Seven Psychopaths - Trailer
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved dog.PT2M36S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-28k0i 620 349 October 31, 2012
''I LIKE surprising myself,'' says Martin McDonagh, and he's talking about writing a script without a plan. He has always enjoyed making use of twists and red herrings, without a structure worked out in advance. ''If I don't know where a story is going, one hopes that the audience won't either.''
His new movie, Seven Psychopaths, is an intricately connected tale of violence, storytelling and dogs, a dark comedy of surprises in which spectators might have difficulty orienting themselves.
The opening scene of the film - which involves two hitmen preparing for a job - is almost a little movie in its own right, a detonation of events that is also a clever sabotaging of expectations. Plot twists aren't about ambushing viewers, he says, or tricking them.
A delight: Christopher Walken plays a small-time criminal with a philosophical edge in Martin McDonagh's latest feature, Seven Psychopaths.
You don't want to be presenting yourself as smarter than your audience. ''It can be playful to hide things that are going to be important or set things up that don't end up going somewhere. You want to set a few traps, but the joke should never be on the audience.'' About halfway through a script, things clarify: ''You have a certain number of balls in the air, and you know where they are going to land.''
After a highly successful stage career - with plays such as The Beauty Queen Of Leenane and The Pillowman - McDonagh, 42, an Irishman born and raised in England, started making films. His short, Six Shooter, starring Brendan Gleeson, won an Oscar in 2006; his first feature, In Bruges, starred Gleeson and Colin Farrell, was an indie hit with a solid list of awards and nominations.
In his second feature, McDonagh joins forces again with Farrell, who plays Marty, a Los Angeles screenwriter struggling with a script and a relationship, trying to write a movie called Seven Psychopaths and being pulled deeper into chaos by his crazy best friend, Billy (the ever-intriguing Sam Rockwell). Los Angeles might not be the distinctive, singular setting of In Bruges, but McDonagh went to some trouble, he says, to find unfamiliar locations, and make the city an important element of the story.
He has an ensemble cast to conjure with, including Woody Harrelson, Harry Dean Stanton and Tom Waits. Christopher Walken (who appeared on Broadway in McDonagh's A Behanding in Spokane in 2010), is a delight: he gives a graceful, winning performance as a small-time criminal with a philosophical bent. ''Christopher is often cast as the most psychotic character in a movie, but for me he is the moral heartbeat of the film,'' McDonagh says.
Farrell could have played the erratic Billy, he adds, ''but I was more interested [in] him as the gentle straight man''. The fact that Farrell's character is called Marty and is a writer, says McDonagh, is inevitably an invitation to draw comparisons between the filmmaker and his creation. ''A couple of weeks before shooting, Colin and I had a conversation about whether I should change it, but then we thought, ah, why not,'' he says. Although Marty is ''not really me, he does share some of my concerns'' - specifically, questions about the nature and depiction of violence.
There is quite a bit of it in Seven Psychopaths, and it comes in a variety of guises. ''The film had to end up being decent, and about love and peace, but it also had to be about seven psychopaths and obey some of the conventions of the gangster pic,'' McDonagh says. For him, it should be apparent that he has a stance against violence: only someone who walked out in the middle of the movie wouldn't be able to see that, he says.
At one point, Walken's character reads Marty's script, and makes some scathing comments to him about his poorly drawn female characters. Of course, says McDonagh, that is going to be understood as self-referential, and he's fine with that. ''I was putting my hand up and saying, the women characters aren't as well developed as they ought to be.''
Maybe he's making excuses, maybe he's hoping to be forgiven, he says.
Some of his theatre pieces, he says, had good roles for women, and ''in my next film, for sure, there's a really strong female lead''.
Seven Psychopaths opens on November 8.