CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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Obituary: Natasha Richardson (1963-2009)

by Christopher Beaubien • May 18, 2009 • 2 Comments


Renowned actress Natasha Richardson passed away this afternoon in Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Last Monday, she suffered a head injury in a skiing accident that took place at Quebec’s Mont Tremblant ski resort. She is survived by her husband Liam Neeson and their two children Michael and Daniel. After learning about the accident, Neeson left the set in Toronto filming Atom Egoyan’s Chloe (also starring Julianne Moore) to be with his wife. She was hospitalized Tuesday in Montreal’s Sacré-Coeur hospital and was flown privately to New York. Natasha was also joined in the hospital by her children, her sister Joely and their mother, Vanessa Redgrave. Her father, Tony Richardson died in 1991.

Natasha Richardson was a generous and talented woman from England. Trained at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, Richardson performed in a number of films, but was more committed to the stage. After starring in Gothic (1986) as Mary Shelly, director Paul Schrader cast her first major role in Patty Hearst (1988) as the title character who in 1974 was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) and joined her captors’ cause. Richardson earned The London Evening Standard Award for Best Actress of 1990 for her performances in Volker Schlöndorff’s A Handmaid’s Tale and Schrader’s The Comfort of Strangers.


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.


Obituary: Stan Winston (1946-2008)

by Christopher Beaubien • June 17, 2008 • Start the Discussion!


Stan Winston, a giant in old school special effects, has passed away. He is survived by Karen, his wife of 37 years, and his two children. Without his perseverance, imagination and the comradeship he had with those at Stan Winston Studios we wouldn’t have our Terminators, our “Stay Away From Her, You Bitch” Aliens, our Pumpkinheads, our Scissorhands, our Small Soldiers, and our Jurassic Park dinosaurs as we see them today. He won four well-deserved Academy Awards.

Winston on THE TERMINATOR (1984)

Winston on ALIENS (1986)

Winston on TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)

At a time when practically all visual wizardry can be accomplished with a computer, Winston’s work makes a compelling argument for the you-see-what-you-see handcrafted effects that are taken for granted. For granted because those seemingly breathing creatures on the screen made us focus on the real gem: the story.

German filmmaker Werner Herzog actually hauled a 360-ton boat up a muddy 40-degree slope in the Amazon jungle when filming Fitzcarraldo (1982) because visual effects wouldn’t be able to express such a feat as completely. I think Stan Winston would’ve appreciated that.

Before his death he supervising the special effects for Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins to be released next year. The last completed film Winston conjured with his magic touch was the brilliant Iron Man (2008). With his passing, the world just got less awesome.

Obituary: Sydney Pollock (1934-2008)

by Christopher Beaubien • May 26, 2008 • 1 Comment


This evening it was announced that Hollywood maverick Sydney Pollack died from cancer at his home in Pacific Palisades. At 73, he is survived by his wife of 50 years, Claire Griswold, and daughters, Rachel and Rebecca. Steven, Pollock’s son, died 1993 in an airplane crash. Pollock served on the boards of KCET, public broadcasting of Los Angeles, and the Motion Picture Television Fund. He was also a founding member of the Sundance Institute and the Chairman Emeritus of the American Cinematheque.

pollock2Working around the camera as a film director, producer, and actor over the past 30 years, he has earned 46 Academy Award nominations. He was the Chief Executive Officer of Mirage Enterprises which also produced his films. His directorial resume includes Tootsie (1982), a comedy where Dustin Hoffman disguises as a woman to get acting gigs, Out of Africa (1985 – winning the Best Director and Best Picture Academy Awards) a romantic drama with Meryl Streep opposite Robert Redford, Sabrina (1995), a remake of the 1954 rom-com staring Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford, and Greg Kinnear, and the documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005) about the fanciful architect’s working method.

As an actor, he has delivered thoughtful performances usually playing very knowing and cynical men who wield great power. He shined in films like his own Tootsie, Robert Altman’s The Player (1992) Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives (1992), Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Roger Michell’s Changing Lanes (2002) and Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton. Many of them he had produced. He also played Warren Feldman in the HBO series The Sopranos.

Sydney Pollock in “Tootsie”

Pollock died in the middle of his production The Reader, directed by Stephen Daldry, which is based on the excellent Bernhard Schlink novel (read by me) about a young man (David Kross, Adam and Eva, 2003) who discovers his past lover (Kate Winslet, Little Children, 2006), a thirtyish woman when he was 15 years old, is linked with Nazi crimes during the Holocaust.

Pollock once reflected about his work by saying, “I don’t value a film I’ve enjoyed making. If it’s good, it’s damned hard work.”