CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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GREMLINS: First They Take Manhattan,
Then They Take Britain!

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 01, 2008 • 2 Comments

Gremlins are back!

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Overseas in the UK those nasty critters, including Stripe, are having a blast destroying an office department to their exhilarating tune by composer Jerry Goldsmith. The TV spot uses ingenious computer animation to digitally transfer the original puppet-controlled monsters seamlessly from the Joe Dante 1984 original into a new modern setting. It is a marvel to behold. For instance, the gremlin going head first in the waste basket is the exact same one going into the bowl of frosting attached to the blender in the first movie’s notorious kitchen sequence. There are even some new actions performed by the gremlins that look convincing on part of the effects animators here. That tap dance sequence doesn’t exist, not even in the deleted scenes on the DVD.

Watching the TV spot only confirms the marketing department for BT, a Britain-based internet connection support company, are wicked masterminds. They even got Timothy Spall (Tim Burton’s Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) to do the voice-over.

I hope Hollywood and Joe Dante are paying attention. Here’s the pitch: Move Gizmo and the gang to Japan and call it: Gremlins: Lost in Transmogrification. And do it while Dick Miller is still around to play Mr. Futterman.

UPDATE (May 2nd, 2008) :

I was just informed by an insider involved with the Gremlins BT TV Spot that no gremlins from the original 1984 film were lifted (or harmed) for the advertisement. All of the effects work was created using new Gremlin puppets. The attention to detail and the superb homages to the original are simply astonishing.

Scene To Be Seen: THE DEADLY FRIEND (1986)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 01, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

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There are some movies that are the sum of their parts which require repeat viewings entirely. And then there are some movies that only have one scene that demand repeat viewings. Sometimes even bad movies can possess one scene that makes the venture almost worthwhile. Emphasis on sometimes.

The selection for my “Scene To Be Seen” today comes from Wes Craven’s 1986 horror-teen-romance The Deadly Friend — a cheerfully gory film that goes like this: Paul is a brilliant, scientific young man (Matthew Laborteaux, Little House on the Prairie, 1976-1983) who resurrects his murdered would-be girlfriend Samantha (Kristie Swanson, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986) using advanced robotics. Unfortunately, his corpse-crush goes haywire and targets the nasty old wench played by Anne Ramsey (Throw Momma From the Train, 1987) who lives across the street.

How malicious is this hag? She makes Mrs. Deagle look like Mrs. Claus. First she snatches a basketball away from our hero because it was on her property. And then (get this!) she opens fire using a double-barrel rifle on BB, Paul’s ultra-cool, talking robot he spent years constructing. And the robot was voiced by Charles (Roger Rabbit) Fleischer! Double-bitch!

Now put on your raincoat and watch the freaky comeuppance Samantha the Zombie Queen delivers to the evil crone! You’ll never think of shooting hoops the same way again!

Fair Warning: Not for the Squeamish.

If my brief synopsis piques your interest, I’d recommend a rental. It’s doesn’t attain the perfection of great trash like Re-Animator (1985) but you could do a hell of a lot worse. Director Wes Craven was disappointed though; he had intended to make a H.P. Lovecraft inspired romance but the studio made him cut back on the love and shoot more gore. Pity. This explains the weird hell-with-logic-for-the-sake-of-a-BOO! ending in the morgue. Then again, any excuse for a scare is a good one.

“BB!”

Ring! Ring! It’s Gordon.

Written by Christopher Beaubien • April 30, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

gordonMore viral marketing for The Dark Knight has been found at Clowntravelagency.com to further elevate your anticipation. Having entered the site, you’re just a few clicks away from filling out your name and phone number. Once you submit this information, be on guard for a phone call. If you dare answer it, say the given password “needle”.

On the other end, you will hear Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon interrogate you as a found member of the Joker’s gang.

“Let’s get a smile on that face!”

The Dark Knight comes to theatres July 18th.

Giacchino’s “Roar” is Released

Written by Christopher Beaubien • April 30, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

giacchinoYesterday, Ratatouille (2007) composer Michael Giacchino’s Roar, an eight-minute musical ode to 50s era Godzilla movies, has been made available on iTunes (only the US version). I couldn’t be happier. This was the only piece of an instrumental music to play over the entirity of J.J. Abrams’ produced Cloverfield, which was reserved for the end credits sequence.

There were only two elements of Cloverfield I enjoyed, in spite of how the filmmakers used their “hand held” camera like they were shaking a martini for 75 minutes. This brings new meaning to enjoying the end credits more than what preceded it. The music was like an award for enduring this tarnished hyped-up spectacle.

What I also enjoyed was really a who, Lizzy Caplan as Marlena. She was the only compelling character who had enough snark to go around the crowd of young, irritating drips surrounding her. To add insult to bug infection, she exited far too soon. With over a half-an-hour left, I was stuck the other survivors, too bored to cheer their deaths. At least, Marlena’s was kinda cool.

Followed by a strong cult following, the demand was as strong as the wait. Negotiations between iTunes over the release the Giacchino’s original cut of the score, which has been extended by five minutes, were met. Giacchino has said, “…there (were) a bunch of legal knots that need(ed) to be tied.”

Listening to the score again, I was reminded of Danny Elfman’s turbulently operatic score for Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks (1996). This main title sequence is so good that I could watch it forty-two times in the amount of time it would take to watch the actual movie.

The 2:06 mark is a killer.

Movie Review: IN BRUGES (2008)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • April 20, 2008 • 2 Comments

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Murderers… Twisting and Turning… in a “Fairy Tale Place”…

In early February 2008, the debut of writer-director John McDonagh floored me. In Bruges started a trend following David Fincher’s Zodiac in 2007 that at least one movie released in February was a masterpiece. What surprised me most about this gutsy film was how elegantly it focused on two Irish hit men from London. The youngest is Raymond (Colin Farrell), a cocky bloke who comes across as curt to others (“You’re a bunch of fucking elephants!”), but he isn’t mean-spirited, just thoughtless. Ken (Brendan Gleeson), a jovial soul masking a deep sadness, accompanies Raymond as his mentor in their line work and acts in some ways like a surrogate father figure. In a moment of great duress, Ken breaks the silence by reassuring Raymond, “You look good.”

For perhaps the first time in Raymond’s life, he is affected by gnawing guilt over an unforgivable accident he caused. His manic depression has made him suicidal. Their relationship is a fascinating because Farrell and Gleeson work so effortlessly together. A comradery of wit, pain and compassion. Killing for hire to Ken is surmised simply, “It’s what I do.”

Their boss Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) sends them away to hide in Bruges (“It’s in Belgium.”) after the last job got botched. With his nose in the guide book, Ken explains that “Bruges is the most well preserved medieval town of all of Belgium apparently.” On a wintry canal ride, Ken marvels at the old buildings and churches while Raymond sits with his shoulders hunched, bored out of his mind. Here Bruges is a setting closest to one can ever get to purgatory on Earth. It’s a perfect stage for these killers to reflect and act upon their trespasses. At one point in the Basilica of the Holy Blood, Ken accuses Raymond of “Throwing a fucking moody like a five-year-old who’s dropped all his sweets!”

While standing before Hieronymus Bosch’s oil painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, Raymond is compelled to ask Ken about his views of the afterlife. Ken is at a loss of words at first. A lesser movie would have moved on from there. Instead, we go outside where Ken honestly tries to answer Raymond’s questions. It is a perfect scene. Note how Raymond demonstrates his self-interest when he speculates about a boy never able to go to Bruges and says “I don’t know why.” These characters are so well-written that their own point-of-view is always evident.

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