I Declare War

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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war

In honor of its latest release, I Declare War, being available on all of the usual VOD platforms as well as in theaters starting today, Drafthouse Films has decided to put the first five minutes of the film up on Youtube for everyone to try out—which is probably a smart move for smaller films like this that people might be on the fence about seeing or maybe aren’t even aware of, don’t you think? From directors Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson, I Declare War is a sort of fantastical film about a group of kids running around outside playing war. Where the fantasy comes in is that we see things the way kids do—with an overactive imagination that makes sticks look like real guns, paint-filled balloons look like real grenades, and daycare centers look like real villages full of possible foreign operatives that need to be massacred and burnt to the ground. Okay, so I made that last one up. This film doesn’t seem to be that dark. The main kid is inspired to play war games by Patton, after all, not Platoon. Click through to watch the first five minutes, as well as a pretty stylish title sequence that spells out exactly what the rules of playing war are. Just in case all that stuff you got up to in your college years wiped away the memory.

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I Declare War

Never tell a determined child that their games aren’t serious. We’ve clearly been underestimating the combat strategy abilities of schoolchildren for years now. For an intrepid pack of 12 year-olds, I Declare War is what happens when the lines of imagination and reality blur, turning a routine children’s game into bloody warfare. The Fantastic Fest Audience Award winner from Drafthouse Films has released its second trailer and fantastic, Platoon-inspired official poster in preparation for its August release.

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The Best of Fantastic Fest

It’s not hard to see that Fantastic Fest has come and gone for another year. If many a film fan could find a way to “wear black” on Twitter, they’d do so in mourning of the end of another great year of hardcore geekery. It was a diverse year for the Fantastic Fest programming team, bringing in equal numbers the intense, the gross, the violent, the real and the fun. On the whole, a truly “fantastic” experience for all involved. As we’ve done each year past, it is time for our Fantastic Fest Death Squad to round-up the festival and give you some parting thoughts. Most importantly, we’d like to leave you with a number of films that should occupy space on your horizon, films you should seek out when they finally get distributed in your region. To do this, each member of our coverage team has provided a recap of their experience and their three “Best of the Fest.” On the next page, you’ll find everyone’s nominations for the 2012 Death Squad Awards, highlighting the best films of each of Fantastic Fest’s competition categories.

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ActionFest

If you haven’t heard of ActionFest, let this piece stand as your introduction. ActionFest is a young film festival held annually in April in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina celebrating, predictably, the best in badass action cinema. The fest is currently in its third year and is presided over by the likes of Magnolia founder and CEO Bill Banowsky, former Magnolia and current Weinstein Company acquisitions guru Tom Quinn, and Aaron Norris brother of Chuck. Colin Geddes, who programs the prestigious Midnight Madness slate at the Toronto International Film Festival, is in charge of programming and serves as Festival Director. These guys know action films and they’ve put together a scrappy if relatively small fest that’s a ton of of fun to attend. I happened to be in North Carolina in April of last year and decided to come up to Asheville for two days jam-packed with ActionFest films. Upon my return to Austin, I could feel Junkfood Cinema kingpin Brian Salisbury’s seething jealousy. I could literally feel it since we happen to be roommates and he spent time breathing down my neck about going to the next iteration of the fest. This is how I found myself pulling out of our driveway on Wednesday around 11:30pm, Salisbury at my side, a bag full of chips and Red Bull in the backseat and a 20 hour drive across the country ahead of us.

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