TV & Movie Reviews - Week 9
The Movie Maestro, Evan Wade
First up this week is Martin McDonagh's 2012 crime/comedy, Seven Psychopaths. Marty (Colin Farrell), an aspiring screenwriter working on a screenplay, unwillingly gets involved in an underworld crime when his strange friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) abducts a mob boss' (Woody Harrelson) dog.
Martin McDonagh, known for his fantastic 2008, In Bruges, created another fine piece of wacky crime fiction with this one. The wide variety of talent present in the cast, such as Tom Waits and Chistopher Walkin, compliment just how strange and colourful the LA crime world is. The standout performance in this film hands down goes to Sam Rockwell's hilariously weird portrayal of Billy with his odd phrasing, unpredictable actions and insane opinions. Seven Psychopaths is a very unique tale that often mixes themes of violence with profundity which results in a fun and insightful watch.
Second this week is Armando Innuci 2017 comedy/satire, The Death of Stalin. When tyrannical leader Joseph Stalin dies in 1953, his parasitic parliament square off in a power struggle to become the next Soviet leader in a mess of bumbling and back-stabbing.
Much like Innuci's other work, The Thick of It, The Death of Stalin presents a satirical glimpse into the chaos of government, but this time within the backdrop of 1950's lethal Soviet Union. The movie begins with a very funny scene of a radio broadcaster (Paddy Considine) struggling to get an entire hall of musician's and guest's to retake their seats and play the entire show again after receiving a phone call from Stalin requesting a recording of the performance. This kind of humour echoes throughout the entire film as the all star cast struggle to take Stalin's seat while also keeping their heads. Featuring Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Palin, Rupert Friend and Jason Isaac, The Death of Stalin is a very humorous watch if political satire is your thing.
Lastly this week is Netflix's 2014 historical epic, Marco Polo. Venetian merchant and adventurer Marco Polo journeys across Europe and Asia and ends up a prisoner in the palace of Kublai Khan, a fearsome 13th century Mongolian Emperor.
Marco Polo was Netflix's attempt to combat Game of Thrones, but with a rich grounded historical setting instead of fantasy. Unfortunately this came about during what was arguably Throne's peak and most popular season 4. That, and there just weren't any dragons in 13th century Mongolia. Due to this, the viewership for Polo was low and coupled with its extremely high budget you've got Netflix's finger hovering over the 'cancel' button. And after it's 2nd season they did just that. A very unfortunate end for this series as it truly was a fantastically written and well produced show.
Benedict Wong steals every scene he is in as the wise, ambitious and fearful Khan. Much like the earlier seasons of Thrones, Polo captures the intricacies and dangerous threats of navigating palace politics of the medieval era. But while the Mongols of that time were barbaric people, the show does not delve into as many random atrocities as Thrones did. When acts of barbarism are carried out, they are strategic and often called for. There are also some incredible one-on-one duels scattered throughout, but whenever the character of the blind monk, Polo's trainer, is fist fighting someone with one of the many styles he is an expert in, it is absolutely breathtaking to watch.
With The Witcher recently taking the throne of Netflix's Originals, it's unlikely Polo will ever get a revival. Unfortunately it ends it's last season on a cliffhanger as Netflix didn't even give the writers a chance to wrap things up, but it is still very much worth a watch.
Seven Psychopaths and Marco Polo are both currently available on Netflix
The Death of Stalin is currently available on Amazon Prime