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Carnage [Blu-ray]
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on 4 February 2012
It would be easy to dismiss the film as filmed theater, as it is strongly based on the play and the performances. And I have to admit that despite the fact that I consider Polanski the greatest director of all time, I went to watch this not expecting very much(whereas his previous one The ghost writer was a rare masterpiece). But Polanski had a different opinion. This man directs in a unique way, he grabs you from the start of the film and doesn't let you go till it's over.He knows exactly what he wants to do and how, and he does it so masterfully that he can't be compared with any other. Carnage is the final word(if there can be any) on the fake face of our glorious civilization, a mirror where one is compelled, while laughing, to come in terms with his very image and its stupidity, with the beast within, as Sigmund would put it. It is also an exercise on the act of speaking, revealing that in its very core it is governed by the instictual force that always lies beneath. We are animals who talk. And yet, we've managed to create an image to hide ourselves behind, so that being human is established as something superior. It is indeed a superior thing in a way, if we take into account that a human being can create a view of this world such as Carnage. I believe this movie cannot fall in categories(not even of best of), I believe it defies the need for categories . It simply is. And I cannot stop thinking about it 24 hours after I've watched it. Polanski has a unique gift, he's a magician of the screen. He doesn't show off, it just feels so natural you think he directs in the way he breaths. To conclude, I consider this movie as one that everyone must see.It's fun and it gives a great, if sad, insight into our humbling beings(if one doesn't want to keep his eyes closed). Could it also be of help in any change? In any pursuit of us being better people?I think so!Or maybe at the end of the play, we just sit and watch the curtain fall. Who knows? That's all folks!
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VINE VOICEon 19 July 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love Yasmina Reza, she is one of the most interesting and surprisingly playwrights of the modern era. As a confirmed film geek,it is impossible to ignore the work of Roman Polanski. The combination of the two was certainly enough to seriously pique my interest.

The film is an adaptation of the play 'The God of Carnage' - a play written in 2006 and performed in the West End by a cast including Ralph Fiennes and Tamasin Grieg. I saw this production on the satge and loved it. This is black humour at its most squirm inducing as two sets of parents with differing world views and simmering resentments come tgether to discuss, in a very civilised manner, a playground fight between their sons. The script is fantastic and feels, in some respects, in a similar vein to 'Abigail's Party' - that other classic of social squirms.

Cast wise, Polanski has assembeled a classy ensemble. The titans that are Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet are both brilliant in their roles, Foster nailing the hypocrisy of her character beautifully and Winslet handling the funniest, most awful moment with style.

The male actors, John C Reilly and Christoph Waltz, are possibly less heralded than their female counterparts but are equally strong. Waltz, who's presence along with Winslet's adds to an appropriate europenan feel, is brillaintly prickly as the harrassed medial lawyer. Reilly is probably the star of the show here though, each layer of irritation showing through with great subtlety.

So, with such great acting and a brillaint script - why only three stars? Well, for all the films many strong points, it never feels like anything more than a filmed stage production. Polanski delivers something very watchable but not in the least cinematic. I enjoyed it but it could easily have been a TV programme.

To be honest, I do recommend watching it, but if you have a chance to see the play onstage instead, do so. It is where this story and script really belong. Its just not movie-material.
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on 11 November 2017
This Polanski movie was recommended to me after I'd seen Sally Potter's "The Party", as being another story of how a small group of apparently perfectly civilised people reveal their true selves, relationships and opinions under stress, aided and abetted by some best single malt. It's filmed in real time, so we see exactly how the meeting to resolve a spat between the two couple's sons descends into the metaphorical carnage of the title. The performances are all excellent, evoking all kinds of tensions within the confines of the apartment of the Longstreets (Jodie Foster and Jon C Reilly). The Cowans (Kate Winslett and Christoph Waltz) play an urbane couple, but the cracks show increasingly with the incessant calls from "Walter" et al taken by Alan. Such stories are positively irresistible in their sharp ridicule of humanity's deceptions, self-delusion and affectations and, as these characters' true natures emerge, you might just find yourself looking uncomfortably at yourself...!
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on 30 April 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This Roman Polanski film is based on a French play, and it shows. The plot is pedestrian, the bulk of the action takes place in a single set, and the punch-line is all too predictable, but what really sets it apart from the run-of-the-mill is the superb acting from a stellar cast responding enthusiastically to brilliant direction. On balance, for different reasons in their very different roles, I think Jodie Foster just steals it from Christoph Waltz. And watch what goes on in the park behind the end titles.

The dialogue is very clever with lots of neat touches, and the characters are beautifully drawn, sometimes painfully, and it is definitely not 'chic lit'. The feminine half of our family enjoyed it immensely, but the men soon became bored and began thinking about something else to do. Somehow, the pacing did not grab my attention, and I found I did not particularly like the characters, and my carpentry still waiting to be done in the garage promised to be more interesting, but I sat through the film and I'm glad I did. I expect we'll enjoy watching it again in a few months time.

The Vine DVD is marked 'Check Disc' and 'Version 1', so I don't know if this is what will finally be released to the general public. The picture quality was very good, 2.35:1 wide-screen. The sound was just stereo, both on the 2 channel and the 3/2.1 options. My amplifier was able to synthesise some surround ambience from the stereo. There were a couple of 'forthcoming' adverts before the film, but one can skip them. The Extras include interviews with each of the four actors and the Trailer.

I think this film is ideal for a cold and windy, wet and sleety, winter Sunday afternoon when there is nothing on TV, and we have prepared a big pot of tea with some freshly baked scones and jam, or even hot buttered crumpets.
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on 8 December 2013
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Carnage has an interesting concept- it revolves around one meeting, taking place between the parents of two boys who have had an altercation. The film is set in the home of the 'victim' in the fight, and so obviously there is some tension, with his parent's believing him entirely innocent, and the other set believing no fight happens without provocation. Although the topic does arise several times, being the reason for the meeting, a large portion of the dialogue has spiralled way off topic from this and we see people's real characters come out. What starts as two opposing sets of parents becomes men against women, then each against one another and we see the tensions that can occur not only in conversations with near-strangers, but also the rifts that can lie below the surface within marriages too.
The cast of just 4 makes this fairly intense viewing and we are seeing it in 'real time', with no pauses to allow time to pass between scenes. It is awkward viewing in some parts, seeing a car crash play out on screen really. The tension really is palpable and the atmosphere is built extremely well, with excellent acting from the cast.
Really this is just a look into society, interaction and what can lie below the surface. The characters are fairly well developed and you can see why each of them behaves as they do and as the film goes on alcohol and other triggers make things implode fully. It isn't the easiest to watch in terms of being 'comfortable', but I feel it is worth a watch if you like something that is a little thought provoking and different and there are a few occassions throughout when I did laugh out loud.
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on 13 March 2014
eleven year old Zachary strikes his eleven year old classmate Ethan across the face with a stick after an argument.

Their respective parents learn of the altercation through Ethan's parents questioning him about his injuries. The Longstreet parents invite the Cowan parents to their Brooklyn apartment to deal with the incident in a civilised manner.

Penelope, whose idea it was to invite the Cowans, Michael, who tries to be as accommodating as possible to retain civility in any situation.

Nancy, a nervous and emotionally stressed woman, and Alan, who is married more to his work as evidenced by the attachment he has to his cell phone and taking work calls at the most inopportune times.

Although the meeting starts off civilised enough, it quickly crashes after an unfortunate incident by Nancy.

The degeneration of their meeting not only has to do with their boys' fight, but also the other couple's fitness as parents, the state of their respective marriages and their place in a crazy world....

Even though the film is short, it's very exhilarating, and packs in a performance from Foster that hasn't been this good since SOTL.

The tone is set from the moment we reach the apartment, you can feel the intensity between the couples and the hared oozing between each pore. Reilly tries to to bring everything to simmer, but his actions cause more intensity.

As the film goes on, the voices becoming louder and louder and the cast become more animated. Then the alcohol comes out.

It's very entertaining, with great performances from all concerned.

And the last shot is very ironic, considering the bartering that has been going on.
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on 19 July 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Working on a "sense of community," the two couples in Carnage engage in slowly evolving urban warfare, precipitated by violence in the playground between their two sons.

This adaptation from the Broadway play, God of Carnage, is a soberer (by a little) version of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Penelope (Jody Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly) host Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christof Waltz) in their Brooklyn apartment to iron out difficulties coming from their sons' fight, which resulted in Penelope and Michael's son's mangled mouth.

What begins civilly escalates to a raw verbal mêlée with all players laying bare their prejudices and weaknesses while the issue of the repentance of Nancy and Alan's child becomes a vehicle for class and culture clash. As in director Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, the action is almost exclusively in the small, one bedroom apartment, resulting in an uncomfortable crowding of bodies and egos. And it doesn't take long for the individual differences to surface as one is conciliatory, another confrontational, another detached, and another bewildered.
Nor does it take long (only an 80 minute production anyway) for alliances to build (and not necessarily in the same couple) with the refrain "Why are we still here?" becoming the battle cry.

Yes, it doesn't turn out well, nor would most confrontations except that the civil veneer usually stays intact for most of us.

But when writers Yasmina Reza and Polanski allow the characters to speak their minds, albeit helped by Scotch, the drama gets good and the words become socially lethal.

What I like best is the language, not elevated but sassy, smart, and colloquial: "Should we wrap this up?" Yes, it is a film to be wrapped, but there is no real end to the social jousting that goes on in our minds if not our mouths, which are sometimes beaten badly as careless children might do in their play.
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on 7 September 2016
I am guessing that I would have enjoyed the actual play that the film was based on more than the film I have just watched. It wasn't a bad film and it was often enjoyably excruciating but it got lost somewhere and I think that was because it lost sight that it was in essence a play. Because everything happened in about 80 minutes the changes in the characters often were just too fast for my liking yet (most importantly) I also thought that the others reactions to such changes were often quite flaccid. In a way you were told from this that these new insights aren't important - there will be no real consequences to them. Hence I began to lose interest. (So maybe the film is intentionally showing you a repeated cycle of how actions have no real consequences and as such is cleverer than I initially thought - but it would still have been better as a play)
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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"Carnage" is an adaptation of Yasmina Reza's original stage play "Le Dieu du carnage (God of Carnage)" for the big screen, written and directed by Roman Polanski, in a translation from the original French by Michael Katims. Owing to Polanski's fugitive status in the USA, it was filmed (despite its Brooklyn setting) in Paris.

The film makes excellent use of minimal set additions to the original stage production and the four cast members are all outstanding in their performances. The story itself is a comedy of manners, as two sets of parents to teenage boys meet in an attempt to resolve matters arising from a playground scrap between their respective sons. The script explores the basis and boundaries of politeness versus honesty, social conscience versus self-interest and portrays the disastrous consequences of testing those boundaries. The excruciating shallow play-acting of social correctness is gradually replaced by the increasingly painful exposition of the truth as social hypocrisies are systematically dissected to display the selfish core.

Throughout the film's 80-minute duration, allegiances and alliances shift, battle lines are drawn and redrawn, as prejudices, obsessions, fears and foibles are successively exposed, probed and ridiculed, emotions running high as opinions and values are successively attacked and defended; and the opening tensions are dissipated through farce.

The script sticks closely to the original stage version, varying only in providing a neat storyline twist using the opening and closing title visuals, which poignantly shows up both the futility of the parents' attempts to resolve issues through their own "grown-up and adult" discussions, as well as the fact that all are equally at fault. The humour is subtle in its steps but hilarious in its cumulative effect. Those who know the play may be disappointed with Polanski's direction, which gives a less intimate but more claustrophobic feel to the enterprise. The film is nevertheless first rate and is heartily recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 18 May 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Carnage is an interesting film if nothing else. The premise is simple. When one child hits another child, it is left to the parents to sort things out. This takes the form of a visit by one childs parents to the other childs parents so that the matter can be sorted out in a civilized and adult manner.

The film does have a humorous streak through it although a lot of the humour is derived in a cruel fashion. The real backbone of the film is the simple slipping of the mask of civility which takes place throughout the film. As time goes by in the couples flat and the parents talk it becomes apparent that both couples are straining to keep their game face, and eventually, of course, it slips. What then transpires is a loosing of emotion as both couples have their moment in the sun and emotions and opinions come spilling forth with varying degrees of humour, malice and sometimes tenderness too. These ideas are then pushed through escalation to an nth degree.

The cast are all excellent, especially Christoph Waltz. The only real thing that did annoy me about the film was that it felt like it thought it was cleverer than it actually was at times, and I also found it a little predictable too. The film in itself is not overly long and passed surprisingly quickly, especially when you remember that there is no action in the film, having been based on a play, the whole film takes place in one of the couples homes.

All in all, I would recommend this film, it's not going to blow you away but it does remind you that we are all human, if nothing else, I'm pretty sure we can all identify with the major themes of this film, it is, as they say, universal.
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