A Serbian Film

Boiling Point

Much of the on-line film community has a fairly strong anti-MPAA lean to it. Hell, we here at FSR even pushed to have the “governing” body disbanded seeing as how they serve no real purpose. Unfortunately they still exist, and while they’re not in the news today every so often they make a splash by screwing over a film with an unnecessarily restrictive rating. It may be a film like Bully, initially Rated-R for language when its intended audience were those under the age of 17, and that should be a PG-13 flick (it eventually was after toning down the language). Or it can be something very assuredly more adult getting really boned. Blue Valentine was initially smacked with the kiss of death, an NC-17 rating, because of an act of cunnilingus. Sex is a killer at the ratings. Violence can bring you an NC-17 rating as well with films like Killer Joe and A Serbian Film getting the dreaded rating. In 2010, at least four films were initially rated NC-17 and forced to be re-cut, with two more crippled in 2011. Thus far in 2012 no film has been effectively banned from theaters due to the rating, but I’m still pissed about it anyways. The rating itself is unnecessary and actually redundant, but beyond that, the rating is offensive.

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The Coroner

Opening in select theaters tomorrow and currently available on Video on Demand, Kill List is a clever little film from writer/director Ben Wheatley that’s been garnering a good bit of attention around the ol’ internet. It follows the journey of hitman Jay (Neil Maskell) and his buddy Gal (Michael Smiley) as they take on a contract to kill three men. As you might guess, things don’t go entirely smoothly. If you haven’t yet seen Kill List, you should probably stop reading, go see it, and then come back. You should watch it. It’s good. Don’t read anything else about it. Ignore everything you’ve heard, just walk into it blind and experience it. If you’ve already seen the movie, read on, or if you need extra convincing, read on, but for best results, see it with as little foreknowledge as possible.

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It seems like every year I find myself disappointed in the horror offerings of the preceding twelve months. Especially if you think of widely released theatrical flicks, few of which ever make the lists. If it weren’t for DVDs and VODs, I don’t even know if I could in good conscience pretend that 10 (or 11) horror films were good. That said, I did manage to find some enjoyment in theaters and at home this year, but it wasn’t the easiest task in the world. In a good year, it’ll be hard to eliminate films from the list, but when it comes to horror most years, its scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with a full list. Quickly, in terms of eligibility, I write my lists a little differently than many others – for me, a film has to be widely available in this year, either in theaters or DVD or VOD. So films that only show at festivals generally aren’t eligible for my lists until they’re released on DVD. For example, Ti West’s The Innkeepers has made several lists, but it’s not widely available until 12/30 so most people won’t see it until 2012, so that’s that.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to the biggest edition of This Week In DVD yet! Twenty two titles are covered below, but this isn’t just a matter of quantity. All but one of the releases are worth watching, with a whopping seven of them being solid BUY recommendations. This week’s releases run the gamut from comic book blockbusters (Captain America) to docs on Pearl Jam and Peter Gabriel (Twenty and New Blood) to a controversial black comedy (A Serbian Film) to a Finnish family holiday film (Rare Exports) to a thrilling Hong Kong action flick (Fire of Conscience) to… well, you get the idea. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Ballad of Narayama (UK) A small village in the Japanese mountains is the setting for this rumination on life, death and family that plays like the movie The Tree of Life should have been but with a narrative instead of dinosaurs. Village law dictates you head up the mountain to die at the age of seventy, and as Orin approaches that milestone she rushes around trying to set her children straight to ensure their future. The film is a harsh look at a time and place, and it uses images of animals alongside the characters to highlight our own innate nature. As cruel as it seems though the film ends up being as uplifting an ode to humanity as you could imagine or want. **NOTE – This is a region2 DVD which requires […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

This is the best week of Blu-ray releases of 2011. Mark my words. No seriously, write it into your calendars. Between the breakout geek genre hit of the year, a Blu-ray set 65 million years in the making, a hero we can all believe in, creepy Finnish Santas, some Criterion confusion and Serbians doing terrible, terrible things to each other, this may be the most well-rounded, exciting week of releases we’ve seen in a long time. And it all begins with a must-have Pick of the Week… Attack the Block When Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright got together and decided to make a film about a group of hoodlums who face down an alien invasion, they probably didn’t think of you or me once. They didn’t know that they’d be custom-tailoring a sci-fi comedy for the nerd set that would ignite crowds and become the cult hit of this (and probably a few other years). They couldn’t have known. But they moved forward anyway, with a cast of unknowns and some killer creature designs, creating what could go down as the geek film of 2011. What’s more impressive about this release? Even though I didn’t receive a review copy, I’m making it pick of the week. Usually I’m a big whiney baby, who gets a bunch of review material, only to pick it apart week to week. But this week I’m putting my own money where my mouth is. In a week when competition comes from one of the longest awaited Blu […]

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From 12 noon on Saturday, October 15 through 12 noon on Sunday, October 16, horror fans will descend on the Grandview Theater in Grandview, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The line-up includes 35 mm prints of rare, historic, and foreign films along with trailers, cartoons, and various short subjects. Other activities during the movie marathon will include the annual costume contest and scream contest. Just this weekend, marathon organizers announced the final line-up of films, which includes a rare 35 mm screening of the controversial A Serbian Film, presented unrated and uncut. This will likely be one of the few times horror fans in Ohio will be able to see Srdan Spasojevic‘s international shocker on the big screen. The other anchor film will be the Midwest premiere of Midnight Son. Although Shock Around the Clock is only the third annual horror marathon at the Grandview Theater, these events go back to 1988 with the Night of the Living Drexel 24-hour horror movie marathons. All-night horror marathons struggled to find a home in Columbus during the 90s after the historic Drexel North theater was turned into a drug store and later a health club. Various incarnations of the event took place at different theaters in the central Ohio area, sometimes only in the form of 14-hour marathons from 10 pm until 12 noon the next day. With the opening of the Grandview Theater in 2009, the 24-hour line-up returned.

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It started with a conversation I was having with my friend Robert about Salo. You’d be surprised how many ideas for articles arise from discussing this film. Not so many dinner plans, though. Makes sense for a film subtitled 120 Days of Sodom. Anyway, being avid film lovers, we agreed Salo was a film we were glad we had seen despite the inability to ever be able to “unwatch” it. We love film, and we love the notion we could sit through and appreciate a movie like Salo despite the graphic imagery therein. This spiraled the conversation into other films that our desensitized minds could handle, films we could observe from a film-lover or even a critical perspective even though they had imagery that could not be unseen. An hour later, we had disgusted ourselves to the point of seppuku, we went our merry separate ways, but a lingering idea was stuck in my head. Amidst all the onerous images I had conjured back into my mind from years and years of watching whatever whenever, a nugget of a question remained. It was basically this: As a film connoisseur, can you desensitize yourself for the sake of cinematic appreciation?

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The United States gets no respect. First, they screen Rio in a bunch of other countries first, and now we’re finally seeing the film that made seasoned Fantastic Fest attendees openly weep, scared the British into cutting four minutes of it, and got the director of the SITGES Festival charged with exhibiting child pornography. Finally! Twitch is reporting that the highly controversial Serbian Film will see select theaters on May 13th, wearing its NC-17 rating proudly (although apparently it’s still been slightly edited). It’ll also hit VOD via FlixFling with five more minutes of goodness (although even it will have two minor cuts that add up to less than a minute). So, we may never see what Fantastic Fest audiences saw, but we’ll see most of the full Monty. Thus far, the film has been a boogie man as people have talked more and more about it, but here’s a trailer showcasing the look and feel of the film without giving anything away:

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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As I expressed earlier in the week as our 2010 Year in Review began, I take it as a great honor that I am able to put together my list of the Best Films of the Year as part of my Editor’s Picks entry. And while I’m a massive fan of my own perspective and opinions, I’m an even bigger fan of the writing and ever-diverse tastes of the Film School Rejects reviewing staff. These are the folks who, through their sensational (and often divisive) review-writing, keep you coming back for more each and every day. They travel the world and brave the crowds at festivals, conventions, preview screenings and special events to bring you some of the industry’s sharpest, most honest film coverage. And I for one am honored to have them all on this team. Just as I did last year, I couldn’t wait to see which films each writer would put on their Top 5 lists as the best films of the year. And just as they did last year, they didn’t disappoint with their unique, ever-fascinating selections. So read on dear reader, as we present the crown jewel of our 2010 Year in Review: The Staff Picks.

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Welcome to my list of the best foreign films of the year! In case you’re wondering why certain films appear to be missing there are a few factors to take into account. First, films like Mother, A Prophet, The Good the Bad the Weird, and The Secret In Their Eyes are movies that made previous lists. Second, I haven’t seen everything that was released this year. And third, your favorite foreign release from 2010 may actually have been a piece of shit. I kid. But seriously, these are my picks for the ten best foreign language movies of the year in alphabetical order. As a bonus I’ve added in the five best English language foreign films for you as well. I know. You’re welcome. (Full reviews for all of the titles below can be found via our Reviews database, and my weekly excursions into foreign films can be found here.)

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Shock and awe filmmaking, if handled improperly, will most often net a final product that is shockingly awful. It’s happened before. And while this isn’t exactly the case with Mladen Djordjevic’s The Life and Death of a Porno Gang, it isn’t too far off the mark, either. The problem here isn’t the gratuitous nature of showing a traveling sex troupe and their misadventures in the backwoods of Serbia. It’s the earnest nature of the thing — the way it views itself (and the heavily adult imagery it creates) in such a hyper-serious way. The only problem is that there are only so many ways to make a deep, poignant moment in which a man fellates a horse. And this movie didn’t find any of them.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t make us destroy our belongings and kill our entire family. Part 16 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones” with Michael Haneke’s first feature film The Seventh Continent.

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Another Hole In the Head Film Festival

Comic-Con is a fun event for film fans hoping to get their first peek at upcoming blockbusters and the stars behind them, but I’ve always been a lot more partial to film festivals. Why? Because film fests are all about actually watching films. (Yes, I know studios have recently started hosting screenings during Comic-Con but they still number in the single digits and they’re always future wide-release movies anyway.) Trailer previews and scenes are fun to watch at the Con, and while I won’t be attending this month I hope to get back again with the FSR crew next year. But a solid film festival trumps everything the Con has to offer by virtue of the number and variety of films available. The best fest, hands down, is Austin’s Fantastic Fest (which I’ll be eating, drinking, and breathing this September), but it’s not the only one worth watching…

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Some are surprised that the Serbian representative has made it this far in the competition. Some of that is the luck of the draw, and some of that is a testament to the strength of just how strange and impacting the film can be. A Serbian Film faces the surprise winner The Lives of Others who fans have proven to be still in love with after all these years. These films have almost nothing in common – which should lead to a great (and possibly confusing) fight. It’s porn stars versus spies in this battle, and the winner will make it to the Final Four.

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Wow. What a ride. After a full week of heated competition, we’ve been deposited here at the threshold of Round Three. The teams that survive what promises to be a brutal round of competition will be the final four standing, and will be only one more victory away from standing strong in the Championship Round. Many great films have fallen, and what remains includes a meddling French girl, a haunted hero in a cape and cowl, a man who spies on others, an ex-porn star, a young girl working for a witch, a man who would be king, impoverished youths in Brazil, and a girl caught between the horrors of WWII Spain and a giant faun.

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The sheer amount of debauchery in this round is astounding. Granted, a healthy percentage comes directly from A Serbian Film, but Slovenka has its fair share of sex and political intrigue. The Serbian representative took down Sankofa in the first round, and Slovenka earned a surprise victory over the Algerian Days of Glory. Unfortunately, people are still getting it confused with Slovakia. That’s the price of success. Which sex-filled perversion will win this round? The political satire with the former porn star or the political satire with the young girl selling herself on the streets?

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The eighth battle in the Movie World Cup might be the strangest so far. The insanity of Fantastic Fest favorite A Serbian Film represents its home country against the celebrated Ghanese slavery drama Sankofa. Both are surreal, jarring, and deal (whether directly or metaphorically) with the cruelty that comes from the hands of man.

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A Serbian Film

I’m discussing the circumstances of my viewing in the context of the screening itself, it’s because my experience of seeing this film and the subsequent meaning I took from it, perhaps more so than any other film at the fest or elsewhere, was so overtly determined by the context in which I saw it, a context that needs to be transparent in order for me to write an honest review.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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