Friday, May 31, 2013

A review of "Bloomington"

NERD NOSTALGIA: A review of “Bloomington”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     What the hell movie, I thought we had a deal? I was going to watch you then you were going to be bad and then I was going to write a negative review about how bad of a movie you were, but then you stab me in the back by actually being good. This isn’t what I signed up for, movie. The reviews on Netflix that you were “creepy” and that I should “avoid at all costs”. I thought I was setting myself up for another “Room in Rome”, but no you just had to go and be a freaking good movie. Now instead of wasting my time writing a negative review about you I have to write something positive because you were so good. How dare you movie; you should be ashamed of yourself.                           
So the name of the film I’m reviewing this week is called “Bloomington”. “Bloomington” is the story of a former child actress named Jackie who leaves the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and goes off to college in hopes of finding success there. She finds it very difficult to adjust to life at college because so many students just want to ask her about the show she was on and all Jackie really wants to do is to have a normal life, which a lot of people keep trying to deny her. Her classmates are all jealous of her because they think she’s better than the rest of them because she was on a TV show. And her mom is just this unbelievable controlling b!tch who just wants her daughter to give up her college career so she can go back to Hollywood to be an actress and make money. While at college she befriends her psychology professor, Mrs. Stark. Mrs. Stark has an infamous reputation at the school for seducing young students and her newest plaything just so happens to be Jackie. Over the course of the film we see Jackie and Mrs. Stark’s relationship become more and more close and we also can see the challenges they face as a student and professor trying to hide their secret romance. Then one day Jackie gets a call from her old agent about a movie role based on the television show she used to be on. Now Jackie must decide between her college career and her new relationship or to go back to her old career as an actress.                                        
Sarah Stouffer (R) is a great actress
     One thing I really like about this film is the acting of the actress Sarah Stouffer, who plays the role of Jackie. Over the course of the film we see Jackie’s character evolve from this quiet shy girl who just wants to escape her past and start a new to this girl who learned so much about life from that one special person and how she applies the new things she’s learned in life to the old parts of her life (i.e. her acting career). Her character is just so very likable and for the most part her character just goes with the flow of things and it works out for her. We see the difficulty she has adjusting to her new life as a college student because so many people know her as a television actress and we see the stress of her various relationships with her classmates, her mother, and Mrs. Stark and these make for some great character development scenes for Jackie. We also see the difficulty of her being a Hollywood star that is in a gay relationship and how she has to keep things like that secret from the media because it could have a negative effect on her career and her marketability as an actress.          
Allison McAtee, plays the
sensual Professor Mrs. Stark
Then there is the character Mrs. Stark who is played by actress Allison McAtee. Mrs. Stark is a good character but she does have some faults. She’s very seductive in this film, but maybe a bit too much seductive. I mean just the way she talks he kind of sounds like she belongs in an adult film. For example, there is a large portion of the film early on were all the students talk about how afraid they are of Mrs. Stark and how they think she’s scary but she doesn’t come off as scary; not even a little bit. I mean she has no signs of evil and nasty she just has signs of raw sensuality and strong sexual desires. She is a very driven person, who always finds a way to get what she wants.  Her profession as a psychology professor at a college only increases her chances of getting what she wants because not only is she in a position of power of her younger students, but she also uses little mental tricks to insure she gets what she wants.  Mrs. Stark comes off as very nurturing at points in the film.  We see scenes where she cares for Jackie, and at times she acts more like a mother than a lover towards her.  
I am talking down to you!
    However, when Mrs. Stark doesn’t get what she wants she can be a total b!tch, and she becomes very hostile towards other people.  For a person who is supposed to represent and intelligent professional she does do a lot of things that make her seem kind of dumb.  There’s a scene where she comes across Jackie in the library and then begins to fondle her claiming that it’s all part of a Psychology experiment, despite the fact that at any point the librarian or another student come accidentally walk over and see what they are doing.  She does not like the idea that Jackie wants to keep their relationship a secret (even though, she could lose her job as a College Professor for having a relationship with one of her students).   She as a character is very driven, and I don’t think they could have gotten a better actress than Allison McAtee to play the role.                                 
   However, there are a few minor faults with the film that I do feel need addressing.  For one thing there are a few scenes in the film that just seem to come out of nowhere and then end abruptly I’m not sure if that was the intended purpose or if those scenes were just edited that poorly.  Another fault I had with the film is that I think Mrs. Stark seduced Jackie way too early in the film.  I mean, two minutes after they first meet is pretty short to get a person back to your house for sex. 
Despite its minor faults, “Bloomington” is actually a wonderful drama with well developed-characters.  The film is made with much higher standards than a film like “Room in Rome”; it does not depend on nudity or graphic sex scenes to get its viewers, but rather interesting characters and a solid story, and all the sexual tension is really left up to your imagination.  I would say that most people would enjoy this film.  It’s actually one of the better Drama’s that I’ve seen in probably the past 5 years.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Goodbye, Dan Wheldon

Goodbye, Dan Wheldon
by Brian Cotnoir

     Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a huge fan of auto racing.  If it has four wheels and goes fast, chances are I’ll watch it. When people ask me what I like the most about auto racing, I tell them it’s the most exciting sport I’ve ever watched and it also is the most emotional sport I’ve ever seen.  Just when think I’ve seen the most exciting finish ever, another race ends and I’m left with even more chills and excitement.  Unfortunately, the same sport that shows me thrills and excitement also has a dark side to it. I’ve seen many bad wrecks in my life time, and every time I think to myself “That is the worst wreck I’ve ever seen”, an even worst wreck happens and I’m left in a state of shock and disbelief.  This is what my essay is about; the Worst wreck I’ve ever seen, and how a driver I once thought I couldn’t stand, became one of my personal favorites.
     When I would watch Indy Racing League on television my motto for many years was “Anyone, but Wheldon”.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like driver Dan Wheldon, I just viewed him the same way many fans of NASCAR view a driver like Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon; I knew he was a very good driver, but after a while I got tired of seeing him win all the races.  I griped and moaned when he pulled off the upset victory at the 2011 Indianapolis 500 because I believed that it was J.R. Hillenbrand who deserved to win the race. If I had even begun to speculate the fate that awaited him, I might have thought differently of his victorious upset.                                                
    I remember that day and that race oh too well.  I had spent the Sunday with my best friend Zee watching movies at her dorm.  I actually left in the middle of one of the movies because I wanted to go back to my dorm room and watch the Indy Car Series season finale on T.V.  From the pre-race hype I knew it was going to be an exciting race.  The Green flag dropped and the race started and it was a already an exciting race.  The Indy Cars circled the Las Vegas Motor Speedway like chariot Racers at the Coliseum in Ancient Rome.  Then on lap 11, it all came, literally, to a crashing halt.  A fifteen car pile-up had brought out the red flag and had launched two race cars high into the air.  One of those cars was driven by Dan Wheldon.  I couldn’t believe it.  The race was stopped so rescue crews and track officials could attend to all of the drivers.  After a while, as the track crews cleaned up the debris from the accident the commentators announced that Dan Wheldon was being airlifted to a local hospital.  There are two things I’ve learned about auto racing when there is an accident; you never want to see them cover the car with a tarp, after the driver is removed from the vehicle, and “Good news doesn’t travel by helicopter”.  This is at the point where I, just like many other fans watching the race, began to worry.  The voices of the race commentators sounded so soft and so unsure, rather than their usual peppy and optimistic tone. I’m not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but I started to pray when the commentators asked the people watching the race at home to keep Dan Wheldon in their thoughts.        
    As I continued to watch the race coverage, I saw fear and disbelief in the eyes of every driver they interviewed.  It all seemed so familiar.  I can remember the commentators and the other drivers acting and talking the same way shortly after Dale Earnhardt, Sr.’s tragic accident in 2001.  It brought back a lot of sad memories.  All the other racecar drivers and car owners were called to a drivers meeting sometime later and as they left the meeting—all were in silence.  I remember one of the cameras was focused on driver Tony Kanaan.  I remember seeing Tony Kanaan sit down on the pit wall and then I saw him crying and being consoled by a person from his crew.  I felt a lump in my throat, and I knew something bad had happened.  I remember, repeating “Oh my God…I think he’s dead” over and over again in my head, but I still didn’t want to believe it, but to me Tony Kanaan’s sorrowful expression told me that everyone’s worst fears were true.  That’s when an IRL official had made the announcement; Dan Wheldon was gone, and that the rest of the race would be canceled.   What else could I say? I was in shock.  On a Sunday evening when some families were sitting down to dinner or lounging around, I was sitting in my dorm room, alone, and I had just watched a man die.                                   
    The most powerful thing that stood out in my mind from that day wasn’t the crash, it was the announcement of his death, it wasn’t even the five-lap salute to his memory.  What really stood out about that day was the final words from one of the race commentators, Marty Reid; "Many People always ask me why I sign off  'Till we meet again' because goodbye is always so final...goodbye, Dan Wheldon".  When Marty Reid said those words,
cried.  I through my face into my hands and I cried.      
    When I look back at that day I still get a little sad.  It was a day that I’ll probably remember for the rest of my life, and I kind of find the whole thing to be a bit ironic.  I spent a few years complaining and moaning every time Dan Wheldon won a race, and now that he’s gone, I’m very sad that he’s gone.  Now every time I see a video clip of Dan Wheldon’s final victory at the 2011 Indianapolis 500, I smile, and I say to myself “Way to go Wheldon, you sure were one heck of a racecar driver”.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

NERD NOSTALGIA: A review of "Summer School"

NERD NOSTALGIA: A Review of “Summer School”

By: Brian Cotnoir

Yay, Mark Harmon :)
What is it about 80’s movies that make them so entertaining and enjoyable to watch?  I think a large part—if not the biggest part—of why 80’s movies were so successful has to do a lot with filmmaker John Hughes.  John Hughes was easily the most successful and influential filmmaker of the 1980’s.  Practically, any film project that had his name linked to it was a success, and many of his films, such as “The Breakfast Club”, “Pretty in Pink”, “Sixteen Candles”, and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, helped define a generation of people and film making.  And as we’ve seen throughout history that once a film is successful that there are going to be dozens of copycats.  Sometimes it even seems like some of these studios aren’t even trying (ex/ “Paranormal Activity” & “Paranormal Entity” and “Repo: The Genetic Opera” & “Repo Men”).  The film I’m reviewing this week is one of those films that appears to have tried to copy the John Hughes filmmaking formula, but instead of totally sucking and not being remotely funny this one is actually enjoyable to watch.
Your Mom Wishes your dad
was Mark Harmon
    “Summer School” is the story of a high school gym teacher named Freddy Shoop—played by the likeable Mark Harmon—who is roped into teaching Remedial English in Summer School to a group of delinquent students.  Shoop, already has plans to spend his summer in Hawaii with his girlfriend, but is convinced to stay by being promised full tenure by the schools Vice Principal.  So Mr. Shoop’s girlfriend takes off for Hawaii, while he is stuck teaching a group of delinquent students; and there’s all there, the Jock, the unwed Pregnant student, the day dreamer, the tough one, the Classroom sleeper, the Geek, the foreign exchange student, and the two stoner buddies.  The film focuses on Mr. Shoop and the student’s time (or lack of time I should say) in Summer School, and all the bonding they have over the Summer. 
The Gang's All here!   

This man grew up to be the
The voice of Invader Zim! 
I would rate this film somewhere between harmless teen movie and Summer camp classic.
  It is hilariously corny and a stereotypical 80’s film, but at the same time it’s not very vulgar or too insulting to human intelligence.  It does have a lot of funny scenes and a lot of great characters.  Next to Mark Harmon the biggest star in the film is Kirstie Alley, who plays the new love interest of Mark Harmon’s character, but her part is really downplayed in this movie.  In fact she’s almost totally gone for the whole middle of the film.  The other biggest star in the film—making his big screen debut—is a young Richard Horvitz who most of you will probably recognize for his voice work on popular shows such as “Invader Zim”, “The Angry Beavers”, “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy”, and “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”.    

Best Scene of the Whole Film XD
     I would recommend the film “Summer School” to anyone.  It’s funny, and is ideal Saturday night movie for anyone over the age of fourteen.  It’s a harmless movie, and I just liked it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How Scott Pilgrim and "Spaced" keeping me Going :)

How Scott Pilgrim and “Spaced” Keep Me Going
An Essay: By Brian Cotnoir

     It’s been one-year since I graduated college; hands down the best and greatest times of my life.  In the four years that I spent at Lasell College I got to try things I never thought I’d get to do, do things I never thought I’d have to do, and did things that I’m not sure why I did them, but I’m glad I did.  I met the Best People in the whole world in college and got a top notch education that prepared me for success in the world...however looking back perhaps they should have prepared me for failure instead of success.            
    That’s the side of college people don’t often see.  No matter what school you go to they will always prepare you for a world of success and prosperity, but when you don’t start off with that success and prosperity right away, you can have a difficult time adjusting to life post-college.                    
    I’ll be honest with you; the past year has been very challenging and very difficult for me.  It took me forever to find a job after college.  In fact I didn’t find a teaching job until 2 weeks into this school year and still it was only a Day to Day Substitute position.  I’m in student loan debt above my eye balls, and there were days this past year where I felt absolutely hopeless and depressed.  I had spent four years being built up, being told that I can do anything I set my mind to, being told I would be a success, and when I didn’t experience success right away after graduating college, I honestly felt like I had failed miserably.  Also I had feelings of isolation.  After I graduated high school I cut ties with pretty much everyone I knew, and made a bunch of new friends in college, but the problem now that I’m graduated is that all my friends in college live an hour or more away and I rarely see them or get to hang out with them in person.  I was feeling pretty low.           
    There were two things that made me extra excited to graduate from College: “Scott Pilgrim” graphic novels and the British Television show “Spaced”.  Both Scott Pilgrim and “Spaced” were about cool twenty-something-year-old friends living together in an apartment, and all the wild fun and shenanigans they got into.  Every time I’d read Scott Pilgrim or watch an episode of “Spaced”, I would picture myself and my friends after college living together, going on adventures, being self-reliant, and having the best times of our lives.  When my life didn’t turn out like Scott Pilgrim or “Spaced”, I became depressed, and felt like a hopeless failure.              
     Now, I look at things a little differently.  I got another job a Day to Day Substitute in a school district closer to my home and I really do like my job.  I like the students, I like the faculty, and the staff, and the only thing that could make me happier in the district I’m in now is if I were to be offered a Full-Time History Teaching Position for the Next School Year.  If not, I can always look for that Full Time History Teacher Job in another district, but until then I’m happy where I am.      
    Another reason why I’m feeling more optimistic is because I have a goal to make my life like Scott Pilgrim or “Spaced” and every time I read a comic or watch an episode that just motivates me more and more to keep trying in the hopes that eventually my life will be something like either or both.  Even if it doesn’t happen until I’m 40 (which I’m really hoping is not the case), I will someday live life like they do in Scott Pilgrim or “Spaced”.  I don’t care if the stories are about “Fictional People”, I want to make it my reality, and as long as I have my dreams, a steady paycheck, and overzealous Fan-Boy optimism, I will make my dreams come true!

I Look Forward to the Day I can walk down the Street and Do This 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Carlyle did some voice work for this video game so I found a walkthrough on youtube and skipped to the cut scenes.
Okay, whoever designed/wrote this watched WAY to many movies....and that's ME saying that.

This review is going to be short just because I have to say this somewhere:

First of all, and I saw this in the previews I found, look at these vampires:

They look like the vamps from the Hugh Jackman Van Helsing, don't they?

Oh, and I swear to Gold (get it, Mr. Gold from OUaT?? :D) this is actual diologue from the game:

VILLAIN: Search your heart you know it to be true.





So anyway, I don't know how the gameplay is, but the graphics look pretty okay, the character designs are intriguing (if a bit familiar) and Carlyle's voice.....well, let's just say he did this in his spare time and it shows. While a good performance, not one of his best!