Yasmina Reza

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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Yasmina Reza’s Tony-winning play “God of Carnage” doesn’t inherently lend itself to cinema. With four characters interacting in a single setting, and a narrative centered on a thin symbolic conceit, it’s the sort of dialogue-heavy project that could easily be captured with a tedious cut-and-dry, shot-reverse-shot filmic approach. It’s fortunate, then, that Roman Polanski has taken it on in Carnage, and filled the roles with some of the most interesting actors around. Say what you will about Polanski the man, but Polanski the filmmaker has demonstrated an almost limitless aptitude for creative technique. Similarly, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz (four Oscar wins among them) have a preternatural gift for imbuing even the quietest moments with extraordinary, unconventional feeling. After young Zachary Cowan hits Ethan Longstreet with a stick during a playground brawl, knocking out two of Ethan’s teeth, the latter’s parents invite the former’s to their Brooklyn apartment to discuss the incident. Over the course of a tumultuous morning, Penelope and Michael Longstreet (Foster and Reilly) and Nancy and Alan Cowan (Winslet and Waltz) will spar, commiserate and touch on the essence of parenthood, manhood and the art of confronting modernity with a social conscience.

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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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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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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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