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.