Hank’s Recommendations 01/29/13

hank_paperSEVEN PSYCHOPATHS — In this film by the Oscar-nominated writer and director of IN BRUGES, Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell plays a struggling screenwriter who can’t get beyond his title, “Seven Psychopaths.” Until, that is, his ecccentric friends chip in to help him with the storyline and suggest some psychopathic characters—who may or may not be themselves. One of these friends, played by Christopher Walken, is a dognapper who steals pets and then returns them to the owner for the reward. One of his victims, unfortunately (though perhaps not for the screenplay), is a psychopathic crime lord played by Woody Harrelson (whose masterful role anchored the recent GAME CHANGE), who will kill anything in the way of getting his shih tzu back.

The film, in other words, is about how it got written, and it turns out it to be a very good script! From the surprising and funny opening scene, the running dialogue is clever and self-referential (Quentin Tarantino, anyone?). As far as who is a psychopath and thus deserves to be in the movie, prepared to be surprised! Harrelson, for sure, eats up the scenery and Walken, though somewhat long in the tooth, has still got that toothy grin and that springy grace in his step. Other cast members include Sam Rockwell and—treat among treats—Tom Waits. But, then, everything in this film is entertaining and often goes where you don’t expect it. Though expectedly violent, it has a broad pacifist streak; in the end it’s actually an anti-shoot-‘em up film. So don’t be disarmed by the title. Highly recommended.

GOD IS BIGGER THAN ELVIS — Oy, is this a movie! And I thought Elvis was king.

This pithy oft-requested Oscar nominated documentary raises more questions than it answers. But we learn a lot that’s intriguing: not only about how former B movie star, Dolores Hart—so pampered and prepped by the studio following her early co-starring roles in Elvis films—gave up acting to become a nun, but also about the dynamics of monastic life itself in Bethlehem, CT. (Spoiler alerts: one nun sports a nose ring; the nuns’ underwear, to judge by the clothes line, is quite colorful; the monastery, Hart opines, offers an opportunity for sexuality to go beyond the genital.) Hart not only gave up a promising career, she gave up her five-year engagement to a courtly and supportive man whom she apparently loved (he makes a surprising appearance near the end of this film). In order to find the security she most desired, she married God. One thing you can say about Hart: You’ve come a long way, baby!