Seven Psychopaths and a meal at Thai Spice

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Because I enjoy matinee prices, discussing a movie over dinner and still getting to bed on time, I’ll review these in the order I actually did them.

Seven Psychopaths is a new film directed by Martin McDonagh, starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits and Christopher Walken.

Marty (Colin Farrell) is a second-rate writer and first-rate drunkard who has been working on a script for a screenplay entitled Seven Psychopaths. Unfortunately, his work consists of little more than a title page. His off-kilter friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) repeatedly offers to help Marty come up with ideas for the psychopaths’ personalities, and Marty eventually agrees to let him help.

Marty soon finds himself caught up in a dog-napping operation that Billy and his older friend Hans (Christopher Walken) have set up to collect reward money, and things go south after a crazed gangster, Charlie (Woody Harrelson), finds out the group is responsible for the disappearance of his beloved shih tzu, Bonny. While evading Charlie and his henchmen, Billy continues the search for psychopaths by placing an advertisement in the paper, to which Zachariah (Tom Waits), a rabbit-toting killer of serial killers, responds in hopes of reconnecting with his estranged wife.

Director Martin McDonagh successfully creates and relieves tension within his own plot while simultaneously poking fun at the institutions of serial killer and gangster movies. The acting throughout is top-notch by Rockwell, Harrelson, Walken and Waits, while Farrell’s is adequate. Equally enjoyable is the running commentary the characters make on the weaknesses of the genre (such as the lack of strong female leads or the audience’s need for a “final shootout”).

I rated this movie 7/10 overall, but I’d give it a 9 for sheer entertainment value. The characters are colorful and silly, and I believe properly present truly psychopathic reasoning. This film is a great way to spend an evening, but I doubt we’ll be talking about it as a society for decades to come.

After leaving the theater on Van Ness and Geary, I wandered half a mile north to Thai Spice restaurant. It looked inviting enough — a nice, mustard-colored building, cozy but not cramped inside, with not much of a wait. The interior was decorated with warm-colored walls, a bit of abstract art and Halloween items that were not at all at odds with the rest of the environment.

I ordered a green tea to sip on while scanning the menu. It was served to me in what looked like a potion bottle, and frankly was perfect in taste, strength and temperature. Unable to decide what to order, I asked the waiter to just bring my party a proper meal for three. He looked at me in disbelief for a moment and asked if I was serious. When I assured him I was, he asked if we had any dietary restrictions and for our desired spice level, thought quietly for a moment, smiled and assured us we’d be happy with his selections.

He returned with the first course, a seafood salad consisting of charbroiled prawns and scallops with green onions, cilantro, chili, lemongrass, mint and lemon juice, served over a bed of romaine lettuce and garnished with shredded carrots and an orchid. The balance of flavors was beautiful, with a hint of sweetness finishing off a clean and aromatic palate.

The main course was a yellow pumpkin curry with chicken. The most striking thing about this dish was the quality of the meat itself. Rather than just small pieces swimming in a sauce, there was a perfectly cooked section of chicken dressed in a bath of coconut milk, potatoes, yellow curry paste and tender Asian pumpkins. My constructive criticism for this dish would be to include a few more pieces of pumpkin, prepared exactly as they were. Along with the curry, we had sautéed Japanese eggplant and green bean, subtly enhanced with prawns, garlic, chili and basil, but keeping the focus on the vegetables.

The entire bill for three was under $50, and every bite, sip and interaction was enjoyable. The wait staff was prompt in refilling water, and our waiter seemed to take pride in providing our table with a snapshot of what his restaurant had to offer. We were too full for dessert that night, but we’ll definitely go back another time and try either the sweet sticky rice with mango or the fried banana with honey and ice cream.

Thai Spice                                                                  

1730 Polk St.

In short: Excellent flavors, kind wait staff, good value and even tasteful Halloween décor.

Rating: 9.5/10

Seven Psychopaths

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 109 minutes

Rated R for strong violence, bloody impages, pervasice language, sexuality/nudity and some drup use.

In short: Fun script, tongue-in-cheek violence that parodies itself, effective acting. Perfect for the genre, but not a life-changer.

Rating: 7/10