CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT:
BRIDGE NO. 29 (2014)

Written 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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A Few Bits on A ZED AND TWO NOUGHTS (1985)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • February 07, 2013 • Start the Discussion!

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Peter Greenaway’s sumptuously decadent film A Zed and Two Noughts (1985) is one that sates both the visceral and cerebral palettes. One of the main themes that Greenaway presents is his “…fascination of twinship… particularly conjoined Siamese twins.”¹ Not only do the twin brothers progressively shed their individualistic fashion traits to look more alike, but Greenaway also conspires to make the composition of select shots throughout the film look synchronized. In this particular image of a lavish, heaven-like hospital room, the left side of the frame is practically mirrored with the right side. Production designers Ben van Os and Jan Roelfs place the furnishings to reflect one another across each other with a mathematical exactness.

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Movie Review: WEEKEND (2011)

Written 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)

Written 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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Drawing on the Rest of Life During Wartime’s Cast

Written by Christopher Beaubien • August 03, 2011 • Start the Discussion!

Artwork by Akiko Stehrenberger from the Criterion booklet of Life During Wartime.

The cast of Life During Wartime (2010) from left to right:
Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens (Andy Kornbluth), Shirley Henderson (Joy Jordan), Michael Kenneth Williams (Allen), Ally Sheedy (Helen Jordan), Rich Pecci (Mark Wiener), Michael Lerner (Harvey Wiener), Allison Janney (Trish Jordan), Emma Hinz (Chloe Maplewood), Chris Marquette (Billy Maplewood), Ciarán Hinds (Bill Maplewood)

As I suspected about the new Criterion release of Life During Wartime (2011) back in May, Miss Stehrenberger has illustrated the whole gaggle of characters from the film.

Beautifully done!

The arrangement of the characters complements their relationships to each other so thoughtfully. All three of the Jordan sisters are separated from each other. Joy is torn between her husband and the ghost of her ex-boyfriend. Helen, the black sheep, who has abandoned her family, is ignored by everyone. Most dominant is Trish, positioned up front. With her steely gaze, she has a dynamic presence. Her vibrant, almost violently paint-slashed dress suggests that she has survived a battle.

Notice how both Joy and Trish’s daughter Chloe have their arms behind their backs. I find Chloe standing in front of her mother has the stance of a foot soldier. Joy and Chloe also share similar hairstyles, head shape and facial features. How ironic that Trish is on her way to raising little Joy all on her own. Remember when Chloe wondered if baby carrots feel pain? That’s the kind of thought “Sensitive Joy” might have had as a kid.

Fathers and sons are paired together on both Wiener and Maplewood fronts. The two Wieners assume the same pose. I’m going out on a limb, but I doubt Bill has his hands in his pockets like his son does. Of course, Bill is cast off to the far right. The only character in the group he talks to is his son. Andy is on the far left – he’s dead with only Joy as his last connection to the the world of the living… or is it just in her head?