Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Review of "Dear Zachary"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of the documentary “Dear Zachary”
By Brian Cotnoir
 Dear Zachary” is a documentary that was released in the year 2008 and was made by filmmaker Kurt Kuenne.  The film tells the true life story of Kuenne’s friend Dr. Andrew Bagby, who was murdered in 2001, “supposedly” by his ex-girlfriend, Shirley Turner.  Shortly after Bagby’s murder, Turner fled the United States and went to her home in Newfoundland.  Even more shocking was when it was discovered that Turner was pregnant with Bagby’s child.  Kuenne decided to make this film as a tribute to his late friend and also for Bagby’s son, Zachary.  Kuenne traveled all over the world interviewing family, friends, and basically anyone who knew or was connected in some way or another to Andrew Bagby, so that someday Bagby’s son could see what a truly great person his father was.  The documentary also focuses on the epic custody battle between Zachary’s mother, Shirley, and Andrew’s parents(Zachary’s grandparents).                                                                                                                                    
I don’t want to give away many more details because I think people should see this amazing documentary, but what I will say is that the documentary’s climax should send your emotions into a massive explosion like nothing you’ve ever felt before.                                                                                                            
“Dear Zachary” is not just a wonderful documentary, but it is also a great tribute to a fallen friend.  Kurt Kuenne brings out a broad spectrum of emotions that has more twists and turns than the famous Lombard Street in San Francisco.  This film is also perfect for those who are interested Law, family law, and filmmaking.  Again, Kurt Kuenne did an absolutely amazing job with this film and it was one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.                                                            

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Review of "This is England"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “This is England”
By: Brian Cotnoir
                If you’re a fan of independent films and drama, than “This is England” is a perfect film for you.  “This is England” is set in England in the 1980’s during the Falkland War.  The main character of this film’s name is a 12-year-old boy named Shaun, played by Thomas Turgoose.  Shaun’s father was killed in the recent Falkland Island War and because of this, the other kids at school make fun of him.  One day on his way home from school Shaun is stopped by a group of young sympathetic skinheads.  Now, the skinheads in this film aren’t the typical skinheads most people associate with; the skinheads in “This is England” follow the “original” skinhead lifestyle, which is working class, shaved head, blue jeans, Doc Marten boots, non-political, and non-racist.  The leader of the group of young skins is named Woody, and he acts as a big brother of sorts towards Shaun. Woody invites Shaun to join him and his friends, but some of Woody’s friends are very cautious about letting Shaun in, but eventually they accept him and Shaun becomes a fellow skinhead.  Everything seems to be going good for Shaun until one day an older Skinhead named “Combo”, who was a close friend of Woody, comes into the picture.  Combo has just been released from prison and shares his new “white nationalist” views with the other skinheads. Combo’s new political and social views prompt a split in the group and half of them leave, while the other half follow Combo.  Shaun views Combo as a father figure and joins his new group of skinheads.  Combo begins to teach Shaun in the others the ways and beliefs of a white nationalist skinhead by preaching and taking them to rallies.  Shaun’s life appears to be going great until one night when Combo snaps and his perspective on everything changes greatly.                                                                                          
   “This is England” is a wonderful film.  It’s a great coming-of-age story that has good drama, and relates it to an actual time and place in history.   Actor Thomas Turgoose does a great job as the young skinhead, Shaun and co-stars Joseph Gilgun & Andrew Shim also do a wonderful job as fellow skinheads Woody and Milky; they both made their characters very likeable and enjoyable.  The music and the cinematography for “This is England” are also terrific.  I think anyone who sees this film will like it; no matter what kind of movies you like.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Review of "Antichrist"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Antichrist”
By: Brian Cotnoir
     In 2009, I heard a lot of positive things about a film called “Antichrist”.  I heard some people say it was one of the “Best Films of 2009”, and I also heard a lot of talk about being extremely controversial.  The film was never released in the United States so I was quite excited when I found a copy of the film on-line (courtesy of NETFLIX) in 2010.  It took me a whole year to watch the entire film in one sitting!  This film is the absolute WORST piece of cinematic garbage I have ever seen.  So what’s so bad about this film I decided to claim it to be the worst movie I’ve ever seen; Well let’s dive into the plot of this cine-massacre and find out!                                 
The film only has two main actors/characters.  The characters are played by Willem Dafoe & Charlotte Gainsbourg.  Their characters don’t really have names (the credits just refer to them as “he” & “she”).  So the film opens up with Dafoe and Gainsbourg engaging in sexual intercourse while in the shower.  And a minute and a half into the film we get a lovely close up shot of Willem Dafoe’s penis, but don’t worry folks, we only have to see it up close about a half-dozen more times throughout the film!  So while our two main characters are having fun “bumping-ugly’s”; we see that there young son—who we later find out was named Nick--has crawled out of his bed and has began to wander through the home.  Nick climbs up on a window ledge and falls out the window plummeting to his death.  Both of his parents are grief-stricken by the loss of their young son, but Gainsbourg’s character appears to be taken the death of their son even harder than Dafoe.  Dafoe’s character, who is a therapist, decides that he is the best suited/most qualified person to treat his wife’s grief and depression.  The course of treatment he decides to put his wife through is to bring her to the place where she is most afraid.  How does this make any sense?  I don’t have a damn clue!  So after a while Gainsbourg’s character tells Dafoe that the place she is most afraid is a place called “Eden” a spot in the woods where she and her son Nick had vacationed the summer before he died.  Dafoe takes Gainsbourg to Eden for treatment, and what follows I can only describe as highly-unpleasant. I will spare you a lot of the details; not because I want to be nice, but because I don’t want to relive some of those horrid images that have been forever burnt into the depths of my memory where I fear they shall remain forever.                         
This film has a number of problems that make this film range from terrible to God awful.  My number one complaint about this film is that it is filled with scenes of graphic nudity and graphic sex.  Throughout the film Gainsbourg’s character randomly starts performing sexual acts on Dafoe where you can see everything and too be perfectly honest I had no desire to see either of these characters naked.  There are also graphic scenes of both character’s masturbating in the film, and the one thought that kept going through my mind while watching this film was; I thought this was supposed to be a thriller not a porn!     
 My second major complaint with this film is actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.  She is just awful in this film; one of the worst acting performances I have ever seen in a film.  For 80% of the film she is just boring and she could not hold my interest.  She is so bad in this film that even the parts where she’s naked weren’t all that appealing or interesting to me.  Throughout the film I kept saying to myself “Oh God, I cannot wait until her character dies”.                                
My third complaint with the film is that there were mutilated animals that would randomly appear in the film, and I could not figure out what the purpose of showing these poor animals.  The scenes that featured the mutilated animals reminded me a lot of director Ruggero Deodato’s “Cannibal Holocaust”. Towards the end of the film they story tries to link them as a major plot piece, but I still think the film could’ve done without having to show mutilated animals on screen.          
The sound, or lack thereof, in the film is terrible. I had to watch this entire film with headphones on because I could not hear what the actors were saying, and with the exception of the opening and closing scenes the film has no music, and instead decides to use random sounds that add more confusion than suspense to the film.  I also think the editing of the film was done very poorly.  There were scene skips and jumps throughout the film and really made this already terrible film look even more like a piece of garbage!                                 
This film was a kind of mind-bender, but unlike other mind-bender films that keep you guessing and have you waiting for more, this film is just confusing and made me go “wait was that?” and “did I miss something” throughout the duration of the film.  Also I’m not sure what the films plot/message of the story was supposed to be.  I think the films writer/director Lars von Trier’s message in the film was supposed to be that world and people are not naturally evil towards women, but rather it is women who are evil by nature.  I’m only about 10% sure about this so I could be wrong, but I think that’s kind of the the “message” they were trying to express in the film.       
 This film only had one positive thing going for it and that was its cinematography.  This film has a lot of cool and creative camera shots and angles—especially in the opening scene—but it’s not enough to save this film. Also, looking back Willem Dafoe wasn’t all that bad in this film.  His character is pretty one-dimensional—his character rarely expresses any emotion in the film—but I think that’s the way the character was supposed to be designed.  It wasn’t one of his best performances, but he certainly wasn’t terrible, and when you compare his performance to his co-stars he looks great.            
 Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist”; it’s confusing, it’s moronic, graphically violent (towards the end), sexually explicit, and all-around a worthless piece of trash.  I said it at the beginning of my review and I’ll say it again; “Antichrist” is the worst movie I have ever seen!  I wish I had never finished watching this film because now the images of this film will be forever lodged in the confides of my mind until I am declared legally brain-dead.  I would actually describe this film as “Cannibal Holocaust” meets “Misery”, but please no matter what someone might say DO NOT EVER SEE THIS FILM! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Review of "Batman Forever"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Batman Forever”
By: Brian Cotnoir
                In the mid-1990’s Warner Brothers Studios decided to take their Batman film franchise in a different direction.  The first two Batman films, based off the popular DC Comic book hero, were “Batman” & “Batman Returns” were made in the early 1990’s and were directed by Tim Burton.  The Burton” Batman” films were successful and were just as much for adults as they were for films, but the studio thought the films could be more financially successful and kid friendly, so Burton was replaced by another director, Joel Schumacher.  Even though Burton was no longer the director of the film he still served the studio as a Producer for the film and also a consultant, but still this movie was terrible compared to earlier “Batman” films.  “Batman Forever” reminds me more of the old Adam WestBatman Television Series” rather than a movie.  I also think it’s very sad that the films soundtrack one more awards then the actual film itself.  I mean  Batman the Animated Series” was more adult and edgy compared to this piece of shit movie!                                                                                                                                           
 Not only was a new director assigned for “Batman Forever”, but the studio also cast a new “Batman”, Val Kilmer.  “Batman Forever” featured a ton of big name actors such as Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Drew Barrymore, Chris O’Donnell, and Drew Barrymore.   All of these actors are fucking terrible in this movie!  Actress Nicole Kidman plays Dr. Chase Meridian in the film, or as I like to refer to her as the films obvious whore; Drew Barrymore’s character is pretty much the same thing, but she gets a lot less screen time compared to Kidman.  Tommy Lee Jones portrayal of Havery Dent (aka Two-Face) is not scary in the least bit; he’s just fucking stupid and annoying!  And speaking of stupid and annoying why is it that every time Chris O’Donnell speaks in this film it feels like he’s fucking you in the ears!  Chris O’Donnell as Robin in “Batman Forever” (And later “Batman & Robin) is one of the worst fucking casting decisions in the history of film.  And then we have actor Michael Gough who plays Bruce Wayne/ Batman’s faithful butler Albert Pennyworth.  Gough’s character serves the purpose of providing background noise for the movie; his role is abso-FUCKING-lutley pointless!  I don’t even know why they even bothered to write in lines for Alfred.                                                                                                                                         
 The only redeemable part of this film is Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman.  Kilmer’s portrayal reminded me a lot of Michael Keaton’s Batman portrayal, which I thought was excellent.  Unfortunately for Val Kilmer his acting was far too serious for a movie this fucking stupid, which is a shame because he did a really great job with this role; he was just the victim of being a good actor in a film with a terrible script and no help from his supporting actors.  Jim Carrey’s acting wasn’t all that bad either but only when he was playing the Riddler’s true identity, Edward Nygma.  When Carrey is on screen as Edward Nygma he’s mildly funny, but when he’s on screen as the Riddler he’s fucking annoying and makes you envy Helen Keller.  Jim Carrey as the Riddler looks like the bastard off-spring of a three way between Pee-Wee Herman, Elton John, and Lady Gaga.                                                                                  
My final opinion on this film is that it fucking sucks!  The only people who would ever enjoy this movie are kids under the age of 10 because there are enough flashing lights and corny-one liners to keep them entertained.  So if you know a child under ten (or a person who recently underwent a full-frontal lobotomy!) let them watch “Batman Forever”, otherwise avoid it at all costs.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Reviw of "Singles"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Singles”
By: Brian Cotnoir
                In the early 1990’s the “Grunge Scene” in Seattle had swept the country.  It was only a matter of time before a movie was made about the grunge scene.  Then in 1992 the film “Singles”, a film written and directed by Cameron Crowe, was released.  Even though “Singles” is a romantic-comedy you definitely get that “mock-umentary” vibe from the film.  Throughout the film the cast talks into the camera is if their characters are real people and the film you are watching is a documentary about life in Seattle during the grunge scene. 
        The characters in “Singles” pretty much have the same story; six 20-something, out of college people living in Seattle and trying to find themselves and love.  You have Campbell Scott & Kyra Sedgwick’s characters’, who are both neurotic neo-hippies desperately seeking love, while at the same time trying to appear as if they don’t really care about love.  Then you have Matt Dillon & Bridget Fonda’s characters’.  Matt Dillon’s character’s name is Cliff; a young amateur musician in Seattle who works a variety of odd jobs to pay his bills and support his band.  Bridget Fonda’s character is named Janet, and she is Cliff’s “girlfriend”, even though he doesn’t acknowledge her as his girlfriend.  Janet is a perky and friendly girl who adores Cliff and is always their supporting him and his band.  Finally, there are Bill Pullman & Shelia Kelley’s characters’.  These are the only two main characters’ in the movie that don’t end up together.  Bill Pullman’s character is a young tech savvy, hipster type guy, who enjoys watching French films and Shelia Kelley’s character, is named Debbie and she manages an independent Coffee shop where Cliff and Janet work.  Debbie is a “modern woman” who is looking to find the love of her life.  The film mainly focuses on Campbell Scott & Kyra Sedgwick’s characters, but does digress away from them from time to time to focus on the other characters.                                                                                                      
 One great thing about “Singles” is the celebrity cameos.  Seattle bands “Alice in Chains” & “Soundgarden both perform in this movie, as well as contribute to the films soundtrack.  Chris Cornell of Soundgarden has a brief cameo in one scene and Cliff’s other band mates are Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament all of the band Pearl Jam, and if you pay close attention to the scene where Debbie is at the video dating service building you can see film director Tim Burton sitting in the background reading a magazine.         
All and all “Singles” is a good movie.  Director Cameron Crowe did a great job making this film, which would later provide the inspiration of the hit primetime television show “Friends”.  The only other positive thing I have to say about this film is it’s a nice anthropological glimpse at the not too distant past.