Tag Archives: Martin McDonagh

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, rape themes, suicide & offensive language
Cast:
Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes
Woody Harrelson as Sheriff Bill Willoughby
Sam Rockwell as Officer Jason Dixon
John Hawkes as Charlie Hayes
Peter Dinklage as James
Lucas Hedges as Robbie Hayes
Abbie Cornish as Anne Willoughby
Samara Weaving as Penelope
Caleb Landry Jones as Red Welby
Sandy Martin as Mrs. Dixon
Director: Martin McDonagh

After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command, Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) — an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence — gets involved, the battle is only exacerbated.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. On top of having a great cast with Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, it was Martin McDonagh’s next film, and so that had my undivided attention. His previous movies, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths were amazing and some of my favourite movies. So understand that it means a lot when I say that Three Billboards is a career best from Martin McDonagh.

Martin McDonagh’s writing is absolutely fantastic, no surprise there. A lot of elements of his style of his writing in his previous films here too. The dialogue is once again pheromonal, ranging from comedic, to shocking and sometimes even heartfelt. Three Billboards is hilarious at times, with comedy often appearing in surprising moments but at the same time the film is quite dark, bleak, and very emotional. Not many people can switch tones on a dime and make it work effectively but McDonagh is one of the few people who can do it. One of the best parts about Three Billboards is that you can’t predict what’s going to happen, which is why I recommend not looking into this movie too much before watching it, I only watched the trailers going in and I was surprised by a lot of things that happened, and I’m not easily surprised. This is a very original screenplay and nothing is in black and white, there are really no heroes or villains here. The characters are well realised and given more depth than you might initially think they have. One thing I know that will definitely divide people is the ending, it was quite abrupt and not quite what I expected, if I was going to compare it to another movie ending, it would be to No Country for Old Men. However, I think that there was a real reason for this decision and something about it made me okay with it, but I will need to think about it more.

Frances McDormand is fantastic here, she’s had many great performances but this is her best performance since Fargo, and it’s possibly better which is saying a lot. She’s likable, tough as nails and really is a force of nature on screen, while maintaining some vulnerability, Mildred Hayes one of the best characters that Martin McDonagh has written. She really was the perfect actress for the role, I can’t seen anyone else playing her. Woody Harrelson’s performance as the chief of police who McDormand’s Mildred is calling out shouldn’t be overlooked either. His performance here is very nuanced and emotional, this is some of the most emotional work that Harrelson has done and he really is great. Sam Rockwell is quite an underrated and great actor, so its no surprise that he gives an excellent performance here, but this might also be one of the best performances he’s ever given. He plays a racist, dim-witted, violent and unstable cop. On top of having to be both hilarious and vile, he’s also got to have this unexpected arc (which I won’t go too deep into) and all I’ll have to say is that Rockwell was remarkable and pulls it off. Other actors like John Hawkes, Sandy Martin, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges and Caleb Landry Jones all do great jobs and each have their moments to shine.

Martin McDonagh’s direction of Three Billboards overall is good. The direction isn’t really the highlight or focus of the movie but McDonagh does the best he can to make it the best it can be. The cinematography was good, complimenting the performances and writing while never overshadowing them. Carter Burwell’s score also fits perfectly with the movie, it’s there when it needs to be there to and at the right moments. The only out of place thing in terms of the direction was at one point there was an obviously looking CGI deer, that took me out of the movie a bit but that’s just in one scene.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is absolutely fantastic. The performances were amazing, especially from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell and it’s Martin McDonagh’s phenomonal writing and direction that makes it all fit together to make a remarkable movie. Hilarious, shocking, dark and emotional, Three Billboards is one of my all times favourite movies of 2017.

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

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Seven Psychopaths

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Marty
Sam Rockwell as Billy
Woody Harrelson as Charlie
Christopher Walken as Hans
Tom Waits as Zachariach
Abbi Cornish as Kaya
Olga Kurylenko as Angela
Director: Martin McDonagh

Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is a struggling screenwriter who involuntarily becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) and Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken) kidnap a beloved Shih Tzu from Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson) – who is a gangster.

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Martin McDonagh is a writer and director to be watched. In film, he has been on a roll, first releasing the Oscar winning short film Six Shooter, before moving onto In Bruges, a fantastic black comedy and he has down it again with Seven Psychopaths. Like In Bruges, it is a dark comedy but it is somehow bigger than its predecessor. I don’t know if it is better than In Bruges but it is very close to the level of greatness.

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One of the things I like about this movie is that the main character’s ideas for writing psychopaths come from mostly the people around him. This movie is bigger than In Bruges, where as that movie mostly took place in Bruges, Seven Psychopaths take place in multiple places and has more characters that it focuses on. One of the only flaws I could find in this movie it that is lacked some character development. There isn’t as much character development as In Bruges but in this movie I didn’t mind it that much. Also like with In Bruges, it contains Tarantino violence. Tarantino violence involves is a lot of blood that has been exaggerated – so note that this movie is probably not for the faint of heart. With In Bruges, with the exception of a couple scenes, the violence mostly took place in the second half and was mostly used in serious situations. Here, there is more of it but it mostly is used for comedy. That’s also one thing that I’ve noticed, In Bruges seems to have 60% drama and 40% comedy, where as with Seven Psychopaths, the movie has about 40% drama and 60% comedy. Martin McDonagh somehow manages to pull it off. If I was asked which movie out of both of them was the most fun, I’d probably say Seven Psychopaths.

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All of the actors do a great job, the two stand outs however are Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. Christopher Walken is always fun to watch but in this movie he’s not just parodying himself. He is great and has many classic, priceless scenes. The same can be said for Sam Rockwell. This is his best performance in years and is absolutely hilarious. For me, the best scene he’s in involves a camp fire. All the actors had brilliant comedic timing and played off each other really well. Each one of them has their moment to shine to show off their talents in this movie.

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The cinematography is good as it was with In Bruges and like I said above, this film takes place in more than one place. The cinematographers really make great use of the locations. One thing I have noticed with the cinematography though that is different is the tone; In Bruges had a darker look while this movie seems to have a brighter look to it. The soundtrack has compositions from Carter Burwell but also features some other songs that fit in very well with many scenes in the movie.

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Martin McDonagh’s follow up to In Bruges really proves that he is a great writer and director. From watching his two movies alone, I’m very excited to see what he does in the future. Because of his writing and the cast’s acting this film manages to be one of my favourite movies, along with In Bruges. Like its predecessor, Seven Psychopaths was a big surprise and should be seen if you liked In Bruges.

In Bruges (2008)

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In Bruges

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and drug use
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Ray
Brendan Gleeson as Ken
Ralph Fiennes as Harry
Clémence Poésy as Chloe
Director: Martin McDonagh

Two Irish hit-men; Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are sent by the Londoner mobster Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) to the medieval Belgium city of Bruges in Christmas to await further instructions after an awry job in a London church. While Ken enjoys the historic city, Ray feels completely bored and misses his home. Ray’s disposition changes when he meets Chloë (Clémence Poésy), a young woman who sells drugs on the local set of a movie. Meanwhile Harry, who has a stringent code of principles, gives Ken special orders.

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An incredibly underrated dark comedy, In Bruges is one of the most memorable movies I’ve ever seen. With countless quotable lines, superb writing, brilliant acting and everything else that makes a good movie, it deserves more attention.

In Bruges

One of the main highlights of this movie is the writing, the writing is absolutely brilliant. This movie is a dark comedy and bounces between drama and comedy but what I’m impressed with is how the tone can change without feeling abrupt or forced. For example there is a moment where there is quite a funny scene but it suddenly changes to a serious tone and really grabs the audience’s attention. The tone somehow changes better than you might think it would. There are many lines of dialogue which are very quotable and that right there is a sign of good writing. There are only a few characters the film mainly focuses on but they are very fleshed out and all of them go through changes. One of the things that you have to know going in is that if you look at the poster and the trailer, you are starting to have an idea of what the movie is like. Whatever you are thinking of is not what the film is like at all; the trailer actually makes it look like a Guy Ritchie movie. Know that this is a dark comedy. Also know that the pace is slow, this isn’t a very plot driven movie and mostly follows Ray and Ken, before the second half when the plot starts picking up speed.

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All the actors do a very good job. Colin Farrell gives the best performance of his career here. He has such good comedic timing (as did the rest of the actors) but his character also has some deep personal problems he is struggling with. Brendan Gleeson is also great here, providing the moral centre of the story and plays the straight man to Colin Farrell’s character. Ralph Fiennes was fantastic. This isn’t a spoil alert but you only really see Fiennes in the second half of the movie but in the second half, he really puts his talents to good use. The entire cast has many priceless moments, even some of the other cast, especially Jordan Prentice. He plays a dwarf who’s in town to act in a movie filming there. His ramblings in one scene, about a coming race war, are worth the price of admission alone. As I mentioned previously, all of the characters go through changes and all of the actors show this excellently.

In Bruges

Because the film is set 98% in Bruges, the scenery looks beautiful. The cinematography makes good use of this, taking opportunities to show a fantastic location amongst the humour and eventual violence. Also honourable is Carter Burwell’s score which really is well composed.

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Overall, In Bruges is an underrated movie which should be noticed more than it has been. Outstanding performances as well as having one of the best written scripts make the movie absolutely fantastic. See it and experience one of the best dark comedies I have ever seen.
9/10