Monday, February 11, 2013

"Seven Psychopaths" and the Insanity of Current Culture

Martin McDonagh has been lauded as Ireland’s most important current playwright. This reviewer can only comment on his screenplays, but one has to wonder how so many of these writers get praise when they rely so heavily on a one word vocabulary.

McDonagh made a splash in the cinema word a few years ago with “In Bruges,” the story of hit men and pacifism. It was a paradoxical work, preaching non-violence while being one of the more violent films of the year. It sort of worked.

“Seven Psychopaths” attempts to tread the same ground, but is slightly even less successful. It is violent. It is potty mouthed. It is clever, but not nearly as clever as it thinks it is. On the one hand it is a slightly meta-story of a screenwriter writing the movie we end up watching. It also tries to intermingle and weave several converging storylines the way all “clever” screenwriters have done since Tarantino hit the scene. It does not do so as well as its inspiration.

Then there is one the other hand, the message. It is clearly a film about pacifism, and that is a good thing. The only problem is that it knows what it wants to be, just not why. Why should one reject violence? This film looks ultimately to the example of the self-immolating monks in Nepal. When told by their fellow monks that such sacrifice will help no one, their only response is, “it might.” Is that supposed to inspire people to be better? It might make a difference. It would not be such a frustrating effort if something like pacifism and nonviolence weren’t so easy to defend.

Of course the biggest problem for people, who do not believe in God or a purpose to life, is that they do not have an argument to defeat the worldview they subscribe to. When you think that everything is a product of chance, and you carry that belief to its logical conclusion, “might makes right.” Nonviolence is indefensible because power is the ultimate reality.

The irony that this film exposes is that people know in their heart of hearts that there is a right and a wrong, even when their worldview demands that they deny it.


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