CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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Columbia Pictures Gives Us GOOSEBUMPS!

by Christopher Beaubien • May 15, 2008 • Start the Discussion!


Columbia Pictures and Neal Moritz, the producer of Cruel Intentions (1999) and I am Legend (2007), have secured the rights with Scholastic Media’s Deborah Forte to make the R.L. Stine penned Goosebumps franchise into a theatrical feature. It’s like Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone targeted to kids. Executive Producer Andrea Giannetti (Vantage Point, 2008) will oversee the production. The release date is set at 2010.

The popular Goosebumps book series, much of it written and sold throughout the 1990s, holds second place as the most financially successful in the young adults demographic. It was published in over 32 languages and has sold more than 300 million copies worldwide. It was beaten by another youth-oriented serial written by some Brit named J.K. Rowling who specialized in wizards or something (supposedly 5 out of 8 blockbuster films were also adapted).

goosebumps2My reservations on an adapted Goosebumps movie is that it will be based on a Horrorland revision (unread by me) that includes many characters from previous plots. Between evil ventriloquist dummies, a preordained picture-taking camera, possessed Halloween masks, plant zombies, mutating green blood, and a summer camp that enslaves children to wash down a blob with teeth; I hope the filmmakers don’t bloat the film with too many creatures.

Why the invested interest? As a kid, I had difficulty being engaged by less than compelling material outside of Beverley Cleary’s Ramona serial. Unless the characters were personable and a real sense of doom was preordained, my mind drifted to more haunted thoughts of my imagining that proved more enticing. At the age of 7, I was introduced to the Goosebumps series, the closest in horror literature I could obtain at the time, by an antique dealer who I never saw again. As an early reader, I am in debt to R.L. Stine. Throughout grades four and seven, I read front to back over seventy Goosebumps novels. My father used to bribe me with a new Goosebumps book ($5.50 each) every week I completed all of my homework.


New DARK KNIGHT Trailer: “Here’s My Card!”

by Christopher Beaubien • May 05, 2008 • Start the Discussion!


“You either die a hero or…”

Wow! I saw this trailer before Jon Favreau’s Iron Man this weekend and I felt an exhilaration that removed me from all planes of reality and into a dimension that can only be described as heaven. I hope that Christopher Nolan not only has made The Dark Knight the best Batman movie ever (even better than Bruce W. Timm’s Mask of the Phantasm, 1993), but the best film of the year. I want this film to be so compelling that no drama or foreign film will compete for me. I can only dream.

twofaceEveryone here looks in top form: Christian Bale (American Psycho, 2000), Michael Caine (The Quiet American, 2002), Maggie Gyllenhaal (SherryBaby, 2006) – Thank Nolan they replaced Holmes!, Gary Oldman (Nil by Mouth, 1998), dual performing Aaron Eckhart (In the Company of Men, 1998) and the brilliant Heath Ledger (Monster’s Ball, 2001).

Quick Tidbit: When the Joker whips open his blade as he walks down the urban street with his back to us, you can spot a Starbucks shop on the right part of the frame. I know, I have to go on a trailer diet.

The release date is July 18th.

“And here we…GO!”

Wes Anderson is as crazy as a MR. FOX

by Christopher Beaubien • May 04, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

wesandersonWes Anderson, the director of Bottle Rocket (1996), the classic Rushmore (1998) and The Darjeeling Limited (2007), will helm the Fox Animation production based on the Roald Dahl novella The Fantastic Mr. Fox. The script has been adapted by Anderson and Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming, 1995, The Squid and the Whale, 2005), who both collaborated on the screenplay of Anderson’s own The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) — “I’ve never seen a bond company stooge stick his neck out like that.”

The stop-motion animated film will closely observe the character designs of the illustrations by Donald Chaffin for the book released in 1970. Class act Scott Rudin, who has produced Mother (1996), The Truman Show (1998), The Hours (2002), and No Country for Old Men (2007) among others, will overlook the production.

When asked about the animation in the film, Wes Anderson responded that “(it’s) like The Nightmare Before Christmas (and) those (Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. produced) Christmas specials. These [characters] have fur, so it’s not like claymation (like Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit). The settings will be very natural. We want to use real trees and real sand, but it’s all miniature.”

That’s fantastic news when one remembers those strange and beautiful sea creatures that were rendered with stop-motion by animation director Henry Selick (James and the Giant Peach, 1996) for Life Aquatic. Selick was set to co-direct with Anderson in The Fantastic Mr. Fox, but left to pursue the direction of Neil Gaiman’s Caroline. Replacing Selick is Mark Gustafson, who has had extensive experience with stop-motion animation in short, experimental films.

mr_foxThe Roald Dahl tale is about a wily fox who outwits a group of farmers out of their produce. Just imagine Max Fischer with orange fur and a tail. Mr. Fox will be voiced by the equally wily George Clooney. There is confirmation that Wes Anderson alumni such as Cate Blanchett, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray (sound the trumpets!), and Anjelica Huston will lend their vocal talents as well.


What Is Godfrey Reggio Up To Now?

by Christopher Beaubien • May 02, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

The next film of experimental filmmaker Godfrey Reggio will be Savage Eden, a collaboration between Philip Glass (composer of The Hours), and Ron Fricke (Baraka). These three have not all worked together since their breakout sensation Koyannisqatsi, one of my personal favourites, back in 1982.

godferyreggioReggio’s Qatsi Trilogy and Animi Mundi present moving imagery of landscapes from around the world that are manipulated by time-lapse techniques set to unique scores by Philip Glass. Savage Eden is a bit different, being described as a film that combines “narrative and non-narrative cinema”. Much like Reggio’s previous works, it will mostly be devoid of plot and characters. Reggio vaguely elaborates on the title during an interview with Barcelona 2004: “Eden, of course, is the God of Paradise from the Biblical reference, and the subject matter would be the “ism.” The point of view of the film is that when the physical and metaphysical foundation of life is collapsing, that leads to ideology, it leads to destiny, to control of human behavior through utopian fascism. When the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. So this film would be questioning the perfection of the “ism” of ideology.”

Whatever the filmmaker’s motives are, judging by his previous works, Savage Eden should be an awesome visceral experience.


Through The Philip Glass

by Christopher Beaubien • May 02, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

“Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts” Trailer

philipglassGlass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts is a new documentary about one of the greatest living composers from the last century, is in limited release now. The film, set for release at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007, marks Philip Glass’ 70th year. Scott Hicks, the director of Shine (1996 — one of the best films of the 1990s), has jumped at the chance to document Glass for a year while collaborating on music for his film No Reservations (2007). Hicks had been granted access behind the curtains and inside Glass’ home to present the artist more intimately. The documentary presents twelve different aspects of Glass, much like François Girard did for Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), a fictional account of the eccentric Canadian classical pianist who died in 1982. The Girard film was also one of the very best films of 1994.

Having produced experimental operas, in the late 1960s and 1970s, that most audiences first balked at (any Einstein on the Beach admirers out there?), Glass’ reputation as a unique contemporary composer grew over the decades from cult status to widespread appreciation and influence around the world. Listening to his music, he makes an indelible impression with his trademark use of repetitive structure. He even did a series called Geometry of Circles for Sesame Street.

Geometry of Circles

Filmmakers demanded Glass’ services as a film composer after the soaring success working on Koyaanisqatsi (1982), which remains one of the best film compositions of all time. Philip Glass sought collaboration with a diverse set of film directors such as Paul Schrader (Mishima, 1985), Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, 1988), Clive Barker (Candyman, 1992), Martin Scorsese (Kundun, 1997), Stephen Daldry (The Hours, 2003), and David Gordon Green (Undertow, 2004); most of who will be interviewed in the documentary.

For any self-respecting cinemaniac, this is a must-see regarding one of the most influential artists in the industry.