Kill List

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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The Best Horror Movies of 2012

Another year has come and mostly gone and hundreds, if not thousands, of young, stupid, misbehaving teenagers have been lost at the hands of ghosts, apparitions, psychos, monsters, animals, and families with strange murder dynamics. Like any responsible site, it’s now our job to look back on a year of cinematic chaos and movie madness and sort all of this into an easy digestible list full of horrors! And family films! Because really, 2012 in horror wasn’t all that violent, but it was reflective and satisfying in a familiar way. Onward!

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Ben Wheatley‘s Sightseers is the ultimate dark comedy. It puts the most audacious visuals in front of you and dares you not to laugh at them. In the film, Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) take a week out caravanning across the English country-side. Little does she know, he’s a murdering psychopath with a short temper. Eventually, the two are traveling from one landmark to another killing anyone who pisses them off. Earlier this year, Bobcat Goldthwait similar God Bless America received a lukewarm response from critics. This feels like a less overbearing version of that film. While most instances of violence come from things that aggravate our protagonists, the murder spree doesn’t come out of some sense of entitlement. Chris and Tina kill just because they prefer that person dead, for their own gratification and to better enjoy their holiday. It’s not to improve the world around them. The film derives some great comedic moments from the bookends holding scenes together. Chris kills a man for telling him and Tina to clean up a piece of excrement, which is followed by them asking themselves, “Isn’t the country lovely?” The film revels in how easily Tina and Chris can justify their murders and brush them off as a part of their holiday.

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Sightseers Trailer

Given that it’s British and it’s about two people taking a laugh-filled trip through the countryside, the initial instinct is to compare Sightseers to Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 release, The Trip. Or maybe given the inclusion of a cute little dog that gets in on all the action, Michel Hazanavicius’ Oscar winner from last year, The Artist. But, about halfway through its new trailer, when all of the casual murdering starts, it becomes clear pretty quick that comparing Sightseers to anything else just won’t do. For those who’ve seen its director Ben Wheatley’s previous film, the shocking and grizzly Kill List, that probably comes as no surprise. If Wheatley proved anything there it was that he’s a storyteller who can keep an audience on their toes, and a visual artist who isn’t afraid of graphic depictions of murderous acts. Trying to pin his films down is an exercise in futility, you might as well just go along for the ride and try not to get any on you.

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Welcome to This Week In DVD + This Week In Blu-ray = This Week In Discs! It’s a work in progress still, but we hope you enjoy. The entertainment industry appears to be celebrating our new baby by releasing a cinemetric ton of quality Blus and DVDs. Hope you’ve been saving your pennies… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Father’s Day (Blu-ray/DVD) A young boy loses his eye to a sadistic madman after witnessing the murderous pervert rape and kill his father. Years later, Ahab is a pissed off, pistol-packing ex-con out for revenge and joined in his quest by a teenage (well, Porky’s kind of teenage anyway) street hustler and a young priest on a quest to send the demonic psychopath to the bowels of hell. In a week with The Raid, Kill List and Jaws all hitting Blu-ray why am I featuring this Troma release as my Pick of the Week? Because those titles have enough press behind them, and Father’s Day deserves some too. It’s gory as hell, foul as f*ck and funnier than any other movie featuring chainsaw-wielding strippers. If you can handle the bloodletting and copious nudity, both female and male (way, way too much male), then this is a four-disc special edition worth owning. You get the movie on Blu and DVD, a DVD of special features and a soundtrack CD. [Extras: Deleted scenes, Featurettes, Trailers, Short films by Astron-6]

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About a year ago, I saw Ben Wheatley‘s Kill List at SXSW. I walked in to the theater unfamiliar with what the film was about and what exactly I was in for with my viewing experience. Wheatley’s dark, unpleasant, and funny hit man story was my favorite viewing experience of last year, and explaining why has been a real chore. However, it isn’t a problem for Ben Wheatley, who was open to discussing the big spoiler topics, in particular the final minutes of the film. Much of my chat with the writer/director dealt with the ending, and the many theories it has spawned. Here’s what Ben Wheatley had to say about seeking out interpretations, the wonky logic behind Minority Report, and tedious exposition in our [SPOILER] conversation:

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Editor’s note: This review was originally published as part of our SXSW 2011 coverage on March 15, 2011. But, just like another stand-out horror flick from that festival (look down!), we’re bumping this baby back up to remind all of you dear readers that the film is finally hitting limited theaters this Friday, February 3. Some films send their characters to hell and back, but few do so with the genre-bending, mind-fucking intensity of Kill List. Equal parts drama, thriller, and horror, the movie takes both characters and viewers on a hellish descent down the bloody rabbit hole with stops along the way for mystery, murder, and flesh-busting madness. Jay (Neil Maskell) has been out of work for eight months, and his wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) is not about to let him forget it. They fight constantly about finances pausing periodically to assure their young son that mommy and daddy still love each other before returning to the fray. Jay’s friend Gal (Michael Smiley) comes over for dinner along with his new girlfriend, Fiona (Emma Fryer), and the four spend a raucous night of laughs and alcohol punctuated with an ugly and awkward outburst between the feuding couple.

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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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Both last month and this month are shaping up to prove that this time of the year doesn’t only serve as a dumping ground for Mark Wahlberg action movies and another indistinguishable Katherine Heigl horror movie. So far we’re off to a great start for 2012, and I sure hope it continues that way. With another Heigl rom-com nowhere in sight, I believe we’re all clear for now. Honorable Mentions: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (got terrible buzz out of Butt-numb-a-thon, but it’s still got Ciarán Hinds, one of the best actors around, playing the devil) and Chronicle (apparently it’s better than it looks).

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It’s already the second day of 2012, which means we’ll all be sober within the next day or two. It also means that we can officially start looking (through blurry eyes) ahead to the future. A future of promise and potential. A future of hope. A future of tingling anticipation that the road stretched out in front of us that leads to the cinema will be paved with gold. Will there be piles of excrement along the way? Of course, but we don’t know how many or how badly they’ll tarnish our yellow-bricked roller coaster ride. All we can see from this far out is the shimmering wonder of movies to come – the vast unknown that looks wonderful (and might just live up to the hype). In past years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), we’ve gone with a fairly arbitrary count of 20-30 movies. This year, we decided to prove that there were 52 movies worth prematurely celebrating (even though what we found were many more). That’s one for every week (even if there are some weeks with a few and some weeks with none at all). Regardless of the number, Rob Hunter, Neil Miller, Kate Erbland, Allison Loring, Landon Palmer, Brian Salisbury and Cole Abaius have joined forces to remind us all that there are a lot of great movies to hope for this year. Go grab a calendar and pencil in everything that gets your blood pressure up toward unsafe levels. It’s going to be a busy, flick-filled […]

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The title of this post is pretty self explanatory, so no introduction is really needed here. But… I do feel compelled to point out the same thing I point out every year. Nailing foreign releases down to a particular year isn’t an exact science. Obviously every film has an actual date of initial release, but most foreign titles don’t hit our shores until the following year, if at all. I try to go by original release date whenever possible though which means some of my choices have yet to be screened in the US outside of film festivals and import DVDs. That said, here’s a list of my eleven favorite foreign films for 2011 in alphabetical order. (Be sure to check out my lists from 2010, 2009 and 2008 too.) And because I know someone will ask, yes, I did see Certified Copy.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome to the last DVD column of 2011! There’s been quite a bit of chatter about how dismal of a year it was for film, but while there’s no doubt the box office haul is lower than the year before the same can’t be said for film quality. This week’s releases include the dirty fun of A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, the cool deaths (but little else) of Final Destination 5, two found footage films of varying quality (The Tunnel, Apollo 18) and two future cult classics (Kill List, The Skin I Live In) possibly worth an import for folks who don’t want to wait several more months for US releases. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Fish Story A comet heads toward Earth, but as the planet awaits destruction a few strangers sit in a record shop discussing how a mysterious song from decades ago just might save the world. From that starting point the film moves across space and time to tell a story about friendship, heroism, fate and more. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura (Golden Slumber, A Boy and His Samurai) has a true talent for tying multiple threads  up with real heart and character. The movie is actually a few years old, but it’s also the reason the term ‘blind buy’ was invented. Seriously. This is near perfect mix of whimsy, action, suspense and heart, and deserves to be seen by everyone. Check out Cole Abaius’ full review.

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The Holiday Gift Guide: DVD and Blu-ray

Merry Christmas movie/TV/goat-cheese lovers! As part of our week-long gift guide extravaganza thingamajig we’ve put together a list of Blu-rays, DVD and a few other ideas for you to use when shopping for others or for putting on your own Christmas list. Or both. Some of the films below are from years past, but they all hit Blu-ray and/or DVD this year so they totally count for this gift guide. Click on the links to be magically transported to Amazon, AmazonUK and other places where lovely things can be found.

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If you’ve been paying as much attention to the lineup for this year’s AFI FEST as the rest of us Rejects (read: quite a bit), you’ve surely noticed that the festival’s programming is packed with a number of films that have played some of the year’s biggest festivals. If you’re in Southern California, the Hollywood-based (and free) film festival will give you a chance to check out the same films that played at Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Venice, New York, Fantastic Fest, Sundance, London, and more. It’s like traveling without leaving your own area code, or spending the cold, hard cash it would take to fly halfway around the world. Sounds pretty simple now, huh, shut-in? AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available right HERE). The complete schedule grid is online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, check out 22 festival favorites (and a sampling of some of the other festivals they’ve played) that you may have missed throughout the year. Not sure if they’re worthy of clearing your AFI FEST schedule for? I’ve linked to all of our previous coverage, too, so you really have no excuse.

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With AFI FEST presented by Audi just one week away, fellow FSR-er and AFI FEST attendee Kate Erbland and I went through the impressive list of films on the schedule and selected the ones we are most looking forward to seeing. To the credit of those putting together this year’s AFI FEST, I found myself practically highlighting the entire schedule grid as I saw film after film that had already been on my “to-see” list. From films I have been anticipating for the past few months (Shame) to ones I had not heard of until now (Butter), this year’s AFI FEST looks to be one of its strongest lineups yet. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting today, October 27, right HERE). The complete schedule grid is now online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, check out my list of my top ten most anticipated films of this year’s AFI FEST. Which films are you planning on seeing at this year’s AFI FEST?

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Another day, another lineup announcement from AFI FEST 2011 that sends me positively reeling. Today sees the film festival rolling out their World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight, and Short selections. Today also sees me jumping up and down and repeatedly screaming, “ALPS! ALPS! ALPPPPSSSS!” As has been the trend with AFI FEST’s recent lineup announcements, this crop of films guarantees that the festival is a can’t-miss for any film buffs in the Los Angeles area. There’s a number of titles here that festival-obsessed cinephiles will recognize from recent events – films like Ben Wheatley‘s Kill List, Morten Tyldum‘s Headhunters, Jean-Baptiste Léonetti‘s Carre Blanc, Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film, and for Dogtooth obsessives like me, Yorgos Lanthimos‘s Alps. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. The best part? Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting October 27). Free, guys, free. After the break, check out the full list of the films to be featured as AFI FEST World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight, and Short Film selections.

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Ben Wheatley’s darkly violent, morbidly humorous, and utterly surprising thriller Kill List was one of the best films at SXSW earlier this year, but unfortunately it’s an extremely easy movie to have spoiled by reviews, articles, trailers, and other marketing. (For the record my spoiler-free review can be found here.) Knowing too much won’t ruin the film by any means, but going in blind is rarely as rewarding as it is here. The film follows an unemployed hit man who gets back into the hired killer game as a means of providing for his family. He partners up with an old friend to take on an odd assignment that only gets progressively weirder. What starts as a relationship drama and character piece becomes a tense and brutal thriller before finally hitching a ride on the crazy train. Check out the trailer below… then don’t watch, read, or listen to another thing about the movie until you see it.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk SXSW with the Reject team and find out why Netflix is doing what they’re doing. Gigaom site editor Ryan Lawler joins us to help makes sense of why Netflix would get into the distribution game with House of Cards and what it might mean for the future. Joe Nicolosi (who made that video of the girl retelling Star Wars without seeing it and that Super Mario indie short film the kids are talking about), discusses the perils of the SXSW softball game, how he got the job making all the bumpers that play before the movies, his creative process, and the beauty of film festivals. Neil and Rob dust off the SXSW from their chaps to tell us about their favorite films and the movies that will coming to a theater near you. Plus, Kate Erbland from Gordon and The Whale and Scott Weinberg from Twitch Film go head-to-head in our movie news quiz, and we all end up talking about Cameron Crowe and the power of nostalgia. Loosen up your tie and stay a while.

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So you’ve eaten at Pita Pit and Best Wurst (because there’s nothing wrong with two lunches) and you’re scoping out theaters ready to get more movies on, but you have no idea what you’re going to see. That teary indie drama or that ridiculous sci-fi comedy? You don’t know do you? And you can’t figure it out on your own for some reason. Fortunately, we’ve created this handy guide to help you in your time of duress. Use it wisely. There’s no chance it’ll send you to the porno theater across the highway, so if you end up there, it’s on you.

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