what i watched last year
my average movie ratings by genre

by request: seven psychopaths (martin mcdonagh, 2012)

This was requested by my brother David. Actually, it was more of a recommendation than a request, but I put it on my list in any event. He recommended it way back when it came out, and I know sometimes people think I ignore them, but there are only so many hours in a day, so it takes awhile sometimes.

The very first scene of Seven Psychopaths sets up what looks to be a very good movie. It’s derivative Tarantino, but if done right, there are worse people to emulate. The scene features two actors from Boardwalk Empire, Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg, and their repartee during the scene is promising.

The rest of the movie, though, never lives up to the promise of the opening. There’s nothing wrong with emulating Tarantino, but if you don’t get it right, your movie will be worse than if you had avoided Tarantino entirely. There are some interesting actors (Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Harry Dean Stanton, Woody Harrelson), and the underlying plot (Farrell is writing a screenplay for a movie called Seven Psychopaths) is clever. But the movie just rambles along. It’s not all that funny during the comedic scenes, and in the end I never gave a shit about any of the characters, with the possible exception of Walken’s.

Everything is coated with a self-congratulatory sheen, which doesn’t help. McDonagh raises objections to his own script, just so he can ignore them. (Walken to Farrell: “I've been reading your movie. Your women characters are awful. None of them have anything to say for themselves. And most of them get either shot or stabbed to death within five minutes.” Farrell: “It’s a hard world for women.” And that is that … the point is never raised again, and the kindest thing you can say about the female characters is that there are hardly any of them in the movie.) Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would want to watch this movie, although when it came out, the previews did look enticing. My brother liked it a lot, as did many critics (Roger Ebert gave it 3 1/2 stars out of 4). But I didn’t get it. 5/10.


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