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Ben Wheatley

Film Review: 'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

Free Fire

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Interview: Director Ben Wheatley Ignites His New Film ‘Free Fire’

CHICAGO – One of the more lovely examples of pure cinema – if that description can be given to a film with nearly constant gunplay – is in the upcoming release of “Free Fire.” Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) constructs a dark and funny scenario within one room, and fills it with symbolism and homage to other movies.

Blu-Ray Review: Worth Getting Lost in ‘A Field in England’

A Field in England (teaser)

CHICAGO – I can’t recommend this more. “A Field in England” is a flashback and a flash forward all at once. It’s impossible to watch without thinking of great counter culture cinema. In fact when I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2013 it played as part of a double bill with Ken Russell’s “The Devils” (1971). They made perfect cinematic companion pieces. Russell’s film concerned a wayward priest desperate to protect his 17th century city from corruption in the Church only to fall victim to group hysteria when he is, ironically, accused of witchcraft by a jealous nun.

2013 Sundance Diary, Day 3: Let’s Run Away From it All

PARK CITY, Utah – Film festivals naturally encourage those who write about them to look for themes. A few years ago it was the end of the world. This year, it seems to be the coming-of-age story (“Kill Your Darlings,” “The Spectacular Now,” “Mud,” “Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes,” “The Way, Way Back”) on the surface and the journey from home a little deeper.

Blu-ray Review: Grisly ‘Kill List’ Follows Hit Man Into the Heart of Darkness

Kill List Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Graphic violence is a double-edged sword. It can shock viewers into acknowledging the tragic nature of carnage so often belittled in mainstream cinema, yet it can also repel viewers straight out of the theater before the end credits roll. Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List” is far from the most violent film in recent memory, but its few instances of onscreen bloodshed are unbearably savage.

Film Review: Stylish, Bizarre ‘Kill List’ Challenges Genre Preconceptions

Kill List
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List” comes to U.S. shores on a tidal wave of hype and controversy. Is it the work of a genre-defying genius or an inconsistent jerk? Are the film’s jarring tonal shifts effective or idiotic? Honestly, and I know critics aren’t supposed to say this, I can see both sides of the argument. On one hand, Wheatley take some serious risks here and some of them are to be admired. On the other, “Kill List” often feels disjointed and weird just for the sake of weird. It just barely works for me by virtue of its audacity but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t do the same for you.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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