LIFF 2012 Day 7

Stormland (Ice) (wiki)

As a blogger, I occasionally feel a sense of egotism in my efforts to populate my little corner of the internets.  I often make the excuse that my shoddy memory necessitates a blog to act as an external hard drive so I can record the things I have done in my life with a little more accuracy than some choppy neurons, but actually there is probably more going on than that; it's also a need to make an impression on the world; to be noticed and have your thoughts laid bare and have people listen.

Boddi is in a similar position (and thanks to an on-off desire to do a movember, a comparable amount of unruly facial hair).  He blogs day and night - somewhat unaware of the irony - about the terrible onslaught of technology on our lives and how the culture of consumerism has made the people he sees greedy, self-centered idiots.  The world owes poor Boddi a favour, he thinks, although with a comfortable teachers job, a promisingly interested girlfriend and a nice warm home to keep the Icelandic winds out, he has it a lot better than his constant Nietzsche-inspired grumbling suggests.

But he might not for long.  His obsession for educating the ignorant masses with a genre-defining new book on how life should be lived, and to encourage them to aspire to his personal idols is starting to spill out of cyberspace.  One by one, his actions rip up the comfy anchors to the real world, although he is too blind to see the connection between cause and effect.  As his reasons for living begin to work free, the hyenas and vultures move in seemingly intent on destroying what remains to be happy about on purpose, and Boddi moves closer and closer to the edge of sanity.

Iceland is a constant outlet for these desolate personal tragedies (see Vikingland, Volcano, White Night Wedding) and though Stormland is beautifully shot and with excellent performances, especially from lead actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, it takes a long time for the slide to reach it's inevitable end, and there isn't quite enough in between to keep the audience enthralled, only interested.  That turns it from a great film into merely a good one. 7/10

Seven Psychopaths (UK) (wiki)

Martin McDonagh, director of In Bruges returns with Colin Farrell and a handful of other famous faces, to try and bridge the gap between the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Farrell plays Marty, a writer struggling to find his muse.  He has a vague idea about his new, titular film, but has no idea beyond some mindless killing, who the psychopaths really are.  Worse still, the pacifist inside him wants it to be a film about peace, love and romance.

Finding he has to force his brain to come up with half-baked stories of made up nutjobs, (acted out brilliantly in cutaway scenes) his inspiration is about to get some help when, thanks to his unhinged friend Billy (Sam Rockwell, who looked like he enjoyed every minute) and his friend Hans (Christopher Walken), he ends up in the middle of a dognapping scheme, where the latest dog to get napped happens to belong to the local crime boss (a very in-character Woody Harrelson), who has lots of guns and is missing his mutt.

Seven Psychopaths occasionally has the spark of brilliance seen in the films it clearly takes it's cue from.  A bit of Resevoir Dogs here, a pinch of Pulp Fiction there, maybe some No Country for Old Men, but the film has an identity of it's own.  The snappy dialog between the characters (especially when Rockwell is involved) crackles with personality and attitude and this mixes well with the carefree, almost comedy violence.  McDonagh plays around with the rules of those sort of films where all the good guys say clever things and the bad guys do bad things and don't play fair, and wrong-foots not the audience, but the characters themselves, to the pleasure of the viewer.

So I enjoyed it thoroughly; it felt as if it was a laugh for the actors and it comes through in the way the film gleefully bounces along to the end, taking detours along the way to explore situations to get the most out of them.  I would happily go watch it again (it's structure ensures that it benefits from a second viewing) and look forward to seeing if the director can be coaxed into the directors chair again in five years or so. 8/10

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