Carnage (2011): Comedy of the Correct

Carnage (2011 film)
Carnage (2011 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have just finished watching Roman Polanski‘s Carnage. Adapted from the play ‘Le Dieu du carnage‘ written by Yasmina Reza and adapted for the screen by Yasmina and Roman Polanski. I have not laughed so hard in ages.

John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster play Michael and Penelope Longstreet whose son Ethan gets the business end of a stick in his mouth from Zachary Cowan son of Nancy and Alan (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz).

At the beginning of the film both couples are united in their dual purpose of handling the fight between their sons like civilized adults.

Investment broker Nancy and her lawyer husband Alan both admit that their son Zachary hit Ethan in the mouth with a stick as part of a fight.

Michael and Penelope are magnanimous in their acceptance of Zach’s parents admission of culpability. Everything is correct and proper.

The trouble begins when Nancy and Alan attempt  repeatedly to leave with promises of returning with Zachary later in the evening to get the boys to talk out their differences.

The longer the two couples are together the more their separate facades begin to slip and the true nature of their relationships with family and each other starts to show. As the cracks widen we get to see the real people underneath.

Penelope is an anal bleeding heart liberal who is rabid in her belief that people can settle their problems in a civilized manner.  Michael is a hot headed, short tempered, narrow minded bigot.

Nancy is a stressed out, bored and unhappy woman. Alan has no interest in anything that does not directly affect his business.

As the situation gets consistently worse, a bottle of scotch is introduced into the mix, with hysterical consequence’s. As the two couples drink, allegiances are formed, broken and reformed.

What was initially couple versus couple, the ebb and flow of the group dynamic goes from men against women, to the couples doing a metaphorical ‘do-se-do’ where the couples switch partners.

The alcohol relaxes their inhibitions and brings out the childishness and selfishness inherent in all the ‘adults’

Polanski has lost none of his touch in this brilliantly funny ‘domestic’ comedy. Of course the writer of the original play Yasmina Reza deserves a huge amount of credit for writing such brilliant multi-layered characters.

God of Carnage original West End production poster

I will warn you, the first part of the film is a little hard to watch. It is a little like watching a train lumbering forward into a crash and you know that the characters are not going to be able to avoid it.

But hang in there, like a slow building avalanche, the interaction  between the four people gets hysterically funny. It’s worth the wait.

Smoking

its hard keeping this one on one hand and the ...

I don’t expect many people to read this post. Smoking has become the new “bad” of this millennium. In this new age of the “Nanny” culture, it has become very popular to sneer at smoking and smokers in general. Smokers have, in effect, become the new social lepers.

I won’t lie, I’ve had a love affair with smoking since I was twelve years old. A few of my friends and I “passed-the-hat” and pooled our pennies together to buy a pack of Winstons. It was love at first inhale. I never had the typical first bad reaction to smoking that most of my friends suffered. It was the beginning of a life long  addiction that I would quit again and again, but still come back to.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s bad for me. I also know that it makes my clothes smell…and my hair, skin, etc. But nothing can calm me down or satisfy me faster than that quick puff (or drag) on a cigarette, cigar or pipe. Nicotine patches, or gum, or mints just don’t have the same affect. Oh it cures the nicotine craving all right. It just doesn’t touch the inhale/exhale exercise that also makes smoking so addictive.

I’ve tried electronic cigarettes and they come close, but as the saying goes, no cigar. I’m sure that one day someone will develop one that works as well as a cigarette. But I’m not holding my breath.

English: Electronic cigarette charger
English: Electronic cigarette charger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am just amazed, and a little shocked, to see how socially acceptable it has become to vilify and castigate smokers. I even had a colleague tell me in no uncertain terms that I was going to die a horrible death because I smoked. Nice. I’ll try to return the favour the next time I see them eating red meat. And no I’m not a vegetarian.

I hate to break it to people, but smoking isn’t the only thing in the world that kills people.   LIFE kills people. Like Katherine Hepburn said, “Of course life is hard, it kills you.” We are all going to die…of something. The human body is not built to last indefinitely. We all just choose our own brand of poison to push it towards it’s expiry date. Look at the facts. Everything is pretty much bad for us. Booze, most foods (at least the ones everyone likes), sun; well you get the point, I’m sure.

I’m just surprised at how hostile folks have become to smokers in general and how phobic they are. Yes lab rats have shown that second hand smoke can kill – and now it seems third hand smoke as well, what ever that is – and that several really bad things occur to major organs and arteries from the same first, second and third smoke inhalation.

So yes I know it’s bad for me. I also know it’s bad for folks around me. I don’t blow my smoke on other people and have never smoked around anyone who is phobic about it or has health related issues. Okay?

So I will be quitting again. But not for any of the above mentioned reasons. I’ll be quitting because it’s become too costly to continue for much longer. The British government has taxed tobacco so much, it’s become the smoking equivalent of caviar. This is all in aid of getting folks to quit. Kind of like killing the golden goose in my opinion. Smokers, like drinkers, put lots of tax dough-ray-me into the coffers of the government. Making it too expensive is cutting off a huge source of revenue.

Still the most annoying thing about the new “smokers are nasty” spiel is how really un-PC it is. How politically correct is it to tell someone they smell. Or to make nasty comments about their personal habits. So don’t be surprised if the next time I’m in town and having a smoke in the open air where my “nasty habit” will not invade your pristine lungs, if you give me a nasty look or comment I might just flick an ash in your eye.

You have been warned.

smokin' the pipe
smokin’ the pipe (Photo credit: leff)