Seven Psycopaths reviews

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Re: Seven Psycopaths reviews

Postby Sabin » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:55 am

Hrm. Alone on this.

In Bruges grew on me quite a bit. I haven't revisited it since my initial viewing but I have very fond memories of the film, and my appreciation for Martin McDonagh has only grown since then. So going into Seven Psychopaths, I had reasonably high expectations that McDonagh had only mild interest in fulfilling. This is a lark that at its best feels like it's making itself up as it goes along. For me, that is A) one of the most pleasurable experiences in movie-viewing, and B) a sure-sign that reciprocally the second half of the second act and/or the third act is gonna lag, lag, lag. And low and behold, I am/was/continue to be right.

Colin Farrell plays Martin, an Irish screenwriter, beyond gifted, and struggling to write a film called Seven Psychopaths that he has no vision for or really any intention to make violent. If McDonagh has a true thesis, it's that psychopaths prove to be rather boring. I like this idea. As Martin looks for inspiration, the film endlessly diverts into storytelling fantasy sequences of vengeance-driven grotesqueries, none of which I found funny, some of which provide interesting parallels between the characters, all of which are defended by Christopher Walken's now-pacifist psychopath who disagrees with Martin about dream sequences "being for fags." Homophobic, making a self-aware joke about it by drawing attention to it. Same with misogyny. For a lark, this is problematic. This film takes more than one cue from Adaptation., but imagine if the self-reflexiveness extended beyond the unanimous empty praises for "...the Malkovich script." and was guilty of the same faults that the film itself defended without the sense of springtime and rebirth.

I'm pretty mixed on it. It's full of a lot of things that I hate, but it also has a great freewheeling style for the first half of so, and then ensemble is pretty terrific. Colin Farrell needs to only work with McDonagh. If I fall on the pro side, it's because it's quite funny and for much of it I genuinely didn't know where it was going, like a short that has decided not to end and just keep going along its logical path.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

Mister Tee
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Re: Seven Psycopaths reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:57 pm


Seven Pscyhopaths
By Peter Debruge

Like a self-aware and sun-blitzed Elmore Leonard novel, Martin McDonagh's Los Angeles-set "Seven Psychopaths" exploits easy quirk for big laughs, being the tale of an alcoholic Irish screenwriter (Colin Farrell) and his two scam-artist buddies (Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken), who kidnap rich people's dogs and collect the reward money. But the Shih Tzu hits the fan after the pair nab a local gangster's pooch, gradually inspiring the creatively blocked scribe to write the film already unfolding onscreen. Late to the Tarantino knock-off party, "Seven Psychopaths" boasts a juicy enough cast to skip the straight-to-homevid fate typical of such pics.

Compared to McDonagh's best work for stage ("The Lieutenant of Inishmore") and screen ("In Bruges"), "Seven Psychopaths" feels like either an older script knocking around the bottom of a drawer or a new one hastily tossed off between more ambitious projects. Ironically enough, the scribe's apparent lack of any attempt to make a grand artistic statement could easily make this outing his most accessible project to date.

Opening with a pair of hitmen ("Boardwalk Empire" duo Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael Pitt) squabbling "Pulp Fiction"-style beneath the Hollywood sign, the pic establishes its talky, irreverent tone by turning the tables on the two hired guns, who are dead before their debate is done when a weirdo in a luchador mask walks up behind and pops them each in the head. Judging by the number of times the pic kills characters via exploding chunks of scalp, it's fair to assume that head wounds are the funniest sort there is, and in keeping with the helmer's Grand Guignol sensibility, the film certainly doesn't skimp on opportunities to test the theory.

In no way connected to the aforementioned scene is Marty (Farrell), who only wishes he could write an opening as entertaining as that, but all he has is a title, "Seven Psychopaths." So good friend Billy (Rockwell) pitches in, taking out a classified ad suggesting that any former psychos interested in having their stories told on film should drop by. Astonishingly, they get only one reply (a fun cameo from Tom Waits, playing a man who serially kills other serial killers), though McDonagh has no trouble concocting half a dozen other nut jobs to flesh out his title.

As the mobster missing his Shih Tzu, Woody Harrelson surprisingly comes across less psycho than many of his roles. Still, playing the character for his dog-loving soft spot seems the right choice for the film's tone, which is generally kind to crazies and hard on everybody else, especially women and anyone who ain't white. The fact that the characters acknowledge this weakness doesn't make it right, though the script's primary tension isn't between the characters at all, but rather in McDonagh's mind, as he arm-wrestles the split between shlock and sincerity in screenwriting.

The film's overall tone is so cartoony, it's easy to imagine someone spinning off a macabre animated series of the same name, if only more of the psychopaths survived at the end. As it is, the film takes place in a version of L.A. that appears simultaneously familiar and kitsched up to an intense degree, with plain white-walled apartments crammed full of shag throw pillows and odd plastic dolls. McDonagh's going for weird, and his set and prop teams have certainly indulged him, while Carter Burwell supplies a score -- like so much of his work for the Coen brothers -- that puts a funereal spin on the material's almost playful disregard for human life.

There's an old Hollywood cliche that goes "write what you know," and the film has fun twisting that advice by ratcheting up the insanity of the circumstances around Farrell's otherwise feckless scribe. Opposite the unusually restrained star, Rockwell and Walken are free to chew the scenery, as editor Lisa Gunning repeatedly selects the thesps' most eccentric takes in order to underscore the laugh. Exaggerated widescreen framing gooses the comedy further, though d.p. Ben Davis seems overwhelmed by the intensity of California sun, resulting in extremely high-contrast exteriors.

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Seven Psycopaths reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:40 pm

Screen Daily

Seven Psychopaths
8 September, 2012 | By Mark Adams, chief film critic

Dir/scr: Martin McDonagh. US-UK. 2012. 109mins

The pulp sensibilities of writer/director Martin McDonagh’s ambitiously oddball pop-cinema psycho-thriller/comedy are writ large, and with a strong cast, including Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell lapping up his wry and witty dialogue it seems that the gloriously titled Seven Psychopaths has the tag-line ‘must see cult film’ written all over it.

Seven Psychopaths is a deliriously twisted tale that provides the perfect platform for Walken’s deadpan delivery and Rockwell’s gleeful loopiness.
The film may lack the more solid story structure and character development that made his hitmen on holiday film In Bruges such a breakout success, but McDonagh shows a Tarantino-like touch for slick, clever and often lilting dialogue and packs his film with enough gratuitous gunplay and boisterous bloodletting to appeal to genre fans.

And while the freewheeling and at times scattershot approach – which blends tall tales and dark deeds with friendship and loyalty – may make the film slightly inaccessible to those after a linear structure and a little more space between good and bad, it is clear McDonagh has constructed a cleverly woven puzzle of a picture that bears closer examination and appreciation.

It is easy to see what actors might love appearing in a Martin McDonagh film. He writes beautifully dark, snappy and funny dialogue and his characters are brimming with quirky traits. At the heart of Seven Psychopaths is a screenwriter named Martin who happens to be having more than a few problems with his latest screenplay. Autobiographical perhaps, but then the filmmaking fraternity always love a film that dances around that it does.

Heavy-drinking writer Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell, who starred in In Bruges) has got a great title for his film, Seven Psychopaths, but little else. His boozing is trying the patience of his saint-like girlfriend Kava (Abbie Cornish), while the attempts of his best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) to help out just tend to cause more trouble.

Billy and his partner Hans (a sublime performance by Christopher Walken) are lightweight criminals who make money by dognapping, though any money they make Hans insists on taking straight down the hospital’s cancer ward, where his wife is making a slow recovery.

Things go badly wrong for them, however, when they take a Shih Tzu named Bonny (played by Bonny the Shih Tzu), belonging to LA gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson), who has an obsessive affection for the mutt and won’t let anyone get in his way when it comes to finding out who took Bonny.

The spine of the film is how Marty is drawn into Hans and Billy’s bizarre and increasingly violent world, though this is simply a device for Marty (with more than a little assistance from the dognapping tag-team) to flesh out who the seven psychopaths from his script might actually be, leading to a string of flights of fantasy as his cast of killers slowly starts to come together.

Billy points out in the paper the story of the Jack of Diamonds killer, a masked man who is killing mob-man, and leaving a playing card on their corpse, and when Marty shows enthusiasm for the information he sees himself as a ‘co-writer’ and places an advert in the paper asking for psychopaths to come forward to be interviewed by him and Marty. Billy is well intentioned, though his enthusiasm gets more and more extreme.

Before you know it, Marty, Billy and Hans find themselves on the run an hiding out in the desert, which allows a few campfire opportunities for Hans to chip into the whole psychopath research as it becomes clear some of the tall stories Billy has been telling tend to involve the real-life Hans.

The three some of Farrell, Rockwell and Walken dovetail rather nicely together. Rockwell’s brand of fierce quirkiness is nicely developed while Walken has rarely been better as the suave Hans. Farrell essentially plays the straight man and observer to the rampant and increasing madness around him. Add to the pot a nicely deranged performance by Woody Harrelson, and you have a film brimming with memorable characters and performances.

When Hans is reading Marty’s new script he points out that he is not good at writing women characters, and how the all the women he knows are clever and rounded personalities who have plenty to say. This is clearly McDonagh pointing out the criticisms that may come his way for the female characters in Seven Psychopaths.

Abbie Cornish has just a few scenes as Marty’s increasingly frustrated girlfriend (plus a moment in a fantasy sequence which doesn’t end well for her); Olga Kurylenko pops by for one bikini-clad sequence as Charlie’s girlfriend, while Gabourey Sidibe has just one scene as Charlie’s terrified dog-walker. None of clearly defined characters and are products of fine writing rather than personalities that develop.

McDonagh has most fun with the stuff around the sides of the main story – his ideas for an avenging Quaker with a straight razor or a Viet Kong killer dressed as a priest with a vendetta against the US – and builds in some wonderful cameos for the likes of Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton, who are so good that the audience instantly cheer when they arrive on the screen.

Seven Psychopaths is a deliriously twisted tale that provides the perfect platform for Walken’s deadpan delivery and Rockwell’s gleeful loopiness, and while some aspects of the film work far better than others it still offers up a barbed and bloody tale of strange psychotic killers woven together by some sublime dialogue.

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