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Seven Psychopaths Is Unique and Entertaining: What Else Do You Need?

Seven Psychopaths
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh
CBS Films, 2012

Here’s a movie that on your first trip through, you might not understand it all.  It doesn’t matter, because the movie is funny and entertaining throughout, with a number of great character actors doing their thing.  Seven Psychopaths comes from writer/director Martin McDonagh, who gave us 2008’s In Bruges, which gave McDonagh an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.

Seven Psychopaths stars Colin Farrell as a writer named Marty (and it makes it safe to say that Farrell is playing “Marty” McDonagh here) who is trying to write a screenplay for a movie called Seven Psychopaths but is having trouble characterizing seven different ones.  He’s got a couple of stories he wants to use, not necessarily his own, and his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell, who is absolutely fantastic) wants to help him with it.  Billy happens to be a guy who kidnaps dogs and gets reward money along with his partner Hans (Christopher Walken, also great), who is doing it to help his sick wife (Linda Bright Clay).

Billy and Hans have taken a Shih Tzu that belongs to big-time gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson, who, yes, is also great), and Charlie has taken it upon himself to hunt down these “dognappers” and get his dog back.  Mixed up in all this is a hooded killer who goes around offing people and then throwing the Jack of Diamonds around their bodies (there’s a very entertaining opening sequence for people who are fans of a particular cable show that I won’t name here).  Marty gets caught up in Billy and Hans’ mess, and they all end up banding together to help Marty write his screenplay.

The movie is Pulp Fiction-esque in that it doesn’t adhere to a real story structure and the stories themselves are weird or quirky.  The psychopaths that the movie lays out are either “real,” or based on “real” people.  There are a lot of fantasy sequences, or “adaptations of real events.”  And many times, you might wonder how much of this is supposedly real, and it might be a bit confusing.  Which doesn’t really matter in the enjoyment of the film at all.  It’s just funny throughout, especially Sam Rockwell who is an absolute trip in this.

It reminds me a bit of 2 Days in the Valley, which came out in the post-Pulp Fiction era.  2 Days was not a total success…it was an ensemble crime film with occasional amusing moments and a very, very hot Charlize Theron making her feature debut.  This movie has better characters and has a unique narrative that I just loved.  It may alienate some.  There are scenes that may seem to drag because they are not plot-important.  But if you just let it do its thing, those scenes are perfect.  They are entertaining, anyway.

This is an amazing weekend of movies.  This one might get buried with all that is coming out, but here’s hoping it finds an audience somewhere down the road.  It’s the type of movie that needs to get an audience so that we’ll see more in the future.

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