Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seven Psychopaths

Martin McDonagh scares me, but not because he is a psychopath; instead because of how amazingly talented he is.  For those that don't know who Martin McDonagh is, he is an acclaimed Irish playwright best known for writing and directing "In Bruges" (2008) for which he received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay.  Before "In Bruges" he received the Academy Award for "Six Shooter", a live action short film in 2006 (see below).  Recently, he worked with Christopher Walken on the Tony Award nominated play A Behanding in Spokane and is currently working on a new stage musical with composer Tom Waits.  Along with his friend Colin Farrell the rest of the casting for "Seven Psychopaths" is comprised of Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Zeljko Ivanek and some female actresses that do very little more than look pretty on screen. 

The film starts with Larry (Michael Pitt) and Tommy (Michael Stuhlbarg) discussing how they are going to kill someone.  For fans of "Boardwalk Empire" it is always fun to see these two together.  This is also the introduction to the Jack of Diamonds Killer and the quick departure for Jimmy Darmody and Arnold Rothstein.

The story focuses on Marty (Colin Farrell) who is an alcoholic screenwriter struggling to write his latest script, but he does have the title done.  Being a pasophist, he is struggling with writing a story about Seven Psychopaths while staying true to his anti-violence, peaceful desires.  Marty’s best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), wants him to finish the screenplay by any means possible, and is constantly looking to inspire him by giving him ideas for psychopaths.  Billy tells him to read an article about a current Los Angeles serial killer known as the Jack of Diamonds Killer,  tells him an urban legend about a vengeful Quaker, and even posts an ad in the newspaper.  Billy’s an actor, but between gigs runs a dog catching (borrowing) scheme with Hans (Christopher Walken). After kidnapping a Shih Tzu that happens to belong to a violent gangster (Woody Harrelson), the most amazing story unfolds that will keep you laughing and cringing through the film credits.

"Seven Psychopaths" is a tongue-in-cheek comedy that employs dueling dynamics, both as a film about the film making process and having its characters actually live the film they’re writing. While it perhaps doesn’t have quite the sarcastic edge as it may be trying to employ, it has as many flashes of comedic excellence as it does brutal violence.  The film also serves as a dialogue between Martin McDonagh and the audience, even addressing the criticism that he cannot write women characters, claiming none of them are even able to put a sentence together.  Likewise, the three females in the film (Gabourey Sidibe, Olga Kurylenko and Abbie Cornish) are all given short screen time.  Respectfully, Linda Bright Clay has one of the best performances in a hospital room with Wood Harrelson. 

I don't want to spoil the big final shootout that Billy has in store, but for 5 Quacks this is a film that will get people talking.  Martin McDonagh should again receive a nomination for the screenplay; and while the acting performances are all amazing none rise to the level of award consideration. 

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