Thursday, 9 February 2012

On Carnage And Martha Marcy May Marlene

Take four outstanding actors and put them on stage for a little over an hour and you've got a good chance of making a Broadway hit. Transfer them to the big screen and you end up with a Broadway hit masquerading as a movie. All four of the leads in Carnage play their roles to perfection but, set entirely in the confines of Michael and Penelope Longstreet's New York apartment, I felt claustrophobic and anxious for the action to move outside. The story revolves around an altercation between the couples' eleven-year-old sons which ended with the Longstreet's child with a swollen face and damaged teeth. Nancy and Alan Cowan (played by Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) a high flying couple - a lawyer and financier - arrive to try and make amends for their wayward son. A conversation that starts amicably enough, descends into chaos  (or the carnage of the title) when Alan Cowan (constantly distracted by the development of an important case on his Blackberry)  appears uninterested in the incident. Penelope's heckles rise until she approaches breaking point. It's extremely well acted and very funny in parts but for me it just wasn't a big screen drama.

Martha Marcy May Marlene starts brilliantly with the beautiful Martha ( Elizabeth Olsen) escaping a sinister cult commune and running away to stay with her sister. Cut between flashbacks of life in the commune and rehabilitation at the sister's magnificent lakeside home we see the horrors endured by the female cult members (especially the singing) under the spell of svengali-like leader Patrick (played with great menace by John Hawkes). Martha is constantly haunted by her past experiences and becomes paranoid over the possibility of being found. We enjoyed this but found that as the flashbacks became more extreme and parallels between the cult and Manson's "family" developed, the story lost its way and ended disappointingly.

I just glanced out of the window and saw this flipping great heron standing by the pond. It's got to live I suppose but I'd rather it chose some wild fish instead of our goldfish which have dwindled from over thirty in 2010 to just one or two today - now we know why.

I received this novel I "won" from Me And My Big Mouth (Scott Pack) yesterday. I'm really looking forward to what promises to be a highly original read. I also got a very nice hand written note from Scott as part of his 2012 hand written project.