revenge

IntroRevenge

As the Oldboy remake approaches, the subject of revenge is no doubt teeming in everyone’s heads – at least in terms of punishing the people who decided to remake Oldboy. While there are so many lists out there about the most “brutal” or the most “satisfying” revenge films, perhaps it might be fun to explore the strangest, if not most laughable ways people enacted their justice.

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Django

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Django Unchained (and all of Tarantino’s other films). With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino has taken a decisive shift in his approach to storytelling. Abandoning the non-linear, present-set depictions of an organized criminal underworld in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and the Kill Bill films, Tarantino has not only transitioned to more conventional linear storytelling (with the exception of the requisite flashback), but chooses familiar historical contexts in which to tell these stories. With the WWII-set Inglourious Basterds and now with the pre-Civil War-era Western Django, Tarantino has made a habit of mixing the historical with the inventively anachronistic, and has turned recent modern histories of racial and ethnic oppression, dehumanization, and extermination into ostensibly cathartic fantasies of revenge against vast systemic structures of power.

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Lee Kang-do (Lee Jung-jin) is a collector for a loan shark. He cripples his non-paying clients in order to collect the insurance money. One day a woman, played by Cho Min-soo, appears claiming to be his mother who abandoned him as a child. This discovery leads Kang-do down a path which includes reconsidering his line of work and his viewpoint on life in general. Kim Ki-duk‘s Pieta plays wonderfully into an ever-growing subgenre of South-Korean revenge films (including I Saw the Devil, Oldboy and The Man From Nowhere). Here we’re able to enjoy a very slow burning plot as it’s broken into two separate sections. The first being where Kang-do is the collector who breaks limbs to reconcile debts, the next being where he’s a love drowned character, adoring his mother in an almost childlike state. As the film turns to that second half the reveal leads to interesting ideas of what one will do both for revenge and for love. We see characters endure in the face of despair as Kang-do’s mother goes missing and he goes hunting, believing this to be the work of one of his crippled former clients.

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Shuffle Every time Lovell falls asleep he awakens at a different point of his life. His thirty year old mind and memories remain intact as a ten year old, a ninety year old, and anywhere in between. Things get even more complicated when he discovers his wife has died under potentially mysterious circumstances, but can he use his uncontrollable life-hopping ability to make things right? It’s tough making science fiction films on an indie budget, but writer/director Kurt Kuenne (Dear Zachary: A Letter To a Son About His Father) takes a sci-fi concept and uses it to tell a very human story. Loss, redemption, and forgiveness are just a few of the themes shown to transcend time, and the film explores them with beauty, humor and vitality. [Extras: Trailer, festival video diaries, making-of, black & white version]

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: After a young girl is brutally attacked, Postmaster Otis P. Hazelrigg does what any good Postmaster would do – acts as judge, jury, and executioner when he organizes a lynch mob (shoot mob?) to exact justice on the suspected killer: the young girl’s mentally retarded friend, Bubba Ritter. Founding him hidden inside a scarecrow the mob extracts their ‘justice,’ only to learn horror rule number 37: never kill an innocent handicapped man, because vengeance and death soon follow.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline. Synopsis: The greatest fear any woman has comes to fruition when author Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) moves to a quiet Louisiana town to complete her novel before its deadline. She took her first misstep five minutes into her supposedly pleasant stay when she brushed off the advances of the town’s young lothario Johnny (Jeff Branson) at a gas station. Johnny would not stand for this type of treatment, especially in front of his two equally twisted friends Stanley (Daniel Franzese) and Andy (Rodney Eastman). After they discover the simple-minded, puppy dog of a man Matthew (Chad Lindberg) had not only been in Jennifer’s rental home to fix a leak but also received a thank you peck, the men and the sexually twisted Sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard) take it upon themselves to terrorize the young woman until she breaks. Unfortunately for them, they had no idea of true, brutal terror.

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Why Watch? Because when one genre turns into another, things get crazy. This short begins with two bloody-handed men playing a game of the highest stakes poker possible. The dialogue is soaked in whiskey, a little itchy, and it’s surrounded by dankness. Then, at the 1:05 mark, things change drastically and awesomely. This might not be for everyone (in fact, it’s guaranteed not to be), but even if it doesn’t light your fire, you have to admire the brass buttons on this thing. What Will It Cost? Just 6 minutes of your time. Check out The Tell for yourself:

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Nicolas Winding Refn just won Best Director at Cannes, but apparently he won’t be going to Disneyland to celebrate. Maybe not surprising for a director who once told me that “art is an act of violence.” That’s also when he began talking about Only God Forgives, a western-style drama that he’d like to shoot in Asia. Why Asia? Because they have the best toys, and Refn is an avid toy collector. I’m not making that up. Read the interview for confirmation. Fortunately, Twitch has gotten a hold of a synopsis for the film, and it’s chock-full of all sorts of genre goodness:

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Why Watch? Because all week long we’ll be featuring short films featuring the gang from Community. Today’s features the dramatic side of Alison Brie. To break up the all the comedy that’s been hitting this column during Community week, here’s a taut short about a father’s impossible decision to do right by his daughter by killing the man who destroyed her life. Brie plays the daughter, and is featured minorly here, but the film grabs you by the balls in the first scene, grabs you by your emotional balls in the next, and doesn’t let go even after the credits roll. That’s thanks to the writing and direction of Mark Apicella as well as a hell of a tortured performance from Brian Keith Russell. How do you make a decision that takes another man’s life? What Will It Cost? Just 16 minutes of your time. Check out Salvation, Texas for yourself:

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Like NBC & FOX, ABC cleaned house last week by canceling pretty much every under-performing show that was on their schedule. But today they have released the schedule that will be filling all the gaps. Unlike NBC & FOX there is nothing really eye popping or exciting. However, there were some oddities: – The new Tim Allen series Last Man Standing will be leading off Tuesday nights at 8pm – The Middle is being pushed to Wednesday lead off at 8pm – Charlie’s Angels will lead off Thursday nights at 8pm Basically the oddities are that ABC is over-selling their shows. Need I remind everyone about the scheduling disaster that was FlashForward? Fine show, but it was never meant to lead off the night in its first season. And the general rule is you never put a new show as your lead off (even if it is produced by Steven Spielberg, FOX). But why listen to me when you can look at ABC’s schedule and the clips for yourself:

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Continuing with our on-going coverage of all things TV for the next few days, NBC has made yet another pick up announcement for four more series orders. The four pilots that have been picked up to series are “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, starring Laura Prepon, Free Agents, starring Hank Azaria, Bent, starring Amanda Peet, and BFF (formerly Best Friends Forever)” according to TV By The Numbers. The astute reader will notice that all of these series are comedies. Could NBC be planning another day worth of prime time comedy in addition to their already stacked Thursday night comedy block? It’s looking very likely. As for the cancellations? The peacock has decided to finally pull the plug on the god awful demon spawn that is The Event. The show has been an absolute mess since day one with a forcefully, and annoyingly convoluted plot. Let this failed show be a sign to all other networks, just because one sci-fi show is successful (LOST), doesn’t mean all of them will be. Of course, that’s not all that got cut.

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You’ll first get a chance to see Aaron Guzikowski‘s writing when Contraband, starring Mark Wahlberg, hits theaters in March of 2012, but his Black Listed script for Prisoners may finally see the light of day soon as well. According to Twitch, Incendies director Denis Villeneuve has signed on to make it his English-language debut. The story concept is streamlined – a man’s daughter is kidnapped, and he decides to take the law into his own hands by kidnapping who he thinks is the kidnapper. That last part leaves a big window open to fool around with the classic revenge tale, and we’ll undoubtedly learn more about what got the script onto the Black List in the first place. Villeneuve has proven himself to be more than capable, but the road to making films in Hollywood is a notoriously treacherous one for even the best foreign directors. Still, it’s great to see him progress and attempt to reach a broader audience (since he and that audience deserve each other). Now, is Liam Neeson available or should someone else get a shot?

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Why Watch? Because a hybrid of manga, live-action and WTF is exactly what you need to get you through the day. This outstanding short delivers a visual experience where people live inside the pages of a Japanese comic book that seems inspired by Noh Theater and little orange pills. A young girl named Junko lives with her shamisen-playing grandfather who is killed while she’s playing in the woods. Accompanied by her stop-motion fox friend, and inhabiting a stage world lorded over by a narrator and his band, Junko must find a new path at the edge of a knife. What Will It Cost? Just 10 minutes of your time. Does it get better any better than that? Check out Junko’s Shamisen for yourself:

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Wipe away that mental image of Conan O’Brien slicing through bad guys, and replace it quickly with these new pictures from the Marcus Nispel-directing Conan reboot. What’s great about them? The blood. The gritting teeth. The savage nature of man escaping to cut down his foes and drink from their skull caps. Why is Jason Momoa wearing a manica for the role? It’s unclear, but check out the pictures for yourself for a glimpse at revenge lust and a few villains.

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Back at Fantastic Fest, Rob Hunter came out of his screening of Red Hill – featuring Ryan Kwanten from True Blood – and immediately walked from Austin back to San Francisco on a mission to clean up the filth of his town. He, of course, succeeded, and now San Francisco has 2000% fewer snarly-mouthed gangsters who think they “run things.” Now, you can win Red Hill on DVD and find your own inspiration.* (*FSR does not endorse actual vigilante justice.) How to win: Head over to our Facebook Page and hit the “like” button (since there’s no “love” button). Then proceed to find the post asking how you’d bring justice to your town, and…explain how you’d bring justice to your small town. Clean up the (US-based) town by January 26th, and you could have a shot at snagging this DVD for yourself.

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There’s a core lesson somewhere inside the remake (or novel re-adaptation) of True Grit about pulling on bootstraps, feeling the bitter cold of the ride, and doing what needs to be done. Of course, that lesson is buried beneath a lot of snide remarks and funny moments. Even if the lesson is hard to find, the film itself is a reminder that there are few things quite as entertaining as seeing a snotty little girl and an eye-patched drunkard go exact a little buck shot revenge. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is desperate to track down the man who killed her father, so she enlists the reluctant help of sodden U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who takes every opportunity to brag about himself. Through a tough ride in Indian Territory, Mattie comes gun barrel to gun barrel with murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) with a chance to pull the trigger and right his wrong.

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The FSR crew got a chance to see Red Hill at Fantastic Fest, and the film is now seeing the darkness of theaters in Austin, New York, and Los Angeles on November 5th (that’s tomorrow (and, seriously, go buy a calander)). With all that money you’re spending on calendars, you won’t be able to afford a poster for the film. That’s a shame. Fortunately, we’ve got three of them that happen to be signed by star Ryan Kwanten and director Patrick Hughes. Three posters means three lucky winners. Find out what you can do to win inside.

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Walking down the street in Austin one fine afternoon, I made the remark that I wasn’t sure how to feel about a film that just played Fantastic Fest because it had a happy ending. “No one was raped or killed, I’m not sure how to feel about that.” I’m not an advocate of raping and killing (except when they really, really deserve it), but the vast majority of films I saw this year dealt with those themes heavily. Seeing something happy and cheery actually threw me pretty hard. Luckily, Red White & Blue from writer-director Simon Rumley was there to bring me right back down into a pit of despair and make me want to give up on life. Red White & Blue follows a trio of Austin residents as their stories intersect and collide with unfortunate events. Erica (Amanda Fuller) is a promiscuous girl down on her luck who finds something close to a relationship developing with the off-kilter Army veteran Nate (Noah Taylor). Rock-n-roller Franki (Marc Senter) has a brief fling with Erica and the results of said fling have ramifications for all.

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You might need to wear a cup, but this teaser trailer is actually pretty tame.

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Promises promises! Why oh why, Hollywood, do you promise me one thing but then deliver something completely different than advertised?

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