Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: the mother of a murdered teenager goes head to head with the local town’s police department. This film tickles and jokes with you then WHAM, punches you in the kidney, again, and again, and again. I’ve never been in a screening where the audience went from rapturous crying-with-laughter straight in to shock, fear, or dread in a split second. Performance-wise, picking out an individual would be unfair as everyone is sublime: Rockwell steals his scenes with superb comic delivery, whereas Harrelson and McDormand show real heart, and damn near everyone else in the top-to-bottom dream cast brings their A-game. The direction is never in yer face, but it immaculately handles the comedy and emphasizes every twist, turn, and reveal that the ultra-tight screenplay has to offer (no line of dialogue is wasted). The plot is harrowing, yet it unfolds in such an anarchic way that you’re never sure what’s around the corner. The only complaints I can level at the film are that it has about 5 natural endings, but keeps chugging on at an even slower pace (and what’s with the midget obsession; there was no need for the character to be a midget other than the cheap laughs). Three Billboards takes the notion of a ‘Tragicomedy’ and pushes both aspects as far as they can go, making it an absolute rollercoaster of emotions for the viewer. Powerful, emotive, and raw; I wouldn’t grudge this film any of the awards that it’s up for.
“RAPED WHILE DYING”
“AND STILL NO ARRESTS?”
“HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?”
Seven Psychopaths: whilst working on his screenplay titled “Seven Psychopaths” a struggling writer gets caught up in his best friend’s dog-snatching scheme. This film takes crime-thriller genre head on, and turns all of the well-worn tropes on their heads for fun, and to make a stale genre more entertaining. More than anything else, the film is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny – to the point where, if you like the absurd, risqué and offensive humour, you will have a sore face by the end: the epic imagined gunfight/showdown in the graveyard had almost everyone in the cinema crying with laughter. There’s lots of top acting from the leading men (Rockwell storms the film, although he does have the best character and funniest lines) but the ladies on the other hand – other than Walken‘s wife – don’t get much of a look-in. So there’s an entertaining story, good characters, lots of jokes – but there’s a catch: the film is let down by trying to be far too self-aware and ‘filmy’ to the point of being a quite ‘wanky’. There’s a scene in the middle film where the characters have just had a load of action and are driving to the desert, while talking about the middle of the ‘seven psychopaths’ script, where the characters are driving to the desert after an action-packed first half… I was almost chewing my fingers off with cringery. Seven Psychopaths ends up being a violent, sweary, funny and entertaining black comedy caper, with a promising ‘real’ plot is hampered by the quirky/indie emphasis of the ‘film-within-a-film’ sub-plot.
1. She thinks she’s hot Shih Tzu
2. The non-violent one
3. The seemingly normal one
4. He won’t take any Shih Tzu
5. The Passive-aggressive girlfriend
6. The one with the bunny
7. The one with issues
Limitless: a washed-up writer discovers a drug that can unlock the brain’s full potential, spectacularity ensues! Most memorable is some of the great photography and interesting filming techniques, the shots that go from block to block, colour contrast… The story’s also pretty interesting, and it doesn’t follow a particular formula too much. Knowing it’s a hack sci-fi story, the film’s played for both drama and laughs with a few massive WTF moments for no real reason (Ice Skates, blood etc) – certainly made for in interesting viewing! Bradley Cooper‘s just Bradley Cooper, but this plays to his strengths. De Niro plays a focker-esque caricature of the squinting macho male he’s done since nineteen oatcake – very disappointing. Despite being somewhat ironically limited (a single idea spun out a bit too thinly) Limitless is a decent, memorable, interesting popcorn action flick.
Sucker Punch: after being checked into the world’s worst foster home Baby Doll must gyrate for her life, and has some super-crazy dreams to keep her mind off of the job. This is surely the single-biggest attempt to tick every single nerdy niche box: schoolgirls, robots, dragons, ninjas, goblins, WWI, Steampunk, noir, hosiery, vintage undies, pigtails, swords, the future, nazis, girls with guns, manga-influence, lesbian undertones… if geeks like it, it’s in here somewhere! As with previous outings Sucker Punch is very well directed, and a visual orgy-feast. However, this verges into over-direction, and over stylisation, which makes some scenes feel like a music video (with over-emphasised music), and others like a Victoria’s Secret advert (with an over-emphasis of lingerie). The dream sequences in particular look amazing, and are topped off with great fight/action choreography; unfortunately the asylum/caberet aspect gets tedious by the end. Sucker Punch May not be perfect but given the quality of Watchmen and 300 blu rays, I’ll be treating myself to this down the line – despite the pretty bleak colouring. Sucker Punch was a ballsy film to make, but it reasserts that Snyder is to pariah geek culture what Tarantino is to retro-cool.