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Old 10-13-2012, 02:56 PM   #1
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Default Seven Psychopaths - Review Thread

Seven Psychopaths(10/12/2012)

When it came out in 2008 I was a little less enthusiastic about Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges than many critics, perhaps because I wasn’t really expecting it to be as much of a comedy as it was and partly because I found its structure somewhat contrived. Still, I could tell that there was an interesting voice at its center and I came to like the film more upon reflection than I had while watching it. That film was one part dark comedy and one part straightforward crime film, you could come for one element but stay for the other and that made the film very accessible for broad audiences. McDonagh’s new film, Seven Psychopaths is a very different beast indeed. The film disposes of any pretense of “drama” or “straightforwardness” in favor of a balls out post-modern satire with a “**** the world” attitude and a degree of irreverence that will leave many audiences completely baffled and a select few absolutely riveted and as I’m writing this I don’t quite know which camp I’m in.

Seven Psychopaths follows a Hollywood screenwriter named Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) who’s working on a film called “Seven Psychopaths” and is looking to the world for inspiration. His friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is trying to encourage him while running his illegal side business of kidnapping people’s dogs and then sending his elderly friend Hans (Christopher Walken) to collect the reward money. Unfortunately for all involved, Billy has kidnapped the wrong dog this time, the beloved Shih Tzu of a deranged and violent mob boss named Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson). This is the plot point that’s most heavily emphasized in the film’s advertising, but that’s really only the tip of the iceberg of the film’s absurdist twists. There’s a masked man who walks around killing mafiosos and leaving behind playing cards to mark his kills. There are characters introduced for seemingly no reason except to immediately kill them off. There are seemingly tangential side-stories about such material as: Quaker revenge sagas, Viet Cong terrorists, and Zodiac Killer killing killers. It’s not exactly an easy movie to summarize.

First and foremost, one needs to know that this movie is extremely meta. It follows in the tradition of movies like Adaptation and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which openly dissect Hollywood screenwriting clichés while at the same time taking part in them. Like Adaptation this film is sort of being written by its central character as it goes along, but this isn’t as rigid as Charlie Kaufman’s film which was careful to follow a clear internal logic. Seven Psychopaths has more of an anarchist spirit and it’s not trying to pretend that any of this insanity literally happened to the film’s actual writer. Characters in the film openly talk to the film’s screenwriter protagonist about how they “want this movie to end” and often his screenplay complies. Consequently, a lot of the film’s characters act in ways that are very peculiar. It’s strongly implied that Colin Farrell’s character is simply not a very good writer and that this influences a lot of the strange happenings and tangents and it’s hard to tell just how much of the film actually exists in some sort of reality and how much is simply the work of the screenplay that’s being written by the character.

Anyone who saw In Bruges knows that McDonagh does have an ear for dialogue which was likely honed by his years of work as a playwright in Ireland. McDonagh fills his film with memorable lines that are steeped in irony, irreverence, and blunt political incorrectness. They’re really well-crafted and interesting quotes and I admired a lot of them from a distance, but oddly, I found a lot of these lines to be funnier in theory than in practice. I wasn’t laughing out loud much while I watched Seven Psychopaths and neither was the audience I watched it with. Additionally the characters are written so broadly that it was really hard to get much of a grip on any of them. The film is filled with talented actors that seem to be doing everything that they were supposed to be doing, and yet none of them were really able to give these people much humanity. You know how Christopher Walken has a habit of showing up in bit parts, giving bizarre speeches, and then leaving? Everyone is doing that in this movie, including Walken himself, who is even stranger than usual.

So, what can I say about this movie in final analysis? Well, if nothing else the film is rarely formulaic, and whenever it is formulaic it immediately mocks itself for being formulaic. I had no idea where the film was going for much of its running time and it made a number of twists that were completely out of left field. There were moments where I felt like I was in the presence of a brilliant piece of post-modern cinema, but then there were a number of other moments that made me feel like I was in the presence of a complete mess. He makes some interesting points about mainstream cinema and makes them in an entertaining way, and yet none of these points are wildly original and I’m not sure that all the film’s chaos was really necessary in order to make them. I admired what McDonagh was doing, but at the same time I don’t feel like I can follow him down the road he’s walking. I suspect this film is going to get a substantial cult following and if the film sounds like it’s your cup of tea you might as well give it a go, but this is decidedly not going to be for everyone, know what you’re getting into.
**1/2 out of Four
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:40 PM   #2
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Well, I almost don't want to write a review since you've covered pretty much all my points.
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Old 10-13-2012, 05:16 PM   #3
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I loved this movie. It was one of my favorite movies I've seen in a long time.
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Old 10-13-2012, 05:41 PM   #4
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I'm surprised Dracula went to see this and not Argo.
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Old 10-13-2012, 06:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neverending View Post
I'm surprised Dracula went to see this and not Argo.
I wanted to see Argo, but the times didn't work.
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Old 10-13-2012, 06:25 PM   #6
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I'd rather see Argo. This looked like another Tarantino wannabe.
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Old 10-13-2012, 06:29 PM   #7
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Argo's better.
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Old 10-13-2012, 07:09 PM   #8
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Argo's the best movie so far this year. As for this, I still want to see it; probably next weekend.
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:07 PM   #9
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Boyfriend and I are hopefully going to see this next weekend. I might be in the minority, but I think In Bruges was underrated.

Then I'll jump on the Argo bandwagon
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:11 PM   #10
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In Bruges is wonderful.
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:13 PM   #11
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Yeah, In Bruges is great.
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:52 PM   #12
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I thought it was far better than Argo, but my issues with that were mostly political I guess.
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Old 10-14-2012, 05:44 AM   #13
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Argo is getting early Oscar buzz - I might go see that instead
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:25 AM   #14
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Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s 2008 film In Bruges made a great impression with critics upon release. The film was half black comedy and half crime thriller, and for the most part it worked very well. I really enjoy In Bruges, and greatly anticipated McDonagh’s newest film, Seven Psychopaths. The last looked great and I was hoping McDonagh could deliver another hilarious and interesting film.

Seven Psychopaths has a wild plot, but I’ll do my best to explain it. Marty (Colin Farrell) is a screenwriter struggling with his latest script, titled “Seven Psychopaths”. Marty’s best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) wants to help with the screenplay, but is also busy running a business where he kidnaps dogs while getting is friend Hans (Christopher Walken) to return them. Things get crazy for them when Billy kidnaps a Shih Tzu belonging to Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson), a violent criminal who comes seeking revenge.

That may not sound too wild, but believe me when I say things get zany fast. Where In Bruges was grounded in reality, Seven Psychopaths operates on its own logic. The film is a surreal satire of Hollywood screenwriting and films in general. Characters acknowledge that they’re characters in a film and frequent occurrences are so improbable they aren’t meant to be taken literally. In fact I’m not entirely sure what was supposed to be taken seriously and what wasn’t. Some of the satirical elements are pretty interesting, but the film is a mess and by the end I wasn’t entirely sure what the point of it all was. I respect what McDonagh was trying to do, but I don’t think he entirely succeeded.

I might have gone easier on the film’s cartoonish nature had Seven Psychopaths been funnier. While it does have its share of laughs, Seven Psychopaths isn’t nearly as funny as In Bruges. There are jokes that work, including one truly hysterical scene, but there’s no consistency. Even the jokes that do work are more amusing than laugh out loud funny. On the plus side, the film does have some creative scenes of violence and some good action. Granted, these scenes won’t be for the squeamish. I wouldn’t call the violence here gratuitous, but it’s certainly brutal.

The film’s biggest saving grace is the cast. Almost every cast member does a great job. Colin Farrell plays straight man to the lunacy surrounding him and Christopher Walken gives his best performance in years. Massive credit is also due to actress Linda Bright Clay who in a small role actually got me to feel for her despite the absurdity of the film. But it’s Sam Rockwell who steals the show as Billy. Billy seems like a pretty normal guy in spite of his dog napping habit, but he eventually proves to be the most psychotic of anyone. Rockwell is a lot of fun to watch and most of the laughs I did get from Seven Psychopaths came from him.

I’m torn with Seven Psychopaths. It’s a film with ambition, interesting ideas, and you can tell everyone involved was trying. But it’s also a jumbled mess which doesn’t have the laughs a movie like this should have. Granted, there are moments of enjoyment sprinkled throughout and I did enjoy the cast. Perhaps in time I’ll come to appreciate Seven Psychopaths, but for now I can’t help but be disappointed.

Rating: C
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:02 AM   #15
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so this sunday night. i was going to see Argo but opted for this. had its moments and worth a check but wait to rent or netflix.
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Old 10-16-2012, 03:33 PM   #16
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I don't think In Bruges is underrated considering I haven't heard of anyone thats seen it not like it. Its just good.

I'm looking forward to this.
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:14 PM   #17
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As Dracula said, this is a movie that'll work for some, but not for the rest. Well, count me as one of those in the former group. While it wasn't nearly as great as In Bruges, I still found myself liking this. The first half is good enough, but I think this movie REALLY comes alive in the second half, where I think this movie has the majority of its better laugh out loud moments. I had a few problems with it, and I can see why most would be turned off by it, but I bought into all the madness and enjoyed the ride.

***/****
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:31 PM   #18
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Not a fan of this movie at all it wasn't that funny by the end I was bored.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:23 AM   #19
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Watched this last night. It was alright nothing special a few laughs here and there.

7/10
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:41 PM   #20
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Rockwell was amazing, as usual, but other than that it was pretty forgettable. And the twist was obvious from the get-go (though, in a movie such as this, that may have been intentional).

It was enjoyable enough and the time flew by so I can't complain too much.

7.5/10
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:55 AM   #21
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good movie, but its one of those movies I can only watch once if that makes any sense, 7.5 outta 10
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:13 PM   #22
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Saw this about a month back and I enjoyed it. Rockwell is quality in it and the cemetery scene was class.

Had fun with it.

7/10
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