Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh

Starring: Frances McDormand, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Sam Rockwell, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, Clarke Peters

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a mother who, when the police in her town fail to find a suspect in her daughter’s murder, rents three billboards to call public attention to the unsolved crime, polarizing the community.

My Opinion:

I watched this the other day as part of a “double feature” with Coco (which I reviewed HERE). I love Pixar and was expecting to like Coco far more but I preferred Three Billboards. It’s a great film! I don’t know why but maybe it’s because my expectations were low whereas they were very high for Coco.

It’s that time of year in the UK when we get the “Oscar-worthy” stuff like this. Because what better way to make the shittiest month of the year even MORE depressing than by releasing all the dark & dreary Oscar dramas?! Manchester By The Sea? Hell yeah! Just what I want to watch in f*^king January! But I kind of loved Three Billboards. It’s another “Oscar drama” but it’s so well-written and wonderfully acted and the dark humor throughout it really made it a much more rewarding watch (for me, at least) than the usual heavy Oscar dramas. Okay, I know the Oscar nominations aren’t out yet but this will most likely be one of them and, at the moment, I can say I’d be happy to see it win. We’ll see what it’s up against – most of the films still aren’t out here yet.

Where do I begin? With the acting? I loved everyone in this. I’m a bit weird in that I don’t care too much about the acting in a film, as long as it isn’t terrible and as long as it’s not someone I can’t stand the sight of (like Gwyneth Paltrow or something). But, man – everyone did a brilliant job in this. Our main three, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson & Sam Rockwell, were insanely good. Like, I want to hug them and thank them for being in this movie. Seriously. And I hate a lot of actors! When did Woody Harrelson get so great??? I loved him in Edge Of Seventeen as well. He’s going to end up a favorite actor of mine at this rate. I wouldn’t have expected that ten years ago. Everyone else as well, though, even down to the small parts – all were great. Perfect casting. I’d love to see the acting win plenty of Oscars for this film.

I’m not sure why my expectations were so low for this film. I really enjoyed Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges. I also thought Seven Psychopaths, though flawed, was pretty good overall. Three Billboards is now easily my favorite (yes, even over In Bruges). And no Colin Farrell in this! Yay! I’d recommend this to anyone who was a fan of McDonagh’s previous two films as it has the same sort of style. However, this is much darker material (a teenage girl is murdered) and the emotions feel more genuine than in his previous films. The movie gets the right balance between drama & humor and it wasn’t a “heavy” watch in the way I was expecting. I’m actually not a fan of things like Fargo (I never finished it) and preferred the way that these characters felt more real to me. I suppose it’s a combination of the acting and the writing, which has come together perfectly in Three Billboards whereas McDonagh’s other two films didn’t work quite as well overall. I’m now really looking forward to seeing more of his films in the future. And as he likes to re-use actors, I hope he sticks with McDormand, Harrelson & Rockwell.

My Rating: 8/10

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Seven Psychopaths (2012) Review

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Željko Ivanek

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.

My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch this movie for a while as I really liked Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges. Unfortunately, I ended up being a little disappointed as Seven Psychopaths is definitely not as good as In Bruges. There are several fantastic moments, though, and some great performances from the impressive cast. In fact, I’d say there are a few moments of pure brilliance & I’ll be sure to discuss the movie’s positives as well as the negatives. But, overall, I thought the main plot was a bit of a mess and far too convoluted.

In this movie, Colin Farrell’s character is a writer working on a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths. He hasn’t gotten very far with the script (I think he’d only managed to think up one out of the seven psychopaths if I remember correctly) so his friend (a dognapper played by Sam Rockwell) tries to help him out with the other six. Meanwhile, Rockwell (who kidnaps dogs for “boss” Christopher Walken) has managed to anger a real-life psychopath (Woody Harrelson) after kidnapping his beloved dog.

What’s unfortunate is that this overall dognapping story is the main part of the plot yet it’s the weakest thing about the movie. The main story is messy & feels too forced. Okay – part of this may somewhat be down to my dislike of Woody Harrelson. Aside from his “dumb guy” character in Cheers, I’ve never liked him in anything else. He just seemed very weak next to the likes of Walken and even Rockwell (who was fantastic in this). Colin Farrell was just his usual Colin Farrell self (I’m not a big fan of his either but he’s fine in this although his role could have been played by anyone).

The interesting thing about this movie, which I didn’t know beforehand, is that there are several other stories that get told throughout the film as ideas for further psychopathic characters are discussed. We witness these stories (such as the one with Tom Waits in the above photo) and, DAMN, these stories are good! I’d watch full movies of a few of these stories as they’re all far more interesting than the overall plot involving the dognapping & Woody Harrelson’s character. It reminded me a lot of Grindhouse & how the fake trailers looked so good that they ended up making movies of some of them (I didn’t watch Machete so I don’t know if that was any good but I really enjoyed Hobo With A Shotgun).


As well as these “stories within a story”, which I liked a hell of a lot, I really loved Christopher Walken & Sam Rockwell. I like Christopher Walken but he can be a little strange sometimes. I complained about him “phoning it in” in my review of Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. He plays the same sort of character far too often but, although he’s playing that sort of character once again here, he gives such a perfect performance. His final scene is especially awesome as were the scenes with his character’s wife (played by a woman named Linda Bright Clay, who appears to have been in very little else. Why?! She’s fantastic in this! Another one of this movie’s highlights). Walken’s & Clay’s characters were both fantastic, as was their story. Well done to McDonagh on writing their parts. 

Sam Rockwell was possibly the main highlight for me, though. At least, as far as the acting was concerned – my favorite thing was definitely the “stories within a story”. I have a post about Rockwell scheduled for tomorrow & I say the same thing that I’ll say now: I don’t think he’s really lucked out quite yet in getting that one “perfect role”. When he does, I think he’ll finally get the attention he deserves. This is definitely a defining role for him, however, and probably my second favorite performance of his. I’m starting to kind of finally see the reason he seems to have some pretty loyal fans. If you’re a fan of his but haven’t seen this movie for some reason, I highly recommend that you check it out. 

Summary:

Seven Psychopaths is an odd one. It’s so good at times and just plain confusing at other times. I’m afraid that it tries a little too hard to be cool. I think it wants to be like something made by Tarantino but, although the clever dialogue is there and there are some very rich characters, the story is even more convoluted than that in Pulp Fiction. I’m struggling with rating this one as I think it deserves a higher score than I’ll probably give it but I can’t ignore the fact that the main plot really didn’t hold my interest at all. But I’m in no way trying to talk people out of watching this one as I think parts of it are brilliant and the writing is far better than we get from most movies. I’d actually recommend this one as I think a lot of people reading this would like this movie quite a lot. If you like In Bruges or Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead or anything from Tarantino, you’ll definitely like this one as well. I guess I’d rather have a few moments of brilliance than a movie that’s mediocre the whole way through.

My Rating: 7/10

Limitless (2011) Review

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Limitless (2011)

Directed by Neil Burger

Based on The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn

Starring:
Bradley Cooper
Abbie Cornish
Robert De Niro
Anna Friel

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.

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My Opinion:

This movie sounds really exciting from that plot synopsis! Well, I was bored. I fell asleep a few times, I think I missed some stuff & couldn’t be bothered to rewind, and I had to force myself to finish it just to say that I had so I could write this fabulous, in-depth review months after watching the movie. 😉

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Let’s see… What’s good about it? Well, the concept. A pill “that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities”? Sounds intriguing! So, although this sort of “thriller” genre isn’t usually my type of thing, I’d still been wanting to check it out at some point. This movie reminds me a lot of Man On A Ledge. I sort of felt the same way about that one before seeing it. I was like “Hmm. Not usually my type of movie but it’s a great idea & the trailer looks pretty exciting & I’d like to see where they go with the story”. Then the movie totally sucked. Limitless was probably the better film of the two but Man On A Ledge almost became so ridiculous it was fun whereas Limitless stayed serious (and boring). Also, Bradley Cooper kind of annoys me & Robert De Niro’s character felt pointless & he totally phoned in the performance so I’d have to say I preferred that silly Man On A Ledge movie. Plus, I like Elizabeth Banks.

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I’m not going to win my argument here but, honestly, if you want to watch a movie where someone uses “100% of their brain abilities”, watch Luc Besson’s Lucy instead. Yeah, a lot of people hated that movie. It’s an odd one. But at least I can say it was not boring. God I hate boring movies! I want to be entertained. Why would I want to waste two hours of my time on a dull movie I won’t remember in a year’s time? (Like how I remember so little about Limitless that I’m successfully avoiding talking about it at all in this “review”! Ha! I need one of Bradley Cooper’s magic pills). 😉

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Summary:

I watched Limitless a few months ago. I barely remember it. It clearly didn’t make much of an impression. I reviewed it anyway. This was my review. Go watch Lucy – it’s weird but more fun & you’ll at least remember it a few months later. I squeezed this brilliant “review” out during my 30 minute lunch break. Time management!

My Rating: 5/10

*I dunno – I gave Into The Woods a 4.5/10 and I HATED that so I figure Limitless deserves a higher score than that one even if I don’t remember it. 😉

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