Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Killers, Gangsters, and Writers.

Four short years ago, director/writer Martin McDonagh released an almost immediate hit, In Bruges. A black comedy about assassins running around Belgium contemplating life and death. It is regarded by this humble blogger as one of the greatest films ever made. So imagine the film world's joy upon hearing that McDonagh was releasing a new film based around psychopaths, seven of them. A film that is so meta it hurts, this is Seven Psychopaths.

Out in America, Irish screenwriter, Marty (Colin Farrell) , is writing a new film called Seven Psychopaths. Anyone spot the meta yet? He is having trouble finding inspiration for the stories behind each of his psychopaths and eventually his good friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), steps in to help, despite objections from Marty. Billy, however, does introduce him to his first psychopath, The Jack of Diamonds, and puts out an advert for any other psychopaths to share their story. This is how Marty gains Zachariah's (Tom Waits) story and two more psychopaths for his film. But Billy leads a life that is likely to get Martin in trouble; he kidnaps dogs for a man named Hanz (Christopher Walken), who promptly returns them for the reward money. Things get out of hand when Billy steals gang boss Charlie's (Woody Harrelson) shih tzu, Bonny (Bonny) and the dog-napping pair and Marty have to hide away from the gang after them. They head into the desert and, as a trio, keep trying to write the screenplay based on the people they've met, the stories they've heard, and what is happening to them in their lives.

This is Christopher Walken holding an adorable puppy.
You're welcome.

When you put several black comedy favourites in one film you are always going to have a good time with your cast. Rockwell shines brighter than the sun in and amongst the dark hilarity. Constantly funny and holds the entire script together by his longing for something more interesting to happen. Billy's peculiar ways of helping Marty only complicate everything further and Rockwell plays it with such a dark naivety that you cannot help but love him but also never, ever want to meet him. Farrell, Harrelson, and Walken all do their parts strong justice. Farrell, as Marty, is ideal for the out-of-his-depth straight man in a world that is too bizarre for him to comprehend. The exasperation, confusion, stress, and anger are all clearly and hilariously portrayed by Farrell to great success. Harrelson is a true psychopath. A soft natured man, caring only for his dog, but who will easily put anyone down who stands in his way, all without acknowledging his own insanity and judging others on theirs. And Walken. Well, everything he does is hilarious unless it is meant to be touching and if that is the case, then you will be touched. A fantastic comic ensemble.

An idea of what the film is not like.
Though this is a scene from the film... It's complicated.

In terms of writing, Seven Psychopaths is nothing short of a piece of genius. It should be nominated for Best Original Screenplay at least. The dialogue will have you constantly snickering and giggling and belly laughing but yet the film is extremely clever. Subverting every expectation of film making at some point and making it work so well is a rarity. As with a lot of McDonagh's work, it also analyses life and death, as well as sanity and people as a whole. How does it fit all that in one film without dropping in quality? It should not work, but it simply does. Some amazing twists and turns along the way but the whole 'film within a film' concept is used so brilliantly that you cannot hep but to want to watch more. The fourth wall is almost non-existent at some points - see Billy look to Marty, almost straight down the camera, and say, 'The film ends my way,' before doing exactly the opposite of what Marty had said he wanted to happen in his screenplay. The post-modernism can even hurt your brain.

A really funny, fresh film. An incredible comic cast and some amazing writing don't just make this a great film, but also likely to be one of your new favourites. Everything is so engaging and enjoyable that it is impossible not to want to watch it again. No doubt it will be a cult classic. (Also works as a perfect prequel to Harrelson's character in Zombieland.)

Best Bit? A lot of people's favourite moment I'm sure, but Billy's imagining of the 'final shoot out scene' is possibly the funniest thing in any recent film.

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