Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A review of "The Bad Seed"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “The Bad Seed”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     The 1956 classic horror movie “The Bad Seed” tells the story of a young girl named Rhoda Penmark and her mother.  Rhoda is a young girl who, on the outside, appears to be the perfect child’ she is well-mannered, courteous, well-spoken and mature for a girl her age, but her mother fears that she may be evil on the inside.  Rhoda’s mother first becomes concerned that something may be wrong with her daughter when she appears to be excited that one of her classmates has died, and now Mrs. Penmark must figure out whether her daughter is the perfect little angel most people view her as or if she is, indeed, a bad seed.                                                         
   I’ll start off by saying that “The Bad Seed” is a timeless horror classic and I also believe it was one of the first horror movies to have a child as the villain, rather than an adult or a paranormal anomaly, but I did find some big problems with the film.                                                        
   My first problem with the film is a the dialogue; the dialogue for this film reminded me more of the kind of dialogue you’d see in a stage play instead of a movie, which makes sense because before “the Bad Seed” was made into a screen play it was a successful stage play and before that it was a novel, but I just feel like the dialogue was too weak for the film.  The scenes were always crowded (very rarely did you see only one person in a shot) and every time one of the characters would go into a monologue it was really more to give themselves expositional background story; “EXPOSITION/EXPOSITION/RUSH IT OUT A.S.A.P.” (Sorry I couldn’t resist).  Also a lot of the dialogue in the film was really dragged out; this film probably could have been a half hour shorter than it’s present running time.                                                        
    The one thing that I hated about this film was Rhoda’s mother, but I do want to clarify I thought the actress playing Rhoda’s mother, Nancy Kelley, was great, I just hated the character she was playing.  Mrs. Penmark is without a doubt the weakest, whiniest, and most moronic heroine I’ve ever seen in a film.  She is a person who lives a life of denial and let’s her daughter do as she please with blind ignorance.  Rhoda’s mother is hardly suspicious of her daughter’s morbid remarks and behavior, and I believe she only raises her voice one in the entire movie.  If I ever met a woman like this in real life I think I would pay one of my female friends to hit her for me.       
     Then there’s the films antagonist, Rhoda, who is played by Patty McCormack.  I think McCormack was just wonderful as the young sociopath Rhoda.  She is a person who it motivated to get whatever she wants and if doesn’t get it she will kill you.  Driven and manipulative are the words I’d used to describe her.  Watching this film made me realize that Rhoda and her mother were more than likely the inspiration for Eric Cartman and his mother from the television series “South Park”.  Rhoda and Cartman share many similarities; they’re controlling, demanding, manipulative, and go absolutely insane when they don’t get what they want, and their mothers are both passive and always making up excuses for their child’s behavior.                              
    “The Bad Seed” is not very scary by today’s standards, but still it is a horror classic.  I didn’t really think it was great, but it’s certainly not bad, and I also believe that this story is probably adapted way better on the stage then it is on screen.  I also found most the supporting cast to be wonderful and very enjoyable, and can I just say the film had one of the best twist ending I’ve ever seen; it really made watching this film worth the 2 hours of boring drawn out dialogue.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A review of "Wristcutters: A Love Story"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Wristcutters: A Love Story”
By: Brian Cotnoir
                The story of “Wristcutters: A Love Story” is one of the best independent films to have come out in a long time.   With its original story, morbid imagery, and terrific casting this film is just simply phenomonal.                                                                                                                 

             
The story of “Wristcutters” is the following; Patrick Fugit plays Zia, a young man who recently went through a rough break up with his girlfriend, Desiree.  Shortly after their break up, Zia decides that he’d rather be dead than go through life without Desiree, so he decides to slash his wrists and kill himself.  Upon, taking his own life Zia learns that people who commit suicide don’t go to heaven or hell, but rather an alternate world where everything looks just like the real world except a little worst; there are no flowers, no stars at night, the color is dim, and no one has the ability to smile anymore.  Zia wanders tries to make it through the rest of his eternity in this world, but the thought of his ex-girlfriend, Desiree, just can’t seem to escape his mind.  One night while Zia is out a bar he meets a man named Eugene, played by Shea Whigham.  Eugene is a former Russian musician who decided to kill himself while on stage with his band.  Even more shocking to Zia is finding out that Eugene’s entire family (Mother, father, and younger brother) all committed suicide to and that they all lived together in this bleak new world.  Zia and Eugene quickly become friends and start hanging out and drinking all night long.  On another night Zia is spotted by an old friend who recently committed suicide. Despite the tragic circumstance, Zia is elated to find out that Desiree also committed suicide not long after he did.  So after much needed convincing, Zia finally convinces Eugene to travel with him across the land in hopes of finding Desiree.                                                                                                                                                                                   
      While traveling across the land Zia and Eugene cross paths with a young girl named Mikal, played by Shannyn Sossamon; Mikal is trying to find the “People in Charge” because she wants to escape this bleak and dreary land because she believes that she doesn’t belong there.  Mikal’s reason is that she overdosed on drugs and was not trying to kill herself, so therefore she should be allowed to leave and return to her old life on Earth.  While on their journey to find Desiree and the “People in Charge” the group comes across a man named “Kneller”, played by Grammy-Award winning musician Tom Waits; Kneller runs a camp in the world where people live together.  Kneller’s camp quickly becomes a paradise for the three travlers; while their Zia and Mikal form a really close bond, and even Eugene finds love with a girl, named Nanuk, who is a mute and communicates through speech-song.  Mikal likes Zia, but doesn’t think that he can give up his focus on Desiree, so that they can be together.  Now it’s up to Zia to decide if he should continue to search for his ex-lover or stay with Mikal and the others at Kneller’s camp. 
                                                                                                                                                                              “Wristcutters” is just an awesome film.  The first time I watched this I thought I was going to be watching a slasher-film, but much to my surprise I got a Dark Romantic-Comedy.  This film has one of the most orignal and unique stories I have ever heard and is handsdown my favorite Independent Film of All-Time.  The film is actually based off of a short story by Etgar Keret called “Kneller’s Happy Campers”.  Not too many people know about this film, but trust me when I say if you havent seen “Wristcutters” yet do yourself a favor and see it; you will enjoy this film, I promise.                          

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A review of "Easy A"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Easy A”
By: Brian Cotnoir
     The film “Easy A” is loosely based off the novel “the Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but unlike Hawthorne’s literary works, this film is a piece of garbage.           
   The film tells the story of Olive Penderghast, who is played by Emma Stone; Olive is this pretty, but for some mysterious reason, “unpopular girl” at her high school.  One day Olive lies to her best friend, Rhiannon, and tells her that she lost her virginity, word quickly travels around the school and Olive is quickly labeled a “slut” and feels the scorn of many of her classmates.  Olive decides to take her new label as the school slut and turn it into a business; she gives boys permission to say they had sex with her in exchange for gift cards.  Olive thinks nothing of her little business at first, but things start to slowly go downhill for Olive and now she’s going to do everything she can to make things right and end her reputation as the “school skank”.                                   
    My one major problem with this film is that I feel it is totally un-relatable to high school kids in this day and age.  With teen pregnancy rates at an all-time high, it’s very hard to believe that this one girl is the only person having sex while in high school; especially a high school in the state of California.  Maybe if this film would have been filmed in the 1980’s (or at least set in the 1980’s) it would have done well, but because it’s set in present time the story doesn’t really make that much sense.  
   The whole time I spent watching this film it kept coming off like it was trying to be a John Hughes film, but it wasn’t. There are clear references to Hughes films in this movie, but they’re not clever and they’re not subtle, they are just blatantly acknowledging that they are making a John Hughes reference.  I think that “Easy A” should have tried to be its own original film instead of trying to be a John Hughes film.        
   Another confusing point I’d like to address is why are these boys giving Olive hundreds of dollars—I kid you not—to say that they had sex with her?  You could get a pretty nice escort with that kind of money and you’ll actually get laid you fucking morons!  Also, I like how the “conservative-girls” in this film dress the sluttiest.  Finally, the people who play Olive’s parents in this film are just idiotic.  They are without a doubt the worst movie parents I have ever seen; they are just so over the top and unrealistic that there is just nothing funny or credible about their performances.                         
   “Easy A” was bland, unoriginal, unfunny, and totally unrealistic.  I’ve met a lot of people who actually like this film (pretty much all of them being female), but I just didn’t like anything about it. I give the film “Easy A” an F for lack of originality and poor effort.             

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Top 10 Movies that make me want to Punch somebody!

Confessions of a Film Junkie: Top Ten Films that make me want to punch somebody!
By: Brian Cotnoir
     This was another difficult list to compile, and not because there are so many movies that I hate, but rather because there are very few movies that I actually hate with a burning passion.  I know in some of my past reviews I’ve torn apart some films, but it wasn’t because I hated most of them, it’s because I didn’t find them very entertaining.  I usually enjoy bad movies;  “Great Balls of Fire”, “Troll 2”, and “Plan 9 From Outer Space” are just a few of the worst movies ever made that I really enjoy because they’re so poorly made and they make me laugh hysterically each time I watch them.  This list however, focuses on the Top Ten Films that send my blood into a boiling rage, the films that make me shout out and anger, and most importantly these are the films that make me want to punch somebody really, really badly.  So take a deep breath and “enjoy” the Top Ten Films that make me want to punch somebody.

#10- Selena
     Back when I was between the ages of 8-10 my mother used to drop me and my older sister off at Day Care Center during the summer and every day we got to watch only one movie and since most of the kids at this particular Day Care Center we’re young Hispanic girls, I have been forced to watch this movie more times in my life than I have ever cared to see.  I’m probably just being shallow and hate this movie for my own personal reasons rather than explaining why it’s a bad film, but you know what every time I think about this movie it makes me angry.  It used to drive me insane when all the girls would start crying at the end of this movie when Selena died because I would just sit there and say to myself “So what; she died!  She dies every time in this movie, it’s never going to change, she always will die at the end of this movie”.  What else can I say but I hate Selena, I hate her music, and I especially hate this movie that was made about her.

#9- Cannibal Holocaust
     I bought a copy of this film because I heard that it was one of the most “controversial” films ever made, and I will admit that I liked the films story and a lot of the special effects, but there were just so many unpleasant images I saw in this film that I actually thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish this film.  I did manage to make it through the entire film in just one sitting, but for a while I was convinced that the film was actually going to make me vomit—it was that disgusting at points—and the fact that the director had the cast kill live animals in the film made me shout out in fear and question the logics and ethics of so many things.  I’ve only seen this movie once (by myself) and I have no intention of EVER watching this film again.
#8- 28 Days Later
     I am a huge fan of zombie’s and zombie movies, but this film just pisses me off!  First of all, the first 20 minutes of this film focuses on some British guy walking around a virtually deserted London trying to look for survivors; that’s not entertaining that’s boring!  Secondly, I hate the “zombies” in this film.  Zombies aren’t supposed to move at the speed of light and have super-human senses they’re supposed to be slow and moronic.  Also, a REAL zombie is a deceased person who is brought back to the dead by means of mystical powers/rituals.  A Zombie is NOT made from a virus developed in a research laboratory that is released to mankind by the actions of stupid hippies!  The creatures in this film are Mutants; NOT ZOMBIES!  Not to mention this movie is incredibly boring.  I hate this movie so much; it fills me with rage!  I did however like its sequel “28 Weeks Later”, but still it’s a film about MUTANTS AND NOT ZOMBIES!!!!
#7- Easy A
     This movie is just stupid.  It’s not so stupid it’s funny and it’s definitely not so stupid that it’s kind of charming, it’s just plain stupid.  Nothing about this movie is realistic or relatable to teenagers or anyone else.  This movie spends most of the time trying to rip of director John Hughes and it is an embarrassment to itself and cinema.
#6- Boy Eats Girl
     If you haven’t seen this movie yet, don’t!  This Irish film is basically “Twilight” with zombies.  It’s not witty, it’s not entertaining, the characters are one-dimensional and bland, the story is absolute garbage, and it’s just stupid. The only thing I liked about this film was that they acknowledged that zombies are incapable of “getting-it-up”.  So unless you’re a teenage girl who has a thing for necrophilia don’t see this movie.
#5- Caligula
     I am ashamed to admit that I made it through this film in just one sitting.  I wanted to see this film because it featured Malcolm McDowell, who is one of my favorite actors, and this is without a doubt the worst movie he has ever appeared in—besides “Easy A”.  This acting in this film is just terrible, the dialogue is uninteresting and really awkward at times, and this isn’t even really a film, it’s porn; really expensive, badly made porn.  I don’t think you can go more than three minutes into this film without seeing a topless woman.  The only thing I liked about this film was the sets.  The sets were cool looking, but unfortunately when the best part about the movie is the sets you should know that the movie is absolute crap.
#4- Every Tyler Perry Movie
     I really want to punch Tyler Perry in the face.  Every movie he does has the same God damn story!  Tyler Perry should just call all his future movies “Stereotypical Black Family featuring Tyler Perry dressed as an old crazy black woman”.  How has he made so many movies with the same unoriginal story?  When Eddie Murphy dressed up like an old black woman it was funny.  When Martin Lawrence did the same thing it was kind of funny, but when Tyler Perry does it its idiotic and makes me want to hurt people.  Tyler Perry is black equivalent of Mike Meyers; he just recycles the same story over and over again and calls it something different, and the movie studios are too stupid to realize it.  The only reason why he’s not number one on this list is because I’ve never even made it through an entire Tyler Perry movie; that’s how much I hate him and his stupid movies.  Tyler Perry should be given a full frontal lobotomy so that he can never come up with another terrible movie idea ever again.
#3- Everyone Says I Love You
     I’ve already mentioned why I hate this film in a previous review so I’ll try not to go into too much detail.  I’ll just repeat my statement that it is the “Dumbest” movie I have ever seen and there’s simply nothing charming or entertaining about this movie.  I should’ve known that this movie was a hunk of shit when I found out that it was written, directed, and starred Woody Allen.  I only saw this movie because it featured Edward Norton and this is without a doubt the worst movie and worst acting job he has ever done.
#2- Antichrist
     This is another film that I’ve already posted a detailed review on why I hate “Antichrist” so if you want more specific reasons for why I hate this film then read the post (http://filmjunkieconfessions.blogspot.com/2011/01/confessions-of-film-junkie-reviw-of_15.html).  Other than that only thing I have to do is ask the film’s director, Las Von Trier, WHY DID YOU HAVE TO SHOW THAT?!  I MEAN WHY DID YOU HAVE TO SHOW ALL OF THOSE HORRIBLE THINGS AND THAT SCENE WITH THE GIRL AND THE SCISSORS AND SHE STABS...GAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! AND WHY?!  WHY WILLIEM DAFOE’S PENIS?!?!?!?!?!  WHY DID YOU HAVE TO SHOW ALL OF THAT?!  WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!?!?!
#1- Cool World
     Don’t think that “Cool World” beat out “Antichrist” by a landslide in this countdown; “Cool World” won by about a half-millimeter.  The big decider on which film I hated more was that “Antichrist” had a few cool camera shots, where as “Cool World” had none.  My review on this film has already been posted in a past edition of “Confessions of a Film Junkie” so just read that if you want to really know why I hate this film. (http://filmjunkieconfessions.blogspot.com/2011/03/confessions-of-film-junkie-review-of_11.html)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A review of "Let Me In"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Let Me In”
By: Brian Cotnoir
     I hate when American Film studios take a foreign movie and try to “Americanize” it, so when I saw the movie trailer for “Let Me In” for the first time I, of course, began cursing God and the heavens.  For those of you who are unaware, “Let Me In” is a virtual shot-for-shot re-make of the Swedish horror movie called “Let the Right One In”.  I quite enjoyed “Let the Right One In”; I like the characters, I liked the story, I liked the visuals—I liked just about everything about it.  So how much did I hate it’s Bastardized American Half-Brother?  Not as much I thought.     
    First of all, I must acknowledge that this film is a total rip off.  I counted a total of 36 re-created scenes that were used in both films, and a good portion of the dialogue was taken from the “Let the Right One In” and translated from Swedish in to English.  This has to be one of the laziest re-makes I have ever seen in a movie.  There are almost no differences between the two films, and I can’t believe that any studio actually gave the films writer/director, Matt Reeves any financial backing.  He didn’t have to do much of anything!  The shots were already laid out for him, the script was already written; all he had to do was film it in English.  Now what are the differences between these two films you may be wondering?  Well there are very few distinct differences between the two films that I noticed.      
    In “Let the Right One in” the boy and girls names are Oskar and Elly, and in “Let Me In” their names are Owen and Abby.  Owen is more creepy and more of a sissy than Oskar, and because of that I felt almost no sympathy for Owen.  At least when Oskar faced the boys who were bullying him he tried to show some strength and bravery through silence, so you felt sympathetic towards him. Owen, however, would scream and cry almost every time the bullies got within three feet of him so I felt no sympathy for him when he got his ass kicked.       
    I also didn’t care much for the vampire girl in “Let me In”.  I liked Elly from “Let the Right One In” more than Abby because Elly was more mysterious, whereas I found Abby to be more suspicious.  Also when Abby fed she was more creature-like as opposed to Elly who still had some humanistic characteristics when she fed.  Abby was not terrible; I just liked Elly better.  Another significant difference between the films is the locations. “Let the Right One in” is set in Sweden, while “Let Me In” is set in Los Alamos, New Mexico of all places.  Having “Let Me In” set in New Mexico really bothered me and the reason why is because when I think of New Mexico I think of a hot and dry desert, not a cold winter suburb.  At least in “Let the Right One in” having the story take place in Sweden made sense, with all the snow.  Every time I think of Los Alamos, New Mexico, I think of the Manhattan project and “The Hills Have Eyes”.  I think this story should have been set somewhere more associated with the cold like Vermont, or Minnesota, or Alaska, or New Hampshire—anywhere but New Mexico.                     
     One thing I noticed in “Let Me In” that I didn’t notice in “Let the Right One In” was the time period it was set in.  Both stories are set in the early 1980’s.  I didn’t see any signs that “Let the Right One In” was set in the 1980’s, but “Let Me In” shoves out so many 80’s pop culture references on to the screen, such as showing televised speeches of President Ronald Regan, playing 80’s songs in the background, showing the kids playing Pac-Man, and people dressed in attire that most people associate with the 1980’s.  I found the 80’s references in “Let Me In” to be more of a distraction than anything.                   
    The one thing that irks me the most about “Let Me In” is that it was made only TWO YEARS after the release of the film that it’s ripping off.  For crying out loud most people haven’t even had time to watch and enjoy the original.  Why have you already made and released a re-make/rip-off of it.  If “Let Me In” would have been made 15-20 years after “Let the Right One In”, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much, but two years between the original and the re-make is just ridiculously unnecessary.  And for those of you who are thinking, “oh-they just-wanted-to-make-the-movie-in-English-so-more-people-would-see-it”, I say bull shit!  There are these things formatted onto every DVD called “subtitles” and most studios hire voice actors to do the whole script in English for those people who are too lazy to read the God damn subtitles!                                
    My final opinion on “Let Me In” is the following; I didn’t hate, but I didn’t like it.  This film was far too Americanized and is a total rip-off in the worst way possible.  It should not have been released, let alone made.  If you liked “Let the Right One In” and you watch “Let Me In”, you’re probably not going to hate it, but you’re going to like it less than “Let the Right One In”.