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Non-Review Review: Seven Psychopaths

“Meta” is a concept that can be very rewarding, but it’s very difficult to do right. Often, it seems a little heavy-handed, a little self-indulgent. The art of writing fiction about fiction can easily descend into a writer documenting his own process, or become clever for the sake of being clever – offering an easy way out of virtually any dramatic situation, and allowing the script to answer pretty much any question with “because the writer says so.” Nevermind that movies about movie are prone to become a little self-congratulatory, or a little too self-focused. Seven Psychopaths never completely falls apart, but it occasionally struggles with these sorts of problems a little bit in the middle. Martin McDonagh has produced a very thoughtful and clever exploration of the traditional revenge film, but the execution feels a little bit too clunky at times.

I understand that this might be the point, but there are times when Seven Psychopaths feels like more of a narrative experiment than a compelling story in its own right. Still, it’s witty and funny and bold and smart and charming. Those attributes aren’t the easiest to come by, and certainly not in this combination. Seven Psychopaths might not be the incredible success that In Bruges was, but it’s a film that takes chances, and which tries to push both the genre and its audience a little out of their comfort zone. It is very hard not to respect that, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was fairly consistent charmed throughout its runtime.

The write stuff…

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Non-Review Review: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a strange film, even with the concession that Terry Gilliam is a strange film director. Everyone knows the film is the last big screen work from the deceased Heath Ledger and it’s a shadow the film doesn’t feel entirely comfortable stepping out of. It’s almost paradoxical, but in watching it one gets the sense that the film may have bee the better for being less reverent of the actor – it would stand as a better testament to his memory if it could let go of his memory. In short, The Dark Knight will probably stand as the greatest testament to the actor’s ability and and rightly so. That doesn’t mean Parnassus is a waste of time – well, not all of it anyway.

Through the looking glass...

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