CINELATION | Movie Reviews by Christopher Beaubien
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Trailers

New DARK KNIGHT Trailer: “Here’s My Card!”

by Christopher Beaubien • May 05, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

joker2

“You either die a hero or…”

Wow! I saw this trailer before Jon Favreau’s Iron Man this weekend and I felt an exhilaration that removed me from all planes of reality and into a dimension that can only be described as heaven. I hope that Christopher Nolan not only has made The Dark Knight the best Batman movie ever (even better than Bruce W. Timm’s Mask of the Phantasm, 1993), but the best film of the year. I want this film to be so compelling that no drama or foreign film will compete for me. I can only dream.

twofaceEveryone here looks in top form: Christian Bale (American Psycho, 2000), Michael Caine (The Quiet American, 2002), Maggie Gyllenhaal (SherryBaby, 2006) – Thank Nolan they replaced Holmes!, Gary Oldman (Nil by Mouth, 1998), dual performing Aaron Eckhart (In the Company of Men, 1998) and the brilliant Heath Ledger (Monster’s Ball, 2001).

Quick Tidbit: When the Joker whips open his blade as he walks down the urban street with his back to us, you can spot a Starbucks shop on the right part of the frame. I know, I have to go on a trailer diet.

The release date is July 18th.

“And here we…GO!”

Dissecting the Music of Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING

by Christopher Beaubien • May 05, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

Skewer Your Funny Bone: Recommended for Strong Stomachs

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The short film Thanksgiving, posing as a faux trailer, was one of the highlights of Grindhouse, the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino collaboration. Those two-and-a-half minutes (a pound?) are the best of Eli Roth’s resume. It is both a loving homage to John Carpenter’s definitive film Halloween (1978) and an inspired parody of those awful 80s slasher-rip-off-flicks (and bad taste, in general) that is far elevated from Roth’s turgid Hostel films. A.O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, “In any case be sure not to miss the trailer for Thanksgiving — not for the squeamish or the humor impaired, and not that you’d necessarily want to see the movie, if it existed.”

I remember the first time seeing it in theaters, the last act of abomination by the Evil Pilgrim on the roasted turkey had me laughing so hard throughout the main title sequence of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the best of both feature films. In the Kurt Volk designed collectible hardcover book Grindhouse, which chronicles behind its scenes, its director Eli Roth wrote a fascinating article about making Thanksgiving in Prague after dressing it up as Small Town, America. The read is explores technical as well as the drama creating these sick scenes (God love ’em!) to round out Roth’s gut-busting observations. It’s a mixed blessing Thanksgiving won’t be getting the Grindhouse feature treatment, we already have the best parts. Why let a lame narrative ruin that?

My only grip about this really guilty pleasure is this: What is the deal with not listing John Harrison as the composer of Thanksgiving in the end credits of the cheerfully sleazy three-hour double-feature? The majority of the music is lifted right off the soundtrack of George A. Romero’s immortal five-part Creepshow (1982), which was based on a Tales From the Crypt-like graphic novel written by Stephen King as the film’s screenplay.

creepshowIn Thanksgiving, you’ll hear excerpts from Father’s Day, a Creepshow episode where Aunt Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors, A Wedding, 1978) is strangled to death by her cake-obsessed zombie-dad (John Amplas, Martin, 1977), which stands in as the Evil Pilgrim’s murderous theme song. Then the trampoline scene (Holy-NC-17-MPAA!) is accompanied by the music used for Something to Tide You Over when a jealous husband (Leslie Neilsen, The Naked Gun Series) watches, from the comfort of his living room, his wife and her lover drowning (Eat you heart out Peter Greenaway). Lastly, the sickly build-up to the near-thirty-year-old-depicting-a-teen (Eli Roth) head scene is from the They’re Creeping Up On You segment staring E.G. Marshall (Double Indemnity, 1944) as a corrupt, cockroach-phobic CEO. All are compositions by John Harrison.

The only original pieces of music by Nathan Barr, who was credited, are what follow: First, that menacing music at the beginning of trailer — following the knife-wielding maniac Halloween-style behind the buck-toothed screaming Grandma. And last, that perfectly drippy, romantic, synthesized 80s-like score playing over “Cool it, Judy! You’re safe. Bobby’s here…”

It seems strange, but this is the way credits work most of the time where original music versus licensed music is concerned. It’s not a matter of giving credit to the composer with the most music in the trailer, but rather giving credit for the most-recent music written specifically for that fake trailer.

CREEPSHOW (1982) Trailer

GRINDHOUSE (2007) Trailer 1

GRINDHOUSE (2007) Trailer 2

Through The Philip Glass

by Christopher Beaubien • May 02, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

“Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts” Trailer

philipglassGlass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts is a new documentary about one of the greatest living composers from the last century, is in limited release now. The film, set for release at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007, marks Philip Glass’ 70th year. Scott Hicks, the director of Shine (1996 — one of the best films of the 1990s), has jumped at the chance to document Glass for a year while collaborating on music for his film No Reservations (2007). Hicks had been granted access behind the curtains and inside Glass’ home to present the artist more intimately. The documentary presents twelve different aspects of Glass, much like François Girard did for Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), a fictional account of the eccentric Canadian classical pianist who died in 1982. The Girard film was also one of the very best films of 1994.

Having produced experimental operas, in the late 1960s and 1970s, that most audiences first balked at (any Einstein on the Beach admirers out there?), Glass’ reputation as a unique contemporary composer grew over the decades from cult status to widespread appreciation and influence around the world. Listening to his music, he makes an indelible impression with his trademark use of repetitive structure. He even did a series called Geometry of Circles for Sesame Street.

Geometry of Circles

Filmmakers demanded Glass’ services as a film composer after the soaring success working on Koyaanisqatsi (1982), which remains one of the best film compositions of all time. Philip Glass sought collaboration with a diverse set of film directors such as Paul Schrader (Mishima, 1985), Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, 1988), Clive Barker (Candyman, 1992), Martin Scorsese (Kundun, 1997), Stephen Daldry (The Hours, 2003), and David Gordon Green (Undertow, 2004); most of who will be interviewed in the documentary.

For any self-respecting cinemaniac, this is a must-see regarding one of the most influential artists in the industry.

New “Happy-Go-Lucky” British Trailer

by Christopher Beaubien • May 01, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

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UK Director Mike Leigh’s most anticipated feature film Happy-Go-Lucky is set to play in theaters September 26th. Leigh (High Hopes, Secrets & Lies, Career Girls), who is responsible for uncommonly powerful films about blue-collar people living in London, has had a fruitful career. His method of direction is to accumulate working actors with a theme in mind and then develop the script using improvisation and a deep understanding of the characters. The result is films that feel as unpredictable and as fascinating as life really is.

Happy-Go-Lucky Trailer

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Vera Drake (2004), Leigh’s previous feature, showcased Imelda Staunton in an Academy Award Nominated Performance as a nurturing mother and wife who, out of the goodness of her heart, performed abortions deemed illegal back in the 1950s. Leigh’s love for the plays of Gilbert and Sullivan inspired Topsy Turvy (1999), staring Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner as the creative duo in a dramatized realization of their comic-opera “The Mikado”. After that, Leigh made the gritty and heartfelt All or Nothing (2002) portraying a working-class family (Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville) whose sudden crisis shakes them out of their destructive malaise.

One of the characters in All or Nothing, an angst-ridden young woman who berates her alcoholic mother is played by Sally Hawkins. Hawkins is in the title role of the comedy Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) as Poppy, a thirty-year-old preschool teacher who exudes great wit and optimism wherever she goes. Her bright outlook in life is tested by a troubled child being abused at home and by a cynical driving instructor who holds onto deep prejudice. In Leigh’s hands, such a cheerful character will be extraordinarily complex as to harbor deep feelings of bitter-sweetness.

Honored for her performance as Best Actress by the Berlin Film Festival this year, Hawkins portrays Poppy as the kind of sweet, outgoing and insightful free-spirit that you just want to embrace. She has an enduring sunny quality reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous, 2000 and All the Real Girls, 2003) that’s quite infectious. Let’s hope Leigh’s film is too.

An Interview with Sally Hawkins

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