CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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BAGHEAD is coming for you…

by Christopher Beaubien • June 09, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

BAGHEAD (2008) Trailer

This is a movie that excites me – it could be very good or very bad – there’s no middle ground here. Even the poster is arresting for its mundanity, repulsion, eeriness and quirkiness. I’ve always found paperbags to be rather ominous.

bagheadWhat gives me hope is that the premise of a half-naked man with a eye-holed paperbag over his head will not be delivered as a straight-up horror film. No, the Duplass Brothers are too smart for that. Baghead is described by the filmmakers as being “funny, truthful, (and) endearing”, which makes it much scarier. Usually the combination of comedy and horror looks good on paper but is a trial to execute successfully as a film. It requires a deft touch like a Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, 1999) or a Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001).

Here’s the skinny: A bunch of would-be actors retreat to a cabin in the Necronomicon-filled woods to write an indie film over the weekend. The film has a light-touch when focused on the comradery and the wavering prospect of romance between friends. The proverbial bag-headed boogeyman that is penned by our heroes in their script materializes as a very human and intimate threat. This reminds me of the urban legend turned real in the underrated Bernard Rose (Paperhouse, 1988) film Candyman (1992).

From Mark and Larry Duplass, Baghead comes right after their whimsical The Puffy Chair (2005), which is on my To-See List after Jane Champion’s An Angel At My Table (1990).

Baghead will be shown in Austin, Texas June 13th. A limited release is still pending.

CHOKE Trailer

by Christopher Beaubien • May 29, 2008 • 2 Comments

choke

Get ready for a Palahniuk Punch. After the subversive head bunt of the David Fincher cinematic satire, Fight Club (1999), a new adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel Choke is coming to theaters this Fall. First time writer-director of Choke, winner of the Sundance Special Jury Price, is character actor Clark Gregg from David Mamet’s Spartan (2004), and the wonderful Nicole Holofcener comedy-drama Lovely and Amazing (2001), which stars Brenda Blethyn, Catherine Keener and love-goddess Emily Mortimer.

Choke looks like a very dark comedy this side of Neil Labute’s In The Company of Men (1997) stars Sam Rockwell (Joshua, 2007) as a dysfunctional sex addict trying to find his place in the world and in his mother’s physician (Kelly Macdonald, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, 2006). Anjelica Huston (The Darjeeling Limited, 2007) plays mom who must be so proud! I hope this angry satire takes aim at all the right targets… and hits hard.

Baz Luhrmann’s “AUSTRALIA” Is Dinky-Di!

by Christopher Beaubien • May 21, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

australia

Funny: Moulin Rogue! (2001) is playing in the background and lo and behold the first trailer for the new film by Baz Luhrmann, after seven years, is down under here.

“AUSTRALIA” Trailer

It looks like a cross between Tarsem’s The Fall (2008) and the Nicolas Roeg masterpiece Walkabout (1971).

“Just about the most different movie you’ll ever see.”

Throw in some sensational romance with Hugh Jackman (The Prestige, 2006) and Nicole Kidman (Dead Calm, 1989), add operatic music, shake, don’t stir and I’m there!

“We should be lovers!”
“We can’t do that…”

AUSTRALIA opens November 14th.

The MUMMY III Trailer Has Awakened…

by Christopher Beaubien • May 18, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

“The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” Trailer

Undead soldiers, dragons, Maria Bello, and a Yeti can be found in The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The action is moved from Egypt to China where a resurrected emperor (Jet Li – Danny the Dog (Great Title!) aka Unleashed (Lousy Title.), 2005) vows revenge against a sorceress (the lovely Michelle Yeoh – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000) Be afraid, the director is hack Rob Cohen (The Skulls, 2000 and Stealth, 2005) though he may be forgiven if his upcoming King of the Nudies (2009), a biopic of skin flick filmmaker Russ Meyers (Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, 1965), is accomplished.

Brandon Fraser (Gods and Monsters, 1998) has returned to the franchise as Rick O’Connell, the closest Fraser will ever get to this generation’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982). As much fun as the first Mummy (1999) was, comparison to the first Indy movie is a little sad.

mummyRachel Weisz (The Shape of Things, 2003) renounces her return in the threequel as the sexiest, klutziest, and boldest librarian ever, Evelyn Carnahan. Maria Bello will helm the role as the female sidekick which is inspired on part of casting director Ronna Kress (Moulin Rogue!, 2001).

One of the benefits of the franchise is that Rick and Evelyn stay together throughout their adventures. They get married (Yay!), but they have a kid (Boo!). Why oh WHY do action heroes HAVE to be saddled with a lame wise-cracking child in distress? It ruins the whole lovers-in-peril dynamic.

There should be a law that all male adventurers with romantic aspirations need to get a vasectomy.

Even Indy has to have a kid in the upcoming movie with the ridiculously long title (5 days left…)! And I wish that Marion Ravenwood, played by the incredibly hot Karen Allen (When Will I Be Loved, 2004), was the love interest in all three Indiana Jones movies. The previous Indy girls, Kate Capshaw (Spielberg’s wife) and Alison Doody, lacked charisma and spunk.

The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor opens August 1st, which now negates The Scorpion King (2002) like a bastard out of the trilogy.

TOWELHEAD Trailer Is Unwrapped

by Christopher Beaubien • May 16, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

towelhead

Warner Independent Pictures is releasing Towelhead, the theatrical debut of filmmaker Alan Ball, the creator of Six Feet Under, the upcoming True Blood series and is also the Academy Award Winning writer of American Beauty (1999). The film premiered in the Toronto Film Festival with the title Nothing Is Private. It has been named back in the US to Towelhead, the same title of the Alicia Erian novel that Ball has based his written adaptation on.

“Towelhead” Trailer

Set during the first Gulf War, a teenage Arab-American girl named Jasira whose new found and confused sexual awareness results in drastic measures by her mother (Maria Bello, The Cooler, 2003). She is sent away from New York to a small town in Texas to live with her strict, disciplinary Lebanese father, Rifat (Peter Macdissi, Three Kings, 1999). While the Middle Eastern war spreads prejudice at home, they struggle to be recognized as a respected Americans. Jasira is played by newcomer Summer Bishil who is running as fast as she can from children’s television programming to dramatic material more mature and respectable, much like Anne Hathaway did with Havoc (2005).

Director Ball is still testing the water with another plot about the adult male leaching after the underage girl. A bigoted Army revisionist played by Aaron Eckhart (Your Friends and Neighbors, 1998) is torn between his racism and his attraction for the minor. Eckhart, who exudes sliminess as well as James Spader (Secretary, 2002), says to girl in private: “You know what you do. You know what you do to men.” Ewww…

Watching the Towelhead trailer, the tampon sequence brings to mind a scene from Tamara Jenkin’s Slums of Beverley Hills (1998) where a well-meaning father (Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine, 2006) takes his mortified daughter (Natasha Lyonne, But I’m A Cheerleader, 1999) out bra shopping. I’m also reminded of the menstrual-minded Canadian werewolf-horror film Ginger Snaps (2000).

towelhead2Towelhead also stars Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding, 1994 and Japanese Story, 2003) and Matt Letscher (Identity, 2003) as welcoming, sarcastic Liberal neighbors. Here’s hoping this daring American indie is sharp, poignant and uncompromising as Alan Ball’s previous efforts.

The release date is August 28th.