Kill Your Friends (2015)

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Released 10-Aug-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Trailer-x 3 for other Roadshow releases
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 98:56
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Owen Harris
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Nicholas Hoult
Georgia King
James Corden
Craig Roberts
Jim Piddock
Tom Riley
Edward Hogg


Case ?
RPI ? Music Junkie XL aka Tom Holkenborg


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, and frequent drug use
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In the late 1990’s Britpop was king and thousands upon thousands of bands sent demo tapes to record companies although only a minuscule number were successful in being signed. The selection of new acts was in the hands of record company A&R (Artist & Repertoire) divisions. On the evidence of Kill Your Friends, a film which is based on the novel of the same name by John Niven (who was an A&R himself and also wrote the screenplay), the decision about which band to sign was fuelled by drugs, drink and sex, while talent played little or no part.

     Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is an ambitious A&R man at Unigram Records. He does not much like current popular music and is contemptuous of the bands who play it but he will stop at nothing, including backstabbing, misdirection and even the murder of his colleague Roger (James Corden), to become Head of A&R. However, just when the job seems to be within his grasp the Unigram Managing Director (Jim Piddock) poaches hot shot (and successful) Tony Parker Hall (Tom Riley) from EMI to head A&R. Steven is vexed and disgruntled but he is also in deep trouble; not only has Parker Hall blocked his path to promotion as well as successfully signed the hottest new band in town, but Detective Woodham (Edward Hogg), a policemen who has aspirations to be in the music business, is suspicious of Steven’s account of the night Roger was murdered, his secretary Rebecca (Georgia King) has an agenda all her own and is not adverse to a little blackmail and his teenaged talent spotter Darren (Craig Roberts) who, unlike Steven, has a genuine interest in music, is probably more talented than Steven. But when you are swimming with sharks it helps to be a White Pointer and there is nothing Steven will not do to rid himself of his “friends”.

     Kill Your Friends is a very black comedy. The view point of the film is Steven’s and we are given his perspective via his narration as well as cynical asides directly to the camera. Steven is played compellingly by Nicholas Hoult, who almost makes you sympathise with Steven, almost! The film is certainly funny but while there are genuine laughs it is difficult, for most of us anyway, to relate to a “hero” who is revelling in an excess of drugs and alcohol and a film where manipulation, backstabbing and black ops, such as planting child pornography images on a rival’s computer or videotaping drug and sex romps for blackmail, are the modus operandi. Not only Steven but everyone else in the film is out for themselves: to succeed you must be more self-serving, brutal and uncaring than others, and it probably helps to take more drugs and alcohol than the competition as well. The film ends with our “hero” having disposed of his competition and achieved his ambition, although the last shot of the film suggests that there are always more sharks circling.

     Kill Your Friends is a nihilistic and unpretty view of the manoeuvrings within the very cut-throat music business. Of course, actual murder may well be an exaggeration, but what is really interesting is that, as well as the screenplay being written by an insider, an acknowledgement in the end credits states that the film was “developed with the assistance of Sony Music”. Make of that as you will.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Kill Your Friends is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close to the original 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The film has two distinct colour palates. The daylight scenes inside the offices of Unigram are bright, sometimes overbright, with natural colours and good detail. On the other hand, the numerous sequences in bars, clubs and at parties features colours that are darker and murky and blurred detail. Within these parameters, blacks are solid, shadow detail acceptable, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent.

     Artefacts and marks were absent, except minor noise reduction in some dark club scenes.

     English captions for the hearing impaired are available in a largish white font.

     The layer change was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Feature audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps, plus there is an English descriptive audio, Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps, utilising male voices.

     The dialogue was not always clear due to mumbled or slurred delivery, but most of the put down lines were easy to hear. The office interior scenes did not offer much by way of surround use, but in the club and party scenes, and some exteriors, the rears and surrounds delivered crowd noises and music. The subwoofer supported the music, especially in the club scenes.

    Lip synchronisation is fine.

    The score was by Junkie XL aka Tom Holkenborg but as is expected of a music film set in the 1990s the soundtrack was peppered with the likes of Blur, Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, Echo & The Bunnymen, Primal Scream and Radiohead.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers (4:11)

     Trailers for The Nice Guys (2:20), Criminal (2:15) and Everybody Wants Some (2:20) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Both the Region 1 US and Region 2 UK releases of Kill Your Friends contain cast and crew interviews (approx. 25 min) and the film’s trailer. Give it to the UK for the PAL coding.

Summary

     Kill Your Friends is very black comedy. It is funny but unrelentingly cynical in its depiction of how talent is spotted and promoted in the music industry in 1990s Britain. One hopes that it is somewhat exaggerated for effect or that things have changed, but then again . . .

     The video and audio are good, the extras available elsewhere have gone missing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, October 01, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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