Sunday, November 4, 2012
Movie Meta: Seven Psychopaths
When Martin McDonagh broke onto the film-making scene in 2008 with his wonderful black comedy In Bruges, he was rightly labeled as an Irish Tarantino, a writer/director with a penchant for snappy, vulgar dialogue and a visually-cool direction showcasing quick flashes of extreme violence. Seven Psychopaths isn't as coherent as In Bruges--nor is it as good, either--but it still contains the same personal flourishes of McDonagh. Marty is an alcoholic, a writer who seemingly doesn't even know where to begin his story. Rockwell's Billy decides to help his friend out by putting a classified advertisement in a magazine, asking people with crazy stories of insanity to sit down with Marty and tell their stories, sparking some inspiration.Billy kidnaps dogs for a living with his partner Hans (Walken): they go to the city parks, swiping the dogs from rich owners then returning them later for the reward, refusing the money at first like good citizens.
There are a lot of psychopaths in this film. At least seven. When Billy and Hans take the wrong dog (owned by the previously mentioned Charlie, Harrelson's loose cannon), it sets in motion a series of events that echos some of the plot points in Marty's growing screenplay. There's also a serial killer on the loose offing some of the characters in the film, nicknamed the Jack of Diamonds, because he leaves that specific playing card at each of murders. He comes and goes without much explanation like many of my thoughts in this review. There's also a terrifying Quaker and a Vietnamese suicide bomber who wants revenge because his family got murdered at the massacre at My Lai. I'll leave it to you to find out whether these characters are a part of Seven Psychopaths or the script of Marty's "Seven Psychopaths".
There isn't much of a female presence in Seven Psychopaths. They're either being called a "fucking bitch" or getting shot in the stomach. But that's not to say the film is sexist: it's so self-aware that the characters talk about females being dispensable characters in typical movies in the same genre. Late in the film, the three friends travel far out into the desert to get away from gangster Charlie, drink, and jointly work on Marty's screenplay. They throw out the idea of a final shootout, guns blazing and heads exploding. Do you think, in a film that's as cognizant of itself as Seven Psychopaths is, the climax matches up with the character's ideas? You should know what to expect in a film that constructs and then dismantles genre conventions as solidly as Seven Psychopaths does. (B+)