CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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Movie Review:
HARDLY BEAR TO LOOK AT YOU (2009)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • September 24, 2009 • Start the Discussion!

Here’s Looking at You, Kid.

At first sight, the couple walking and dining throughout Paris appear to be lovers. We are mistaken. Daniel, a trim and fortyish intellectual with a voice like Patrick Bauchau (The Rapture, 1991), is played by Jeremy Herman, the writer of Hardly Bear to Look at You (2009). Stella is a pretty performance artist in her early twenties, played by Anna Neil. A few years ago, Neil starred in a short film called The Yacht (2006), which was written and co-directed by Herman. The other director who also starred in The Yacht was Huck Melnick, who directed his first feature-length film, Hardly Bear to Look at You.

If you are enjoying the giddy sensation of your brain spinning, keep reading.

Daniel, an artist as well a connoisseur of fine food and wines, acts as a mentor to Stella. It’s questionable whether Stella realizes she is his muse — Sylvia to Daniel’s Marcello. Wandering the streets of Paris, he takes her out to restaurants and bars. Their relationship is one of flirtation, but never becomes one as intimate as in Guinevere (1999), though the Audrey Wells film took a more lacerating view of such a coupling. Daniel and Stella sleep in the same bed without sleeping with each other. Upon the description of this May-August romance, Daniel is surprisingly more sympathetic because Stella is never a victim and clearly has the upper hand here. Any advance made by him is either encouraged or vetoed. Director Melnick makes no judgment calls here, but I wish that Daniel had been scorched at least once. His feelings toward her are genuine, so why not challenge him?

He is utterly infatuated with her. The first two minutes of the film simply watches Stella sleeping in the morning light. Great concentration is made to the movement of her feathery collar as she inhales and exhales. Somehow, this does not feel perverse; it is a form of adoration in the sweetest sense. Known to savor the strong tartness of an olive, Daniel commits a silent declaration when he slides an olive into his pants pocket. More obvious is the shot of his jean-clad crotch after he has asked (read: directs) Stella to climb up three flights of stairs to ask her something. He admits to her that he has had sex with a number of women, including prostitutes. Stella claims to having had just a few lovers, but we suspect otherwise, considering how flirtatious and often she runs into other men she knew way back when. Sometimes she is cruel while feigning tactfulness. Being too close to Daniel’s perspective, his jealousy is infectious.

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The Victims of Colorization

Written by Christopher Beaubien • August 15, 2009 • Start the Discussion!

Film Still from “It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

“Keep Ted Turner and his goddamned Crayolas away from my movies.”
— Orson Welles

Vandalized Black-and-White Films (141)

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
30 Seconds over Tokyo (1944) (Turner Colorized Classic)
36 Hours (1965) (Turner Colorized Classic)
The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)
An Ache in Every Stake (1941)
Across the Pacific (1942) (Turner Colorized Classic)
Action in the North Atlantic (1943) (Turner Colorized Classic)
Africa Screams (1949)
Air Force (1943) (Turner Colorized Classic)
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
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The Best Films of 2009’s First Half

Written by Christopher Beaubien • July 19, 2009 • Start the Discussion!

best_2009_half

Moon (dir. Duncan Jones)
Goodbye Solo (dir. Ramin Bahrani)
(500) Days of Summer (dir. Marc Webb)
Nightwatching (dir. Peter Greenaway)
The Hurt Locker (dir. Kathryn Bigelow)


Coraline (dir. Henry Selick)
Gomorrah (dir. Matteo Garrone)
Polytechnique (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
Revanche (dir. Götz Spielmann)
Up (dir. Pete Docter and Bob Peterson)


Tokyo Sonata (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Knowing (dir. Alex Proyas)
O’ Horten (dir. Bent Hamer)
Lymelife (As Seen at the TIFF 2008, dir. Derick Martini)
Drag Me To Hell (dir. Sam Raimi)


Obituary: Natasha Richardson (1963-2009)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • May 18, 2009 • 2 Comments

n_richardson

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.

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DVD Releases: Synecdoche, New York, Pinocchio, Let the Right One In and More!

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

This has to be a record! Five of my choices for the Best Films of 2008 are being released today on DVD. To top it off, a real Disney classic has been given the pristine treatment. What a stellar date this is for film lovers.

Pinocchio (2-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition) (1940)

pinocchio

Pinocchio is arguably the best animated feature film that Walt Disney Studios initially released. This beautifully rendered animation directed by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton S. Luske makes my heart go out to the immortal two-dimensional format. It’s true that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) directed by David Hand was a revolutionary pioneer of animated features, but Pinocchio easily trumps Snow White as a compelling narrative.

About the video quality on Blu-Ray, David Boulet from dvdfile.com writes:

With Pinocchio, every brush-stroke, the rich texture conveyed by the surface of the canvas or paper, the consistency of the watercolor wash, or the density of the pastel chalk, is all displayed with dazzling purity. The effect is like being absorbed into a moving picture full of life and infused with the spirit of the artisans that crafted it together. Such nuance, which was obscured by the added artifacts of multi-generation film-print production for its original audience now breathes a new life of clarity for high definition viewers today. I can’t complain. I don’t think that Walt or his artists would either.

The DVD has a number of extras including documentaries, deleted scenes, and an indispensable audio commentary by Leonard Maltin, Eric Goldberg and J.B. Kaufman.

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