Tuesday, December 27, 2011

6 Random Thoughts I Had While Watching 'Carnage'

1. Here we go again! Yet another movie touching on how parenting techniques might influence children to do terrible things, and how difficult it is for parents to really know their kids and what they are capable of doing. Fortunately, unlike in Beautiful Boy and We Need to Talk About Kevin, no lives are lost in Carnage, just a couple of teeth. It does, however, make me feel a little relieved to be childless and unlikely to be held responsible for anyone's actions but my own.

2. I wish Jodie Foster would work more often. I haven't seen her in anything since catching The Brave One on a Buenos Aires-to-Lima LAN Chile Airlines flight in 2007. But why do her neurotic tics in this movie remind me so much of Monica on Friends?

3. Some plays belong on the stage. The actors here are certainly talented and so is the director (Roman Polanski), but this story about four parents at odds over their warring sons doesn't feel quite right on film, and not just because of the single, claustrophobic set. The cast (particularly Foster and Kate Winslet) play the material broadly, which would make it funnier onstage, but unless the point is low-brow comedy, isn't quite appropriate for film, a medium where less is generally more. I wish I were watching the Oscar-caliber quartet (which also includes Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly) working its acting magic at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End.

4. Could I get an apartment like this in New York City without paying a fortune? Michael Longstreet (Reilly), a guy who sells decorative hardware like doorknobs and toilet-flushing devices, and his wife Penelope (Foster), who works in a bookstore and has written one book (which I presume was not a best-seller), certainly have a large, lovely home. If I ever move back to New York, I might have to get over my Manhattan snobbery and consider setting up shop in Brooklyn.

Portrait of the actor as a young man
5. Christoph Waltz is such a handsome guy (and an excellent actor, too). I wonder why nobody in the U.S. noticed him until Quentin Tarantino cast him in his Oscar-winning role in 2009's Inglourious Basterds. I'd go so far as to say he's the best in show here, and not just because the Austrian-born thespian does a fine American accent. He and Jodie Foster should do a movie together. They have a strange chemistry in Carnage, and I keep imagining them having hate sex before the final credits roll. I almost wish he had been cast as her spouse, and Reilly had been cast as Winslet's. Since he's almost 20 years older than Winslet, 36, and Reilly, 44, is only about eight older, the age combinations (Waltz is 55, Foster is 49) would have made more sense.

6. I find vomiting in inappropriate places funnier than I probably should. Maybe it's because it's been a couple of decades since I've done it. But If my house guest puked all over my precious art books, I think I'd have to toss them out along with the company. I know Penelope's are out of print, but you can find a replacement for pretty much anything on eBay. Thankfully, the liquid-projectile release (beautifully and hysterically enacted by Winslet) spared the laptop!
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