Now I know what the two of you are probably thinking right now – when, Matthew, WHEN are you going to review both the films that won Golden Globe Awards last Sunday, and the nominees for the upcoming Academy Awards? Well, my original plan was to review the Best Picture Golden Globe nominees before the ceremony itself, but I found myself watching “Les Miserables” and “Silver Linings Playbook” for the first time, right before the ceremony aired on television. Shame on me, I know! Then I decided to try my luck after the post-Golden Globe hype died down (most of which was based on Argo’s shocking win in the Best Picture category) but that didn’t work due to lack of time. And in case you were wondering, yes. I too was fucking shocked that Ben Affleck’s film won for Best Picture and Best Director (who’d have thought it was able to beat both “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty”? Wow!).
But then I remembered the movies from last year that I haven’t seen, have heard and read good and bad things about (depending on the film, of course) and have been collecting virtual dust on my hard drive for weeks. One of these movies was the second feature film from British playwright, screenwriter and film director Martin McDonagh: the dark comedy “Seven Psychopaths”. Film critics and audiences praised the film, making specific mention to the performances and screenplay. It even managed to find its way onto certain top 10 best films lists. Unfortunately for the cast, crew and fans of “Seven Psychopaths”, the film didn’t even get nominated for a Golden Globe or an Academy Award. Now, I’m not saying that EVERY film that gets good reviews deserves a Golden Globe or Academy Award nomination to accentuate its “goodness”, but it is a shame that “small” films like “Seven Psychopaths” get overshadowed by bigger-budgeted and over-hyped films that become the subject of Oscar buzz and debate (*cough*”Les Miserables” *cough). So I decided to review this film and acknowledge the fact that it was technically “snubbed” (or should I say blatantly ignored) by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
And then one morning….actually it was last morning…..I noticed a familiar movie title on my favourite torrent site. Like Resident Evil: Retribution, the title was based on a popular, horror-themed video game franchise. And like Resident Evil: Retribution, it was critically BUTCHERED by many reviewers. However, unlike Resident Evil: Retribution (note: legend has it that if you type the title ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ THREE times in a paragraph, there will be another sequel. Oops.), it wasn’t even nominated for a Razzie Award (i.e. the shitty-movie equivalent of the Academy Awards). Milla Jovovich rightfully earned her nomination for Worst Actress, although many people are “rooting” for The Twilight Saga’s own Kristen Stewart to win (and who can fucking blame them?). But it is funny – not a shame like “Seven Psychopaths” ….just funny – that the unwanted and unnecessary sequel known as “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” didn’t even get nominated for one Razzie. Maybe it’s because nobody gave a rat’s ass about it initially, or because moviegoers who actually wasted money to see it on the big screen either underwent lobotomies or committed mass suicide.
And thus sparked my ULTIMATE IDEA – for this post, that is. I will review a Golden Globe/Oscar snub AND a Razzie snub, and I shall give this post a special ebonics-inspired title: “YOU GOT SNUBBED, YO!” (not to be confused with “YO, YOU GOT SNUBBED!”). And not to worry, lady and gent, I will review the Oscar nominees very soon (hopefully before the ceremony and not…ahem…afterwards. Shame on me, I know!)
So without further ado, it’s time for the first (and probably last, depending on how I feel) episode of “YOU GOT SNUBBED, YO!”
“SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS” – Los Angeles screenwriter Marty Faranan (played with his authentic accent by Irish-born actor Colin Farrell) is struggling to finish his latest screenplay “Seven Psychopaths” (hey, that’s the name of THIS movie!). As the title suggests, the script is about seven psychopaths (or should I say, serial killers), but Marty finds difficulty in finalizing his ideas due to his regular bouts with alcoholism. As you’ve already gathered, Marty is the literal poster boy for most, if not all, Irish screenwriters. Anyhoo, he finds inspiration in stories about real-life serial killers and, quite recently, a newspaper article on the mysterious “Jack of Diamonds”, a gun-toting killer who leaves a Jack playing card on the body of his dead victim. Marty’s best friend, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), an unemployed actor turned kidnapper of dogs just to return them to the owners and get cash rewards for them (BEST…JOB…EVER!), assists him – and annoys him – during his brainstorming phase. One day, Billy, with the help of his partner-in-crime Hans Kieslowski (played by the iconic Christopher Walken), steals a Shih Tzu. They later realize that the dog belongs to Chris Costello (Woody Harrelson), a violently unstable gangster. Chris, of course, wants his Shih Tzu back and he plans to kill the person(s) responsible for its kidnapping. Through his friendship with Billy, Marty becomes entangled in Chris’ violent search for his dog. And so begins Marty’s adventure, involving dogs, psychopaths, the “Jack of Diamonds” and his yet-to-be-completed screenplay, that’s anything but normal.
At first glance, “Seven Psychopaths” looks and feels like a blend of Quentin Tarantino’s dialogue-heavy crime films (“Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” quickly come to mind) mixed with Guy Ritchie’s Cockney gangster comedies (like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch.”). But in its bare-bones essence, the film is actually about screenwriting and the process of brainstorming. Anyone who’s ever written, or tried to write, a script knows that it’s hard to come up with a concrete idea for a film when you have so much related ideas swimming in your brain. And the temptation of putting all of these ideas into one story runs through the mind of many screenwriters. The film’s narrative feels like the subconscious of a screenwriter playing “connect the dots” with ideas related to the story that he/she wants, or should I say hopes, to tell. There’s the story about Marty wanting to complete his script, and that’s connected with the ideas he has for the script (which are periodically visualized in the film with doses of blood, bullets and fucked-up humour), the ideas are connected to the psychopaths (dead or alive) who inspired them and so forth. As a result, the narrative appears to be disjointed and unfocused at times. But that simply adds to the film’s unpredictability, uniqueness and, dare I say, fun.
Apart from the film’s concept of a work-in-progress screenplay come to life, “Seven Psychopaths” is a celebration of the psychopaths and serial killers that graced the silver screen (I’ve always wondered if the screen itself is really silver, or is it dingy from dirt, dust and cooking oil from popcorn kernels being thrown onto the screen over the years) throughout the years, and a clever deconstruction of the conventions of serial killer-themed films. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, and just when you think a character will say or do something that you expect, the film takes a deliberately unexpected turn. This results in an odd mix of humour and bloodshed. Of laugh-out-loud moments and “HOLY SHIT! Did that just happen?!!” moments, Of “Okay, I can relate to him” characters and “Okay, he is really fucked up” characters. And through the careful hand, and creative vision of Martin McDonagh, this mixture works!
Martin does a fantastic job writing and directing “Seven Psychopaths”. The story feels consistent and fresh, with an overall neo-noirish vibe. The acting is top-notch, with standout performances by Sam Rockwell (who steals the show as the kooky-ass, outrageously over-the-top Billy Bickle) and Christopher Walken (who acts like a funny and fully-realized character instead of a parody of himself and his distinguishable acting style). Amidst the blood and violence (and there’s a substantial amount of both), the film boasts gorgeous cinematography, a great soundtrack and enough dialogue and hilarity to have you laughing from start to finish. “Seven Psychopaths” may feel a bit too unconventional to the casual viewer, but if you love your movies with great performances, a great screenplay, and a sense of self-reflexivity, then you will find much to appreciate with this film. And if you’re a dog lover, the film has some REALLY cute dogs! And don’t you worry:- none of them were shot, stabbed or incinerated during the making of this film. 🙂
“SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D” – And now we have “Silent Hill: Revelation in the Third Dimension” or “Silent Hill R3D” or whatever the fuck you want to call it. For those who actually care, it’s a continuation of the first “Silent Hill” film of 2006 which I forgot – and I presume 90% of the world’s population forgot as well. Continuing from the events of the film which I can’t remember, Christopher (played by “Game of Thrones'” very own Sean Bean) and his daughter Sharon (some chick named Adelaide Clemens) are on the run from an evil cult from Silent Hill, a town set in a ghostly alternate dimension. Sharon’s mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) is trapped in Silent Hill, and Christopher seeks to rescue her. Anyhoo, Sharon is burdened by nightmares and nightmarish visions involving Silent Hill’s demonic denizens. Though Sharon has no memory of what occurred in the first film (like I do), Christopher clearly does, and he warns his daughter to never go to Silent Hill. But when her father mysteriously disappears, and a message (“Come to Silent Hill”) is painted on the living-room wall of her home, she disobeys her father’s warnings (OBVIOUSLY) and heads over to good ol’ Silent Hill. Helping her on her ill-advised quest is Vincent (played by “Game of Thrones'” very own Kit Harrington), a classmate at the school Sharon is shown attending for about five minutes in the film. When the two members of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated arrive at Silent Hill, a LOT of weird, bizarre shit takes place, all of which involves the demonic denizens from Sharon’s dreams, and the cult itself (led by “The Matrix Trilogy’s” very own Carrie-Anne Moss of all people) that already has plans for Sharon.
First of all, I don’t remember enjoying the first Silent Hill film. Secondly, I NEVER played the Silent Hill video games (which are hailed as some of the most genuinely SCARY-ASS video games ever made) and I have no intention of playing these games at any point in time in my existence. So I’m not judging “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” as not being faithful to the source material or anything like that. I’m judging it as a film and nothing more. With that being said, “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” is a piece of shit and nothing more! The story, if any, is weak, poorly written, uninteresting and fucking boring. Yes, I said it! BORING! The film relies too much on jump scares and bizarre imagery to try to disturb (I can’t even say scare) the viewer. And I will admit there is a lot of freaky-ass imagery in this movie. But when you have a story that’s incomprehensible and uninteresting from the get-go, this imagery makes little to no sense. The acting feels forced and uninspired. The talents of Sean Bean, Kit Harrington (who were both excellent in “Game of Thrones”) and Carrie-Anne Moss (who played Trinity in “The Matrix Trilogy” if you already forgot) are completely wasted in this film. There’s even a cameo appearance by Malcolm McDowell (whom older audiences will remember from the timeless dystopian satire “A Clockwork Orange” and younger audiences will remember from the HBO comedy-drama series “Entourage”) that’s incredibly, and ashamedly, awful. In the end, “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” is a pathetic, lackluster attempt to capture the horrific feel of a now-legendary horror video game franchise and translate it to the screen. And it solely succeeds at becoming yet another example of why video game movies suck balls. Long story short, do not see this movie. Do not even attempt to see this movie, unless you’re a sucker for punishment like I (unfortunately) am. But if you, like Sharon, choose to disobey my order, you WILL regret it. And trust me, you’ll want a lobotomy done to you after you see it. It’s either that or suicide. Take your pick, my friend.
“SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS” – 3 1/2 out of 5 stars (“Worth a look”)
“SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D” – 1/2 out of 5 stars (“Burn this movie….literally”)