God of Carnage

Being a parent is no easy task – when your child acts out or does something wrong, it’s hard not to take it as a personal reflection on yourself. In Carnage, after a playground altercation turns violent, the parents of the two boys involved decide to come together to try and come to a reasonable agreement on how to rectify the situation. What starts out as a civil conversation between the two parties quickly devolves into an honest and bitterly funny examination of not only each others’ parenting skills, but their marriages and even themselves as people. Based on Yasmina Reza‘s play, God of Carnage, director Roman Polanski takes the story to the big screen with four powerhouse performers who make being trapped in an apartment an engaging look at human nature you want to run away from, but at the same time are unable to tear your eyes from. After Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan Cowan’s (Christoph Waltz) son hits Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael Longstreet’s (John C. Reilly) son in the face with a stick, the parents decide to try and settle things like adults, but how they each think that should happen differs from person to person and those differences are eventually revealed when the Cowan’s (despite repeated efforts) find themselves unable to simply leave the Longstreet’s apartment.

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Translating a limited-setting play to the screen can be tricky business – it’s not often that stage plays that take place in just one or two locations are suited for a cinematic interpretation. To put it simply – how can people sitting around in a room be compelling to a movie-going audience? Well, when the people sitting around that room are Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly, and they’re directed by Roman Polanski, it’s pretty compelling. Based on Yasmina Reza’s play “God of Carnage,” Polanski’s latest focuses on two couples, the Longstreets (as played by Foster and Reilly) and the Bowens (Winslet and Waltz), tossed together after the Bowens’ son gives a good face-wacking to the Longstreets’ boy. Attempting a cordial meeting to hash out the results of the brawl, the Bowens and the Longstreets end up making their kids look tame, as they all end up going positively bonkers. Check out just how bonkers in the second trailer for Carnage, after the break.

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Farce is not easy to do, which is why it’s a good thing that Roman Polanski got four formidable actors to take on the challenge of Carnage. Based on the play “God of Carnage” from Yasmina Reza, the film version features Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz as two couples (respectively) whose children have been in a schoolyard scrape. They meet for a conversation and all end up losing their minds over the situation. The wine probably helps, but watching everyone succumb to the outrage is hysterical – especially Reilly who pulls off layered, impotent rage like no man on this planet. What’s so great about this first look is that it isn’t funny in the way that, say, The Office is. There’s no passive aggressive awkwardness fueling the cringing feeling for the audience; the comedy comes straight from the breakdown. Bask in the glory of this fantastic trailer for yourself:

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Roman Polanski. Christoph Waltz. Jodie Foster. John C. Reilly. Kate Winslet. That list is solid enough to pique any interest, but the premise for Carnage is just as enticing, especially with its insinuation of heavy drama in a tight space. The catalyst is a playground fight between two children, and the story focuses on the parents of one combatant inviting the parents of the other over to have a discussion. Hopefully (and promisingly) it will go as poorly as possible. The acting talent here is unbelievable, which is good, because Polanski has never exactly been an actor’s director. Here, he’s got the talent teed up, and all he needs to do is give them a small house, plenty to fight about, and enough temperature to keep things going for the full run time. Courtesy of Twitch Film, a few shots have been released prior to the film’s showing at Venice, and the images look stark and severe. Great portraits of some of the best actors working today:

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Ready for another round of debate as to whether or not Roman Polanski should be allowed back into the United States in order to attend awards shows? Well then good news, because Polanski’s latest movie God of Carnage is all set up to get a distribution deal, and it looks like a film that will be getting a lot of attention come awards season. Deadline Topanga Canyon reports that Michael Barker and Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics are close to signing a deal to release the film, that was packaged by ICM, here in the US. God of Carnage is an adaptation of a Tony Award winning play by Yasmina Reza. It tells the story of the aftermath of a schoolyard brawl between two 11 year-old boys. The boys’ parents turn out to be just as irrational as their children, and when they meet to talk over the scuffle a series of arguments and chaotic disagreements over various hot-button issues becomes the norm for the night. The stage play’s original cast consisted of James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels, and Hope Davis, but none of those actors reprise their roles for Polanski’s film version. That would probably be seen as a huge disappointment, except for the fact that Polanski got Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, and Kate Winslet to replace them. Wow, way to be a one-upper Roman.

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