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Posts Tagged ‘ Quentin Tarantino ’

Top 10: Movie Psychopaths

Off the heels of my review of Psycho  where I went in depth about my love of movie psychopaths I thought it could be interesting to do my top 10 movie psychopaths list. The criteria are they have to have appeared in a movie but can have appeared in other media and must conform to this definition of a psychopath “a person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behaviour without empathy or remorse”. With all those formalities out of the way lats kick it off! (Warning spoilers) Continue reading

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Django Unchained

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, like Inglorious Basterds, takes history, gives it a Tarantino twist and creates a whole alternate world.

Set in 1858 Django Unchained is basically a western, men in hats on horses shooting people. But of course there is more to the story than that. The German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) frees Django (Jamie Foxx) from slavery and takes him on as an “apprentice”.  While the two unlikely partners go looking for bad guys on wanted posters, ruthlessly kill them and cash in the reward a second layer of plot is slowly revealed.

Django wants to find and save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Intrigued by the name Dr. Schultz tells Django about the German myth of Brunhilde and her lover Siegfried and decides to help the “real life Siegfried” free his Broomhilde.

After a lot of violence, blood and gore Django and Dr Schultz discover that, Broomhilda is held by the Southern aristocrat and sadist Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) on his Plantation Candyland.

Django Unchained is a homage to the spaghetti westerns of the 60s, just much more violent and bloodier. Like so many of Tarantino’s films, revenge is the main theme, justifying the bloodlust of its lead character. And while the interwoven storylines and plots need time to be told, 165minutes (no break) does seem a little excessive and is a true test to anyone’s bladder.

However the strong cast and witty dialogues do keep you entertained, especially Di Caprio’s captivating performance as the complex villain Candie. He is charismatic, brutal and deeply racist, with a weirdly intimate relationship to his house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson).

Both Waltz and Foxx are also enthralling to watch, Waltz embodies Schultz as a true gentleman, charming and very eloquent, educated but with a ruthlessness streak and a deep-rooted sense of right and wrong. Foxx seems to channel Clint Eastwood at times, with his silent demeanor and expressive gaze.  And there is a whole slew of recognizable faces in smaller, supporting roles, like Don Johnson, M.C Gainey, James Remar and Tarantino himself.

Although Django Unchained is undeniably a Tarantino film, laced with black humour and playful brutality, it isn’t as good as Inglourious Basterds. This is partially due to the overindulgence in length and partially due to a disconnect in the storytelling.  Too many narratives are equally weighted, and some that could use a stronger focus lack punch. But this doesn’t entirely distract from the unique storytelling, strong characters and great actors, making Django Unchained overall another successful Tarrantino film.

By Jensine-Bethna Wall

Seven Psychopaths

Seven-PsychopathsNot since 2010’s “The Guard” have I had this much fun in the cinema. Martin McDonagh returns to the screen with his first film since 2008’s “In Bruges”, also starring Colin Farrell as a hit-man laying low in Bruges with Brendan Gleeson. His latest film certainly equals the standards raised at the last toll; it’s a bloody, violent, stylish and absolutely hilarious film pitting some fine talents such as Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson together in a brutal game of cat-in-mouse in a style echoing the dark humour of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and the sharp, witty dialogue of Tarantino’s masterpiece “Pulp Fiction”.

Marty (Colin Farrell) is an Irish writer living in LA struggling to start his new screenplay titled “Seven Psychopaths”. He hasn’t even got beyond “Psychopath No. 1” and already his drinking problem is spiralling out of control. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is a slightly unhinged and failed actor who makes a living from kidnapping dogs and sending his partner-in-crime Hans (Christopher Walken) to the owner’s house to retrieve the money in award for ‘finding’ their beloved pet. Billy tries to help Marty by placing an ad in the newspaper calling on all psychopaths to come to Marty’s house to be interviewed for the chance of their story appearing in his screenplay. But it soon becomes apparent that Marty will not need to rely on the ad to bring the psychopaths in, because when Billy and Hans kidnap the Shih Tzu belonging to a sadistic gangster (Woody Harrelson) and Marty gets sucked into the mess, by the end of it all – if he is still alive that is – he’ll have one hell of a story to write.

“In Bruges” was pretty successful when it was released back in 2008, and “Seven Psychopaths” serves to be the long-awaited follow-up to that film from Martin McDonagh. While I’m undecided on which is the better film, “Seven Psychopaths” certainly lives up to the lofty standards set by “In Bruges” in terms of humour, sharp and witty dialogue and pure mayhem. Sam Rockwell (“The Green Mile”, “Choke”) is arguably the star of the film. His extroverted performance as the unhinged Billy is very enjoyable to watch; it’s a well composed and characteristic. Colin Farrell (“Tigerland”, “In Bruges”) looks somewhat lost at times, but it’s fitting for his character – an alcoholic writer with writer’s block. Rockwell’s Irish jokes and impersonation were surprisingly very good, unlike the vast majority of the kicks Hollywood tries to make at the Irish culture and accent. Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”, “Biloxi Blues”) has always stolen the show, and it’s no exception here. His character Hans, is very interesting, and Walken proves he was the perfect man to cast in this role. Woody Harrelson is personally one of my all-time favourite actors, if for nothing more than his psychotic look and domineering presence on screen. Ever since his lead role in the amazing “Natural Born Killers”, Harrelson has set his own standards and met them ever since. He’s superb in this film. Very funny and completely psychotic. The dialogue, brutal dark humour and witty one-liners have to be the best thing about the film alongside the exceptional performances from a superbly assembled cast (Which also includes singer Tom Waits).

“Seven Psychopaths” is one of the best films of 2012. The criss-crossing storyline imitates the best of Tarantino and has a very strong odour of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, which McDonagh’s latest effort is slightly better than in my opinion. An absolutely enjoyable film that literally cuts your throat while you’re laughing; the violence is gorgeously bloody at times – stylized yet realistic. Hopefully McDonagh comes out in the next round with an equally superb, if not better, film.

– Joe Callan

The Irish Film Industry Needs an Injection of Fresh Enthusiasm

There can be little doubt about it that when compared to our British neighbours, our film industry is pretty far down the pecking order. Ireland as a nation has traditionally been renowned for the arts over the decades, particularly with the likes of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats and Bram Stoker hailing from these shores. But when it comes to the film industry, we are inconsistent and somewhat incompetent.

Roddy Doyle’s “The Commitments”, released in 1990, certainly put us on the map as the film was a hit over in the States. And for a while, it was looking good for us. “The Commitments” shattered any foreign delusion that Ireland was a place full of beautiful valleys, white horses, cottages and fighting leprechauns. Abandoning us in the dark-heart of recession-crippled 80’s Dublin, and riddling us with a dose of Doyle’s realism and dark comedy, the film was an instant success and gained world-wide attention for show-casting some of the most poverty-striken areas of Dublin at the time in all their bitter glory. Doyle penned two sequels to complete what would become known as “The Barrytown Trilogy”, and they were adapted into lesser sequels which proved to be successful at home, but abroad, they are virtually unheard of. And this is partially 20th Century Fox’s fault, as they owned the rights to “The Commitments”, which also meant that the family name Rabbitte was subject to copy-right. Subsequently, in the low-budget sequels, the family had only two children in “The Van” but were back to it’s full-house in “The Snapper”. Oh, and to make it all the more confusing, only one character maintained their role through all three films, and that was Colm Meaney as Jimmy Snr in “The Commitments” and “The Snapper”, but as Dessie Curley in “The Van”. Naturally, this generated a certain feeling of alienation with the films in regards to connection. However, the lesser-known sequels are equally as good as their triumphant older brother “The Commitments” who had cast an immense and oppressive shadow over them.

With the right funding, and the right minds, I sincerely hope that this country continues to produce the talent and films that we all know it’s capable of. We are a distinctive people on the frontier of Europe; the first-stop for the US on the way to this continent. So instead of losing our talented actors and directors to Britain and the US, the Irish film industry will hopefully receive a hefty dose of fresh enthusiasm with new young minds of this generation. With this in mind, I’d like to draw attention to a low-budget and unheard of film made back in 1998 called “Crush Proof”.

Now, it’s a pretty bad film, however, what I want to highlight here is what the film makers were trying to do, and how they almost managed to pull it off. In this brutal urban drama, 18 year-old Neal gets released from Mount Joy prison after spending a year behind bars. He heads to his girlfriend’s flat to see the baby boy he hasn’t held yet, and when she doesn’t let him in, he attempts to break the door down and she calls the Guards. Neal’s not even out half an hour and already it looks like he could be going back in, and when he robs a mobile phone, he only makes things worse. He rejoins his gang of horse-loving misfits and thugs and after killing the drug dealer who ratted him out and got him locked up, the gang goes into hiding in the Wicklow mountains where they’ll confront the situation, and themselves, head-on. It’s a very grim and realistic depiction of modern-day Ireland. However, the dialogue is surprisingly bland and the script has plot-holes the size of the Grand Canyon. The editing gives off the impression that no care was taken in the editing room and the scenes were all just mashed together in parts. But at the heart of it all, we have some very rough, and realistic performances. Darren Healy – where did he ever go? – is superb as Neal. It’s such an anger-driven performance. He’s the epitome of adolescent angst, social isolation, and essentially a sad testimony as to when people generally get stuck in a rut, so to speak, many just continue to spiral downwards towards self-destruction. The title is derived from a speech made by Neal in the pub when he describes the North-Side Dubliners as the original breed and ‘Crush Proof’.

We are a nation socially built on verbal abuse and banter, and this generally rings through in many of the dark comedies that have hailed from here in the past ten years. “Intermission” and “The Guard” are two fine examples of brilliant modern Irish film making. “Intermission” exhibited some of the finest Irish acting talent available in 2003, with Cillian Murphy, Colm Meaney and Colin Farrell in lead roles. It was a charismatic and pulsating directorial debut from John Crowley, who was genius in his employment of Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” tactics as we have a motley crew of characters in the film portraying their lives and the events which shape them, and subsequently interlinks them with the other characters. We have a corrupt cop, a violent scumbag, two losers who work in a supermarket, a pessimistic young lady with a moustache, a bank manager who has left his wife for a younger woman, and his aforementioned wife in search of a bit of excitement following him abandoning her. “Intermission” is a sharp, honest and inglorious look at Irish culture, and the characters that exist in every society. It’s a fast-paced film; very brutal and absolutely hilarious.

“Intermission” was probably the best dark comedy Ireland had to offer until “The Guard” in 2011. Brendan Gleeson – who was a teacher before picking up acting in his thirties – plays a corrupt, acid-licking, pessimistic, whore-loving, overweight and crude Guard living in the immense wilderness of Connemara, Co. Galway. Don Cheadle stars as the FBI agent sent to Ireland to instruct the authorities on a suspected international drug-ring operating from within Connemara. Unfortunately for him, he is paired up with Gleeson in a poor man’s “Lethal Weapon”. We’ve had our share of horror films as well – and pretty bizarre and unique ones at that. “Isolation” (2005) set on a rural Wexford farm, was as gruesome as it was welcoming. And 2008’s “Shrooms” set in the Wicklow Mountains was pretty good too.

Despite these examples – there are many more, of course, but hopefully I’ve named some of the best – there does indeed appear to be a certain lack of consistency and drive within the Irish film industry at the moment. Films that are made on these shores tend to have little, if any, major publicity. Irish film makers need to be concentrating on low-budget productions, in my opinion. And I say this in regard to the indie boom in the US during the 1990’s. A pandemic that continues to this day, in which many cult favourites today are destined to be classic-status in a few decades time. Irish film-makers need to be aiming for this.

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