Friday, June 28, 2013

Character Analysis: Agatha Prenderghast

Character Analysis: Agatha Prenderghast

By: Brian Cotnoir

I really enjoy the tagline on the poster
During October of 2012 there were three Halloween films out in theatres that were largely marketed towards children.  They were “Frankenweenie”, “Hotel Transylvania”, and “ParaNorman”, of these three films that were released in theatres, I thought for sure that “ParaNorman” was probably going to be the worst of the three, but much to my surprise/delight I actually enjoyed “ParaNorman” and I think that it was the best of the three films that came out in October of last year.  “ParaNorman” was also probably the most adult of the three films.  “Hotel Transylvania” is definitely a kid’s movie.  Tim Burton may have directed “Frankenweenie” and has made some other creepy films in the past, but it was still a film released by Disney, so they managed to keep the creepy/scary factor down to a minimum, but “ParaNorman” goes to some dark places in this film.  I wouldn’t recommend this film to parents who have kids under 12-years-old because I don’t think a lot of younger kids could handle some of the content and images in the film.  It’s still a great film and to be perfectly honest it has one of my new favorite film characters: Agatha “Aggie” Prenderghast.

CHARACTER: Agatha “Aggie” Prenderghast from “ParaNorman” (2012)

Agatha "Aggie" Prenderghast
     Agatha Prenderghast appears in the Halloween stop-motion film “ParaNorman”.  Agatha was a Puritan girl who lived in the town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts in the 1700’s.  She was accused of being a witch by the oppressive religious zealots in her town and was found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to death.  The town now celebrates their most infamous resident every Halloween by having an annual festival, selling merchandise, and putting on a stage play about the trial of Agatha Prenderghast.  There’s even a statute of Agatha in the town square, where she is shown as being a mean, old, ugly witch.  The only thing is that Agatha was not an old, ugly, witch; she was just a little girl who was no more than 10 or 11, and the town’s residents still condemned her to die.  Agatha was actually a “spiritual medium”, but since she lived in a time in a town run by Puritanical Tyrants, she was killed for being different, and that sad, pitiful little girl turned into an angry vengeful monster that would use her powers to go on a violent tantrum every year and exact her vengeance on the town for what they did to her centuries ago.              

Jodelle Ferland at the Premier 
One thing I really liked about Aggie was that when I first saw her on screen I was immediately reminded of Alessa Gillespie from 2004 film “Silent Hill”, and then I was even more pleasantly surprised to learn that Aggie was voiced by Jodelle Ferland, who played Alessa in “Silent Hill”.  Honestly, they could not have gotten a better voice actress for this role than Jodelle Ferland.  I know a lot of people think that she get’s “type-casted” into these types of roles, but come on people, she’s really good at what she does.  I mean sure sometimes she does strike out with this type of role in films like “Case 39” and “Twilight Saga: Eclipse”, but she also does great in this role in films like “ParaNorman”, “Silent Hill” and “Cabin in the Woods” so who cares if she gets type-casted into these type of Horror roles?  Do we like Jason Statham and Chuck Norris any less for being “type-casted” as Bad-a$$es in films?  What about Jason Mewes?  Does it bother you that he always has to play some stoner in a Kevin Smith film?  I say if you’re good at one type of role and people enjoy you doing it then you know what, keep it up.


     Agatha and the town were obviously inspired by the 19 victims of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  The town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts is clearly inspired by the actual town of Salem, Massachusetts.  Though, the History Major in me feels that I must rightfully inform you that the actual Salem Witch Trials happened in Salem Village, which now present day Danvers, Massachusetts.  I grew up in Massachusetts, and actually went into Salem on Halloween a few times with my friends and it is definitely the biggest and best Halloween party you will ever go to, the whole town get’s in on it, like the residents of Blithe Hollow in “ParaNorman.                                       
I thought I saw Jodelle Ferland in
this type of role somewhere before
     I also believe that what actress Jodelle Ferland brought to the role was the same type of acting she used in “Silent Hill” for Alessa.  I know a lot of people don’t like the film adaptation of “Silent Hill”, but for me personally it’s one of my favorite Horror films, and if you watch Jodelle Ferland in “Silent Hill” and then watch “ParaNorman” you will see that their characters are almost exactly identical.  Both characters were outcasts living in small towns that were run by Christian Fundamentalists.  They were both taken away from their mothers at a young age and were killed by the Christian Fundamentalists and have now turned into violent and hateful beings with lust for vengeance from beyond the grave.  Seriously, people they are the exact same character played by the exact same actress!  I am not surprised that the studio would want Jodelle Ferland to voice Agatha Prenderghast because she’s really that good of an actress who can still succeed by doing the same role.


"Angry Aggie" decides to change 
When Agatha’s ghost meets Norman, the films protagonist, she is reluctant to end her torment of the town, but Norman is persistent and tells Agatha she has every right to be angry with the town, and that he knows what it feels like to be an outcast, and explains to her how she is accomplishing nothing by destroying the town out of hate.  Norman persuades Agatha to stop by reminding her of happier times in her life with her mother.  Now that Agatha has found peace she can finally move on to the afterlife.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Character Analysis: Hydell

Character Analysis: Hydell

By: Brian Cotnoir

     This is something, I’ve been wanting to try for a while, but I didn’t know exactly how I wanted to do it, so please bare with me as I try to develop and improve upon this idea of mine. What my “Character Analysis” is going to be is, I will be look at a character in a film and I will be writing an in depth analysis on what I thought of the character, what are their strengths and weaknesses, whether I thought the role could have been played by a better actor, etc.  Sometimes I’ll do a character who appears in only one film, other times I’ll pick a character that appears in multiple films/franchises, sometimes I’ll review a main character in a film, and other times I will review a support character, and I even hope to do comparing and contrasting characters in films that have been remade.  I hope you all like this, and without further delay he is my first Character Analysis.

CHARACTER: Hydell from “Lockout” (2012)

Hydell is a character who appears in French director, Luc Besson’s 2012 Sci-Fi Action “Lockout”.  Hydell is a prisoner aboard MS-1; a prison in space that orbit’s the earth.  All prisoners on MS-1 spend the duration of their prison sentences in a preservation tube in a stasis (or deep sleep).  Emilie Waronick—who is the daughter of the President of the United States—travels up to MS-1 as part of humanitarian mission.  She is there to interview some of the prisoners, and check on their well-being because there are rumors going around that the prisoners aboard MS-1 are actually being used as human guinea pigs to test the physical and psychological effects of deep space exploration on MS-1.  Hydell is the first (and actually only) prisoner Emilie get’s to interview.                         
A very neurotic character indeed
     From the first time we see Hydell he comes off as very hostile and appears to be a very agitated, and neurotic.  Hydell was sent to MS-1 after being convicted of 53 counts of “aggravated physical assault”, which he laughs off and claims that it “was a case of mistaken identity”.  He is a very sarcastic person, and displays an immature, almost child-like, behavior throughout the film.  A few examples are, ignoring his older brother and doing what he pleases, throwing a temper tantrum when he doesn’t get his way, breaking things because he gets frustrated or understand how they work, taunting other people who he has put in a helpless situation, and never considering the consequences to any of his actions.    
Hydell has an older brother named Alex, who is also on MS-1.  Alex is just the opposite of his younger brother, he is well spoken, he thinks before he acts, and displays strong leadership.  This brings up the question: did Hydell, possibly, suffer some brain damage as an effect of his stasis?  We are shown other prisoners in the film that have suffered some severe mental trauma after being awoken from their stasis (everything from brain damage the dementia).  Or is there the possibility that Hydell, was just following in his brothers footsteps and that’s how he became a criminal.  Hydell, doesn’t seem to care much for his brother Alex.  Alex tries to keep Hydell in line and orders him around, but he almost never listens.  Towards the end of the film, Hydell loses his temper and stabs Alex after he scolds and embarrasses him.  As his brother lies their dying Hydell shouts out; “Mommy, says you talk too much!”.  Even though we never see or hear from her in the film, I think this implies that Hydell may have had a close relationship to his mother, and may be suffering from some sort of Oedipus Complex and that’s why he may have turned out as a rapist.

This is what happens when you leave the sociopath alone


Joseph Gilgun, a promising and up-and-coming actor
     Hydell is played by a lesser-known actor that I actually have great admiration for named Joseph Gilgun.  I first saw Joseph Gilgun in the film “This is England” about 5 years ago, and I really enjoyed his performance as the likable skinhead leader Woody.  One thing I really like about Joseph Gilgun is his voice.  I think he has the coolest accent ever, and if there was a surgery around where they could change the sound of your voice, I would have this surgery to make myself sound like Joseph Gilgun.  I first saw a trailer for this film in a movie theatre, and I thought it was just going to be some lousy Sci-Fi action film that I would never see, and that’s when I heard one of the characters in the trailer say the line “Well, I’m gonna dream about you.  Aren’t I?” and I recognized that voice right away and started geeking out in my seat, because I was so excited that Joseph Gilgun was going to be in a film that was going to get a wide release in the U.S.  I was with my dear friend and colleague, the Corseted Critic, when I saw this trailer for the first time, and she saw how I excited I was; she actually went with me to see the movie the day it was released AND she paid for my ticket because she’s awesome like that. I enjoyed every second I saw Joseph Gilgun on screen in this film, and yeah this film is definitely a guilty pleasure for me.  


     Hydell wasn’t really inspired by or similar to any characters that I can think of in any other films.  Though, I will say that I thought Hydell was somewhat similar to a character Joseph Gilgun played in another film.  I definitely saw some subtle similarities between Gilgun’s Hydell and the character, Kenny, who he played in British Crime Drama, “Harry Brown”.  I think that Gilgun definitely brought some of his acting tricks from playing Kenny in “Harry Brown” and used them to influence how he portrayed Hydell.

Joseph Gilgun as Kenneth in "Harry Brown" (2010)
Joseph Gilgun as Hydell in "Lockout" (2012)

Hydell ultimately damned everyone on MS-1 when he managed to escape.  Right, after he managed to escape, he held a gun to a workers head and ordered him to release all the other prisoners.  The worker opens the other stasis tubes and is shot in the head after he followed his demands. Hydell just wants Emilie.  He cares nothing about the lives of the other prisoners or the other hostages, he just wants Emilie.  Emilie is the only person that they’re really trying to rescue.  Hydell, grows impatient after he fails to find where she is, and he kills every other hostage on MS-1.  Emilie and Agent Snow (played by Guy Pearce) are the only people who manage to escape MS-1 alive before the government sends in the “Space Marines” to blow up MS-1 and kill everyone on board.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Artist You Should Know: What is Queercore?

AYSK: What is Queercore?

By: Brian Cotnoir

    I’ve been a huge fan of Hardcore Punk since I was in high school.  I liked the brutal pounding instruments, I related to the anti-social, nihilistic lyrics, and I smiled as I crashed into dozens of likeminded people in mosh pits at shows.  Punk rock has many different subgenres such as Hardcore, Straight Edge, Oi!, Punk-Pop, Riot Grrrrl, and Celtic punk, but one subgenre of Punk rock that I did know existed until I was in college is queercore.  What is queercore?  Well Queercore is basically, Punk Rock music with lyrical contact that typically relates to sexual/gender identity.  A lot of queercore bands have songs about the struggles of gay and lesbian community or songs that are empowering to members of the gay and lesbian community.  Many members of queercore bands are gay and lesbian, but (to my knowledge) it’s not a requirement to be either gay or lesbian to be in a queercore band.  Some people claim queercore is music for gay men, and that Riot Grrrrl is the “lesbian equivalent”, but that’s not true.  Many Riot Grrrrl Bands are not lesbians, and to say that Queercore and Riot Grrrrlll are two sides to the same coin is a false statement, they are two different and respectable subgenres of Punk.                         

"Youth of ToGay"  This is Queercore...

"L-7".  This is Riot Grrrlll...Know the difference

Yes, He was Gay!  So What?!
     The Queercore movement began in the mid 1980’s.  Some queercore bands that emerged from the timeframe were Pansy Division, from San Francisco, and Limp Wrist from Chicago.  Now, I’ve heard from some people who are avid listeners of hardcore music that “gays don’t belong in the hardcore music scene”, but I couldn’t disagree with that statement enough.  To me Hardcore and Punk rock was music for the angry and alienated youth.  If there’s any group that knows what it’s like to be alienated it’s definitely the Gay & Lesbian community.  Darby Crash—founding member and lead singer of the punk legends “The Germs”—was a homosexual, and he is still highly regarded as one of the godfathers of early punk rock and is still respected a legend of the scene.  Just because he was gay didn’t mean that he couldn’t be “brutal” or put on a hard show.  A lot of people still listen to Darby Crash and The Germs and admire their contribution to the Punk rock scene of the late 1970’s.              
    Queercore is proof that there is a place for Gays & Lesbians in Punk rock, and that not all musicians who are gay have to sound or play like a Elton John, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, or Melissa Ethridge, and I’m actually surprised that there aren’t more fans of this style of music today.

Pansy Division's Gay-Friendly version of Nirvana's "Smell's Like Teen Spirit"