Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is the Best Roaring Twenties Gangster Film?

Confessions of a Film Junkie: Best Roaring Twenties Gangster Film
By: Brian Cotnoir & Lauren Ennis

     Once again we have decided to do another debate on “Confessions of a Film Junkie”; this week’s topic is what is the “Best Roaring Twenties Gangster Film”?  Me and another critic will face off and present our sides of what we feel is the Best Gangster film to be set in “The Roaring Twenties”—the birth of the American Gangster Genre.  The other writer is a good friend and a writing mentor of mine, Lauren Ennis.  So Enjoy and as always don’t forget to lets us know who you felt was more right.
Once Upon a Time in America: By Brian Cotnoir

 Italian Director Sergio Leone’s 1984 film “Once Upon a Time in America” may not be as popular and successful as other Gangster films such as “The Godfather” or “Scarface”, but it is not only Leone’s finest work, but quite possibly the Best Gangster film ever.  Now before I continue I want to give you a little background.  The film is based off a novel called “The Hoods” by Harry Grey, and the original Screenplay written for this film was 317 pages long (which translate out to over 4 1/2 hours of film material).  Leone was forced to make a lot of cut to the film and the film was eventually settled at a running time of roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes.  There were even more cuts made for the U.S. release and the films average running time in America was 2 hours and 19 minutes.  Because of all these cuts to the film many critics hated the film when it was released in the U.S.  Some critics even called it the Worst film of 1984, and years later when they saw the “uncut” version their opinions changed and some called it the Best Film of the Decade.  So for argument purposes, in this debate, the version of the film I am talking about is the one that is 3 hours 45 minutes long, which I believe is the best cut of the film abridgments.      

Robert De Niro & James Woods play
 the adult versions of Noodles & Max
    So as I said “Once Upon a Time in America” is based off of a novel called “The Hoods” and it details the lives of 5 boys growing up in the Jewish Ghetto New York City, and eventually how they became involved in Organized Crime, and their rise up success.  The story to the film is told in flashback form and stretches all over from 1920-1968.  I know that this is supposed to be a best “Roaring Twenties Gangster” film and the 1960’s don’t really count, but most of the film is set in the Prohibition Era and the scenes set in 1968 are there to help set up the flashbacks.  The two main characters in the film are two friends David “Noodles” Aaronson (played by Scott Tiler as an adolescent and Robert DeNiro as an Adult) and Max Bercovicz (played by Rusty Jacobs as an adolescent and James Woods as an adult).  I really like how it shows how the friendships of the Noodles & Max started back when they were young teenagers and show they got involved in organized crime and became notorious gangsters.  This film takes its sweet time introducing its characters and letting them develop and it definitely shows that Sergio Leone put a lot of thought into how each scene was going to play out and how the adult actors would have to reflect the version of their younger selves portrayed by the child actors and visa versa.                                       

12-year-old Jennifer Connelly makes her big screen debut
in "Once Upon a Time in America" as Young Deborah.
Robert DeNiro & James Woods this film also features a plethora of other famous actors and actresses such as Elizabeth McGovern, Tuesday Weld, Joe Pesci, James Russo, Danny Aiello, and this film was also the big screen debut for a young actress by the name of Jennifer Connelly.  All the characters in the film have unique and interesting stories and it’s great that we get to see them as both adolescents and as full grown adults.       Besides the acting and the cast, I have to say my favorite thing about the film is the sets.  I swear the sets and the scenery in this film are phenomenal, it’s like director Sergio Leone took the cast & crew back in time and actually shot the whole film in the real “Roaring Twenties”.                            

Director Sergio Leone, working out the details of the
scene with the cast of "Once Upon a Time in America"
    “Once Upon a Time in America” truly is a great film and does not get a lot of the credit and recognition that it deserves.  This was the last film that Sergio Leone ever directed and it is also the film that he put the most work into and all his hard work, dedication, and persistence shows in this film.  To this date this is the only film over three hours long that I can sit through and watch and be constantly entertained, but remember only see the version of the film that says “Color/229 Minutes” on the back because if you watch any of the other abridged versions of this film you will probably be disappointed. 

The Roaring Twenties: By Lauren Ennis

The Gangster film is a genre which is uniquely American in its ability to utilize the ethnic identities, family loyalties, and financial ambition that came to define American life in the transformative years following the First World War. The modern gangster film is often characterized by a reverence for its criminal protagonists and disdain for the ‘sucker’s’ that they are able to dominate. Compared to modern, now formulaic, depictions of the mob subculture as one of grit and glamour,  it is ironically one of Hollywood’s earlier efforts that remains unique. The 1939 film The Roaring Twenties portrays Prohibition era gangsters and the world that they inhabit with a complexity and honesty that sets it apart from other gangster films in both the modern and studio eras.                                   

The film opens not in a back-alley joint or criminal hideout, but instead in a fox-hole in France during World War I. The opening scenes introduce a trio of friends who will later find their paths crossed with tragic consequences when they return to the States.  James Cagney’s performance as the protagonist, Eddie Bartlett, is a perfect example of his naturalistic acting style. In Cagney’s hands Bartlett is both passionate and practical; an average American whose life is turned upside down by the extraordinary times in which he is struggling to survive. After celebrating the Armistice with friends George (Humphrey Bogart) and Lloyd (Jeffrey Lynn), Eddie returns home to a country that has moved on without him. In America, Eddie makes ends meet driving a cab and comes into contact with brash bootlegger Panama Smith, (Gladys George in a portrayal based off of notorious nightclub hostess Texas Guinan) who offers him entrance into an alternative world of easy money and fast living. With her help, Eddie eventually builds himself a successful business, which he later enlists his old war buddies into joining. Complications follow when ruthless George tires of playing second fiddle to Eddie and Lloyd strikes up a romance with chorus girl Jean (Priscilla Lane), the object of Eddie’s unrequited affection.                                

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this film is the fact that it was inspired by the real events and people that screenwriter Mark Hellinger encountered during his time as a reporter. Because the film is inspired by reality, it follows a realistic plot line which ultimately results in the demise of the gangsters and their way of life after the fall of Prohibition. Prior Warner Brothers’ films generally portrayed gangster’s as one of two things, either a ruthless psychotic or, more often, a tough kid hardened into a criminal by society. The Roaring Twenties does its characters justice be refusing to pigeonhole them into either category, and instead allows each character to act based upon his personal motives and moral code. For instance, while Eddie is forced into crime by economic circumstance, he and privileged lawyer Lloyd are hardly social victims. Similarly, Bogart’s villain, although ruthless, acts according to logic and reason.                                

Actors James Cagney (L) & Humphrey Bogart (R)
The film also does excellent work in its depiction of female characters. On the surface, Panama and Jean represent opposite sides of the traditional Hollywood spectrum; the brassy bad-girl and the pure heroine. As the film progresses, however, both women are proven to be more complicated than audiences may initially suspect. Although Panama puts up a tough front while acting as ‘one of the boys’ in Eddie’s operation, she is one of the only characters to display true tenderness when she stands by Eddie after his business collapses in 1929. She also demonstrates a sense of self-sacrifice when she steps aside and asks him to help former flame Jean at the end of the film despite her own feelings for him. Similarly, Jean proves herself to be a dynamic character as she grows from Eddie’s wide-eyed admirer to a shrewd woman. Priscilla Lane portrays Jean’s moral conflict between condemning Eddie’s criminal lifestyle while simultaneously enjoying its benefits in such a way that audiences are more inclined to identify with than criticize her.        

Thus, while it may not possess the flashy ‘shoot ‘em up’ style of its later counterparts, I whole-heartedly recommend The Roaring Twenties as one of the most realistic and honest gangster films. The film’s combination of realism, excellent performances, and snappy dialog will keep viewers engaged despite its more restrained style and black and white cinematography. The film also provides movie buffs with a snapshot of James Cagney at the prime of his career as the king of Warner Brothers’ ‘Murderer’s Row’, and Humphrey Bogart on the verge of making his mark as the poster-boy for film noir. Just try and watch that final scene without getting a tear in your eye, ‘big shot’.               


Thursday, December 20, 2012

A review of "Girls Gone Dead"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Girls Gone Dead”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     Holy Shnikes!  The film I’ve decided to review this week is so bad that it makes “ThanksKILLING” look like “The Artist”.  You see there’s a fine line between stretching the truths of reality and full on jumping the shark.  Though, I should have realized that this film was going to be a huge heaping pile of pig excrement when I saw that the two biggest and most notable stars in your film are BeetleJuice and Porn Legend Ron Jeremy.  Brace yourselves, the film I’ve chosen to review for this week is “Girls Gone Dead”.                                            

This Film is 31 Flavors of Fail (and they're all terrible)
     So the plot of “Girls Gone Dead” goes like this: A group of 6 cheerleaders, decide to go Florida for Spring Break.  One of the girls, Rebecca, lives at home with her unreasonably devout Christian mother, who is like the mom from the movie “Carrie” except 100 times more crazy.  Rebecca’s mother begs her to not go away on Spring Break, but Rebecca decides that she wants to go out with her friends and have a good time.  The six friends reunite in Manatee Creek, Florida, but as it just so happens, the week they decided to go on vacation there is a serial killer, dressed as a Medieval Monk, on the loose who goes around murdering young, pretty, hard-partying girls.  Will all the girls make it back to their homes alive or will the “Purification Monk” send them to an early grave?                        

     This Film is pretty much a spoof of the movie “Piranha” (with a subtle twist of “Carrie” and “Halloween” added to the mix).  Only problem with this is that “Piranha” was already a spoof of another movie, and making a film a spoof of a film that was already a spoof is just stupid!  Not to mention really lazy.  All of the jokes and pop-culture references aren’t funny and they don’t make any sense.                                    

I’ll break it down to you like this: This summer I watched a movie on SyFy channel called “Jersey Shore Shark Attack”.  All it was, was the movie “Jaws” set in New Jersey with a bunch of actors who were pretending to be the cast of the MTV show “Jersey Shore”.  “Jersey Shore Shark Attack” was funny because it was making fun of “Jaws” and “Jersey Shore”.  Compare that to “Girls Gone Dead” where they were making fun of “Girls Gone Wild”. The big problem with that is nobody outside of College Frat Boys likes, or even watches, Girls Gone Wild.  At least with the “Jersey Shore” there are people who like the show and will defend it against people who say it’s a “stupid” or “bad” show, but not “Girls Gone Wild”.  You will never hear anyone refer to “Girls Gone Wild” as quality entertainment.                    

This Girl is a Horrible Actress (emphasis on the 1st syllable)
I swear the way this film probably came to be was that the films two directors, Michael Hoffman Jr. and Aaron T. Wells, wanted to get some College Girls to take their clothes off so they promised them they could be a Horror Movie, and they actually made this film to have fun at a bunch of wannabe actor’s expense.  That’s just the vibe I got from watching the movie, and you know what I bet I’m not too far off on what was the film’s original intention.  This Film is probably set in the alternate universe where nobody’s I.Q. exceeds 75, and every couple of sentences has to include the term “F*ck Yeah, B!tches! I think the films directors, actors, and crew should all just go back to doing what their good at—making low-budget porno’s, and leave the filmmaking and acting to the professionals.               

Oh Yeah, Professional
Wrestler Jerry "The
King" Lawler is in it to
    “Girls Gone Dead” has cheesy special effects, horrible dialogue, and even worst acting, and should not be viewed by anyone under any circumstance whatsoever.  If you’ve learned anything from this review it should be to skip “Girls Gone Dead” and go check out “Jersey Shore Shark Attack”.  Seriously people what more could you ask for?  I stopped you from wasting two-hours of your life on this horrible movie, and I recommended and even better and more enjoyable film for you to watch instead.  So go do it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A review of "The Woman"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Woman”
By: Brian Cotnoir

Author of "The Woman"
Jack Ketchum
 In October I attended the horror movie convention “Rock N Shock” in Worcester, MA.  Rock N Shock is your typical fan-based convention that has merchandise stands, a film festival, and Meet N Greet sessions with celebrities.  This year’s convention had a slew of great celebrities such as Anthony Michael Hall, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Danny Trejo, Peter Criss (drummer of Kiss), and a whole bunch of other notable celebrities from horror films.  One of the celebrity guests I met at Rock N Shock was an author named Jack Ketchum.  Now, before this convention I had never heard of Jack Ketchum and I have never read any of his books, but after getting the chance to hear him speak at the Fangoria Panel and getting to meet him, I decided to check out some of his work.  I’ve found out that some of his novels have gotten adapted into film , so I decided to to review a film based off one of his novels; “The Woman”.    
"The Woman"
    “The Woman” was realeased in 2011, and it is about a lawyer named Chris Cleek who lives out in the woods with his family, and one day while on a hunting trip one day he comes across a mysterious feral woman living in the woods.  Mr. Cleek decides to trap the woman and hold her captive on her property and even recruits his family to help domesticate and civilize the feral woman.  But are the Cleek’s really the decent and honest humanitarians they appear to be or do they have some ulterior motives for why they want to keep this mysterious feral 

This is a great horror/thriller film with a great story, graphic visuals, and plenty of thrilling twists.  I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed this film so much is that it was co-written by the book’s author, Jack Ketchum.  I think films that are adapted from books are always better when the screenplay is written (or co-written) by the book’s author, because many of the author’s ideas and opinions from the book make its way on to the screen.  I would say this film (and the novel to) should proudly boast that it features the Most Dysfunctional Family you will ever see in a film. I really like how the father in the film, who is this total sadist, expects complete obedience from his family and will settle for nothing less than total perfection. In some ways I saw this character as complex and interesting and I would actually say that his character is similar to that of Alex DeLarge from “A Clockwork Orange”.  I also like how we are introduced to the rest of the Cleek family.  There is little dialogue spoken by the family early on in the film, and instead the film just uses the atmosphere to let you get a full understanding of the character, which in my opinion is a lot better than having all the characters be introduced through an exposition.                                                  
The Most Dysfunctional Family that I've ever seen in a film, The Cleeks.
      I also really enjoyed the soundtrack to the film which features Original Music written by Sean Spillane.  The songs of Spillane really take “The Woman” from already great film and propel it to Freaking Fantastic film. If you’ve never heard of Sean Spillane, then you should definitely check out his music; especially his songs “Distracted” and “Patient Satellite”, which both appear in the film.       
                                                       "Patient Satellite" by Sean Spillane

"Not Quite John C.  Reilly"
Chris Cleek
However, there are some minor faults with the film.  Even though I liked the character Mr. Cleek, I did not really like the actor who played him.  I don’t even remember the name of the actor who played him in the film because for most of the film I was just referring to him as “Not Quite John C. Reilly” because that’s who is acting reminded me of.  He was not scary, he was not terrifying, he was just quirky, neurotic, and massively anal retentive, and I just feel he didn’t do his character any justice with his portrayal.  He starts out as this nice calm Mr. Cleaver from “Leave it to Beaver”, and he just sort of stays at that same tone throughout most of the film.  Even most of the parts when his character acts violent he just has that same calm cheerful demeanor on his face, and I just did not think that he was a great acting choice.  I also did not like the way the oldest daughter, Peggy, was written in the film.  In the film she just comes off as the emotional basket case, and really not a ton of signs as to why she acts the way she does, which is pretty mysterious, but the reveal at the end just sort of came out of nowhere, and it was not like I said “Oh, wow what a shocking twist”, my actual reaction was “Are you serious? That’s all.” 
Oooh, now that sure does look unpleasant
   This film has twists, it has blood, it has gore, it has rampage, and ending that will just leave you with a ear-to-ear smile. I am regretting not buying a signed movie poster of “The Woman” at Rock N Shock, and if Jack Ketchum comes back again next year, I will make it my mission to get one from him. 
So do yourself a favor and see this film.  Horror movie fans I guarantee you that you are just going to really like “The Woman”.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A review of "Troll 3" (?)

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Troll 3”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     The name of the film I’m reviewing this week is “Troll 3”...Sorry, I meant “The Crawlers”...or is it “The Creepers”?  “Contamination .7”???  No, I meant “Troll 3”!  Holy crap!  This film has so many damn different titles that it’s really making it difficult for me to explain why the movie I’m reviewing this week was so awful!  I mean...okay let me explain why this is so awful.                                                
The "Italian Ed Wood" himself
Joe D'Amato
 A long, long time ago (twenty years to be precise) there was an Italian Filmmaker/ producer named Joe D’Amato.  D’Amato produced a number of Italian exploitation films in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but besides that he is known for taking other filmmakers ideas and completely ripping them off in the worst way possible.  Unfortunately, for Mr. D’Amato he didn’t choose to rip off Good films, like “The Godfather” or “Star Wars”.  Instead he decided to rip off films that most people would consider box office failures such as “Cannibal Holocaust”, “Caligula”, and “Troll”.  He even wrote the “Unofficial Sequels” to many of these films, such as “La Casa 3” which D’Amato claims is supposed to be the 3rd Sequel to Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” films and “Caligula 2”, which is supposed to be the sequel to “Caligula”. I have no idea how the hell he can make a sequel to “Caligula”, considering they murdered Caligula at the end of the film!  *I felt no need to put in a “Spoilers!” warning for that because unless you are a Cine-Masochist like myself, then you’ll probably never actually see the film*  But the most notorious film linked to Joe D’Amato has got to be “Troll 2”; a film that has absolutely nothing to do with the 1986 American film “Troll”.  “Troll 2” is what many people today (myself included) consider to be the Best Worst Movie ever made.  “Troll 2” actually has developed a cult following over the years that consists of people who appreciate the corniness and shear awfulness of the film, and find it to be hilariously enjoyable.  “Troll 2” is probably the Ultimate Guilty Pleasure for most people today.  The reason why, I think it personally did so well is because Joe D’Amato had very little to do with this film.  He didn’t direct it, he didn’t write it, and his only credit to the film was as a producer.  Three years later D’Amato released, what many cult movie fans have called “Troll 3”, even though many of the film posters have it titled as either “The Crawlers” or “Contamination .7”.  Just like in “Troll 2”, “Troll 3” has nothing to do with the 1986 “Troll” film.  Hell, “Troll 3” doesn’t have much of anything to do with “Troll 2”, but I digress.   
    So the plot to “Troll 3” is that somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, a Nuclear Power plant has been dumping its toxic waste into the forest.  The nuclear waste begins to effect the trees and they come to life and begin to murder everyone who comes near them...Holy Crap...did M. Night Shamylan actually rip off this film?  I think he did!  That’s probably why “The Happening” sucked so much; it wasn’t just him casting Mark Wahlberg!  M.  Night Shamylan ripped off “Troll 3”!  But wait a minute.  “Troll 3” was already a rip off of “Troll 2”, and “Troll 2” was a rip off of “Troll”?  Dear Odin in Asgard, when will the seamlessly never ending cinema rip offs end?!  AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!   
    All right, so now I bet you’re all wondering now after that giant-ass rant/meltdown how bad is it?  You know what; I think it’s only a little bit worst than “Troll 2” and the two of them share a lot of similarities.

Both Films:    
1.)    Were filmed in Porterville, Utah
2.)    Had an all Italian film crew, and cast the town’s residents in the film
3.)    Acting from the film ranged from really underplayed to Really over played
4.)    Had NO Trolls in the film
a. Troll 2 had “Goblins”
b. Troll 3 had killer trees.
5.)    Horrible special effects
6.)    “Americanized” Dialogue (I.E. they were made to say everything written down on script word-for-word, because that’s how the Italian film crew believed that American’s actually talked)
a. Troll 3: Leaving in Day Time and arriving at Night time.
b. A boy (Matt) jumped into the river with all of his clothes on only to be shown completely dry as he walked out.

    However, unlike “Troll 2”, which has a cult-following and is actually a lot of fun to watch, “Troll 3” is really bad.  For one thing, in “Troll 2” there were goblins in the film (because the original title of the film was “Goblins”, not “Troll 2”) and that’s fine because a troll and a goblin are like Monkey & Ape.  In “Troll 3”, there are no trolls, there are no goblins there are just killer trees!  For crying out loud if you’re going to call a film “Troll 3” at least humor the audience and give us something like a radioactive Dwarf-Leprechaun hybrid.                   
Paula (Left) The Town Slut To the Rescue!
Matt The Hero Pictured Center and
looks just as bored as ever.
    The cast in this film is just awful.  Jason Saucier who plays, the hero of the film’s other acting credits include a lot of exploitation films such as “Top Model”, “Whore”, and “Three for One” and he has worked with notorious Hollywood directors Bruno Mattei (as well as being featured in other films directed by Joe D’Amato).  Jaymzlinn Saxton (I sh!t you not that’s how her name is actually spelled) plays the role of Paula, the town whore, whose occupation seems to consist of sitting in a bar all day long and offering sex to every man that walks in and sits within three feet of her.  Paula is looked down by the other residents of town, but manages to redeem herself as she is strangled/raped to death by one of the killer trees while rescuing a little boy from a similar fate.  Finally, the worst actor in this film has to be Vince O’Neil who plays the towns corrupt Sheriff.  How should I put this: O’Neil’s is so incompetent and unfunny that he makes Chief Wiggum from “The Simpsons” look like Sherlock Holmes!  His acting is so bad that he makes Tommy Wiseau look like a Shakespearean actor!                  
This guys acting makes Tommy Wiseau look like a real actor
       I think it goes without saying that nobody in their right mind would actually like or want to see this film.  The only people who I can think of off the top of my head that could actually sit and watch this whole film are people who are fans of “Troll 2” or people who are looking for a selection for “Bad Move Night”.  I could just go on-and-on about everything wrong with this movie, but I don’t want to waste any more of yours (or my) time.

*Some Photos courtsey of*

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A review of "I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “I’m a Cyborg, but that’s okay”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     South Korean Director Park Chan-wook’s 2006 Romantic-Comedy, “I’m a Cyborg, but that’s Okay” is one of the most unique, bizarre, and enjoyable films I’ve seen in a long time.  I know I say that a lot in this blog, but this is time, I’m actually serious.  Everything about this film is fantastic.  It has an interesting story, interesting characters, and an interesting setting.  I’m actually quite surprised that American film studios haven’t attempted to rip-off off this film. It’s that good.  As far as foreign films go I say it’s definitely in the Top ten of my personal favorite Foreign Films.                
     The films plot is the following: A young woman by the name of Young-Goon is committed to a mental asylum because she believes that she is a cyborg, but because Young-Goons mother is so embarrassed, she tells all the doctors that she attempted suicide, so the Doctor’s begin treating her for all the wrong reasons, which greatly upsets Young-goon.  When Young-goon first get’s to the hospital she is reclusive and will only talk to the vending machine and the fluorescent lights. I just like how innocent and curious Young-goon’s character is.  She is just so likeable in this film to the point where you wish you could just reach through the screen and give her a hug. Over the course of the film Young-goon begins to come out of her shell and begins to interact with and develop relationships with all the other patients.                                                          
K-Pop Star Bi-Rain as Park Il Soon
One of the patients Young-goon becomes very close to is a paranoid kleptomaniac named Park Il-Soon.  Park Il-Soon is played by South Korean Pop-Star Bi Rain.  Bi Rain from what I’ve learned is a big deal in South Korea—he’s kind of like the Korean Justin Timberlake.  Although, his music isn’t very popular in North America, he is known worldwide for having to take a break from music at the height of his popularity to complete a Government mandated stint in the South Korean military.  Bi Rain’s character serves as the films love interest, and I really like how his characters written.  His character is a kleptomaniac and the reason he claims he steals is because if he does not steal thing’s he’ll vanish into thin air.  The relationship between the characters Il-Soon and Young-goon is just so innocent.  Rather than being the typical macho-man love interest, Il-Soon is very caring and nurturing to Young-goon. He tries to help her and watches over to make sure that take advantage of her.  Since he’s a kleptomaniac it and not a—let’s say—schizophrenic, it’s much more believable that a mental patient is more likely to go out of his way to help a person.  In many ways the patients in the mental hospital are way more helpful than the Doctor’s in this film.                       
      Young-goon and Il-Soon aren’t the only interesting characters in this film though. I like how all the mental patients aren’t over-the-top looney’s. They all have an interesting background story.  There’s a girl who won’t look someone directly in the eye to communicate and she instead sings into a mirror to communicate with others.  There another woman who believes she can fly by lying on her stomach and rubbing her feet together while wearing magic socks.  There’s one gentlemen who has to apologize for everything (whether or not it was his fault) because he’s afraid bad things will happen to him if he doesn’t apologize, and there’s even a man who only walks backwards because he believes it makes him invisible to everyone else.                                                     
      Just do yourself a favor and see this film.  I understand that sometimes it’s a pain to watch a foreign film and have to read the subtitles, but it really is a great film with a great story, and it’s just such a happy film that you can’t help but enjoy it.  

All Images are (c) of CJ Entertainment

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A review of "The Innkeepers"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Innkeepers”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     Normally, when I write a review about a film that went straight to DVD it’s to rant and rave about how stupid it was or how much I hated it, but not this one.  I actually enjoyed the horror/thriller “The Innkeepers”, which I’m still pretty surprised at because the film has a pretty rudimentary horror plot, and yet I still found myself impressed with how much this film pulled me into its story.        
So the story to “The Innkeepers” goes like this: The Old Yankee-Pedlar Inn is closing down after over 100 years and business and since it’s the final weekend, the Manager takes off and leaves two young employees/friends, named Claire and Luke, in charge of the Hotel.  Claire and Luke want to make their last weekend at the Hotel a memorable one.  The two friends are both amateur Ghost Hunters, and they decide that since the Hotel is practically empty (except for a couple guests) that they are going to try and contact the spirit of a woman named Madeline O’Malley, who many have told them haunts the Yankee-Pedlar Inn.  Claire & Luke want to desperately make contact with Madeline’s spirit, but has their ghost hunting escapades may or may not have upset the restless spirit.      
Even though the story to the film has been done many times before, and the plot does get to be predictable at some points “The Innkeepers” does have a few thrills.  Most of the scares in the film are jump scares, and they are very predictable, but I will admit that even when I knew a jump scare was coming I still jumped, and I think that was a good thing.  “The Innkeepers” also has some great make up and special effects.  I know I said “Holy Crap that is awesome” aloud a few times while watching this film.  The film has also a lot of great build-up. I actually found myself tensing up quite a bit while watching it.  The Hotel’s pretty cool too.  I would actually describe the Yankee-Pedlar Inn as very similar looking to the Hotel on Toluca Lake in the video game “Silent Hill 2”.                           
    If someone asked me how I would describe this film I would say it’s like if Stephen King tried to write a sequel to the “Paranormal Activity” film franchise.  I think director Ti West did a great job with this film, and that fans of horror will enjoy watching “The Innkeepers”. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A review of "The Moth Diaries"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Moth Diaries”
By: Brian Cotnoir & Lindsay Holcomb

Ernessa, Lucy, and Rebecca
the Main Characters of "The Moth Diaries"
I don’t even know where to begin to explain this film.  I don’t think I can do that accurately enough for a number of various reasons.  One reason being is that this film was based off a novel that was written from the perspective of a woman for an audience that is, presumed, to be mostly woman as well.  I am of a the Male sex, so already I feel that I have some sort of sexist bias lying somewhere in my subconscious as to why I don’t like this film, but I also feel that using that bias I’m already being unfair to the film because my interpretation is probably not the best suited to write a review on this film.  So I have decided to bring in a Female avid film watcher to try and help balance out my interpretations, and bring some new ideas and perspectives to the table.  The person I chose to bring in for the female perspective is my good friend Lindsay--who also wrote a review of the film “Repo Men” last year.  So if you are interested in reading Lindsay’s other review, I will post the link to her review at the bottom of this page.

From a Male Perspective (By: Brian Cotnoir)
     The film “The Moth Diaries” is based off of a novel by Rachael Klein, and it is told in diary form, from the Perspective of the film’s protagonist named Rebecca.  Rebecca is a 16-year-old girl who attends a prestigious Boarding School—that actually used to be a hotel—and her hopes to have a great school year with her best friend Lucy.  However, a new and mysterious girl to the school, named Ernessa, befriends Lucy and soon Rebecca’s best friend is spending more time with the new girl.  Rebecca begins to suspect that Ernessa may be a vampire and is trying to steal Lucy away from her, but are Rebecca’s outrageous suspicion’s true or is this just petty teenage jealousy?          
So this is what All Girls Schools are really like, right???
    When I first saw the words “teenage girls” and “boarding school” in the plot description, my mind immediately went to “Ooh, maybe there’ll be some hot girl-on-girl in this film”, and my expectations were narrowly achieved.  There is so much sexual tension early on in the film, such as Rebecca and Lucy having a conversation while Lucy is in the bath.  Not to mention the scenes that happen later in the film when Lucy begins to spend a lot of time with Ernessa. I’m not sure if this was a theme or a something that was a large part of the novel, but it was pretty distracting. The buildup of this sexual tension between Rebecca, Lucy, and Ernessa boarder’s on that of a 1970’s soft-core porn. 
    Our main character Rebecca, played by actress Sarah Bolger, is a very sensible character and therefore very likeable in my opinion.  Whenever Rebecca confronts someone with facts about her concerns about Ernessa’s peculiar and concerning behavior—whether it be a friend or a responsible adult—everyone just seems to right her off and tell her she’s overreacting.       
    For everything Rebecca has in common sense, she lacks in emotional strength.  Rebecca does cry an awful lot in the film, and while I agree that it’s not at all possible for her character to always be strong, I do feel the crying parts of way too overplayed in this film.  Also, I was not a fan of her on again-off again narration throughout the film.  I understand that it was a large part of how the story was told in the novel, but I don’t think it carried over very well to the film. 
It's Like She's not even Trying To be Subtle in the film.
Now the character Ernessa, played by actress Lily Cole, is just your typical movie antagonist.  She is bright, well-spoken, talks about morbid things, is pretty neurotic, and has a British accent (of sorts).  She’s like the illegitimate child of Hannibal Lecter, and there is just nothing surprising about her performance.  For instance, in “Silence of the Lambs” we know Hannibal Lecter is the bad guy right away just from the way he talks and his mannerisms, and it is established by the story that he is the bad guy.  In “the Moth Diaries” they should have made Ernessa more mysterious—for the audiences’ sake—but instead they wasted no time letting us know who the antagonist was they just put her on screen and here she is just “Hi there; I’m the villain.  I’m the one who’s going to make your life miserable”.  Which is bad because they really should have down-played Ernessa’s behavior and mannerisms in the beginning so that way the audience would have to wait and decide whether or not they thought Ernessa was a vampire or not. But instead they save us the thought process and just make her another obvious villain.     
Mr. Davis has Impure Intentions
    The adults in the film are all portrayed as ignorant and lacking commonsense.  The one male teacher in this film, Mr. Davis—played by Actor Scott Speedman—is just too damn weird.  He befriends Rebecca, and all he does is gush about what a brilliant writer her father was, and how tragic it was that he committed suicide. I don’t think it’s a great idea for a teacher to constantly be reminding a student that their father killed himself, and then gush over how sad it was and how much he liked him like some sort of weirdo fan boy.  And if that wasn’t s creepy enough, he also tries to hook-up with Rebecca in his office, after she goes there for some helpful advice.  I’m a licensed Teacher and I believe that one of the golden rules of Teaching is that at no point should you ever ATTEMPT TO BANG ONE OF YOUR STUDENTS!  Though, that’s more of a personal issue I have with this film.                                  

      Also, the school’s principal does nothing to really help anyone in the film.  Three dead bodies turn up on the campus in the semester and she play’s them off like they were terrible accidents.  If I had a daughter that went to this school, I would have pulled her out by now!  Three dead bodies turn up and you don’t call police to investigate—except for the one that was made to look like a suicide—you are a terrible educator, lady.        This film had a lot of potential to be great, but unfortunately it is just another film that was poorly adapted from a novel, and that is my perspective as a male who sat down and watched this film.  Don’t get me wrong this film isn’t horrible, but I just felt that it could have been so much better.

From a Female Perspective (By: Lindsay Holcomb)

This film is not a bad one. It was made in 2011 and is classified as a horror movie (in IMDB at least). It is set in an all girls school and surrounds a young woman who is in her junior year at the school (college I think, though it could also be a REALLY expensive private high school) and encounters a very strange new student who she believes is a vampire.
Friends, don't let friends get killed by vampires
It starts off as the main character, Rebecca, having a close knit group of friends who seem more interested in losing their virginity and the hot new teacher than anything else. Becca came to the school after her father killed himself and this has made her a bit clingy to her friends, especially her best friend Lucy (Dracula reference!!). This creates some tension when the new girl, Ernessa, becomes friends with Lucy. Lucy hangs out more with Ernessa than Becca, hurting Becca and making her feel alone. One by one, Becca’s friends leave. Either they leave her or leave the school, which is seemingly Ernessa’s doing. Becca suspects Ernessa of manipulating her friends and making her more lonesome. Soon she even suspects that Ernessa is not human and must be killed.
The ever manipulative Ernessa hides behind the mask of sanity
This seems like an accurate depiction of a vampire’s actions. Ernessa manipulates people and kills them off using ‘accidents’ to avoid suspicion. She sets her sights on Becca and uses her friends’ weaknesses to be rid of them, and move them away from Becca. It can be said that Ernessa even manipulated Becca into an obsession about her, by pushing away the rest of her friends in her attempt to be free of Ernessa. No one suspects Ernessa and believes; instead that Becca is losing it.
Another thing is that the film really gets into the sensual aspect of the vampire. Through most of the film it could look like Ernessa is courting Lucy and Becca, jealous of this new relationship, creates the vampire persona as a way to understand Lucy’s betrayal.
That could be accurate if Ernessa didn’t enter Becca’s dreams, never ate, wandered around at night, had a room full of moths, walked through a window, slept in a trunk, lived in the school a hundred years ago when it was hotel and freaking FLY’S!! Through all this, the word vampire is never really associated with Ernessa, no one calls her a vampire it is implied by Becca, but never said. The only times the word vampire is mentioned in the film is in a class, or when a book is being read.
I think Ernessa, just may be a Vampire.
Now, where the movie missed its mark: It is listed as horror but comes off as more of a suspense movie. I think that Ernessa could be more terrifying if you saw both sides of her, the killer and the lost lonely lover: one moment drinking blood from a hated teacher and the next flirting with Lucy. Perhaps that would cause one to lose the subtlety that this film uses, but something like that could push it further if used correctly. I have a strong opinion that the enemy you don’t see is scarier than the one you do (big fan of Paranormal Activity), but when it comes to vampires I think there should be a reveal, proving that she is a creature of the night, but only at the end, or correct moment. Let her victim see what she is and her sanity drained just enough so she is alone, with the vampire as her last option for companionship. This film gets half way there, but could push it a bit further, I think. Creepy, yes, horror, not so much.  So, this is an okay movie for vampire fans, but if you’re looking for a gore-fest, I’d try 30 Days of Night first.

P.S. There is a teacher, Mr. Davies, who I liked in the film until he turned into a horny creep!

For those who are interested in finding more of Lindsay’s writing click the link below and check out LINDSAY’S “REPO MEN” REVIEW

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A review of "Sleeping Beauty"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Sleeping Beauty”
By: Brian Cotnoir

Why Emily Browning? Why?
     I swore to myself after the first time I saw the trailer for this film, that I would never see this film (let alone review it) because just from the brief description I got of the film’s plot it sounded terrifying and unpleasant.  However, like other films I claimed I would never review for this blog, I found the opportunity to write a review of this film to be just too tempting.  I am beginning to suspect that I might be some sort of “Cine-Masochist”, if you will, and that I actually enjoy torturing myself psychologically by watching these films.  This aint no Disney fairy tale  it’s more like a Lars Von Trier Wet-dream. So without further adieu here is my review of the 2011 Australian erotic/drama, “Sleeping Beauty”.     

The Sleeping Beauty Prepares
So the film’s plot centers around a college student named Lucy, who is played by Actress Emily Browning (aka “Baby Doll” from Sucker Punch). Lucy has fallen on some tough financial times and works multiple odd jobs to pay for her rent and tuition payments.  One day Lucy applies for a job at a Silver Service company that caters to a wealth clientele.  After a while Lucy takes up a position as a Sleeping Beauty.  What is a “Sleeping Beauty” you may ask?  A “Sleeping Beauty’s” work detail consists of drinking a special tea laced with powerful sedatives, and then being stripped naked and placed in a bed where old men—who have severe erectile dysfunction—can lie beside her and fondle her while she’s unconscious.                  
     The customers are allowed to anything they want to the “Sleeping Beauty’s”, except penetration, which is not a difficult rule for the client’s to follow because, as I’ve said, they are all incapable of getting it up.  This does sound a lot like date rape, but since all the men in the film that pay for the “Sleeping Beauty” have E.D., you really don’t get the sense that Lucy is any real danger and is going to be sexually violated, so a great deal of the dramatic tension is lost on those scenes (Thank God!).  It’s like if someone tried to commit a robbery by using garden hose for a weapon instead of a gun or knife.                                                        

I had the same reaction after finishing this film, but my tears
were tears of pain, not tears of sadness :(
   This film has a ton of flaws.  First thing wrong with the film is that it is established that Lucy takes the job as a Sleeping Beauty to help pay for college.  What is Lucy studying?  I don’t know.  We get maybe two total scenes of her actually in class, but it’s never specified what she is studying.  The reason why I find this to be an issue is because the story establishes that she only accepts the job as a “sleeping beauty” to help pay for her college, and we never see interact with her classmates or professors in class.  We don’t even get the cliché scene of the Professor asking why she’s missing so much class, so it doesn’t feel like she takes her school work very seriously or even works hard for good grades, and this tempts me to believe that she doesn’t actually need to be a sleeping beauty.      
        Along with Lucy’s “education” plot-hole that doesn’t really go anywhere, we are treated to a plethora of other side stories that don’t really have any relevance to the plot.  For example, Lucy is estranged from her mother and it is mentioned a few times early on in the film, but it is never fully explained why she and her mother do not get along with one another.  It’s briefly mentioned by Lucy that her mother may be an alcoholic, but since Lucy’s mother never appears on screen, it’s never really clarified if it is true at any point in the film.          
         Lucy also has a friendship with this guy known as “Birdman”, but we never find out if he’s just a friend or a love interest.  He just appears every now and then in a few scenes with Lucy.  He is an alcoholic and (SPOILER!) at some point in the film it is mentioned that he has died, and they never specify what was his cause death. I believe that Birdman’s death was probably drug/alcohol related fatality...I think.        
            There are a few scenes where Lucy asks different men to marry her, but once again we have NO FUCKING CLUE WHY SHE DOES THAT!  I have this theory that the reason why Lucy asks these random men to marry her is that she hopes one of them will take her seriously and marry her so she has someone to can support her and take care of her, but I have zero evidence from the film to confirm this theory.                              

This Guy Is so Awkward!
Then there’s this one scene where one of the clients that pays to spend the night with Lucy just stares directly into the camera and starts rambling off a story...FOR FIVE STRAIGHT MINTUES!!!  The story is supposed to represent some sort of metaphor for the man’s life, I guess, but all it really is, is weird and awkward to the film’s plot, and it’s pretty bad when you have to identify the most awkward part of a film that is already very awkward to watch.                                  
          Speaking of ‘awkward’ let me try to explain the dialogue in the film. Some examples of the films brilliant screen writing include many memorable quotations such as; “My vagina is not a temple”, “Can we watch some porn?”, “The only way I can get it up is if I swallowed a truck full of Viagra and a girl shoved two fingers up my ass”, “Match you lipstick to the color of your labia”, and my personal favorite “I would really love to suck your cock” (ßI could listen to Emily Browning say that line on loop all day long).  Who the hell talks like this or thought this would make for some great dialogue?!                         
    My final opinion on “Sleeping Beauty” is that this is an awkward and confusing film to sit through, and unless you want to see Emily Browning naked, you should probably avoid it entirely. IT. STINKS.