CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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Criterion Gets a Life During Wartime (2010)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 18, 2011 • Start the Discussion!

For the first time, a film by Todd Solondz is getting the Criterion treatment. This is Life During Wartime (2010), one of the most exciting movies to come out last year that very few even noticed on its limited release. Now everyone has a chance to catch up with it as well as the characters from Todd Solondz’s most controversial film Happiness (1998). That’s right: Life During Wartime is Happiness 2! Now have Bill, Trish, Joy, Helen, Andy and the rest of the gang gotten along after ten years? Not surprising, they’re worse now than before.

Yes, Andy is still dead. Solondz just brings him back as a ghost to haunt his ex-girlfriend Joy. What luck Joy has!

At first glance, it appears that the designers at Criterion had their work on the DVD’s front cover handed to them. The final illustration and design of the original Life During Poster promotional poster by Akiko Stehrenberger was already at their high level of quality. All that was needed was to slap on that big C and set it to Screen. Before its theatrical release, I wrote about the process that the Life During Wartime movie poster went through to come to this.

That is until I found this on Akiko Stehrenberger’s bio:

Her illustrated poster, Life During Wartime, garnered press as well, which she recently adapted and illustrated the cast for the Criterion Collection DVD. She was deemed “Poster Girl” by Interview Magazine, and Creative Review published a 20 page zine of her illustrated movie poster work for their January 2011 Monograph series.

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Cinelation is on the LAMB

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 13, 2011 • Start the Discussion!

This is my best impression of a lamb.

 

Last Saturday, Cinelation was submitted as the #922 website in the Large Association of Movie Blogs (LAMB). Special thanks to Rachel, one of the site’s leading authors, who took my website into consideration and posted it.

The next day I was encouraged by Max Covill of Impassioned Cinema who found Cinelation through the LAMB. Judging from his output, the name for his website is very appropriate.

Of the livestock available, thank goodness the LAMB’s mascot is an adorable, fluffy one instead of grotesquely characterized variant.

Like this one:

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Do You Know the Movies in the Facets Video Logo?

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 11, 2011 • Start the Discussion!

It’s time to get to the bottom of this. Every time I play one of my DVDs for Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalogue (1988) series, I see the Facets Video logo: Six seconds that quickly fade in and out with fourteen movie clips a half-second each. Over the past seven years I have been able to identify four of them, which means I should be watching more films released by Facets prior to August 19, 2003.

I thought about getting in contact with Facets and asking them what these titles are, but what fun would that be for you cinephiles out there?

If you know which movies belong to any of these still images, write it in the comments and I’ll credit you along with the answer in this article.

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Movie Review:
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
(1959 + 1999) and The Curse of Colorization!

Written by Christopher Beaubien • April 15, 2011 • 1 Comment

The Black-and-White 1959 Version

The Colorized 1959 Version

When The Price Is Dead Right

Nightfall. It is calmest before the storm as five hearses roll up the hillside carrying five fresh victims. Very much alive for now, they have all been invited by that eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) for his wife’s party… at the House on Haunted Hill. How he spoils her! To make the night more interesting (for himself), he has decreed that the guests will win $10,000 each if they last until morning locked inside the spooky mansion. They needn’t worry about losing by default of death since the money will then go to their next of kin. That Frederick… always thinking ahead.

The guests are strangers to each other as well as their host. More interesting that way. They include a typist and wallflower named Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig), the confident pilot Lance Schroeder (Richard Long), the psychiatrist Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal), the columnist Ruth Bridgers (Julie Mitchum – Robert Mitchum’s sister!), and the owner of the house Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr.) who is visibly frightened beyond his wits. He goes on and on about their imminent doom by the housed evil. Why go in? They all need money, you see.

Just upstairs held up in her room forever freshening her face is Annabelle (Carol Ohmart), Frederick’s scheming wife. Annabelle insists that it was not he who married her, but she. She also makes no secret of the fact that she loves only his wealth and wants it all for herself. Actually, Annabelle is just wife #4, but what’s most alarming is that those last three wives are dead. Frederick knows of Annabelle’s infidelities and can’t prove them. They’re a perfect match because Annabelle is smart and can hold her own. Frederick would surely agree she is a worthy opponent. Oh, how they love implicating their petty torments on one another! It is their mutual hatred that makes their relationship so strong.

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Movie Review: INCENDIES (2011)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • January 28, 2011 • Start the Discussion!

Platinum

The Elegance and Dread of an Equation

Nawal Marwan is dead. She is survived by her twin children Jeanne and Simon, both in their late twenties and living in Montreal. They sit before the notary Jean Lebel (Rémy Girard) who had employed Nawal (Lubna Azabal) as his secretary for years. He has always considered them all to be a part of his family. The room is still and unbearably quiet. As he reads Nawal’s final will and testament aloud, Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) are disturbed by their mother’s final request. She wants to be buried naked facing the ground without a headstone to identify her. Where did this self-loathing come from? Jeanne keeps her composure and listens. Simon goes berserk over how cold and insane their mother was. He will not respect her wishes.

Professionally bound to secrecy about Nawal’s mysterious past, Jean emphasizes how grave this situation is: “Childhood is a knife stuck in the back of your throat. It cannot be easily removed.” Nawal will only accept a dignified burial on the condition that Jeanne and Simon accomplish a mission to redeem her. Two sealed letters lie on the notary’s desk. One is addressed to their estranged father whom they’ve thought was dead. The other one is news, a long-lost brother who was named “Nihad of May”. Their task is to find and then deliver their letters to them. Simon refuses to participate. After some soul-searching, Jeanne sets off to discover what regrets her mother had kept silent.

We cross back and forth between the divide of Jeanne’s daunting search and Nawal’s past. It is striking how much the two women resemble one another. Their determination and resolve is matched by their ethereal, solemn beauty. Their paths are separated only by decades as Jeanne follows her mother’s footprints in Lebanon from the North to the horrors in the South. For every startling chapter that closes on Nawal’s life, Jeanne comes much closer to solving the mystery. The question of ever figuring it out turns into another one supplemented by a great reluctance akin to rolling over a rock to expose the maggots underneath.

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