Saturday, February 11, 2012

Carnage

Carnage / Carnage. [Finnish cinema lobby and box office title Ylilyönti, not used in print media advertising or film reviews]. FR/DE/PL/ES © 2011 SBS Productions / Constantin Film Produktion / SPI Film Studio / Versatíl Cinema / Zanagar Films / France 2 Cinéma. P: Saïd Ben Saïd. D: Roman Polanski. SC: Yasmine Reza, Roman Polanski - based on the play Le Dieu du carnage (2006). DP: Pawel Edelman - Kodak film stock - Duboi Lab. PD: Dean Tavoularis. Set dec: Franckie Diago. Cost: Milena Canonero. Special makeup effects: Alexis Kinebanyan. Hair: Laurent Bozzi. M: Alexandre Desplat. S: Thomas Desjonquères. ED: Hervé de Luze. Shot at Les Studios de Bray. Casting: Fiona Weir. C: Jodie Foster (Penelope Longstreet), Kate Winslet (Nancy Cowan), Christoph Waltz (Alan Cowan), and John C. Reilly (Michael Longstreet). Original in English. 80 min. Released in Finland by Future Film with Finnish / Swedish subtitles [n.c. or I didn't catch them on screen]. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 7, Helsinki, 11 Feb 2012 (weekend of Finnish premiere).

Technical specs (IMDb): Camera: Arriflex Cameras - Film negative format: 35 mm - Cinematographic process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (3-perf) (source format) - Printed film format: 35 mm (anamorphic), D-Cinema - Aspect ratio: 2.35 : 1.

A taut film adaptation of Yasmine Reza's chamber play, a new expression of Roman Polanski's lifelong love affair with closed space stories with a minimal cast. There are affinities with his early dark short films, The Knife in the Water, Cul-de-sac, Bitter Moon, and Death and the Maiden. The intensity is high, and from a little incident something with big implications is developed. There is also an affinity with the "tit for tat" scenario of the Laurel & Hardy movies.

This is a character-driven play, and the movie is based on excellent performances by Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly. Perhaps there is a fable beneath, variations of "the wolf and the lamb" fairytales.

It starts in a civilized atmosphere. The 11-year old Zachary has hit his classmate Ethan with the result of bad tooth damage. The respective parents meet in a spirit of conciliation. But gradually the masks fall down, and the Cowans and the Longstreets express open contempt at each other. After a few drinks, tables turn, and the husbands and the wives reveal their hatred against their respective spouses. "This has been the worst day in my life" is a key sentence expressed by each in their time.

The big implications of the little incident include the world economic catastrophe (based on greed and fraud uncurbed), African child soldiers (even little children are capable of the worst evil), and manners as a form of hypocrisy.

The dialogue is full of black satire. "My whole life was in there" states Alan when his wife Nancy has drowned his mobile phone in the tulip vase. He  is not joking.

I was deeply impressed and frankly depressed after the movie, which kept growing in my mind. It is a filmed play of high intensity, and it would be also interesting to see live performances of the play. It is juicy material for actors, and the subject has gravity.

The 2K DCP of the movie shot on 35 mm film looks good in the interiors, largely realized in close-ups and medium close-ups. The opening and closing footage in the park have a video look.

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