Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Review of "Hard Candy"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Hard Candy”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     “Hard Candy” is a fantastic psychological-thriller that stars Academy Award nominee Ellen Page who plays Haley, a 14-year-old girl who begins an on-line relationship with a 32-year-old photographer named Jeff.  After conversing and flirting with one another on-line, Haley makes the suggestion that they should finally meet.  Jeff is more than happy to meet the young and alluring Haley.  Haley appears to be naïve, which Jeff tries to exploit.  Haley eventually convinces Jeff to invite her over to his place so they can listen to music and maybe take some photographs.  Jeff makes screwdrivers for him and Haley and together the two begin drinking.  After a while Jeff starts to feel ill and blacks out; when he wakes up he’s tied up and the once sweet and innocent appearing Haley begins an intense interrogation.  Haley tells Jeff that she believes he is a pedophile, that he has child porn hidden in the house, and that he had something to do with the dissaperance of a local girl named Donna Mauer.  Jeff denies any wrong doing and tries to convince Haley that shes making a mistake and that he is actually a nice guy.  What follows next is a journey of torture (both physical and psychological) and self-gratification.         

    This film is fantastic; its scary, mysterious, and absolutley mind bending.  This was the first film to be directed by director David Slade and he easily hit a homerun his first time whe he directed “Hard Candy”.  Then there’s the great acting from the films two stars; Patrick Wilson’s portrayal of the photographer, Jeff is eerie and enjoyable.  Wilson is definetley one of the most underrated actors of today in my opinion.  Ellen Page is also fantastic in this film; she went from appearing as a naïve, fun loving, young girl to a violent and sedistic psycopath throughout the course of this film and I can easily say that after watching this film I would not ever want to be on Ellen Page’s bad side.  Page gained internation noteriety after appearing in the hit cult film “Juno”, but I have to say that if you watch “Hard Candy”, you’ll never be able to watch “Juno” without having the same plesant thoughts you once had, ever again.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a Review of "Pecker"

“Confessions of a Film Junkie”: A Review of “Pecker”
By: Brian Cotnoir

                A truly great comedy is the John Waters film “Pecker”.  “Pecker” tells the story of a young photographer known to everyone in town as “Pecker”.  Pecker wanders through his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland snapping photographs of people around town.  Pecker’s photographs eventually capture the eye of a New York art dealer named Rorey Wheeler.  Rorey turns Pecker into a famous artist in New York and his photographs become hot items among New York’s elite.  However, upon returning home to Baltimore with his new found celebrity takes a toll on Pecker, his family, and everyone around him.  Pecker must make the choice of giving up his celebrity status or risk losing the ones closest to him.                               

           One thing that makes “Pecker” a truly great film is the cast.  Edward Furlong’s portrayal as the lovable young character Pecker is just superb.  Furlong’s performance is very believable; he definitely gives off that “small-town boy-having-a-hard-time-adjusting-to-his-new-fame-and-fortune” vibe.  The only other really big name star in this film is Christina Ricci, who plays Pecker’s girlfriend, Shelley.  Shelley manages a Laundromat in Baltimore and is very supportive of Pecker’s photography until his fame and Rorey start coming between them.  Her character is tough and has a “you-don’t-want-to-mess-with-me” attitude.                                                                                                                                                                          

         As for the rest of the cast they’re just simply fantastic.  Pecker’s father runs a bar in town, that’s losing all of its business to a strip club down the street and his mother manages a thrift store where she tries to help those less fortunate find a “new look”.  Pecker has two siblings; an older sister, Tina, who works as a bartender at a gay bar called “The Fudge Palace” and a younger sister, called “Little Chrissy”, who has a severe addiction to candy and sugar products.  Pecker’s grandmother is a devout Catholic who talks to a statue of the Virgin Mary, which she sometimes uses as a ventriloquist-dummy.  Finally, there’s his best friend, Matt, who is a “professional thief” and makes his living stealing things from stores around town, until Pecker’s photographs expose him and he is forced to get a real job.                                             

         After watching “Pecker” you’re first impulse should be to grab your camera and go around your neighborhood snapping photographs of all the people you know, and here’s little trivia fact for all you film aficionados out there is that the music for “Pecker” was done by Stewart Copeland ofThe Police.  If I had to some up Pecker in one sentence I’d say its like “Little Miss Sunshine” meets “My Own Private Idaho”.   What else can I say other than, I really, really like this film and think director John Waters did a phenomenal job making it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Tribute to the Jim Henson Company

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Tribute to The Jim Henson Company
By: Brian Cotnoir

     When people look back and reflect on the television and movies that were such a large part of their childhood things like Disney’s Mickey Mouse & friends and the Warner Brothers “Looney Tunes” stick out as the two main cornerstones of everyone’s childhood, but there is another major player in the children’s entertainment company that is often overlooked; a company that spans through multiple generation’s.  I of course am talking about the one the only Jim Henson Company.     
     Jim Henson was a brilliant creator of puppets and a master puppeteer.  His family—along with other creative visionary Frank Oz—helped create some of the greatest and longest lasting shows of our childhood. Henson is responsible for creating some of the most beloved children’s television shows and movies such as “Sesame Street”, “The Muppets”, “The Dark Crystal”, “Labyrinth”, and “Bear in the Big Blue House”; just to name a few, and that’s just the tip of the ice berg.        

     In 1979 Jim Henson & Frank Oz founded the Jim Henson Creature Shop in Hampstead, England.  There Henson and Oz created the Puppets for and shot their first film together; “The Dark Crystal”.  After the “Dark Crystal” Henson and Oz went on to create even more elaborate puppets for the film “Labyrinth” which starred Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie (who also did the music for the film).                               
     The Jim Henson Creature Shop wasn’t limited to only films, though, and they began creating puppets for television shows too.  Jim Henson’s “The StoryTeller” debuted in 1987 and was centered around old folklore and myths acted out on camera with live-action actors and custom puppets made in the Jim Henson Creature Shop.  Shortly after Henson’s tragic and untimely death in 1990, another show emerged to show off the Jim Henson Creature Shop’s new puppets combined with animatronics.  This show was called “Dinosaurs”; A show that featured actual full animatronic puppets that could be operated with a machine instead of human puppeteers.                                  
     The Jim Henson Creature Company is also responsible for creating all the talking animals/creatures in films such as “Babe”, The Live Action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1990) film, “George of the Jungle” and “Dr. Dolittle”.  More recently the Jim Henson Creature Shop has done work such as creating the stolen tiger in 2009 Comedy “The Hangover”.   

    What I think is most great about Jim Henson and his film company is that even after all these years his creatures and creations have stood the test of time.  Pretty much everyone remembers watching “Sesame Street” as a child, and “The Muppets” have given us many beloved childhood characters such as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.  Henson’s earliest films have become cult classics with a new generation of adults who remember fondly seeing “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth” for the first time in theatres when they were young children.  Henson was a great visionary who helped keep alive an almost lost art-form of puppeteering.  In a world today where films are dominated with green screen effects and CGI, the Jim Henson Company reminds of a simpler time when all it took was a person (or in some cases a whole team of puppeteers) and a puppet to create magic.  Click the Link Below to see some of the amazing work that had to be put in to create parts of “Labyrinth”

     The Jim Henson Company still exists today.  The Company is actually located at the old Chaplin Studios (a site founded and made famous by silent film star/writer/director Charlie Chaplin).  Henson’s family still works on creating films.  Henson’s son, Brian, has kept his father’s puppeteering legacy going with such films as “The Witches”, “A Muppet Christmas Carol”, “Muppet Treasure Island”.                
     Jim Henson really was a one-of-a-kind creative visionary.  The legacy he left behind is kept alive by his family, the film Company & the Creature Shop he founded, and shall go on hopefully forever.