on March 26, 2012
"Carnage" opens like a play which it was adapted from and is tautly directed by Roman Polanski. Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) along with husband Michael (John C. Reilly) invite the Cowans to their apartment; Nancy (Kate Winslet) and her work-consumed husband, Christoph Waltz. The Longstreets feel it necessary to discuss the reason why their "victim" son was struck, and badly hurt, by the "maniac brutalizer" Cowan's son. Michael would simply appreciate an apology from their child although Penelope seems to have her own agenda and intends to push it.
Penelope and Nancy have a tremendous amount of tension between them which is palpable from the onset. Michael appears personable, overly generous and friendly ... at first. On the other hand, Mr. Cowan is aloof about the subject, on his cell phone constantly as a pharmaceutical lawyer who is much more absent in the genesis of the conversation.
The 'go-around' all plays out mainly in one room, the living room, with a small scene in the hallway and if you are quick, you just may see a 'guest' appearance. You can literally feel the air suck right out of the space. It becomes claustrophobic and dizzying as the couples begin wildly talking, accusing, and definitely getting far off the subject of their sons. In this obvious stress inducing situation, especially for Nancy and then Penelope, anxiety builds and the topics get verbally and emotionally out of control. The discussion of the children's situation is quickly set aside while personal marital issues insidiously invade the conversation. More like spouting-offs!
The husbands slowly get involved by first defending their wives, arguing with each other, and then challenging each other. The Scotch then comes out on the scene as they now decide it would be a great time to take a vintage bottle out for a ride. Nancy demands a drink for her self while defending Penelope, then challenges a reluctant Michael to pour his wife some also. Alliances are formed and broken then reattached almost as fast as the mercurial, rapid-fire dialogue. The words are shot between them as caustic arrows and hit just as harshly. The husbands start to turn on their wives while getting highly frustrated; "You think too much...women think too much" and "Yes, I feel like being completely despicable".
The talking and arguing becomes amazingly ludicrous in this verbal smack-down. All four actors are on top of their game in the film. This tightly wound, inflammatory, and hilarious study is actually very human, as one topic is flying into another then back again.
At the very end of the film, right before the credits roll, there is one of the best scenes for tying-up all the loose ends and also a good shot in the arm of laughter for myself. It does put seemingly huge things in perspective in a very scant amount of time.
on January 15, 2012
This was a great and fun/funny film. A drama where two kids parents meet at ones apartment to decide "how to handle" the situation where one of the boys hit another boy with a stick, knocking out teeth. Who's fault was it? Who should apologize to whom? Should the parents get involved? Should they also take responsibility for their kids aggression and the others timidness? We learn the issue of aggression and short comings might be more so with the parents, than with the kids. And that poor hamster? A film by Roman Polanski, more so a short dinner theater type play brought to film. The shortest film I've seen in a theater. 1 hr 15 min. But great stars, fun plot. Things go from simple casual attempt(s) between two sets of parents with coming to an agreement concerning responsibility for their kids actions, to the parents engaged in something close to total WWIII. With a little apple cobbler tossed in (and up) along with way, plus way too many social cocktails in the mix. And a busy cell phone adding to the never ending comedy-drama.
With stars this wonderful, this film is a must see hit. And again... that poor hamster.
There are great court room dramas that keep you engaged. This is not a court room drama, but equal to such as a social drama between agreeing/disagreeing, then agreeing then back to disagreeing sets of parents.
With everyone carrying, then unloading, a lot of psychological baggage.
And YOU are the fly on the wall.
Great! Very fun! Interesting! Too short. I wanted more, a lot more. But what Roman Polanski gives us is totally worth experiencing.
Great directing mixed with great actors/acting really does make the difference.
NOTE: And just who was that peeking out the next door apartment at all the ruckus going on in the hall way? Could it have been by chance a VERY FAMOUS DIRECTOR's face????
And no... it wasn't Alfred Hitchcock. lol
What a good film. What good acting. Great stars. Great director. Great directing. But I'd totally skip the cobbler...
on May 29, 2012
So what happens in NYC when parents of two boys decide to have a private meeting in order to resolve a conflict between their children? Meet two couples, who are equally concerned about well being of their 11 year old sons. Two boys got into a fight and the fight got physical. Before long, one boy is grounded and another one nearly looses his tooth. Surely, these young people need to be punished and thought a lesson; so - their parents decide to meet and assess what to do next.
The entire movie is entirely set in a NYC apartment of one of the couples. It starts as civil and cordial meeting between two pairs of concerned parents and turns into, well - carnage. In nearly two hours, we see these four people fighting it out with each other in words. It starts as one pair of parents against the other, but then lines become blurry as aliences between them start to shift. Every now and then, pairs would re-group, but then things would fall into a chaos again. It is witty, contemporary story about modern life, alienation between people, parents and their children; greed, glutony, assessment of our priorities and purpose in middle life. Great cast of actors, wonderful verbal duels. I truly enjoyed this movie. I always loved Roman Polanski's movies and this one adds to the wonderful collection of his already prized work.
on September 9, 2012
I though this was one of those slasher movies until I saw the names of the stars. This is actually very similar to the classic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Two-Disc Special Edition). All of the action takes place during one afternoon after a schoolyard fight between two boys leads to a meeting between both sets of parents to settle the tiff. Very different socially, the two couples at first perform the usual polite dance of parents everywhere, trying to remain polite and civil. A bottle of single-malt scotch, and some expensive cigars, lead to a loosening of social norms and shifting alliances among the group. I found this to be among the most intelligent films that I have seen in quite some time, especially since it is not an "art film" and is readily accessible to a mass audience. This is like attending a well done one act play right in your living room.
on January 30, 2016
This is a razor-sharp, biting comedy that only Roan Polanski could write as he never fails to entertain his audience. After two boys duke it out on a playground, the parents of the "victim" invites parents of the "bully" over to their house to work out the issues. A polite discussion of childrearing soon escalates into verbal warfare, with all of the parents revealing their true colors. None of them will escape the carnage. Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz play the parents of the "bully," while Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly play the parents of the "victim." One thing after another keeps happening. Jodie serves Kate and John a family recipe of pear cobbler pie, which does not set well with Kate's stomach and so she vomits it up all over Jodie's valuable art books that sends Jodie through the roof! So then there is the scene in the bathroom where Kate and Christoph are cleaning the cobbler off their clothes while discussing how awful it tasted. Meanwhile, Jodie is upset about her art books being ruined while she and John are attempting to blow-dry and clean them off, which is not getting anywhere. So from there, Jodie and John revert to making fun of the nicknames that Kate and Christoph told them that they had for one another. Christoph enters the living room, on route from the bathroom, to hear Jodie and John making fun of their nicknames as their backs are turned from him, which only adds a sense of tackiness to the atmosphere. Jodie and John try to recover from their fau paus, but never can quite defuse it. Christoph is some type of big-wig pharmaceutical CEO who is constantly talking on the telephone to another pharm. rep.about a drug that is being in the news saying it is causing people bad adverse reactions to it, which happens to be the same drug that John's mother is taking. So John is seen on the phone telling his mother to get off the drug now! A complete conversation can never seem to happen between the four of them as Christoph gets constant phone calls, so Kate has had enough and takes his phone and throws it in a flower vase filled with water. Well, Christoph's whole world is in his smart phone so he is now in a tizzy about it. John tries to help Christoph by taking the phone apart and blown-drying it, which actually ends up making the phone work in the end. The conversation escalates and finally John brings out booze and cigars and everyone proceeds to get drunk. So everyone is telling each other exactly what they think by now. As the banter goes back and forth it has you laughing throughout the whole show. Earlier in the movie, Jodie pointed out to Kate how she got a good deal on Tulips that Kate had commented on. By this time, everyone has had it. So the scene ends with Kate saying what she thinks about the flowers. Kate lifts them out of the vase and flops them all around the place and then throws them to the ground. That is where the movie ends with everyone just standing in shock! It was a real change from the usual movies that are out there.
on January 1, 2014
This film was hardly shown anywhere because of its limited appeal as a talky movie based on a play and also maybe due to Roman Polanski's reputation and fugitive status. I can't recall if it played near me. 'Carnage' was a commercial failure costing a surprisingly $25 million to make where you don't see the money up on the screen since it was filmed basically on one set and used only four actors unless most of the budget was spent on hiring three Oscar-winning actors (Two possess two Oscars so maybe they were paid twice as much?) and a production designer and a director who were also honored with those statuettes. These people earned whatever they were paid because the film redeemed itself as a critical success, the more important judgement for me. I don't know how the film compares to the French play which was a hit around the world. Yasmina Reza's play and the film she co-scripted with Polanski are sometimes listed as a comedy but more like a black one at best. The disc's cover calls it 'A Biting Comedy of No Manners' and that's a reasonable accessment of the story as a dark, modern day comedy of manners (hence the pun using "No") so don't expect to see a funny haha one.
The plot consists of two couples getting together over one couple's child injuring the child of the other pair. What starts as a peaceful discussion soon balloons into battles a la 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.' There are two other conflicts in the story (No spoilers here if you haven't seen this film). that are resolved during the wordless conclusion, but the main one with the parents ends too abruptly or doesn't really end, depending on your point of view, which might have been the filmmakers' intent to keep you guessing about the outcome. However the two resolved conflicts somehow bring closure to the main one when you think about it.....
Good performances by Jodie Foster, Kate Winslett, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly keep their arguments barreling along. Polanski knows how to make the most of the story set mainly in a NYC apartment where its cramped setting fuels the quartet's escalating rounds of accusations, recriminations, insults, and prejudices. Under the characters' civilized facade lurk pent up frustration, resentment, and anger that surface and spiral out of control when further fueled by good scotch, thus exposing their dirty laundry to each other and we sorry spectators.
This Blu-ray has excellent video quality. Don't expect anything spectacular with surround sound effects as there's hardly any opportunity in this kind of non-action film. Dialogue is crisp and clear which is what counts here, and Alexandre Desplat's sparse musical score never interferes with it as the actors' histrionics make their own kind of music, mostly harsh and unsoothing. Unfortunately there's no commentary by Polanski or anyone but the extras with the cast almost make up for it, especially the one where Waltz and Reilly discuss the making of the film and their careers. Basically 'Carnage' is canned theater but it's an engrossing evening for a willing audience as Polanski respects his film's stage bound origins. Take your seat and protect yourself from the fur flying during the verbal cat fights.
on December 6, 2013
There's no plot to find in Carnage. Apart from the catalyst for the meeting of their two sons fighting, there is no reasons why these four different characters stay together in the seemingly real time conversation in an apartment. At times this can feel contrived, as you do wonder why the characters stay so long when the "Carnage" unfolds in front of our eyes but with believable and great performances from all four actors, you can forgive the constructed script. Strangely, it manages to be both realistic and wholly fake at the same time. Watching people speak in a room for an hour and twenty minutes could have been a boring film but it feels like we, like the characters, are meeting these people for the first time, and we pass the veneer of civility as the film unfolds and we get to know the people as we see them. You like them, you hate them, and you like them again. You find out interests and fears and that bloody mobile phone will annoy you as much as the characters.
Funny, realistic and telling, Carnage is an interesting experiment that explores the problems with a purely character-driven film but also does it as best it can. The conversation flows naturally, but you know that it isn't realistic. It's a film you can only watch once. The film is a conversation to the audience, and retreading the same conversation again and again will just, as one of the characters put it, "get boring".
on December 8, 2013
Based on a stage play, CARNAGE shows two sets of parents (Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz) coming together for a cordial meeting after their sons have been involved in a fight. However that atmosphere of cordiality soon dissipates, as the four of them become involved in a series of arguments, both verbal and physical. Roman Polanski's film has strong echoes of Mike Nichols' WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF; it is a four-character study of bad behavior, only this time all the protagonists give as good as they get - unlike the Nichols film, where George Segal and Sandy Dennis function as the butts for Burton and Taylor's verbal jousts. CARNAGE is both horrifying yet blackly funny, as we marvel at the depths to which four supposedly civilized middle-class people can sink to in order to retain their self-esteem. The only character who seems rather out of place is Foster's Penelope Longstreet, chiefly because the actor does not seem to understand the absurdities of her role. The film is shot almost entirely in one set, showing how the characters are enclosed in a claustrophobic world of their own making. However director Polanski has a fine understanding of his character, as his camera picks out every emotional detail in the actors' faces.
on March 4, 2013
It all started with a school yard quarrel between their eleven year-old sons. Penelope and Michael are the parents of the victim, as they call it, and Alan and Nancy are those of the "criminal", which is also how they put it. They gather at Michael and Penelope's upper-middleclass apartment to discuss a resolution and perhaps warranted discipline, but this isn't really about the kids, the crime, the victim or the criminal. It is about their parents and how civility is just a façade awaiting to be unmasked, or the god of carnage being unleashed.
Roman Polanski's movie Carnage isn't much more than one long, fascinating discussion that turns into a fight and then a battle of wills as perpetrated by four fine actors, giving four wonderful performances.
Those actors are Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet as Alan and Nancy Cowan and Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly as Penelope and Michael Longstreet. They are all pitch perfect in these roles, they are also immensely watchable actors, being the whole show isn't a hamper on the surroundings as much as it's a blessing having everything else get out of way of these superb performers.
Also there is a first rate screenplay provided by Yasmina Reza, based on her play "God of Carnage". Filled with clever and wonderfully witty dialogue, smart retorts and an endless barrage of one up manships that could happily resonate on the lips of the Monty Python troupe or a more modern Marx Brothers.
Polanski, one of the truly great filmmaker's still operating today, seems to have had a major reassurance of ability in the last decade or so, whenever the Pianist came out and just after the Ninth Gate. Polanski resists doing much with the surrounding are here, he never once attempts to "open up" the staginess in Carnage, this show belongs to his talent cast and anything that could stand in there way has been alimented. So why essentially film a play, well so a lot of people like me can experience Foster, Waltz, Winslet and Reilly wonderful in these roles.
Given the subject matter and the claustrophobic environment Carnage wisely doesn't stick around longer than it should, at only 79 minutes including credits, it doesn't get a change to wear out it's welcome. A minor movie in the oeuvre of Polanski's perhaps, but one that is well worth watching.
see my reviews at moviezonemagazine.com
on October 4, 2012
While I enjoyed this movie and the cast is a strong one, it did not live up to my expectations having seen the stage show, which was quite a bit better. I think maybe it needs the shock value.
On the other hand, it showed up quickly and as expected.