CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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Movie Posters: LIFE DURING WARTIME (2010) and Other Films by Todd Solondz

Written by Christopher Beaubien • June 27, 2010 • Start the Discussion!

Todd Solondz is one the most distinct filmmakers we have working today. Like watching one minute of a random movie by either Neil Labute or David Fincher without warning, you know it is by Solondz when you see one of his. My high anticipation for his new film Life During Wartime (2010), which premiered last year at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festive), is matched by seeing what its movie poster will look like — and for good reason. Over Solondz’s career from Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996) to Palindromes (2004), the posters of his films have been consistently inspired and in tune with each other. Their designs and illustrations(!) convey the sweet and sour qualities of his controversial themes, which engage and then subvert our expectations.  Whether it is Solondz’s direct influence or just what each different advertising company happens to come up with when facing his material, the results in style are remarkably alike.

Illustrated movie posters have been a dying breed for the past quarter of a century. Most of Todd Solondz’s films have kept that art on the respirator starting with Daniel Clowes’ take on Happiness (1998) and then what Kathryn Rathke ran with in Palindromes (2004). Life During Wartime (2010) continues down that illustration path – it’s very appropriate since Life is the sequel to Solondz’s Happiness – but not before some photographed design comps were made. Before unveiling the illustrated version, I will take you through how it evolved starting with the international poster made for the film.

LIFE DURING WARTIME (2010) International Poster

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Cinelaton: Redesign

Written by Christopher Beaubien • April 27, 2010 • Start the Discussion!

At last I am pleased with the look of the site. Being a bloody perfectionist is a torture for me. Nothing ever feels truly done. My head whispers incessantly, “It is never enough.” What’s worse about internal complaints are the echoes. With a blast of relief, I can look at Cinelation and not squint over a detail too inane for most to notice. Actually, I am more than pleased with the result. It really does look wonderful now. The joy of being a bloody perfectionist!

In the Spring of 2008, I began writing for a modest movie blog with only promises of being paid for all my work – once it became profitable. One year later, those promises turned more transparent as fewer e-mails about compensation were returned. This was after I went up and beyond to get their website promoted on the Synecdoche, New York DVD without so much as two nickles to rub together. I am a genuinely faithful man, but my patience went from creaking to dilapidation. This couldn’t be avoided any further. I would have to build my own website to house my reviews.

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Polish Movie Posters of “The Decalogue” (1988-90) and Other Films by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Written by Christopher Beaubien • February 14, 2010 • Start the Discussion!

“The Decalogue” (1988 – 1990)

Illustration (27.8” x 39.4”)
Krotki Film O Milosci
A Short Film About Love (1988)
Illustrator/Designer: Andrzej Pagowski

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Movie Review: FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • December 10, 2009 • Start the Discussion!

fantasticmrfox01

Stuffed and Moving

Do you feel your greatest talents are being squandered? Like there is no demand for your gifts and all you can do is struggle with jobs you should never have had to perform? At the end of the day, your real work lingers in a foggy distance, incomplete. Time passes quickly. You feel drained, stuck in a hole underground, looking out to make your mark and redeem yourself. This is how Mr. Fox feels. In this disarmingly charming (and quotable) film by Wes Anderson, as the fable goes, Mr. Fox risks the lives of others to use his talent for stealing chickens.

For a couple of years (twelve fox years), Mr. Fox has been married to the love of his life, Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) and father to their prepubescent son Ash (Jason Schwartzman). To do this, Mr. Fox swore never again to risk his life stealing food from the murderous farmers who rule the land. His modest income as an opinion columnist — another detail not of, yet worthy of Roald Dahl — doesn’t stop Mr. Fox’s ambitions of moving from his modest foxhole underground to live in a more upscale neighbourhood — a large, healthy tree. Because working for a newspaper lacks the thrill of chicken burglary, Mr. Fox jumps off the thieving wagon when he finds a new partner in crime in Kylie (Wally Wolodarsky), a soft-spoken, pudgy — but gutsy — little possum.

Cocksure Mr. Fox is forever young — cocky and sure of his invincibility — and takes everything for granted. While on a crime spree, he shows more interest in how the latest fox trap works than his own safety. Brimming with confidence, Mr. Fox tends to hog the spotlight. Watch him turn the attention back to him during a toast over a sumptuous banquet. Part of the fun is committing his forbidden theft under his wife’s nose and then watching her enjoy his catch.

He doesn’t give her powers of observation much credit as he stores his loot in plain sight — not to demean her on purpose, mind you — he’s just full of himself to the point of obliviousness. Mr. Fox shares a slyness — minus the malevolence — with Mr. Grinch. He’s so crooked that he could straighten a hill. Oh, and he loves calling his schemes “Master Plans”!

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My Own Movie Poster Design of Werner Herzog’s BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL
NEW ORLEANS (2009)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • November 07, 2009 • Start the Discussion!

Two weeks ago, Chicago-based film reviewer codenamed Quint (real name: Jim Fyfe) from Ain’t It Cool News challenged graphic designers and film fanatics alike to participate in a contest: Make An Insane Movie Poster of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Quint being a great admirer of the new Werner Herzog film from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – not to mention Jaws (1975)! – has had mixed feelings toward what its distributors First Look Studios and Polsky Films have done in the way of movie posters. First, they made an edgy poster that the MPAA threw its gavel down hard on for showing its title character pointing a gun at someone. Harvey Keitel, the original 1992 Bad Lieutenant from the 1992 Abel Ferrara film, amongst thousands of other trigger-itchy characters can point their gun at us gazers, but according to the MPAA we can’t handle anyone inside the poster being promised some bullets. Finally, First Look settled on a poster that looks like your generic rogue cop-seeks-killer thriller complete with two famous giant heads suspended over a landscape of dread and action.

Just like these ones!

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