Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
An epic tribute to what-the-fuckery, A Field in England (Amazon) is damn near impenetrable. It’s occaisionally amusing, infrequently horrifying, a little disturbing and hugely weird.
My general opinion of this type of surreal artsy-fartsy movie is that they go to enormous lengths to tell a 10 minute story over the course of an hour and a half. Director Ben Wheatley can’t just explain (visually, with words, pictograms, whatever) that we’re in the English revolutionary war, that our heroes are various kinds of British soldiers, and that one of them is the hireling of an alchemist seeking the return of a thief and some stolen documents. Oh no. He holds such secrets close for 40 minutes so you have to dig for them, all the while wondering why the characters stop every so often to pose in tableaus, why they’re playing tug-of-war with a stake in the ground, and why the whole thing is shot in Seventh Seal black and white.
When you boil away all that fancy foofaraw, A Field in England is kind of cool. The alchemy/divination angle is pretty neat and the cast is impressive, especially Wheatley veteran Michael Smiley (Kill List). Once you finally sort out the relationships it’s easy to get wrapped up in their weird little quest. It’s almost a shame Wheatley doesn’t play it straight; there’s more than enough built into that setup to support a standard movie.
I’m not wild about contrived film tricks like flicker cuts and mirroring. Wheatley uses enough of them in the climax to make Stanley Kubrick have a seizure. I don’t know that that’s a good thing necessarily, but it certainly achieved the goal of making me dizzy and almost nauseous. So, um, cool?
Added bonus: Full frontal male nudity. You will see not one but TWO pendulous dongs. Both shots may feature the same uncircumcised prosthesis but the first instance is a closeup of a very diseased wang. Gnarly.