CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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Movie Reviews

Movie Review:
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (2011)

by Christopher Beaubien • April 15, 2014 • Start the Discussion!

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Away From Herself...

Martha has been gone for a very long time. The one who took her place was a much more gullible and subservient young woman named Marcy May. It cannot be denied that she was very happy in her dazed, obedient bliss. To obtain this, she had to stretch her mind wide open for Patrick – her teacher, leader, and lover. This fifty-year-old man renamed her. “Marcy May” sounds more rustic and appropriate for her to stay in the Catskill Mountains, an unspoiled plantation that Patrick rules. It is the promise of this open land that awed the first settlers of America. Martha seeks this promise, lives the dream, and eventually wakes up trapped inside of a nightmare.

The movie begins as Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) escapes the cult one day. The fragments of her original identity are scattered and lost in the recesses of her molded mind. Upon further reflection of writer-director Sean Durkin’s insidious character study Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), it is a miracle that she even remembers the phone number that belongs to her older sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson). Martha takes refuge in a small town that she could not place on a map. A visual tell that grounds us geographically is an American flag drooping in the cold, which is seen out of focus behind Martha as she makes that pay phone call.

After a three-hour drive, Martha settles in a large vacation home that belongs to Lucy and her well-to-do husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy). Instead of a member of the family, she feels like a visitor. Some families don’t know how to go beyond the polite obligation of having to take in one of their own. Martha suffers greatly from existential angst as well as guilt, depression, confusion, and bottles up a deep rage she cannot direct. Lucy is torn between concern and irritation. After all, Martha is so irresponsible to have gone off the map for two years without calling. Surely, she must have had a ball while shirking off college along with her future opportunities.

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DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT:
BRIDGE NO. 29 (2014)

by Christopher Beaubien • January 15, 2014 • 1 Comment

I decided very early on that the hero of my short movie would be someone who has already lost so much and will continue to lose much more at the end. The title Bridge No. 29 suggests another chapter in the miserable life of Glenn (Matt Seeley) who has a nasty habit of burning bridges. The movie stands as a cautionary tale for those unwilling to take personal responsibility for their mistakes until they are thoroughly helpless. Another meaning of a bridge is what people at the mercy of despair are compelled to jump off of.

The helping hand that Glenn is reaching for this time is Sandra (Julia Harnett), an old friend he hasn’t seen in a long time. Their reunion couldn’t be more awful. When we are introduced to Glenn, he has already betrayed Sandra by breaking into her home and enjoying its comforts. Glenn feels justified to trespass because he is newly homeless. Surely, anyone willing to let him starve and freeze would have to be truly evil. His friend Sandra wouldn’t be that awful! Sandra’s empathy, however, is being thoroughly tested by a toxic friend.

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Movie Review: WEEKEND (2011)

by Christopher Beaubien • November 16, 2012 • Start the Discussion!

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Three Days and Three Nights in Marz

A proposition for a Queer Cinema elective for the MOPA program by Seanna McPherson and Ki Wight brings to mind one of the genre’s finest examples from last year called Weekend (2011). It is the sophomore feature by UK director Andrew Haigh who cut his teeth as an assistant editor on Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) and Black Hawk Down (2001) and then returned to his home base to capture this intimate Nottingham-set indie about two men who have a one-night stand and must decide how far they will allow their hearts to take them. It is in the same class of such smart, relatable and poignant modern-day romances like Medicine for Melancholy (2008) and The Myth of the American Sleepover (2011). To be more specific with the matter at hand, Weekend is as sweet as Stephen Frears’ Prick Up Your Ears (1987) is sour.

Russell (Tom Cullen), a reserved young municipal pool lifeguard, puts himself out one night at a club and runs off with Glen (Chris New), an extroverted artist who channels his personality to keep people from getting too close. He doesn’t do boyfriends or good-byes for that matter. After a night of sex, they keep finding more opportunities to hang out together. Their personalities are made to clash; yet they complement each other in ways that challenge their fears and ideals further. There is a refreshing frankness about their homosexuality that makes Russell and Glen into very specific and fully realized lovers.

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Movie Review: BERNIE (2012)

by Christopher Beaubien • September 12, 2012 • Start the Discussion!

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The Positively True Adventures of the Convicted Texas Widow-Murdering Mortician

Too often, people cannot believe that he – of all people! – could commit murder. They knew him! Laughed with him! Never saw it in him. That is the buzz coming from the good people of Carthage, Texas over their beloved Bernie Tiede – the real life subject of Richard Linklater’s bizarre crime story.

Teaming up again after their success in the tailor-made School of Rock (2003), Jack Black plays Bernie as though he was sprinkled in sugar. Bernie is a thoroughly spiffy and effeminate man. He is all roundness emanating a soft, optimistic voice. His mustache must tickle his lips to smile so sweetly. Working as a mortician, he tends to the deceased so they look their very best for the funeral.*

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Movie Review:
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
(1959 + 1999) and The Curse of Colorization!

by Christopher Beaubien • April 15, 2011 • 1 Comment

The Black-and-White 1959 Version

The Colorized 1959 Version

When The Price Is Dead Right

Nightfall. It is calmest before the storm as five hearses roll up the hillside carrying five fresh victims. Very much alive for now, they have all been invited by that eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) for his wife’s party… at the House on Haunted Hill. How he spoils her! To make the night more interesting (for himself), he has decreed that the guests will win $10,000 each if they last until morning locked inside the spooky mansion. They needn’t worry about losing by default of death since the money will then go to their next of kin. That Frederick… always thinking ahead.

The guests are strangers to each other as well as their host. More interesting that way. They include a typist and wallflower named Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig), the confident pilot Lance Schroeder (Richard Long), the psychiatrist Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal), the columnist Ruth Bridgers (Julie Mitchum – Robert Mitchum’s sister!), and the owner of the house Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr.) who is visibly frightened beyond his wits. He goes on and on about their imminent doom by the housed evil. Why go in? They all need money, you see.

Just upstairs held up in her room forever freshening her face is Annabelle (Carol Ohmart), Frederick’s scheming wife. Annabelle insists that it was not he who married her, but she. She also makes no secret of the fact that she loves only his wealth and wants it all for herself. Actually, Annabelle is just wife #4, but what’s most alarming is that those last three wives are dead. Frederick knows of Annabelle’s infidelities and can’t prove them. They’re a perfect match because Annabelle is smart and can hold her own. Frederick would surely agree she is a worthy opponent. Oh, how they love implicating their petty torments on one another! It is their mutual hatred that makes their relationship so strong.

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