Blue Ruin

RADiUS-TWC

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Blue Ruin Dwight (Macon Blair) is a bit of a loner. He lives in his car, parked on the side of a road near a Delaware beach, and spends his days scrounging for food, collecting cans and reading. A gentle wake-up knock on his car window precedes a disturbing piece of news. The man who killed Dwight’s parents is being released from prison. Single-minded but far from focused, Dwight fills the gas tank, pops the car battery into place and makes a beeline straight into hell. The setup here is economical, and the rest of the film follows suit, but rather than be a negative that simplicity actually elevates the film above its bigger budgeted, higher profile cousins. A Hollywood version of this tale would complicate things with unnecessary subplots, excessive exposition and time spent highlighting just how bad the bad guy and his henchmen really are. Here we stick with Dwight throughout, and the result is one of the most intimate and affecting revenge films in years. My full review. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, deleted scenes, camera test]

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2014-halfway-best

2014 is half over, and while that means we’re still six months away from our official ‘Best Of’ lists it also means it’s time to point out several great movies that you may very well have missed so far. Granted, if you’re a regular reader here at FSR than you’ve probably already heard us praising some or all of the films below, but either way the list of films here should serve as a guide of movies to seek out when you’re in the mood for something other than studio releases. As we did last year Landon Palmer and I have selected ten fantastic films from the past six months that we think deserve more attention than they received. It’s worth noting though that we’re not including festival-only titles and instead are limiting ourselves to small releases that have had some degree of exposure in theaters or on VOD. This made it a little bit tougher as half of my own top ten of 2014 so far only played Sundance (or other fests) while the other half are wide releases. But while these ten films may not be the ten best of the year so far they are great movies well worth watching.

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ff blue ruin

Editor’s note: Our review of Blue Ruin originally ran during last year’s Fantastic Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release and on VOD. You should probably see it. The beauty of film festivals is that the vast majority of the movies exist outside the vacuum of movie blogs, magazines, and water cooler conversations. They’re unknown quantities, and while many are destined to stay that way, each year a handful of titles explode from the periphery to mesmerize, entertain, and impress unsuspecting viewers. Welcome to Blue Ruin. Dwight (Macon Blair) is a bit of a loner. He lives in his car, parked on the side of a road near a Delaware beach, and spends his days scrounging for food, collecting cans and reading. A gentle wake-up knock on his car window precedes a disturbing piece of news. The man who killed Dwight’s parents is being released from prison. Single-minded but far from focused, Dwight fills the gas tank, pops the car battery into place and makes a beeline straight into hell.

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A24

We’re not even halfway into 2014 and already this is proving to be a terrific year for movies. In March alone we had a slew of quality films: Enemy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Raid 2, and Bad Words. This month is even better. What’s nice about this March and April is that they’ve given us some quality blockbusters that we’d expect from the summer without having to wait for the heat. While Noah had its flaws — a lot of them, to be exact — it was a grand and ambitious drama with the scope of a summer movie. A more consistent summer film is opening this week, and if you pay any attention to the world, you know which. A hint: it’s the one about a super soldier who was frozen for over 60 years and is now fighting a man with a metal arm that’ll make a gazillion dollars. The movie, not the guy with the metal arm. Not sure what his day rate is. The Marvel juggernaut isn’t the only movie you need to see this month, though. There are two movies in particular that will surely stand the test of time: Under the Skin and Only Lovers Left Alive. Those are experiences, not just movies. Before the busy summer movie season begins, make sure to make the time for them, in addition to these other eight Must See Movies:

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blue-ruin-05

There are few things to watch that are as satisfying as a good old fashioned revenge story, and if the new trailerfor Jeremy Saulnier‘s Blue Ruin is any indication, we’ve got another excellent case of death-bringing on our hands. The trailer begins with a man named Dwight (Macon Blair) awakened from his apparent home, a car resting on the coastline near the beach. He’s looking worse for the wear, as those living in their cars are wont to do. A kind police officer spells it out in soothing voiceover that he’s had his reasons for living his life in hiding. With that gentle rap on the car window, though, the officer is unleashing a whole new can of worms for Dwight to devour: the man who killed Dwight’s parents when he was a child has been released from prison. While the officer seems to think that this news will shock and terrify Dwight, it appears the opposite is going to happen. This is a revenge flick, and Dwight is going to hit the road to track that son of a bitch down. “What he did to them was awful,” the officer coos about halfway through the trailer as images of Dwight’s childhood play, juxtaposed with blood-soaked rooms and gun barrels. Well, what Dwight’s about to do to him is probably going to be even worse. If the quiet, maybe too eerily mellow trailer is any indication of the film’s tone, then we’re in for something disturbing.

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2013review_critics

Before Midnight! Gravity! The Wolf of Wall Street! Fruitvale Station! The Great Beauty! Philomena! Frances Ha! Blue Jasmine! Spring Breakers! Nebraska! Dallas Buyers Club! The Wind Rises! Saving Mr. Banks! None of the thirteen critically acclaimed films above are on my list of the thirteen best films of 2013 below. Make of that what you will, but of the whopping 241 new releases I watched this year these are the thirteen that have stuck with me the strongest. That said, I did make a conscious effort to focus on U.S. releases for the list since I have a separate Top 13 for Best Foreign Language films. It’s been a fantastic year in cinema all around, and I could just as easily offered a list twice as long. Keep reading to see what I feel are the thirteen best movies of 2013.

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best big bad wolves

Another Fantastic Fest is in the books, and once again we’re left counting down the days until next year. The fest continues to be the best week of the year for fans of the weird and the wonderful from all around the globe, and this year delivered on both counts. From Indian martial artists to detectives with Down Syndrome, from men reincarnated as flies to a blackly comic look at a school shooting, this year saw dozens of films that entertained, challenged, and amazed. Sure, there was also Machete Kills, but they can’t all be winners. Here are 9 that were:

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