Animals

discs header i declare war

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. I Declare War A group of pre-teen boys (and one girl), some friends and some not, gather for a game of war in the back woods. Using sticks, a simple set of rules, and their endless imagination, the battle grows to include M-16s, grenades, bazookas, and more, but while all of those are allowed things soon take a dark turn. Jealousy and insecurity fuel one boy’s rage to the point where the war stops being a game. This Canadian import starts off like the perfect encapsulation of a day in the life of a twelve year old boy with its mix of physical activity and imagination-fueled violence. It becomes something more though as one of the boys begins to crack, and some of the kids enter a Lord of the Flies-like scenario built on fear and peer pressure. It’s a bit rough around the edges at times, particularly with some of the child actors, but it never lets go of its sense of fun. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, trailer]

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  Editor’s note: With Bestiaire hitting limited release, here is a re-run of our Berlin Film Festival review, originally published on February 15, 2012. Before the screening of Bestiaire, writer/director/producer Denis Côté relayed a story about an audience member who approached him at Sundance and told him that she felt like the movie was less about animals and more “a movie about an audience watching a movie.” Even without planting the seed of this idea, it would have become obvious within a few minutes of watching the semi-staged documentary. It has an eerie ability to make you aware that you’re in an audience watching something, yet it does so magically without taking you out of the movie. The surrounding people are more obvious, but the images up on the screen are still transfixing. The simple way to describe this convention-bucking flick is that it’s a little over an hour of animals. That alone makes it watchable, but the brilliance of the project is in its more complex description: a film composed entirely of sequential static shots of wild beasts and humans watching or caring for wild beasts that shines a spotlight on observation and fine art.

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The Coroner

Struggling in what feels like a horror dry-spell, for this week’s report I turned to others to help direct me towards a film to review. Fellow horror hound Rob Hunter bravely stepped forward and recommended I check out Animals, currently streaming on Netflix. Now, when I say bravely, I mean cowardly, because this film has been tied up in development hell for years, faced all sorts of troubles in getting made, and was dumped straight into the video world. Hunter, perhaps in an attempt to dodge a bad bullet, set me on the case.

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