Seven Psychopaths – LFF Review

Colin Farrell plays Marty a screenwriter struggling with his latest screenplay. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) runs a dog-napping with Hans (Christopher Walken) and wants to help Marty with his screenplay any way he can. Events take a turn for the worst when Billy kidnaps the dog of local mob boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson) and all manner of shooting ensues. Throw in a serial killer, quaker, and Tom Waits and you have Seven Psychopaths.

Martin McDonagh has moved on from In Bruges, a relatively small film with one location and three characters, as he now deals with a cast of dozens in a film that roams from inner-city to outer-desert and incorporates many intertwining stories both factual and fictional within the film’s universe. The result is a bombastic film constantly trying to simultaneously shock you and make you smile. Seven Psychopaths desperately wants you to think it is cool and won’t stop shooting people and swearing until you are rocking in your seat laughing and giving an approving clap.

On the surface I really enjoyed Seven Psycopaths. It was funny and contained enough fodder to stop me from becoming distracted. It felt unpredictable, fun, and… Well. Then I spoke to my friend Jon (the one with the beard, not the other one):

“I didn’t really enjoy Seven Psychopaths. I was hungry at the time and I don’t cope well with being hungry so I think that factor may have biased my experience somewhat. Seeing the Jeffrey Dahmer Files about a real psychopath hours before may have also not really put me in the mood.

Is it wrong to expect a film called Seven Psychopaths to have seven psychopaths in it instead of a bunch of characters with a penchant for being violent? Of the three main characters in the film, one is a typecast stereotype, one is contrary with their actions ultimately becoming in no way believable, and it turns out the other guy used to be interesting but is now just a thief. There are two or three interesting ideas in the film but I don’t feel like they’re really explored. Instead, they’re clumsily mashed together along with copious uses of terms such as ‘fag’, lots of throw away violence, cheap laughs, and attempts at being clever that just fall too short of the mark. It’s a dumb glossy action film with one-dimensional characters that ultimately lacks any heart or soul.

Go read The Psychopath Test, watch No Country for Old Men or In Bruges instead.”

Seven Psychopaths will reach UK cinemas on 5th December 2012 and you’ll most likely love it. Just don’t go thinking about the film afterwards.

The Monster of Nix – LFF Review

The Monster of Nix

While playing a game of hide and seek with his gran, a boy called Willy opens his bedroom door to find that something has destroyed both his house and the village of Nix. Residents run around in panic, singing of woe and missing people (and fruit). They tell of a monster taking off with people into the woods and Willy sets off to try and find his grandmother.

This 30 minute musical, written, directed, produced and composed by Rosto is a dark fairy tale of monsters and stories and boasts the voices of Terry Gilliam and Tom Waits. The awesome and distinctive animation is a seamless mixture of CGI and live-action, played out on beautiful hand-painted backgrounds.

The ins and outs of the plot are not the easiest to follow, which isn’t helped by the sound levels seeming out of balance – the dialogue is sometimes obscured by the sound effects and music. It’s at heart an existential tale, albeit one populated by such creatures as Waits’ creepy swallow consistently mistaken for a crow, the spindly tree-like ‘Langemann’ and a rolling nudist giant.

The Monster of Nix is engaging and enjoyably strange, and could easily have stretched to feature length. For a half hour short, it is quite complicated but hits the right notes with both adults and children alike.

Top 10 Road Trip Films (I Own)

For the next week and a half I will be roaming around the South West of England in a yellow VW Campervan called Barney embarking on A Very English Road Trip. To celebrate I’ve compiled a list of the top ten road trip movies I own on DVD. An odd criteria for a film list but these film lists are superficial at the best of times.

Away We Go
A surprisingly light-hearted film from Sam Mendes as a young couple visit friends and relatives while trying to find the right place to bring up their imminent baby. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are a convincing couple and provide the sanity amongst the crazy characters they visit. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Allison Janney are the two main highlights along their journey.

Catfish
The only documentary on this list, Catfish follows the burgeoning online romance between Yaniv Schulman and the sister of a young artist he has been emailing. After some suspicious events Yaniv and his friends travel to the mystery girl’s house and uncover something they had never expected. There is debate about this documentary’s authenticity, either way it makes for a gripping watch.

The Darjeeling Limited
Wes Anderson takes his signature style on the road, or rather on the track, as three brothers travel through India by train, looking for their mother and getting to grips with the loss of their father. Jason Schwartzmann, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson fit perfectly with Anderson’s tone as the three brothers and their journey is as much emotional as it is physical. Natalie Portman makes a brief, but revealing, appearance in the preceding short film.

The Go-Getter
The most indie film on the list unites Sundance darlings Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel and Jena Malone and brought together for the first time the she and him in She & Him. A young man has a quarter life crisis, steals a car and discovers love, and himself, on the road. A little bit twee to ever be successful, this is worth a watch if you are a fan of the cast, or just enjoy a gentle film about someone abandoning life and hitting the road.

Into the Wild
Speaking of a young man having a quarter life crisis and hitting the road… This time round the traveller is played by Emile Hirsch with a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart providing the tempting romance he finds along the way. Stewart’s role is quite small though and this is the biggest single-hander of the lot, with Hirsch the only character present throughout. This was Sean Penn’s last work behind the camera and is proof he should do more.

Little Miss Sunshine
An amazing cast go travelling in a yellow VW Campervan (not called Barney) in order to get Abigail Breslin to her beauty pageant. Darkly funny and more than a little moving this road trip ends the way all movies should, with a big dance number. Kevin Bacon would be proud. The film is notable for featuring Steve Carell’s most subdued performance, and for inspiring the colour scheme of this very website.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Even the Coen Brothers have made a road trip film, theirs being an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey and starring George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as three escaped convicts searching for hidden treasure. Encountering all manner of characters and obstacles along the way this is the quintessential road trip film, and the only one to involve the KKK.

Transamerica
Any good road trip forces the film to shift focus from traditional plot or location and instead focus on the characters who are the only constant through the film, and their relationships. Few films utilise this better than Transamerica as Felicity Huffman’s pre-op transsexual meets her son for the first time as she ferries him across country under the guise of being a charity worker.

Wristcutters: A Love Story
While most of these films involve travelling across the United States, Wristcutters moves beyond the world of the living and instead is set in an afterlife reserved for people who commit suicide. Shortly after his death Patrick Fugit hears that his old girlfriend, Leslie Bibb, has also killed herself and so takes his room-mate and tries to find her. Along the way he encounters some charmingly rustic supernatural elements and Tom Waits, who also provides the soundtrack.

Zombieland
While everyone in Wristcutters is dead, most of the people our travellers come across in this film are the undead. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson travel through the post-apocalyptic landscape in search of Twinkies and instead find Emma Stone (swoon), Abigail Breslin (road trip queen) and more zombies than you can shake a double barreled shotgun at. One of cinema’s greatest cameos is the icing on this zombie cake.

If there’s anything all these films have in common, it’s that the destination is not the important part, it’s the journey and characters that are key when the film has no other consistent element.