chose the Oscar Nominees…

by Christopher Beaubien • January 26, 2009 • 2 Comments

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If I chose the nominees, none of that would have happened. Permit me to unlock this web page with the key of film obsession. Beyond it is another dimension- a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of liberties. You’re moving into a space of both shadow and substance, of crimes and misdemeanors. You’ve just crossed over into . . . the Beaubien Zone. In here, I am the sole voter of the 81st Annual Academy Awards. To make it more interesting, I will not recognize any of the existing nominees from that thing we’ll call reality, as much as it pains me to see the Best Supporting Actor category without the Michael Shannon nomination. Not only is the challenge more enticing, but it also works as a collection of those deserving – some even more – who were snubbed. Now this would have been a far more entertaining Oscar Night!

Best Picture

Synecdoche, New York (2008): Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Sidney Kimmel
In Bruges (2008): Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin
The Dark Knight (2008): Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas
Revolutionary Road (2008): Bobby Cohen, Sam Mendes, Scott Rudin
Let the Right One In (2008): Carl Molinder, John Nordling
Special Mention: Wendy and Lucy (2008): Larry Fessenden, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Philip Seymour Hoffman for Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Brendon Gleeson for In Bruges (2008)
François Cluzet for Ne Le Dis à Personne (Tell No One) (2008)
Lee Pace for The Fall (2008)
Michael Shannon for Shotgun Stories (2008)

I was very tempted to also nominate Philippe Petit from Man on Wire for Best Actor. True, he is just playing himself, then again, he is always performing. Plus he does his own stunts!

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