Wednesday, January 27, 2016

5 Films that actually encourage necrophilia

Confessions of a Film Junkie: 5 Films that actually encourage necrophilia

By: Brian Cotnoir

It is a subject that is highly taboo in any society.  Necrophilia: the (disgusting) sexual attraction to a dead person.  It is a subject matter used to get all kind of responses from shock, to laughs, to disgust.  Yet, in the many, many, MANY evenings I’ve spent alone in my room watching movies on Netflix, I have surprisingly come across a number of films that not only talk about necrophilia, but that actually encourages necrophilia.  I found this realization to be quite horrifying, and since I’m psychologically scarred by it, I only thought it was fair that I’d share my pain with you, so here are 5 films I’ve seen that actually encourage necrophilia.

1.) The Black Cat (1934)

You would not think that a film made in the 1930’s would ever touch on a subject as vile and shocking as this, but Universal Pictures 1934 Horror film “The Black Cat” totally does.  This film that features two of the biggest Horror Icons of their time, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.  The plots primary focus is on Lugosi’s character seeking vengeance on Karloff’s character for a wronging him and stealing his family back during World War I.  A very controversial, but iconic scene occurs in the film when Lugosi’s character asks Karloff’s character has been keeping his former wives perfectly preserved in glass coffins in the dungeon of his castle, Karloff gives a subtle smirk to imply he keeps them to have sex with them.  For more details on the film check out Miss-E and mine’s joint review below.

2.) Deadgirl

Deadgirl” is easily one of the most unpleasant films I’ve ever seen.  It’s the story of two high school boys (played by Noah Segan and Shiloh Fernandez) who wander into an abandoned hospital one day where they are shocked to find a mysterious naked, mute woman chained to a hospital bed.  Instead of going to the police and reporting their finding, they decide that they’d rather keep her as a secret sex slave.  After a while, one of the boys discovers that no matter what he does to the girl she cannot die and begins to torture her while he rapes her.  This is a very difficult film to get through—touching on some serious moral and ethical issues—and it is not a film for everyone.  If you want more information please click on the link below to read my review full review of “Deadgirl”.

3.) Warm Bodies

Let’s talk about something more optimistic, shall we?  There’s nothing film audiences like to see more in film that the story of young people falling in love.  Well in the 2013 film “Warm Bodies” we get that same old story, only this time it’s in the middle of the Zombie Apocalypse.  It sounds like a harmless enough story, but then when you take into consideration that one of those young lovers is a zombie, and that he actually killed and ate the brain of her former boyfriend...yeah, that actually sounds like a very unhealthy and problematic relationship.  However, this time it’s the zombie that preys on the human, rather than the human that preys on the deceased.

4.) Otto, or up with Dead People

Otto, or Up with Dead People” is a quirky, but fascinating German film.  It’s the story of a young man named Otto, who is recruited to take part in a faux documentary about the gay zombie revolution.  However, Otto claims/believes that he is actual zombie and that documentary he is taking place in is a real story.  Half of the fun of this film is deciding on whether or not you believe Otto is an actual zombie or whether he is just a severely mentally ill person.  My friend and Co-Blogger “Sirrat in the Hat” has written a number of different articles about this film and the characters in the film for our other blog, Asylum for Nerds.  You can click on the links below to get more information about this unique and enjoyable film.

5.) Corpse Bride

Of course Goth Icon Tim Burton would have to make an appearance on this list.  As if it wasn’t already awkward enough that he makes women fantasize about Jack Skellington, Beetle Juice, and Edward Scissorhands, but now he makes some boys yearn for the affection of a corpse.  Not only is he actually showing the merits of marrying a corpse, but he is actually sharing his ideas with children!  That’s a bit unsettling when you stop and really think about it: there is a film that was made for and marketed towards children that actually encourages the main character to commit necrophilia.

Well Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and whether your sweetie is living or dead, I hope you all have a great time.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why I believe the Oscar's are an Overrated & Outdated Gimmick

Confessions of a Film Junkie: Why I believe the Oscar's are an Overrated & Outdated Gimmick

A Video Editorial by Brian Cotnoir

The Academy Awards are just around the corner....and I really could care less about who wins what, who got snubbed for what, and who wore what to the Oscars.  To me the Academy Awards is an overrated Award Show Gimmick, and has no place in the 21st Century.  Watch me rant in my latest Video Editorial (I apologize for excessive repeating)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Classics: A Review of Little Women By Lauren Ennis

With each passing season come changes that carry the potential to alter the very fabric of our lives. These changes can bring us to soaring heights and devastating lows, but through it all one thing remains constant; the importance of those closest to us. In Louisa Mae Alcott’s classic novel Little Women the four March sisters encounter professional and personal struggle, triumphs, and tragedy with one constant remaining in their lives; their relationships with each other. Although each pursues a unique path in life, Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy ultimately learn that it’s their common bond that provides them with the strength and courage to follow their dreams.
Kodak moments that predate even cameras

The story begins in the midst of the Civil War as Marmee (Susan Sarandon) struggles to raise her four daughters while her husband is on the front lines as a Union chaplain. Although their circumstances have been significantly reduced by war-time hardship, the March women manage to create their own light in the face of their darkest fears as they devote themselves to helping others and various creative outlets. The outside world soon enters their family circle with the arrival of orphaned neighbor Theodore ‘Laurie’ Lawrence (Christian Bale) and his staid tutor John Brook (Eric Stoltz) who introduce both friendship and romance to the girls’ lives. As the war draws to a close the sisters are each drawn to different paths with Meg choosing a traditional role as wife and mother and Beth remaining dedicated to helping their mother at home while Jo and Amy travel in pursuit of respective careers as a writer and a painter. Through the years, each of the girls faces unique hardships as well as tragedy, all of which ultimately serve to reinforce and strengthen their bond with one another.

While the 1868 novel has been adapted numerous times, the 1994 adaption sets itself apart through a fresh retelling, which still honors the tale’s historical setting. Previous adaptations tend to portray the story as children’s fare with the girls’ conflicts and youthful enthusiasm playing as quaint and saccharine, which in turns makes it even more difficult for audiences to relate to characters whose lives are drastically different from our own. In this most recent adaptation, however, each character is completely three dimensional with their own strengths, flaws, and quirks that make each of them, and the world that they inhabit, come alive. The script successfully details the evolution of each character as they come of age in response to the changes of the Civil War and Reconstruction with a nuance and naturalness that previous adaptations sorely lack. As a result, the struggles and triumphs that each character faces carries an emotional weight and urgency that ensures the story resonates with modern audiences. The film also succeeds in the way in which it balances the social norms of family values, restraint, and discretion that the plot hinges upon while still nodding to the ways in which the March family were very much ahead of their time. The script offers a particular freshness through its portrayal of Marmee’s efforts to instill self-sufficiency and self-value in her daughters even in the midst of the gender oppression of 1860’s society; lessons that remain just as crucial for girls today. 
A portrait of the artist as a young woman

Through its attention to the details of both character and setting the 1994 adaptation is a must see for both devotees of the novel and newcomers looking for a family film that will truly appeal to all ages.
While the intelligent and emotionally honest script lends the film a strong foundation, the film would not possess its enduring power without an equally excellent cast. Susan Sarandon brings an effective combination of tender love and iron will to her role as the resilient Marmee, leaving little wonder as to why her little women look to her for strength and guidance even as they enter adulthood. Trini Alvarado brings depth and subtlety to her role as the conservative Meg, bringing a complexity to a character who is often reduced to a bland ‘good girl’ to contrast the rebelliousness of Jo and Amy. Similarly Claire Danes adds genuine warmth and a kindness that radiates from the screen to her portrayal of Beth, lending credibility to a character who is written as too good to be true. Kirsten Dunst brings a refreshing sense of mischief and fun to her performance as Amy, lending her role such charm that it’s all too easy to forgive Amy’s childish vanity and selfishness. Samantha Mathis portrays adult Amy with a ladylike propriety that masks the frivolity and materialism that Amy struggles to repress as she enters womanhood. Winona Ryder lights up the screen with an intelligence, originality, and vibrancy that brings one of literature’s most beloved heroines bursting off of the page and steals the film in each of her scenes. The men in the film hold their own and make the most of what easily could have been thankless roles with standout performances. Eric Stoltz infuses his performance as the reserved Mr. Brooke with a dry wit and sensitivity that brings a level of humanity to a character who is often reduced to a stock love interest. Similarly Gabriel Byrne portrays Jo’s eventual love interest, Professor Bhaer, with an intelligence, maturity, and thoughtfulness that leaves little wonder as to how he is able to attract the stubbornly independent Jo. Last, but certainly not least, Christian Bale is absolutely charming as Laurie, infusing the boy next door with an irresistible roguishness that may leave viewers just as confused as to why Jo rejects him as Alcott’s first readers were.

Much like the novel it is based upon, 1994’s Little Women is nothing short of a modern classic. Little Women is an apt example of what family dramas and coming of age tales should strive to be as it brings to mind the extraordinary gifts that even the most seemingly ordinary life holds. Through its modern edged script and multi-faceted performances the film brings fresh life into the enduring tale, reminding us all that regardless of how much the world has changed the value of family is still as crucial as ever. As Amy says, we’ll all grow up someday, and while it helps to know what we want, the film aptly shows us that it is essential that we recognize what we have.
All for one and one for all!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Classics: A Review of Rent By Lauren Ennis

As we have reached the end of one year and the start of another, we reflect upon all that has been lost and gained in the past three-hundred sixty-five days and our hopes for the days to come. Leading up to the New Year, televisions, radios, and websites have been flooded with countdowns of the pop-culture and political events of the past year. As enjoyable as those lists may be to build up anticipation for the New Year, they can never fully measure the moments of success, loss, laughter, and strife that make up a year for any given individual. The 2005 film Rent offers a simple, but more effective unit to measure the 525,600 minutes in a year; love. Based upon the hit musical of the same name, Rent chronicles the highs and lows of one year in the life of a group of friends as they struggle against addiction, illness, and unemployment while living ‘la vie boheme’ to the fullest.
Viva la vie boheme!

The story begins on Christmas Eve 1989 in New York’s Lower East Side as starving artists and roommates Mark (Anthony Rapp) and Roger (Adam Pascal) learn that their former friend turned landlord, Benny (Taye Diggs), is planning to evict them unless they are able to pay the year’s rent within twenty-four hours. The pair are soon saved from homelessness when their friend, former professor and anarchist Collins (Jessse L. Martin), returns to town with both a financial windfall and his new lover, transsexual street performer Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia). Complications ensue as Roger meets and is captivated by heroin addicted stripper, Mimi (Rosario Dawson), while in the midst of his grief following the death of his girlfriend and struggle to remain drug free after overcoming his own addiction. Mark faces girl trouble of his own as his ex-girlfriend, performance artist Maureen (Idina Menzel), continues to use him for his skills as a filmmaker, despite having left him to pursue a relationship with successful lawyer Joanne (Tracie Thoms). As the story progresses, the group comes together through shared artistic passion and love, even as distrust, misunderstanding, and tragedy threaten to tear them apart.

Originally adapted as a modern take on Puccini’s opera La Boheme, the musical Rent was a cutting edge hit when it debuted in 1996. Prior to the show’s opening, musicals had come to be identified with safe, reliable, and family friendly fare that held little relevance in the outside world. In composer Jonathan Larson’s hands, however, the story of the lives and loves of the bohemian set became a call to artistic arms and a stand of solidarity in the midst of the social ostracism which was so common during the heart of the AIDS epidemic. When the film was released nine years later, critics complained that the story had lost some of the bite that had made it so popular a decade earlier, citing AIDS and addiction as themes that no longer held relevance. Ten years after the film’s release, however, it is all too evident just how pertinent those ‘outdated’ issues actually are as the US finds itself in the midst of a heroin epidemic which has led to a resurgence in HIV and both drug addiction and HIV continue to plague nations across the globe. Beyond it’s ripped-from-the-headlines plot, the film also contains themes such as artistic struggle, poverty, friendship, acceptance, and love that speak to all ages and cultures, which ensures that the story holds meaning for all generations.
525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year in the life?

Stage to film is a complex transition that many shows fail to successfully make. Through the efforts of the film’s crew and stellar cast, however, Rent packs an equal emotional punch as both a stage production and a film.  The success of this transition is due to a combination of factors, particularly the power of its songs, which are by turns powerful rock anthems and poignant ballads, but are each memorable enough to keep audiences humming for days. Perhaps the most crucial aspect of the success of this transition is the film’s multi-talented cast, who bring each of the film’s musical numbers, dance sequences, and straight-dialogue scenes to vibrant life. Rather than casting Hollywood stars in order to guarantee ticket sales, the film’s makers took the risk of choosing to maintain the story’s integrity and cast the people who know it best; its original stars. All of the film’s principal roles, with the exceptions of Mimi and Joanne, are portrayed by members of the 1996 Broadway cast, and the knowledge of and passion for the story that each of actors possess is evident in every frame. Anthony Rapp’s combination of earnestness, awkward uncertainty, and boyish charm make him an ideal every-man as he narrates the tale. Adam Pascal’s tormented performance as Roger elevates his character beyond self-described ‘pretty-boy frontman’ to a multifaceted portrait of young man overcoming his demons and coming to terms with his own mortality. Jesse L. Martin brings genuine emotion and soulfulness to his subtle role as Collins, and perfectly captures the struggle to remain hopeful in the face of illness and personal loss. Idina Menzel is nothing short of explosive in her performance as the impulsive and attention-hungry Maureen, and adds a vulnerability to her role that humanizes what could have easily been an over-the-top part. Wilson Jermaine Heredia is a breath of life in his performance as the nurturing Angel, in which he provides the film with many of its laughs and some of its most tearful moments. Newcomers Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson successfully make their roles their own as Thoms evokes Joanne’s outward restraint and inward passion and Dawson exemplifies both Mimi’s street-wise cynicism and sensuality and the vulnerability that those qualities disguise. Taye Diggs also lends a convincing combination of charm and ruthlessness to his portrayal of bohemian turned Wall-street sell-out Benny.

Written as ‘the MTV generation’s answer to La Boheme’ according to Larson, Rent has become a true phenomenon all its own. Proving that some things never change, the central themes of embracing life in the face of adversity and the importance of love and friendship that both works share remain powerful messages, even in the new millennium. Rock-opera, coming of age story, romance, and drama, Rent is all these things and more with something for almost every viewer. As we approach a new year, I can think of no better question to ponder than that which the film’s most iconic song asks, “how do you measure a year in the life?”.
No day but today