Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Trailer Previews: "Poltergeist" (2015)

Confessions of a Film Junkie: Trailer Previews: "Poltergeist" (2015)
A Video By Brian Cotnoir

Welcome to the 1st Ever Episode of Trailer Previews where I take a look at the trailers for upcoming films, and offer my thoughts on the film solely based on what I saw in the trailer.  This weeks episode I take a look at the 2015 re-make of "Poltergeist".  So after you check out my video be sure to check out the trailer for the film as well (and I apologize in advance for the long awkward pauses, I make in my review--My brain doesn't always want to work.

Check out the Official trailer for "Poltergeist" (2015) right here

Monday, February 23, 2015

Classics: A Review of Amadeus By Lauren Ennis

One of the most popular topics for artists to explore is the topic that they perhaps know best; art and the artistic process. Works that are built around this concept often focus upon the struggles and heartaches that make up the artistic process, while still reminding audiences of the satisfaction that makes it all worthwhile. Some works, however, delve into the dark side of the artist’s life and chronicle the devastating effects of a life devoted to an unappreciated or failing craft. One such work is the 1984 biography Amadeus. While the film was marketed as a historical work about the life of the prophetic composer Mozart, the film is one of the most remarkable portrayals of the artist’s life from its euphoric highs to the consuming effects of its devastating lows.
Genius does not guarantee fashion sense

The story begins with once renowned composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) living out his final years in obscurity at a hospital in Vienna. Sensing that his time may be running short, Salieri summons a priest to read him his last rights, but is mortified when the priest treats him no differently than the other patients. Confronted with his own anonymity, he reveals that confession is the sacrament that he is truly interested in as he reflects upon the events that brought him from rising star to aging unknown in the film’s central flashback. He begins his tale during his childhood when he became fascinated by music and received a vision that convinced him that he was chosen by God to pursue a career in music. In order to become worthy of his perceived destiny, he devotes himself to hard work and abstains from any and all forms of vice as he grows older. After years of diligently studying and working to make a name for himself, Salieri finally attains success after gaining the notice of Emperor Franz Joseph (Jeffrey Jones) and the royal court of Vienna. Just as he begins to grasp his goals, however, another artist arrives on Vienna’s music scene; prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce). Despite his natural gifts, Mozart is shown to have more in common with a modern-day fraternity member than a musical genius as he seems to spend just as much if not more time drinking, carousing, and spending his limited funds as he does writing the works that will make him famous. Regardless of his personal habits, Mozart’s talent, while in many ways ahead of his time, cannot be denied and he quickly begins to win the favor of the same patrons that Salieri has spent years trying to impress. Determined to maintain his success, Salieri completely devotes himself to his craft, only to have Mozart effortlessly best him at every turn. After losing his commissions, status, and finally his muse and the object of his secret infatuation to Mozart, Salieri takes on a new mission in life; to destroy Mozart’s career at any cost. So begins a descent that proves the desperate lengths an artist will go to in pursuit of ‘success’ and the all too high price that some will pay for a chance at immortality.

Although excellent entertainment, Amadeus is not a film that is known for its historical merit. Rather than a traditional biography, the film was adapted from the Broadway play of the same name, which chronicled the rivalry between Salieri and Mozart and explored the popular legend that the vengeful Salieri was responsible for Mozart’s death. Much like purported historical dramas such as JFK, Amadeus uses the basic facts of its character’s lives to tell its own story. Unlike JFK, however, the film does not alter history in an effort to promote its theory or push forward a revisionist agenda. Instead, the film follows in the tradition of such historical tales as Spartacus and The Crucible by using its historical story to analyze and comment upon themes that still resonate today. For example in Spartacus, Kirk Douglas’ rebellious slave stood in for people unjustly persecuted during the McCarthy era much in the same way that Hulce’s Mozart serves as a metaphor for true art and genius. Likewise, Abraham’s Salieri provides an excellent foil as a symbol of popular mediocrity that is unable to resonate beyond its initial hype. Through its portrait of artists as rivals Amadeus reveals the ways in which art, often touted as one the most redeeming and pure aspects of culture, can be just as corrupt and jaded as any other aspect of society. The juxtaposition of Mozart and Salieri excellently portrays both the awe of true genius and the sense of both injustice and inadequacy that it inevitably inspires in those who strive to but cannot achieve it. The evolution of Salieri from dedicated composer to thief, saboteur, and assassin in the name of success also provides apt insight into the ways in which the standards of society (both then and now) can consume, delude, and ultimately break the many people who struggle to keep up with its ever increasing demands. The film also succeeds where many other art themed films fail in that it portrays its central characters as people who, although fully three dimensional, aren’t so different from viewers, rather than as mythic figures whose lofty profession makes them impossible to relate to. As a result, while it may not be a reliable historical source, Amadeus remains an excellent source of thought, debate, and of course inspiration.
Mediocrity in its natural state; self-righteous indignation

The cast and musical score combine to bring this historical tale to life in a way that spoke to viewers upon its initial release during the 1980’s and continues to do so today. As Salieri, Abraham seamlessly transforms from disillusioned everyman to ruthless psychotic in such a way that he reminds the audience of the darkness lurking within our own petty jealousies. Similarly, Hulce grows with his character as his Mozart enters the story an overgrown child, but eventually develops into a sympathetic family man struggling to balance his artistic ambitions and domestic responsibilities. The reversal that the two lead performances develop is truly thought provoking in the way that it forces viewers to question the preconceived notions and biases that they entered the film with. Elizabeth Berridge and Roy Dotrice lend apt support as the two diverging influences in Mozart’s life; his free spirited wife and stern father. The film’s score provides an excellent backdrop to the plot’s proceedings and adds a distinct sense of atmosphere and place to the story. The music also allows audiences to experience the power of Mozart’s work first-hand, which effectively speaks for the composer’s genius without forcing the characters to constantly reiterate it.

Amadeus is truly one of the most innovative and unique takes on the historical drama. The well-drawn characters and relevant themes bring the complexities of Mozart’s world to life while still evoking genuine emotion from modern audiences. While I would not recommend this film for historical purposes, I wholeheartedly recommend it to any viewers interested in well executed drama and anyone who has found themselves caught in the timeless struggle to ‘be somebody’ in an anonymous world. Inspired by this film, the 1986 pop hit “Rock Me Amadeus” describes Mozart as a ‘superstar’ and ‘rock idol’; one viewing  and even the most modern of music fans will be tempted to describe the classical icon the same way.
Time to party like its 1789!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Screening of "Fifty Shades of Grey"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Screening of "Fifty Shades of Grey"

A Video Review by Brian Cotnoir

This week, I actually made it out to the theaters and decided to check out the new controversial romance/drama "Fifty Shades of Grey" (based off the popular novel by E.L James).  Click the Video below and find out.  Don't worry NO SPOILERS :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Love Hurts: The Dark Side of Romance in the Movies By: Lauren Ennis

Last week's review celebrated Valentine's Day with a tribute to romance in the movies. As classic as those films of last week's review may be, there is no denying that they are glamorous and romanticized in ways that make real-life relationships pale in comparison. In reality, romance is more confusing, complicated, and painful than most of what we see onscreen. As a result, most of us have spent more Valentine's Days arguing with our significant other or spending a solo night on the couch than experiencing an evening worthy of Hollywood magic. Regardless of how your Valentine's Day turned out this year, however, this week's countdown is guaranteed to make you feel better about your own relationship, or single status. Without further ado, here three of the most sleazy, contemptuous, and disturbing classic cinematic takes on romance that I've seen.

1. Lolita: Based upon 1955 Vladimir Nabokov novel of the same name, this movie's as controversial as classic and even modern cinema gets. The story focuses upon a middle-aged professor's obsessive love for his pre-teen stepdaughter. The story begins with Humbert Humbert (James Mason) arriving at the home of writer and pornographic film-maker Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers) and declaring his intention to kill Quilty in retaliation for Quilty's sexual corruption and abuse of underage Lolita Haze (Sue Lyon). The film then launches into a flashback which reveals that Lolita had suffered sexual abuse long before her meeting Quilty; at the hands of her stepfather, Humbert. While sexual abuse has been a topic explored in both real-life headlines and popular fiction, Lolita stands out for its attempt to tell its tale from the abuser's perspective. Throughout the film, Lolita is shown strictly from Humbert's perverse viewpoint, which in turn places her in a sexually charged and often antagonistic light. In following Humbert's view, Lolita is shown to be an underage femme fatale who is fully aware of her actions as she uses her charms to take anything that she wants from the men around her.  In stark contrast, Humbert is portrayed as the bumbling would-be hero of his sordid tale who, despite his despicable behavior, is portrayed as utterly devoted to Lolita and willing to do anything to keep her near him. Despite the disturbing nature of it, the co-dependent relationship that develops between the two is played for laughs in what is certainly the darkest take on the romantic comedy genre. By the finale, this twisted relationship ultimately proves damaging to both parties as Lolita becomes so desperate to end the abuse that she runs away with Quilty, unaware that he intends to feature her in his films, and Humbert is left a broken man who descends into the madness of his own delusions. The film's tagline read, 'how did they ever make a movie out of Lolita?'; even forty-three years of cultural changes later that is still a valid question.
Pedicures were never so perverse

2. Gaslight: Many a film has shown marriage to be the ultimate goal in the pursuit of happiness. For newlywed Paula (Ingrid Bergman), however, her traumas have only just begun when she says 'I do'. Entrusted to her aunt's care following her parents' deaths, young Paula experienced yet another loss when her aunt was brutally murdered in a robbery attempt gone wrong. Years later, she tries to leave her troubled past behind and start over by marrying the charming Gregory (Charles Boyer) after a whirlwind romance. All seems to be blissful for the couple until they move into the house Paula inherited from her aunt, and Paula's mental state inexplicably begins deteriorating. Rather than trying to help his wife, Gregory continually belittles even the smallest action she takes and discredits her at every turn, further adding to her mental descent. SPOILER ALERT Eventually, it is revealed that Paula is not just going insane but being systematically driven insane by her husband's machinations. The lost items, moved furniture, and flickering lights that she has been told are imagined are not only real but are all efforts by him to make her doubt her own sanity. Paula's entire world is revealed to be a well orchestrated lie and her quick courtship and strained marriage just steps in Gregory's plan to finish what he started in her aunt's house years earlier. Released in 1944, Gaslight is distinctive for its exploration of verbal and psychological abuse in an era when marriage was considered a sacred institution. The film also successfully portrays the dangers of relying upon romantic ideals as Paula risks her finances, freedom, and sanity when she impulsively marries Gregory based upon an adolescent infatuation. The film earned Ingrid Bergman a Best Actress Oscar and brought the word 'gaslight' into popular slang where it remains synonymous with psychological manipulation. For a psychological thriller that will leave you guessing at the plot and the merits of marriage at every turn look no further than the flicker of Gaslight.
Till criminal sentencing do us part

3.  The Blue Angel: This 1930 German film made Marlene Dietrich an overnight international success and cemented her place as one of Hollywood's first sex symbols. The story focuses upon the destructive effects of an opposites-attract relationship between an aging professor and a promiscuous showgirl. The film begins with prudish Professor Rath punishing his students for frequenting the decadent nightspot The Blue Angel to see the performances of sexy cabaret singer Lola Frohlich. The professor goes to the club to catch his students in the act next time they try to attend and instead meets Lola herself backstage and is instantly smitten. When her manager tries to pimp her out to a customer Rath,defends her honor and makes it his personal mission to ensure that she is never degraded again. After word spreads of his spending the night at Lola's apartment, however, his reputation is soon ruined and he is promptly fired from his position. Certain that he is acting for the greater good, he proposes marriage, hoping to keep her off the street and out of the club's scandalous review. After their wedding, however, their relationship quickly disintegrates as their association holds him back from finding another teaching job and she resumes her former life. Humiliated by the failure of his career, Rath is further demoralized by Lola's resentment, which she makes a point of constantly reminding him of. After years of struggling to please the ever fickle Lola, Rath finally reaches his breaking point when he joins her revue and performs an embarrassing routine only to find her backstage with another man. The way that the professor ultimately succumbs to his fate after accepting the loss of his marriage, career, and principles is nothing short of tragic. This film is often cited as an example of the femme fatale at her finest, but upon closer observation the story better serves as an exploration of the demoralizing effects of unrequited love. Although she may be an unlikable character, Lola never tries to hide what she is and early in the film tries to dissuade the professor from becoming involved with her. As a result, Lola cannot be held entirely to blame for a situation that she warned the professor was doomed from the start. In Rath's eyes Lola's behavior can be justified by her circumstances if she will only let herself be cured by a respectable life. What he cannot forgive is her inability to reciprocate his love for her. When he realizes that she never did or could love him the professor finally understands how it was his unattainable dream rather than the woman he fashioned it around that was his true undoing. "Falling in love again, never wanted to", Lola sings, and after viewing this film you might reconsider doing so yourself.

Even in garters and panties she still wears the pants in the relationship

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

An Important Message from Das Film Junkie

Hey All,

It's Das Film Junkie here, with an important update about the blog.  First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their continued support and comments to the blog.  Some of you may have noticed the consistency and quality of my blog has begun to dwindle.  Part of the reason why is  because I have been working multiple jobs since late Summer/Early Fall,  in order to make ends meet.   Some weeks it can get to be quite draining (both physically and mentally).  Up until last year, I would watch an average of 3-4 new movies a week and write 2-3 film reviews, I always had a steady supply of material and more than enough time to write, edit, and perfect every review.

Lately, I've been lucky to be able to watch one film a week, and even after that, I rarely have an opportunity to write a decent film review.  Personally, I am tired of writing half-a$$ed reviews because they don't live up to the higher standard that I am capable of writing.  With that being, said I have made the decision to cut back  on my weekly film reviews.  I'll still be writing film reviews on "Confessions of a Film Junkie", but instead of posting one every week, I will be posting one every other week.  I feel that by posting my film reviews on a bi-weekly basis, I will have more time (and less stress) to work on craft a much better quality film review.

Thank you All for your support and I will see you all here next week write here on "Confessions of a Film Junkie"


Das Film Junkie

Monday, February 9, 2015

In Love With The Movies: Films to Sit Out Valentine's Day With By Lauren Ennis

Valentine's Day is one of those difficult holidays that seem brimming with possibility and yet somehow more often than not prove to be disappointing. It’s a day that puts pressure on couples to live up to their partner’s expectations and completely ignores singles. In short, the holiday is a twenty four hour recipe for either magic moments or utter disaster. This year I’ll avoid the romance rush and leave the lovin’ to the on-screen couples that do it best. For anyone else hoping to indulge in the holiday spirit without the hassle, here are my top Valentine's flicks.
Here's lookin' at you, kid

CASABLANCA: Between Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, war-time intrigue, and enough quotable moments to fill an entire game of trivia this one is an absolute must see for movie buffs and true romantics alike. The plot focuses upon the love triangle between world weary American bar owner Rick Blaine, Rick’s former flame Ilsa, and Ilsa’s resistance fighter husband Victor Lazlo as they struggle to outwit the occupying Nazis in World War II Morocco. While Hollywood is no stranger to love triangles, Casablanca proves itself to be about far more than the typical themes of love, loss, and fidelity. Instead, the film’s central romance serves to show the ways in which the lives of average people are turned upside down by war, as well as the importance of holding onto our ideals and beliefs in the face of adversity. In many ways the characters also serve as metaphors for the various nations involved in World War II with Ilsa and Victor standing in for resistance fighters in occupied Europe, criminals Ugarte and Ferrari representing fascist Italy, corrupt official Louis serving as a metaphor for Vichy France, and finally the reluctant Rick standing in for isolationist America. Even without the film’s iconic status and political undertones, Casablanca is a film that captures the excitement, confusion, pain, longing and ultimately the sacrifice of love in a way that few films have. The film contains enough realism to be considered a sobering look at the effects of political unrest upon individual lives, and enough sweeping romance to soften even a hardened cynic like Humphrey Bogart’s Rick. Seventy three years on this same old story of love and glory still applies as time goes by.
The best things in life are...for an hourly fee?!

CAMILLE: Originally an 1848 novel entitled La Dame Aux Camellias, the tale of the doomed love between a struggling lawyer and a debt ridden courtesan has since gone on to become the subject of stage plays, operas, and numerous films. Critics and audiences agree that the definitive film version of the tale is the 1936 production starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. While the plot’s reliance upon the standards and social norms of its period setting could have left the story outdated and stuffy, the excellent acting and script bring out the story’s emotional core. Rather than a frivolous flirt or fallen woman in need of rescuing, in Garbo’s hands Marguerite is a complex woman who is every bit as capable as the men around her. Generous to a fault and always ready to laugh at her own expense, she hardly fits the stereotypes of film prostitutes and is instead a testament to the power of resilience as she forces herself to focus upon any bit of beauty or goodness in her sordid world. Similarly, Robert Taylor’s Armand is a man who is in many ways ahead of his time as he accepts Marguerite’s past and loves her for who she is rather than who he would like her to become. The romance between the two is surprisingly realistic with jealousy, insecurity, and finances regularly coming between them just as they continue to strain relationships today. The distinguishing factor in this love story lies in the way that the film shows the redemptive power of love without pretending that it is a cure-all for life. Through their relationship, Marguerite is offered a chance to begin anew and leave her painful past behind her and Armand finds direction and purpose in his formerly aimless life. Despite the good that their relationship does for each of them, however, the couple is soon faced with the reality of the difficult era in which they live as social pressures and physical illness threaten to tear them apart. Even though tragedy awaits, both Marguerite and Armand have truly been changed for the better, proving that while love may not conquer all it is still worth living, fighting, and even dying for.

It's the 1590's: do you know where your children are?
ROMEO AND JULIET/WEST SIDE STORY: No romance list would be complete without mention of the most famous pair of tragic lovers in all of Western literature. With this necessity in mind, for this spot, I was unable to decide between two films which tell the same classic story; the 1968 version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and its 1961 musical re-imagining West Side Story. Both stories chronicle the star-crossed loves between two youths from opposing groups; feuding aristocratic families in the original and warring street gangs in West Side. Director Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet is one of the most faithful versions of the Shakespearean masterpiece to be put to celluloid and remains a staple of English lit classes. Despite its faithful telling of the familiar tale, however, the film manages to breathe new life into the story through its use of location shoots, eye-catching costumes, and casting of actual teen actors in the title roles. The film begins with youthful energy as an exploration of the purity of young love before heart-wrenchingly depicting its inevitable shattering of innocence. Even today, its theme song and the image of Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting sharing a first kiss on a balcony remain the things that many instantly think of when they hear the words Romeo and Juliet.
Gang-life was never so well choreographed
While Romeo and Juliet earned audience favor with its faithfulness to its source material, West Side Story earned similar style points for the innovative ways in which it departed from that same material. Adapted from the 1957 Broadway hit, West Side Story is a musical 1950’s take on the classic tale updated to New York’s tenements. The film uses its star-crossed lovers to highlight the racial tensions of its day as newly arrived Puerto Rican immigrant Maria falls for Tony, a former gang member struggling to go straight. While the racial differences between the two would have been difficult enough to overcome during this time, matters are made even more complicated by the fact that Tony’s ex-gang is trying to lure him back into his old life in an effort to take down the rival gang that Maria’s brother leads. While the film’s approach to racial issues and gang violence may be simplistic, it was startlingly progressive for its day and remains unfortunately relevant as gang violence continues to plague America’s cities. The soaring songs (Tonight, Maria, I Feel Pretty, Somewhere) have since gone on to become part of the ‘great American songbook’ and the performances are equally compelling, creating a perfect balance between musical score and story that remains iconic today. For love at its most beautiful and tragic these films are a truly complementary pair, and a match made in cinematic heaven.

Tell me your favorite Valentine's flicks in the comments and be sure to check out next week's Anti-Valentine follow-up!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Classics: A Review of Now Voyager By Lauren Ennis

Last week I learned that a friend of mine passed away, and in tribute to her memory, this week I am reviewing one of her favorite films. The film is 1942’s Now Voyager and it is considered one of the best of the ample canon of films that featured the ever versatile Bette Davis. The film is a densely packed drama that explores the familiar themes found in many melodramas of its day such as illicit romance, personal transformation, family angst, and the emerging impact of psychology on modern life. Despite its plethora of familiar ‘40’s trappings, however, the film manages to remain relatively grounded and tells a heartfelt tale of one woman’s struggle to lead a life of confidence and purpose after years of being taught she isn’t worthy of such happiness.
Who can resist those Bette Davis eyes?

The story begins with timid Boston socialite Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) receiving a visit from psychiatrist Doctor Jacquith (Claude Rains) regarding a case of depression or anxiety that the film labels a “nervous breakdown”. While Charlotte’s mother (Gladys Cooper) and well-meaning sister-in-law (Ilka Chase) have orchestrated the appointment, Charlotte is completely unaware of the doctor’s ulterior motives, and believes that his visit with the family is purely a social one. Soon, however, Charlotte’s mother spitefully reveals the ruse and tries to shame her daughter into refusing treatment. Eventually, the doctor coaxes Charlotte into opening up and learns of the ways in which her domineering mother has ruled over her life since childhood. Confronted with her own pathetic state, Charlotte finally breaks down and makes her first step in reclaiming her life by asking the doctor to treat her against her mother’s wishes. After months at a posh facility, Charlotte embarks upon a cruise to South America to debut her new look and new attitude. While on the trip, she meets charming architect Jerry (Paul Henreid), and the two strike up a friendship. As they get to know each other, the pair realize that they have been leading similarly stifled lives and start to fall for each other. When the cruise ends, however, the couple are forced to return to the very broken homes that they had fled and Charlotte’s recovery is put to the ultimate test.

Much like its ugly duckling heroine, Now Voyager is not the film that it appears to be. While it does contain enough twists, romantic entanglements, and coincidences to fill a full season of a soap opera, the film is strangely restrained and poignant. The histrionics of the ‘weepies’ of its day are absent as the script examines the effects of loneliness and abuse. Instead of resorting to types, the film treats all of its relationships with an objectivity that provides each character with a level of understanding that makes them and their predicaments relatable. For instance, Charlotte’s mental illness is revealed to be a side effect of constantly being oppressed by a mother who made it all too clear that she would have been happier had Charlotte, her ‘change of life baby’, never been born. Similarly, Jerry only strays from his wife after years of suffering through a dictatorial relationship in which he was forced to repeatedly give up his passions and friendships. Thus, the couple create a believable portrait of two people trying to reach out from their isolation rather than the saucy sinners that the plot would suggest.  Even Charlotte’s vindictive mother is shown to be suffering from feeling abandoned and obsolete as she desperately tries to maintain a role in her daughter’s changing life.
Mental illness; Nothing a good rebound can't cure

Beyond its characterizations, the film also successfully manages to balance its complex script. Although the plot seems to twist into a serious tangle, its later developments are really just an echo of its essential premise. When Charlotte finally frees herself from her oppressive family she creates a new life by making her own family, and when she meets Jerry’s similarly depressed daughter (Janis Wilson) at Dr. Jaquith’s facility she helps the girl by becoming part of her family. Through these parallel plot lines, the film reiterates its emphasis upon the ways in which we can all overcome adversity, with a little help from those around us. Similarly, the echoing events show that depression and alienation are issues that can be found in many homes of all kinds, rather than the marks of shame that Charlotte’s mother attempts to portray them as. The film is also surprisingly progressive in its portrayal of gender roles. For example, while Charlotte’s relationship with Jerry is a turning point in her story, their romance does not solve any of her problems. It is only when Charlotte decides to face her mother on her own terms that she begins to overcome a lifetime of adversity. Furthermore, the script presents her proposal to move out and get a job rather than continue living with her mother as a logical plan instead of a radical last resort. The script even remedies its portrayal of Charlotte as a stereotypical spinster by having her end the film as independent and single by choice rather than the spinster without options that she opens the story as. The script also offers a similarly modern take on psychiatry with Doctor Jaquith portrayed as an average man trying to do his job rather than the genius (as seen in Spellbound) or malignant force (as seen in Cat People) that therapists were often portrayed as in this era. The script refreshingly avoids the familiar clich├ęs of blot tests and hypnosis and instead shows the hard work and dedication that treatment requires.  Finally, the film realistically portrays the ways in which treatment alleviates, but does not obliterate mental illness as Charlotte continues to struggle, albeit with increasing success, against her own trauma and insecurity.

The cast provide uniformly excellent performances that bring the story alive with an elegance and emotional honesty befitting a true classic. Bette Davis is a revelation as Charlotte and conveys each stage of her character’s evolution with intelligence and empathy. Paul Henreid makes Jerry a fully fleshed person in his charming performance rather than a generic love interest and portrays his outward joviality and inner torment with equal skill. Janis Wilson provides a generally believable performance, but occasionally displays the theatricality of many child actors. Claude Rains lends excellent support as the understanding Doctor Jacquith as does Gladys Cooper as Charlotte’s vicious mother.

Through its combination of believable writing and captivating performances Now Voyager conveys an emotional tale that rises above its label as a melodrama. The film relays a resonating message; happiness is possible for any of us as long as we are able to work for it and recognize it in its myriad forms. The title of this film comes from a quote from Walt Whitman in which he instructs us to “go now voyager to seek and to find”; I strongly encourage you to seek out this film and find all of the pleasures that it has to offer.
Makeovers in the age before reality tv

Monday, February 2, 2015

5 Ideal Valentine's Day Films for Deranged Couples (and Single Weirdo's)

Confessions of a Film Junkie: 5 Ideal Valentine’s Day Films for Deranged Couples (and Single Weirdo’s)

By: Brian Cotnoir

Hey all, well it’s that time of the year again: Valentine’s Day.  Every February in the United States we celebrate the overly commercialized Valentine’s Day, where women expect you to buy them flowers and chocolates, and guys can expect to spend at least $400 if they have any hopes of getting laid...I jest of course, but it is kind of wrong that this is the one “socially-acceptable” day to show love.  Shouldn’t you show love every day?  So anyways, in less than a Fortnight couples all over this great land will be coming together in living rooms, fancy restaurants, and hotel rooms to celebrate this most meaningless of holidays.  However, after they finish doing the nasty they’re going to need something to watch while cuddling, but not everybody wants to watch “Crazy Stupid Love”, “The Notebook”, and anything else that features Ryan Gosling.  Some couples prefer an unconventional love story, or if you’re like me and about ready to spend your fourth Valentine’s Day in a row alone in your room watching Netflix (Hey, I consider it a successful evening).  So in honor of Valentine’s Day, this week I am presenting to you, 5 Ideal Films for Deranged Couples (and Single Weirdo’s). 

1.) Let the Right One In

The past few years, I have been watching this one on Valentine’s Day.  Ever since I saw it back in 2010, it has become one of my favorite films, and with each passing year, I honestly do believe it has one of the Best Romantic Horror Movies ever made, and is totally meant to be watched on Valentine’s Day.  I mean, what could be more romantic then the story about a young boy, who falls in love with a vampire girl who’s not actually a girl who lives with her pedophile boyfriend?  Hey, it may not be a “Traditonal” Romance Flick, but I actually enjoy the soft-hearted love story between Oskar and Eli (Pronounced Elly for those who have never seen it).  Oh, and don’t think about seeing the Americanized release “Let Me In” because you “don’t like to read subtitles!”.  That version is garbage!  A total rip-off, and missed many of the key points and themes in John Ajdives Lindqvist’s original novel!

2.) Cashback

This was my favorite movie in college.  It was the first time I ever felt like I was smart and sophisticated just for watching a film.  The story of “Cashback” is your basic: boy loses girl, boy tries to win girl back, along the way meets other girl who is clearly better for him, but he’s too stubborn to see that, and just before the old girl takes him back he has an epiphany that the other girl was right for him all along and professes his love to her instead.  Now on the surface, that doesn’t sound all that different from a traditional Rom-Com, but believe me, “Cashback” has a very unique twist on it.  Not only that, but the main character Ben Willis (played by Actor Sean Biggerstaff who some of you may know as Oliver Wood from the Harry Potter Series) is not all that likeable of a character.  I mean, he’s not horrible, but you know I was kind of hoping that he would fail in the film.  I mean, how weird is that when you want the main character of a film you enjoy to fail?  This film is beautifully shot, and this films screenwriter/director Sean Ellis really did create an underappreciated masterpiece.  It’s actually a film I think you should see multiple times.  I’ve watched “Cashback” dozens of times, and every time I do, I always seem to notice something awesome that I didn’t notice before.  So you should definitely give “Cashback” a watch some time.

3.) Female Vampire

I swear to you this is the last Vampire film that will appear on this list.  I first came across this obscure 1973 French Exploitation Film from a friend of mine who reviewed it for another blog that I contribute too.  “Female Vampire” (sometimes called “The Bare Breasted Countess” depending on what country you’re in) is the story of a beautiful Countess—played by Lina Romay—who has to drain people of their “sexual fluids” as opposed to their blood in order to survive.  The film was directed by Lina Romay’s future husband, Jesus Franco.  All though, I could’ve gone with a more notable Vampire-Exploitation Film like Jean Rollins “Requiem for a Vampire”, I chose Franco’s “Female Vampire” because it has the perfect balance of eroticism, violence, and an easy to follow story.  This film is probably better suited for the Single Weirdo’s, but I can also see this as a good film for any couple that may need a little “spark of inspiration” *wink wink nudge nudge*

4.) Wristcutters: A Love Story

Nothing quite says romantic, undying love like group suicide, now doesn’t it?  “Wristcutters: A Love Story” is the story of a young man named Zia (played by Patrick Fugit) who commits suicide after being broken up with his girlfriend Desiree.  Zia soon finds out that people who commit suicide don’t go to heaven or hell, but rather a weird almost purgatory like place, where everything seems like the real world, only just a little bit worst.  Zia learns one day through an old friend (also a suicide victim) that Desiree had committed suicide as well shortly after him, and now he wants to journey across the vast bleak purgatory with his new friend Eugene and a hitchhiker the pick-up named Mikal.  This is one of the Best and Most Unique films I have ever seen.  Its dark, it’s smart, it’s entertaining, and really is great.  The film talks about many important things to people like love, heartbreak, making important life decisions, coping with loss, and even addresses the overwhelming issue of people who contemplate suicide after someone breaks up with them.  I personally, think this is a wonderful Dark Comedy for Deranged Couples and Single Weirdo’s equally.

5.) Corpse Bride

Leave it to Writer /Animator/ Director Tim Burton to teach kids about the beauty and glory of necrophilia.  Now, I will admit that I wanted to include an animated film on this list and I was torn between this and “Hotel Transylvania”, but since I already promised you no more vampire films on this list, I opted for a zombie film instead.  “Corpse Bride” is the story of a young man named Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp) who is being forced to marry a woman he doesn’t know named Victoria by his parents.  Victor is a very nervous and neurotic fellow, and after a disastrous wedding rehearsal he heads off to the woods to practice his wedding vows, where he places his wedding ring on what he believes to be a branch, but it actually turns out to be the skeletal finger of Emily the “Corpse Bride”.  Now according to the rules of the dead, they are married, and now Victor has to find a way to annul this marriage to this undead girl.  The stop-motion animation styling’s of Tim Burton are what make this film great, add in a nice soundtrack from composer and frequent collaborator Danny Elfman and you’ve got yourself not just a great Love Story, but also a great film.