Friday, February 08, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Seven Psychopaths (2012) ***

R, 110 min.
Director/Writer: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Zeljko Ivanek, Kevin Corrigan, Linda Bright Clay, Gabourey Sibide, Michael Pitt, Michael Stuhlbarg, Harry Dean Stanton, James Hébert, Long Nguyen, Christine Marzano, Brendan Sexton III, Amanda Warren, Bonny the Shih Tzu

“Seven Psychopaths” is a great example of a movie with a plot that doesn’t concede to convention, yet finds a way to please even those who insist on convention. The story involves a screenwriter with that popular screenplay device of a writer’s block. He has an idea for a movie about seven psychopaths. Well, he has the title anyway.

He’s an alcoholic who doesn’t have any problems turning his own life upside down, but gets help in that area anyway when his best friend and an older gentleman named Hans steal the dog of a local gangster. Suddenly, it seems the screenwriter’s life is filled with plenty of psychopathic characters to fill his screenplay. He biggest problem in this predicament is that he’s a pacifist.

That plot will please the conventionalists, it’s the way writer-director Martin McDonagh goes about telling his story of violence that is less conventional. Let’s start with the screenwriter. His name is Marty. He’s writing a screenplay with the same title as the movie he is in. An Irishman plays him. Although, it’s never revealed, it is clear that the name under the by line of his screenplay is Martin McDonagh. Surely, this can’t be an autobiographical story.

Look at the other actors that populate key roles and even some of the minor ones—Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton, Gabourey Sibide, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Pitt, Zeljko Ivanek. These are not conventional actors. Many of them have made their names based mostly on how quirky and off kilter they can be. These are the types of people you gather to play a bunch of psychopaths.

The film starts out with typical gangster violence. As the writer talks about his screenplay, he insists that he doesn’t want it to be about violence. Then he proposes that instead of leading up to a big shoot out, the heroes should take off and hide in the desert and just talk. Sure enough, that’s what these guys do. Surely this can’t be an autobiographical story.

McDonagh’s screenplay is fresh and original. It isn’t as good as his last film, “In Bruges”, but the cast makes it a hell of a lot of fun. Any movie where you get to see both Christopher Walken and Tom Waits doing what it is they do has to be worth seeing.

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