CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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The Latest DARK KNIGHT Poster

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


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.



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!

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).

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.

BAGHEAD is coming for you…

by Christopher Beaubien • June 09, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

BAGHEAD (2008) Trailer

This is a movie that excites me – it could be very good or very bad – there’s no middle ground here. Even the poster is arresting for its mundanity, repulsion, eeriness and quirkiness. I’ve always found paperbags to be rather ominous.

bagheadWhat gives me hope is that the premise of a half-naked man with a eye-holed paperbag over his head will not be delivered as a straight-up horror film. No, the Duplass Brothers are too smart for that. Baghead is described by the filmmakers as being “funny, truthful, (and) endearing”, which makes it much scarier. Usually the combination of comedy and horror looks good on paper but is a trial to execute successfully as a film. It requires a deft touch like a Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, 1999) or a Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001).

Here’s the skinny: A bunch of would-be actors retreat to a cabin in the Necronomicon-filled woods to write an indie film over the weekend. The film has a light-touch when focused on the comradery and the wavering prospect of romance between friends. The proverbial bag-headed boogeyman that is penned by our heroes in their script materializes as a very human and intimate threat. This reminds me of the urban legend turned real in the underrated Bernard Rose (Paperhouse, 1988) film Candyman (1992).

From Mark and Larry Duplass, Baghead comes right after their whimsical The Puffy Chair (2005), which is on my To-See List after Jane Champion’s An Angel At My Table (1990).

Baghead will be shown in Austin, Texas June 13th. A limited release is still pending.