Made in Britain Special: A Field in England (preview)

Tonight sees a new development in the way films are distributed. Ben Wheatley’s new effort, A Field in England is the first film to be simultaneously released on DVD/ Blu, in the Cinema and shown on Television. Albeit on Film4.

I’m actually really excited by this one. There’s a Matthew Hopkins vibe to the poster and Wheatley is so far on a 100% hit rate with me (even if that is a bit wobbly). 

As such, I’m definitely home watching this one. It promises to be a frightening psychedelic trip set in one of this island’s more grim periods of history. The cast is again really good with Reece Shearsmith joined by Wheatley regular Michael Smiley, and the film has been racking up glowing reviews from our media, with the Torygraph going all out with a 5* review.

Furthermore, Wheatley is one of the most interesting directors in the UK at the moment, and so far his work has crossed a number of genres. If there’s one word that I’d use to describe his style, then it’s “assured”, but  even at his most wobbly (Sightseers), he’s still got to be worth a look.

I’ve reviewed all of his films so far, so I’m taking this opportunity to have a quick look back at them.

Firstly, he blew onto the scene in 2009 with the mostly overlooked Down Terrace. A gripping combination of gangster movie and misery porn made on a shoestring, Down Terrace was stunningly acted, well written and directed with real assurance for a début film. All the signs were there that this was potentially the next Shane Meadows, which is no bad thing.

Full review here.

Definitely worth a watch, but really there little indication of what was to come.

As with Neil Marshall, who debuted with the excellent Dog Soldiers and then followed it with the stupendous The Descent, Wheatley’s sophomore effort after his low-key debut was the phenomenal Kill List. I rated this as the best film of the year when I saw it- a grubby and viscerally powerful combination of the Wicker Man and the legion of British Kitchen Sink Crime Dramas out there. With a cast including Myana Buring, and Michael Smiley putting in lifetime best performances,  Kill List remains the only film that I’ve ever seen that made Mrs. Jarv cry from fear in the cinema. That’s impressive by any standards.

Full review here.

Wheatley’s follow-up to Kill List was, in contrast, mildly disappointing. Although to be honest nothing he could have done could have measured up to the previous film. Nevertheless, Sightseers, with a script by Steve Oram and Alice Lowe had a sparkling first half (well, for me) before coming off the rails a tad in the second. A black as midnight comedy, following a pair of psychotic ramblers, Sightseers certainly had its moments, even if it did, somewhat feel like a step back for the director.

Hell, I liked it anyway, even if I do have reservations.

Full review here.

And now, tonight, July 5th at 10.45pm comes A Field in England. I’m hoping that he’s back on Kill List form, but I have no doubt that the little £300,000 movie will, at the very least, not be 2 hours of my life wasted.

Here’s the trailer (which I haven’t watched because I’m going for unspoiled for this one):

See you tomorrow for the aftermath…

Ciao,

Jarv

Made in Britain

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

124 responses to “Made in Britain Special: A Field in England (preview)”

  1. Judge Droid says :

    Not seen Down Terrace, but Kill List is very good. Obviously I didn’t like Sightseers half as much, but it had it’s moments. I don’t have a telly, so it’s an acquisition for me.

  2. Xiphos0311 says :

    so if I understand the trailer correctly the movie is about four dudes overacting in a field somewhere with goofy camera angles trying to make everything seem deep and important?

    • Jarv says :

      Nah, It’s Wheatley. He doesn’t do “deep and important”.

      It’ll be a straight horror film. Or at least that’s what the reviews are saying.

      • Jarv says :

        Shite Bradshaw’s given it 4 out of 5.

        Chance of suckage has risen hugely.

      • Jarv says :

        Fuck me, Cockshaw really is full of shit.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        the dopey camera angles and b&W beg to differ.

      • Jarv says :

        Black and White is because they had no money so it’s cheaper.

        Bet you the dumb camera angles are because they’re tripping. It won’t be to be fraudulently important.

        Anyhoo, I’ll let you know tomorrow.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        for some reason I thought B&W is more expensive.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I’m still trying to figure out what it’s about. None of the descriptions I’ve read make any sense

      • Jarv says :

        Well, I’ll distill it down tomorrow.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Just don’t spoil it (if it’s spoilery) like Kill List!

      • Jarv says :

        I didn’t spoil Kill List. Went out of my way not to.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Maybe not. I have misremembered it. It’s that I saw the film and then read your review, and it was clear that simply reading your review would have “spoiled” some of it for me. Simply because I didn’t know anything about the film going in.

      • Jarv says :

        I’ve just reread it, and I didn’t give away any of the plot detail in the twisty ending.

        Talked a lot about texture and whatnot, and the structure.

        Which, in retrospect, would have prepared you a bit for what was coming so was definitely spoilery.

        Can’t believe I didn’t give it 4. Hugely tight fisted of me.

      • Judge Droid says :

        For example, I didn’t even know they were hitmen. I literally didn’t know anything about it, and it was the best way to experience the film I think.

      • Jarv says :

        Well, to be fair, the title “Kill List” does kind of suggest that someone may be a hitman.

      • Judge Droid says :

        a) Maybe. But it could mean lots of things.
        B) I didn’t think about what the title meant at all!

      • Jarv says :

        What else could it mean?

        Thought it was totally obvious. A list requiring killing. Like a shopping list is a list of stuff you’re getting in the shops.

        b) that’s not my fault. Simpleminded bloody species, Aussies.

      • Judge Droid says :

        It doesn’t mean it can only be about hitmen.

        I didn’t think about what the title meant because I didn’t really care. I never said it was your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s not even a fault. It was just a statement of fact. You’re being surprisingly defensive over all this.

      • Judge Droid says :

        I would give it 3.5. But you liked it more than me, so yes, tight fisted of you.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Okey dokey fair enough

  3. Judge Droid says :

    Unsuccessfully tried to stream this from the channel 4 website. Shit says I have insufficient broadband speed, despite being on the super BT and it streaming the previous movie Hush with absolutely no problems. Oh well.

    • Jarv says :

      You’ve not missed anything.

      Disappointing v

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        You didn’t like it? I actually liked it quite a bit, much more personally than Sightseers. However, four guys overacting in a field with bad camera angles is going to be the opinion in some cases.

        I don’t think that’s always wrong either, I just thought he did a nice play on Ken Russell and the lot, although loads of this are strangely closer to Altered States than The Devils.

        There’s some Matthew Hopkins and Blood on Satan’s Claw in there as well. It’s not particularly narrative driven, but I liked the character arc for Shearsmith, and it was a better surrealistic trip than, say, a poser movie like Valhalla Rising.

        I don’t think it’s particularly pretentious, or vacuous as other similar fare (see VR again) as he builds a strong foundation for the thing. It’s far different in practice than Down Terrace and Kill List, and its a polar opposite of Sightseers, but honestly it’s my second favorite of the four. Definitely not for everyone, and not something that fits tidy in with the stuff he’s done so far.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        what can i say? i am the voice of the unwashed masses.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        ha. no, its not one of those ‘get it or don’t, it’s so high-minded’ movies. I’m not completely sure there’s anything particularly deep to get, I just liked the atmosphere and the mood it created, although whenever that mood breaks–for me, just a few moments–it is like watching deranged LARPers in a field. I think either view of it is legit; I’m the guy that still looks at the original Wicker Man and mostly sees Chris Lee and an orgy of ugly-ass people with a five minute near-Shyamalan ending tacked on. I’d rather watch Nic Cage scream about bees and roundhouse kick little Helen Hunt while wearing a bear suit. Heresy I know.

        BTW, how have you been Xi? Read your WWZ review a bit back and thought you nailed it. I liked it when I saw it–well enough–but it implodes on itself whenever you try and think on it.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I’m OK how are you? Saw the pictures of your little man he’s getting big.

        Yeah WWZ is really dumb but semi entertaining. The Korean segment was by far the best.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        Yea, a little over a year old, walking all over the place. I’m doing very well, thanks for asking.

        The movie summer has been pretty lousy thus far. Although stupid I liked things about WWZ and The Purge, with Star Trek 2, This is the End, and Way, Way Back being the only things I really enjoyed all the way through, and all three of those–ST2 in particular–have issues.

        Started watching Under the Dome, and was excited by the first episode just to be dumped on my ass with the second.

        I will say amidst the smaller movies, I did see one called The East–from the people who did Sound of My Voice–that was pretty decent.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Oh so you are in the same boat as Droid, Kloipy and I with Under the Dome.

        I sort of want to see the way way back. have you seen the one with the kids that build a house in the woods that Stars Ron Swanson?

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        Yea, I liked that. I forgot about that, as I saw it back in April I think. Kings of Summer, it was pretty good. There’s been good smaller fare, but I think it’s set apart from the big dumb summer fare, which in lots of cases hasn’t even been much fun to watch–White House Down and Lone Ranger, I’m looking at you.

        I also liked Before Midnight, Kon Tiki, The Wall–a better, smarter version of Under the Dome with just one gal and a few farm animals and a gun. You know what I did like, you should check out.

        It was called The Battery, little indie zombie movie about two baseball players who are fighting their way through the apocalypse. A nifty little movie that was freed up to not pander to the geeks so it was in fact a good character driven piece.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Good the i will definitely check out KoS I like those sorts of movies.. thanks for the heads up about the battery. sounds interesting.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        Yea, I liked KOS better than WWB, but both are good. I’m a Sam Rockwell fan and he’s at his most Rockwelly, and for me, it played like the good version of Adventureland, mostly because I didn’t want to punch the lead guy and gal in the face throughout the movie. Rockwell’s got some great lines too.

        ‘When I was a small Cambodian child, I ran off to the circus and took up clown fighting. I know forty-six different ways to kill a clown.’

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Ha good line I bet Rockwell sold it hard.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        I recently did a list of underrated zombie movies, and included it–as well as a few others– over here:
        http://whatculture.com/film/10-underrated-zombie-movies-to-watch-instead-of-world-war-z.php
        Tried to stay away from obvious ones everyone already knows well, although no.1 was no question for me. I also think you are one of the few that saw Dance of the Dead, which is a pretty fun comedy take on zombies.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        yeah i read it and left a comment but i don’t know if it took. Good list.

      • Jarv says :

        Good inclusion of dead heat. I’d add return if the living dead 3- purely for Julie.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        Yea, I’ll give UTD another episode, but having read the book, there’s been few changes they have made that have improved things. I mean, changing the purpose/genesis behind the dome, in theory is a good idea, but at this point it would depend on what they came up with. One of the really awful things is Junior, he’s a show-stopper (not in a good way) every time he’s on the screen. I’m surprised that chick didn’t leap down the stairs while he was holding the keys and just beat him to death.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I haven’t read the book so i don’t know but man what was on the screen in episode 2 was dismal. Junior isn’t threatening at all he’s just a loser and the actor sucks.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        well, the pacing seems very different from the book. I think the book covers a much smaller amount of time, about a week, maybe? The show seems to be really stretching things and making each episode like a day.

        I thought a really bad scene was the Rev saying ‘God works in mysterious ways…hehehe’ and then turning around to see the house on fire. It just felt like something that no real person would say or do. It felt like a MSTK3 kind of moment.

        Norris is good as big Jim, but I think the character has been written as a broad ‘I’m so evil’ type, so good luck on developing him properly. Also, I keep seeing Samantha Mathis’ name in the credits, but am I missing her? Who is she? I noticed Cherita Chen from Donnie Darko was one of the two djs.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        She’s the other half of the lesbian couple she wears glasses.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        oh, yea, so she is…daaaamn.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        yeah i didn’t recognize her either at first.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I also get the feeling they reconfigured the Barbie character, right?

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        yes, that body thing in the beginning never happened…I’m a little unsure where they are going with him, but I mostly imagine a guy taking lines from the first season of Lost and then trying to carefully type in Barbie wherever he saw the word Sawyer.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        ha!

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        I think at some point, King just needs to move on from supernatural stuff altogether. I think he’s really run out of ideas where that’s concerned. His best stuff–personally speaking–is the stuff that’s not supernatural at all, because then he’s taken away most of his chances to write himself out of a corner miraculously–unless of course he finds a big effin poster large enough to hide a gaping hole in a prison wall.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I read The Kennedy assination book he wrote awhile back and it mostly, except for the time travel angle, stayed away from Supernatural junk. it was pretty good, except for him trying to tie it into every other book he wrote that is.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        yes, the Kennedy one was actually very good, and what made me think that–the tying in thing is actively irritating to me now. It’s a large part–including that crappy final installment–of what eventually killed The Dark Tower series dead.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        I’m pretty sure that Shining sequel is going to be pure crap. Also, supernatural works for him when he sticks to one aspect–like Carrie’s telekinesis or the haunted hotel, or something. When It is just a monster clown it’s scary, when it’s an inter-dimensional spider lord who’s got a goody-two shoes adversary that’s a floating wise-ass turtle, not so much.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        they’re making a shinning sequel, why?

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        I don’t know, apparently King has always wanted to explore how Danny Torrance followed in his father’s footsteps and became an alcoholic with a psychic cat that must rescue a little girl from an evil cult.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        oy vey…

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        So Danny is finally going to redrum somebody?

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        One can hope. Probably just as he goes to, Roland and the priest from Salem’s Lot will come riding on the turtle and prevent him from doing so.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        he’ll probably be driving Christine and pick up The Walking Dude and get a glimpse of Pennywise in the sewer in Derry.

      • Jarv says :

        The absolute worst thing king did was try to tie everything he ever wrote into The Dark Tower- even Salem’s Lot got the treatment.

        Therefore Shining 2: Shine Harder will have Danny find a portal and be the genesis of him siring Roland in Gilead.

        Thank’ee sai.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        footsteps being the alcoholism, not that other BS.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        pass thanks

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        the real answer is probably King wanted to explore what it would be like if he added another addition on to his house and bought a yacht, and realized he needed more cash before doing so.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        BINGO and YAHTZEE!

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        I want to see a sequel to the Dark Half where the courageous writer realizes that his evil pseudonym actually won, and slipped away to ruin his legacy with decades of intriguing but ultimately disappointing books and he has to tap into the power of coke–much like spinach–to reclaim his mojo.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        It was nice talking to you but I have to head off to sleep since I have to be at work in the morning. talk to you later.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        take care man… yea, you too.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        the other thing UtD lacks is a strong performance like Pennywise in It(which is still frigging great I was watching clips on youtube yesterday) and Stu Redmond and Max headroom in The Stand

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        I was actually just putting a list together while talking to you of the good King miniseries–all of them have flaws, but a few were actually good for what they were and when they were–and It and Stand came to mind.

        Honestly, I thought Steven Weber was pretty good in The Shining, although they overegged the pudding a bit with that miniseries.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        one I liked that had a dopey ending, but a great build-up was Storm of the Century. King screws the pooch with endings more consistently than almost any writer I can think of.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        that’s been the knock on him since The Tommyknockers.

      • Jarv says :

        Was a bit pissed because went to pub and watched that twat Murray win.

        Going to rewatch it this morning and see if my opinion changes. At the moment I’m totally meh about it.

        Smiley is stunning. Channeling Price in Matthew Hopkins. First half generates some good atmosphere. But there’s no getting away from that its a group of guys getting caned in a field, and it has the same problem all drugs films have- it gets monotonous.

        However, there’s no getting away from

  4. Echo the Bunnyman says :

    Forgot Man of Steel, which sums up my experience with it. I thought it was fun, but uneven and kind of tedious towards the end, and since then I’ve nearly forgotten I watched it at all.

  5. tombando says :

    Never read King. Watched some movies and just knew: not for me. He did that play w Cougar Mellencamp, shrug. As for the summer hits, best still IM3, will give Johnny Sokko and Monsters Too a look of course.

  6. Judge Droid says :

    Thought it was shit.

    • Jarv says :

      That’s my feeling, to be honest. There’s some good atmosphere for a bit, but then it’s just garbage in the second half.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Once it becomes clear that it’s just a 90 minute version of Lost, in black and white with horrible “art” cinematography, it loses absolutely all interest. And it becomes clear very early.

      • Jarv says :

        I was enjoying Smiley’s performance for a while.

        Then I got bored of the whole goddamned thing. I’m meaning to review it, but can’t be arsed.

      • Judge Droid says :

        I wouldn’t bother, unless you really want to. Are you going to do an Ashes preview?

      • Jarv says :

        Yes, I’ll do it tonight.

        Have fucking heatstroke and feel horrible.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Were you boozing all weekend?

      • Jarv says :

        Spent all yesterday in the park. Far too long in the sun. Booze didn’t help obviously. Feeling really rotten and just drinking water like it’s going out of fashion.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        so it was about 18C yesterday?

      • Jarv says :

        Hee hee.

        No, was about 30 I think. Felt hotter.

        Also not helped by drinking on Saturday watching the Lions mangle Australia.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        whoa! that must have been several unclouded hours of sunlight.

      • Jarv says :

        Rarer than hen’s teeth round here.

        Finally summer arrived. Ambushed the entire population.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        To be fair I was at Lympstone much later in the year.

      • Judge Droid says :

        It was quite hot yesterday. It’s very surprising this weather. Hopefully it will remain good for the cricket.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I don’t think I’ve ever strung together more then 5 unclouded hours in England anytime I’ve been there and that was when i was there on holiday and not work related.

      • Judge Droid says :

        The odds are against you. The only way to guarantee it is to live here, and even then it’s is very rare.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I think half the time I was in Lympstone I never saw the sun.

      • Jarv says :

        It’s funny, because we’ve actually had a load of rancid summers on the bounce. But 2002, for example, was blazing sun all summer.

        We’re meant to be having a heatwave for the next week or so.

        But he’s right, decent summer has become more rare than it was when I was a kid.

      • Judge Droid says :

        First summer I was over (2004) was really good. It’s seriously been each summer worst than the last ever since.

      • Jarv says :

        2002-2004 were really nice. Last year had about 1 warm day.

        It’s been appalling the last 3 years.

      • Judge Droid says :

        It’s supposed to be mid-twenties all week. So we may actually get 3 full sessions of cricket each day! This will expedite the Aussie win, which was already inside 3 days.

  7. kloipy says :

    I’m late to the game, but tonight is UtD’s last chance for me. It has a lot to live up to since the crap that was the second episode. I don’t know if it is just my own love of the book or just that the show is bad, but the show feels like it has no weight, nothing interesting as to what was captured by the book. To me, King is so much more of a cerebral author which doesn’t always (or usually) translate to the screen. In the book, the internal dialogue is great but some of the actual dialogue is horrible (the kid Scarecrow Joe has the most hackneyed ‘teen-speak’). I don’t like the changes the book has made and it feels so calculated that it doesn’t have any real importance to the action.

    I still love King’s stuff. He will remain my favorite author and even some of his newer stuff is awesome. His supernatural stuff works the best in his short stories more so than in the full length novels.

  8. kloipy says :

    Here’s the list of his adaptations for my personal ranking (not comprehensive)

    Great
    Stand By Me
    Shawshank
    Green Mile
    The Shining
    Dolores Claiborne
    Creepshow
    Misery
    The Dead Zone

    Good
    Christine
    Carrie
    The Mist
    The Dark Half
    Pet Semetary

    Meh
    It (Pennywise is great, but the entire series isn’t that good)
    The Stand
    Storm of the Century
    Firestarter
    Cujo
    Salem’s Lot
    Silver Bullet
    Needful Things
    The Shining mini
    Night Flier

    • kloipy says :

      Bad
      Riding the Bullet
      Children of the Corn
      Mangler
      Rose Red
      Apt Pupil
      Hearts in Atlantis
      Secret Window

      Horrible
      Desperation
      Bag of Bones
      Dreamcatcher
      Nightmares and Dreamscapes
      Tommyknockers
      Langoliers

      • Judge Droid says :

        I’ve read Stand By Me, Shawshank, Green Mile, The Shining, Misery, Carrie and It. All of which are good in varying degrees. However, I also read Rose Madder which was probably the worst book I’ve ever read in my entire life.

      • Judge Droid says :

        And I’d like to add that I’ve read Twilight. That’s how shit Rose Madder is.

      • Jarv says :

        Rose Madder honks badly, but it’s not the worst King Book-

        I’d give that to Gerald’s Game.

      • Judge Droid says :

        It boggles the mind to try to comprehend someone writing something worse than Rose Madder.

      • Jarv says :

        It’s unbelievably awful, Gerald’s Game.

        Sheer drivel from start to finish.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Oh, I just realised Kloipy was talking about adaptations, not the books themselves. In that case…

        Great
        Stand By Me
        Shawshank
        The Shining
        Misery
        The Dead Zone
        Silver Bullet (Busey FTW!!!)

        Good
        Dolores Claiborne
        Carrie
        The Mist
        Cujo

        Meh
        It
        Green Mile
        Christine
        Apt Pupil
        The Stand

        Shit
        Secret Window
        Hearts in Atlantis
        The one with the magic retard

      • kloipy says :

        Geralds Game is the worst. THE WORST. Could have worked as a short story no reason for that story to be a full novel. Rose Madder is pretty bad too. And droid, if you hated Rose Madder, stay far away from Lisey’s Story

      • Jarv says :

        Also has a villain who walks around wearing a necklace made of penises.

        Seriously.

      • Judge Droid says :

        Cocaine’s a hell of a drug!

  9. Xiphos0311 says :

    apparently you guys never read Cell. its total and absolute garbage.

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