RE: VIEWING SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS


As I move amongst the rats in the tunnels of the tube, I’m consumed mainly by frantic thoughts of plans for survival. I draft emails and mull over pop-up scams, on my way to catch a caper movie as part of the worst freelance writing career the West has ever seen. Desperate to escape the Underground, I power up the escalator at Oxford Circus, calves burning and straining at my jeans. This time last year I was rushing to a screening room under a hotel in Covent Garden to see Polanski’s Carnage.

I tackled the 193 steps at Covent Garden station, high as fuck, late and wobbly. When I arrived there was a reception of mulled wine and mince pies, the film was great and I felt happy with the whole thing. Somehow, that was the last film I went to review, as in the process of writing the thing I realised I was pretty bad at it. And I know almost fuck all about film.

When I get to today’s screening, I get no such luck with the reception. There’s not even tea happening. Beer would be nice for this film. I should’ve gone with my writer’s instinct, ignored my sagging bank account and gone to the pub. It’s a savage existence. It’s also half eleven in the morning and being in the pub that early isn’t a great look but then again I tend to drink on the tube, and that’s an even worse look.

So I’m early and sober which is unusual, but less sweaty than staggering lateness. The projectionists ask which film I’m here for and tell them, whilst also looking at the poster for Seven Psychopaths. Bet I look like a grifter, I’ve not even got a laptop bag. I head to the screen and wait with the other writers. Nobody really talks to each other. An old pro from the Metro gives me an extra copy of the production notes that I forgot to pick up.

‘Not much there eh?’ He must enjoy a decent bundle of info, he probably puts facts and shit in his reviews. Conversation doesn’t break out and we’re ushered into the screen. I take a seat in the back corner the small screening room, so I can use my phone if necessary without any complaints.

Hang on, is that Danny Wallace? This really hammers home to futility of my being here. Here’s a super-successful all-round writer man and I’m about two weeks away from being a complete bum. I’m here doing something that’s the equivalent of an internship, but without ANY hope of any payment ever. Before long I’m gonna have to change my title (Twitter bio) to Craig Ballinger: Wind Pisser.

The film starts and I settle in, quickly remembering I can’t write in the dark. Biggest bullshit thing about film reviewing. How the fuck am I meant to REMEMBER anything? When I used to review bands, I could at least pull up the set list the next day, or check out key incidents in shitty youtube videos uploaded from wanker’s phones. Still, I’ve not had a drink or a zoot today so maybe I will remember what goes down.

Before long, I’ve seen Micheal Pitt smoked through the head and this film is in ferocious full swing. All colour and blood and fine actors. I feel fully settled in to the thing when I see Colin Farrel wake up next to a bottle and the worst of hand-scrawled notes. The page looks just like an extract from my notebook when I’ve been out feasting on booze. Waking up to fine sketches of spaghetti really takes the wind out of the sails of the waster-artist. 

A girl who wouldn’t fuck me once observed: “you only read books that you can see a bit of yourself in.” And she was right, I’ve got no real time to bend my emotions to feel someone else’s pain, I’d rather be comforted by shared excitement and anxieties. So I’m with this guy for this one, I really hope he doesn’t start making decisions I can’t go along with. I don’t want a repeat of the time I had to stop reading Submarine just because the narrator took being a complete dickhead to new heights. I was IN the thing, I knew exactly how to get the girl and he fucked it up for me.

As a true non-professional, I have no real idea what this film is about, so I’m happy to find it’s one of those film-inside-a-film deals. I first came across the trailer when a friend sent it to me saying “someone stole your idea.” He was making reference to my bank account boosting idea to steal cats from around our London suburb and hand them back when the reward goes up. Here, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell are kidnapping dogs, but their execution of a simple idea is the same kind of clever.

Taking the dog of a mental gangster is their fuck up here, and could make for a decent story in itself but instead the real drive is from the main character, Marty, trying to pull together a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths. This allows for many digressions into wonderfully realised tales of psychopathery. So much comedy and sadness fills the screen, equally hilarious as it is harrowing, I get a 360 view of psychopathic behaviour, which makes me sort of question why people ARE so fascinated with it. I’m sat here laughing at acts of savagery, is that ok? Is this subversive or equally savage? 

These thoughts aside, the story has a sound appeal, as it’s about a writer and the self-propelled adventure he gets involved in to find something to write about. I’ve got first-hand empathy for this guy AND he’s an alcoholic. Importantly, he’s a non-violent alcoholic; they’re everyone’s best friend. This guy’s best friend just happens to be a psychopathic dognapper, with a predilection for scripting his own life. Is this a metaphor for making things happen and not passively letting shit get in the way?  Probably not. Anyway, great film. And there’s some nice tits in there too.

Ok, so that was great, I’m all about Christopher Walken and he’s brilliant as the pug-snatching-preacher-psycho. People are going to say that the film is long and self indulgent at points. There’d be merits in this view. Seven Psychopaths is entirely self-indulgent, even the main character is named after the writer/director, but then again, all artistic production is pure indulgence. If the thing is good, it doesn’t matter if the thing is a detailed account of one’s genital folds.

Best bit:

'He’s a writer.’

‘I know, I could smell the booze.’

Christopher Walken, smooth as shit.

@ByCBallinger