Day 122: Seven Psychopaths

Day 122: Seven Psychopaths

Why didn’t this film get more awards buzz and recognition last year? Can someone tell me? Because it is head and shoulders above pretty much *everything* else that came out of last year’s “awards” crop. Except for Life of Pi.

Martin McDonagh is a fucking genius. Seriously.

Seven Psychopaths reminded me a hell of a lot of Pulp Fiction, actually. A film superficially about gangsters and violence, but far more about camaraderie, humor, and the big questions of life and death. And dogs. Wasn’t there a dog in Pulp Fiction?

In fact, I think Martin McDonagh is better at Quentin Tarantino-ing than Tarantino himself. His banter is funnier, and his philosophy is better explored. Tarantino, perhaps, is far better the master of tension, this is true…but McDonagh had me in stitches and almost in tears at various points throughout Seven Psychopaths.

He also got all Charlie Kaufman with the meta self-referencing on this particular film, which he’s said was indeed designed to be largely a commentary on Hollywood and the kinds of movies that Hollywood makes.

Sam Rockwell gives the performance of his fucking career in this movie. So does Christopher Walken who, surprisingly, becomes the conscience of the picture…but no performance shines brighter than Sam Rockwell as Colin Ferrell’s best friend. It literally blows my mind that Sam Rockwell was not nominated for a freaking Oscar for this movie. He. Was. Genius.

I also appreciate that McDonagh’s movies are always about something. Something big, anyway. Not full-on existential, per se, that can get awfully tiresome for me anyway, but about something here on earth. Characters who wonder why things are the way they are, like why it’s not okay to kill animals in make-believe, but it’s perfectly fine to murder a bunch of women. Or, taking trips out to the desert with your friends and trying to figure out how to end your screenplay, or if your dead loved ones really go on to heaven.

And, it has a dog in the movie. A Shih Tzu no less, with Cooper’s coloring and mannerisms. I was designed to like this movie.

I also have a bit of a connection with Martin McDonagh. The first professional show I ever did, all the way back in 2002, 12 years ago, was a play written by McDonagh. The Cripple of Inishmaan, the first of his second trilogies set in County Galway, Ireland. Even in these early works, ’97 was when Inishmaan had been written, McDonagh’s major themes can be easily seen: humor and death and violence. I played the titular cripple, and I get the shit beaten out of me. It was a life-changing show for me, that play. It was the show where I decided I wanted to come down to LA and be an actor. Go to theatre school. See what all this fuss was about, the arts and all that. The spring of 2002. Somehow, it’s hard to believe that was only 12 years ago…it seems like much, much longer than that. Which is weird, because the fact that I graduated from college was 8 years ago still feels like it was yesterday, and it’s ridiculous that was actually 8 years ago.

I also have the opening scene to a movie idea I’ve had for a very long while, that came to me while thinking about Seven Psychopaths and peeing on the toilet, brushing my teeth. Yeah, I multitask. What about it?

Anyway, the larger plot-idea has always been a movie about a guy who wakes up one day to discover that he’s the star of his own movie. You know, very meta. Well, the first scene came to me: he wakes up, and his self is there, waiting for him to wake up, and announces that he’s going to die. That’s about all I have. Maybe some stuff about him trying to rationalize who this person is, that looks exactly like him, telling him that he’s going to die is maybe like a crazy twin that he never knew he had. And I think this “twin” knows they’re in this movie together now, and takes on the role of the director.

But yeah…if I were to ever make a “meta” movie, that would be my opening scene.

Int. Bedroom, morning.

A groggy, disheveled, skinny man blinks his eyes in the morning sunlight. From his point of view, we see a fuzzy face, blurred by near-sightedness. Our hero squints, trying to make out this mysterious intruder to his morning.

FUZZY FACE
Wake up, sleepy head.

Our hero reaches for his glasses, and puts them on, the fuzzy face suddenly becomes crystal clear, and our hero jumps in surprise. In front of him, with a giant smile plastered on his face, is himself. 100%. No imitation. Himself. But, how?

FUZZY FACE
Up and at ’em, mister. Important things to do, and see today, not the least of which is your own death.

HERO
Wha- what?

FUZZY FACE
Yup. You’re going to die today. Come on, I made toast.