Indie Roundup TIFF: ‘Seven Psychopaths,’ ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ & ‘Berberian Sound Studio’
The talk of the fest continues to be "The Master," especially after P. T. Anderson's epic won a trio of awards at Venice yesterday. And while I've heard some very divergent reactions to the movie, everyone is saying that Joaquin Phoenix's strikingly physical performance is astonishing. He's all but a shoo-in, along with co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman, for an Oscar nomination come January. I'm looking forward to catching it tomorrow during its second press screening.
Another movie that's been getting a lot of buzz is "Seven Psychopaths," Martin McDonagh's follow up to "In Bruge" (2008). I went to the midnight premiere on Friday, and while the crowd wasn't quite whipped up to level of a K-Stew sighting, they very stoked. The line to get in extended the length of a very long block.
Like "In Bruge," the movie is an uneasy pairing of comedic violence and weighty philosophizing. Or as star Colin Farrell summed it up during the post-screening Q&A, "This is most the violent movie I've seen about peace and love."
[Related: Toronto International Film Festival Hub]
"Seven Psychopaths" centers on Martin (Colin Farrell) who while being a drunk, a flailing screenwriter, and an indifferent boyfriend is not a psychopath. Just about everyone else in the movie is. Case in point, his best friend Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), a struggling actor who, along with his business partner Hans (Christopher Walken), kidnap dogs for the reward money. When they swipe the Shih-Tzu of dog-crazy gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson), things get violent fast.
The first part of the movie starts off as an Elmore Leonard-esque crime comedy and it is wickedly funny. McDonagh's ability to turn a phrase is rivaled only by Quentin Tarantino. Yet then this flick about blood-thirsty killers veers to critique of movie conventions about blood-thirsty killers. That's right, McDonagh plays the meta card. The end of the movie, which by genre convention demands a spectacular shoot out, arrives at the expected showdown but with ironic quotation marks around it. I ended up having the same qualms about this film as I had with "In Bruge": the arch cartoony characters never seemed to be able to quite bear the philosophical and emotional weight forced onto them during the latter half of the movie. But the way that McDonagh delves into ideas of violence and pacifism are original. And pretty hilarious.