A Field in England

A Touch of Sin

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. A Touch of Sin Four stories of everyday people caught up in the maelstrom that is modern day China. Violence infects their lives, sometimes as victims, sometimes as perpetrators, and none of them will ever be the same again. Zhangke Jia‘s film made my list of 2013’s best foreign language films, and it marks a rare instance where Landon Palmer and I agreed on that assessment. In his own ‘best of’ list he wrote, “A work of national cinema meant primarily for an audience outside of its home nation, A Touch of Sin is a disturbing mosaic of contemporary global China, depicting the excesses and injustices of a country growing through an unprecedented combination of organized labor and capitalist exploitation. A potent combination of genre play and political commentary, Zhangke Jia’s episodic film is as much a masterwork of a tightly controlled, discomfiting tonal range as it is a revealing micro-examination of uniquely 21st-century forms of economic injustice. I believe we’ll be talking about this molotov cocktail of a film for years to come.” [Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

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a-field-in-england

Director Ben Wheatley has gotten so much attention from his last two films that we can probably now think of him as a buzzed-about name whose projects are greatly anticipated, and no longer as an underappreciated talent who needs to be treated like a discovery. With Kill List he showed off a unique ability to jump from genre to genre within the same movie and always keep his viewer guessing, and then with Sightseers he showed an ability to mine dark humor out of even the most violent and disturbing behavior. When you go into a Ben Wheatley movie you never quite know what to expect, but you can expect to see something unique. His newest film, A Field in England, opens on an empty field that’s on the outskirts of what appears to be a large battle. It closes on that field too. As a matter of fact, the action of the film never leaves that field, but a good amount of interesting things manage to happen anyway. The story starts with the promise of a road picture, as a quartet of men who have all deserted the battle in various ways come together and decide to travel to an ale house. After they come upon a patch of flourishing mushrooms and consume a good quantity of them though, the situation then becomes altered. Post-mushrooms is when the film goes from being a simple deserter’s tale to being about encounters with an Irishman who may be the devil (or […]

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ff 2013 anticipated

The most magical time of year is once again upon us as Austin prepares to open its doors, coffee houses, bars, and RV-based donut shops to visitors from around the world coming to celebrate wonderful and the weird in international cinema with Fantastic Fest. This year’s roster is a bit lighter compared to recent years, but a reduction in quantity has no bearing on quality. The fest will also be taking place in a new Alamo Drafthouse this year at the Lakeline location, and if it’s anything like every other Drafthouse it’s going to be awesome. Two of the titles I can already vouch for as being incredibly entertaining slices of cinema include the blackly comic thriller from Israel, Big Bad Wolves, and the beautifully executed action/suspense Korean film, Confession of Murder. Both are so damn good that I may actually be visiting them for a second time. FSR’s team coverage this year will be in the mostly capable hands of Adam Charles, Neil Miller, Michael Treveloni, and me. We’re excited about the entire fest and just about every movie playing, but we decided to highlight our most anticipated by picking three films each to share below.

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Field in England Poster

Brimming with touches of a psilocybin-laced Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the trailer for Ben Wheatley‘s A Field in England promises a treasure hunt, screaming freakouts and total damnation. In its mysteriously simple synopsis, a band of deserters run from an English Civil War battle and becoming engaged in a search for buried loot. Somewhere along the way, mushrooms (or something psychedelic) gets involved. Most will want to see it based on Wheatley’s name alone, anyway. The director behind Kill List earned a lot of sharp acclaim for his vision and knack for upsetting, deeply trenchant storytelling. He then followed it with Sightseers and proved his chops with black comedy even further. And now, this:

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A Field in England

Looks like Drafthouse Films is picking up some primo real estate, as the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has just announced that their latest acquisition is Ben Wheatley‘s A Field in England. Wheatley is a name well-familiar to the Drafthouse genre buffs, as he’s already directed three uniquely terrifying films (Down Terrace, Kill List, and Sightseers) and contributed a segment to Drafthouse’s own The ABCs of Death. Drafthouse and Wheatley is a perfect pairing, and one that we’ve been expecting for quite some time. For the new film, which has been described as “a psychedelic trip into magic and madness,” Wheatley goes period all over the asses of some poor schmoes, as it centers on “English Civil War soldiers in the 17th century who are captured by an alchemist and led into a vast mushroom field, where they fall victim to violent and nightmarish forces.” Soldiers? A crazy alchemist? Mushrooms? If it’s half as scary as Kill List, theaters will have to put down tarps to capture the tears and wee of moviegoers. (This is a good thing, really, we promise.)

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English Civil War

Coming off the gut-punch success of Kill List and hoping for similar results with his forthcoming Sightseers (and his ABCs of Death entry), Ben Wheatley is apparently going to wandering around in a war-torn field looking for treasure and mind-altering substances. Not a bad way to spend a sunny English weekend. According to Film4, Wheatley will be directing A Field in England – the first feature to be fully financed by the Film4.0 initiative. Amy Jump, who co-wrote Kill List and edited Sightseers, will co-write this with Wheatley as well. The movie, which will star  Michael Smiley, Peter Ferdinando, Reece Shearsmith, Julian Barratt, Richard Glover and Ryan Pope, focuses on a group of men who bail on a vicious English Civil War battle (circa 1648) only to be caught by two strange men looking for a treasure in the middle of a mushroom-heavy field. Then, chaos reigns. Charles I probably won’t be happy about it. It’s refreshing to see a period drama that sounds wholly unstuffy – a look into the world of the mid-1600s that isn’t all dry scoffing and sobriety. Although, without any Grateful Dead to aid them, it’s unclear what sort of tasty grooves these military men will be jamming to while paranoia takes hold. Jokes aside, that sound you hear is either three cheers for bizarre original filmmaking from talented storytellers or the distant drumbeat of a weird war movie on the way.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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