This week's big movie has to be Carnage, the latest film from Roman Polanski. Only, it’s not quite a film in the traditional sense, but rather an exemplary case of the hybrid filmmaking style known as 'filmed theatre'. Filmed theatre is still cinematic, of course, and for those who like a good movie with an exceptional script, first-rate acting and characters unravelled in all their absurd humanity, it’s unmissable.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is also out this week, and like the previous two films, it explores the simple idea that the journey itself is much more important than the destination, wherever that may be.
Roman Polanski has always worked very well with confined spaces. From Repulsion to Rosemary’s Baby, (in which New York’s Dakota building is almost a character in the story) to Death and the Maiden all the way up to today’s Carnage, Mr. Polanski has always known how to properly put walls up around human beings. And we all know (or should know) that if there's any species on earth which really deserves to be caged up, it’s us humans.
Carnage is an adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s eponymous play. Two couples, apparently easy-going and cool, come together to address a common problem: one couple’s son has knocked two teeth out of the mouth of the other couple’s son. The idea is to discuss the issue and collectively agree upon the best way to resolve it. But as the conversation progresses, it escalates into a crescendo of accusations, insults, literal and figurative outpourings, disdain and self-contempt.
As mentioned above, it’s filmed theatre. Besides the prologue and epilogue, everything takes place within the four walls of one couple’s apartment. Okay, it may just be text and actors, but the text is amongst the best and the cast is exquisite. The sense of claustrophobia paired with the film’s short duration help to intensify the final knockout punch which the film builds towards.
Dir. Roman Polanski, France, Spain, Poland, German, 2011. Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly. 80 min.
At a certain point in Madagascar 3, we watch as a tender inter-species romance evolves between a male lemur and a female bear. It is just this sort of wonderfully off-the-wall situation that clever animations like this one can get away with like no other genre. And it's properly funny. In a world increasingly dominated by standardised, insipid and mindless films (The Avengers fits the bill here), Madagascar 3 is a tremendous breath of fresh air.
After the second film’s African adventure, Alex the lion, Melman the giraffe, Marty the zebra and Gloria the hippo continue their struggle to get back home to the New York Zoo. Joining a decadent circus seems to be their best option. The animals, however, don’t take long to realise that their true home, for which they have yearned for so long, may not be where they thought it was. Now that we think of it, isn’t that just the kind of thing we all realise – or should realise – sooner or later?
Dir. Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon, USA, 2012. Voices by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frances McDormand, Cedric the Entertainer, Bryan Cranston.
Paige (Rachel McAdams) survives a car accident, but when she wakes up in the hospital, she can’t remember anything. Her husband Leo (Channing Tatum) has to re-conquer her heart all over again. The film is based on real events. It must be moving, right? Wrong.
Dir. Michael Sucsy, USA, 2012. Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Jessica Lange, Sam Neill, Jessica McNamee. 104 min.
One synopsis of Kaboom describes it as “A science fiction story centred around the sexual awakening of a group of college students.” What exactly does that mean? Something like “Donnie Darko has sex”? A version of Melancholia pumped with growth hormones? So many questions, yet so little desire to answer them.
Dir. Gregg Araki, USA, France, 2010. Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida. 86 min.