the best speech in 2012
I hate reblogging spoilers, but I’m reblogging because this is easily one of the best scenes of 2012 in film.
SPOILERS!!!! DO NOT WATCH IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM “KILLING THEM SOFTLY” YET!!!!!!!!!!!
[Note: I wanted to write this review as quickly as possible because it doesn’t seem like this movie will be in theaters for long and I wanted to give my opinion to maybe encourage a few to give it a chance in theaters. It flopped at the box office this weekend, but it is still a film that I hope those even somewhat interested do not miss in theaters.]
So I saw Killing Them Softly last night, which reteamed the director (Andrew Dominik) and star (Brad Pitt) of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. You have no idea how excited I was for this movie. The Assassination of Jesse James is one of my favorite movies of all-time. I consider it to be a masterpiece and I would place it in my top 10 films ever, it’s that good. So leading up to the release of Killing Them Softly the trailers looked gorgeous, the cast is amazing, I was only expecting great things from this movie.
I’m going to say upfront that this is a movie that will only appeal to certain moviegoers. If you have no interest in long scenes of dialogue or digging deeper into the themes of the movie, you will hate this movie. I’m not even saying that to be a dick like “Oh if you don’t like this movie, clearly you’re not an intellectual filmgoer” because I can almost guarantee that even a lot of very smart film people will hate this movie. In my screening at least four people got up and walked out of the theater.
Killing Them Softly is set in America’s recession just before the 2008 election. Two men decide to hold up a mob run card game and the mob hires a hit man (Brad Pitt) to find those responsible.
Right from the opening credits you are thrown off. The discordant notes that play as a man walks through a barren wasteland of a city immediately puts you on edge. You never feel comfortable or at ease for the entire 100 minute runtime. Every scene feels as if something could happen at the drop of a dime.
Andrew Dominik has said that the movie is a parallel between government and mobs. The way that both systems collapsed their economies and screwed over the people through capitalism. While this movie isn’t subtle with most of the messages it conveys, the government/mob parallel isn’t as direct and there are several ways you can interpret the film.
The cinematography in this film by Greig Fraser, much like Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (shot by the great Roger Deakins), is drop dead gorgeous. There are so many memorable scenes in this film that are just beautiful to look at. In particular a slow motion sequence in the rain that made my jaw drop. There are some nice unconventional camera angles as well, like one towards the end of the film involving the use of a car door that I don’t think I’ve ever seen. The movie is a visual delight and let’s not forget to mention the fact that this film was made for only 15 million dollars. Well done!
The movie has long winded conversations that seem to go on forever. What I thought was kind of brilliant is the way it mirrored the audience’s reaction. When one character goes on for too long, the character who is supposed to be listening loses interest, much like the audience. I thought this was brilliant because it goes to show that people are only interested in hearing themselves talk and having their own personal agendas met, instead of actually communicating or connecting with other people. Also, the way of the world and the nature of their business prevents people from actually caring about anyone else.
The violence in this film is cringe-inducing. This is on some Drive, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises level of gore and gratuitous violence. There is a scene in this film that is one of the most brutal things I’ve ever seen put to film. While there isn’t any crazy torture like pulling nails or using instruments to inflict pain, the sound effects and the performances are enough to make you flinch in your seat as you watch.
Brad Pitt as Jackie shows us something new from him in a performance that’s a mix of Ryan Gosling as Driver from Drive and Matthew McConaughey as Joe from Killer Joe. Jackie always seems in control, a cool, calm collected individual that can turn into a dangerous threat at a moment’s notice. Pretty much all the performances are great, but - as Dave Chen from the /Filmcast noted - what’s interesting is that a lot of these performances are unconventional for these well known actors (particularly Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini), in a good way. We see something that stretches our typical idea of their personas in films like these.
As serious as everything in the previous paragraphs sound, Killing Them Softly was actually surprisingly funny at times. I’ve seen the dialogue described as Tarantino-esque, but I think that billing fits more with 2012’s other hitman film, Seven Psychopaths. There are some nice dark humor moments interspersed throughout.
While I thought this was a prodigious film, there were some nits to pick. While I dug the political overtones and allegories, I hate the fact that every 10 minutes or so we would cut to a new scene where someone would be watching CNN or C-SPAN or listening to politics on the radio. That just seemed highly unrealistic for these mobsters and criminals to always be tuned into the news. The grand speeches from politicians just got to be too much. And while I think that the long dialogue scenes were done for a reason, that doesn’t change the fact that it still drags the film a bit.
Regardless of the flaws, this movie leaves an impact on the viewer with a closing monologue that - while it may be overtly blunt - hits the message home hard. The final scene of this film is a virtuoso moment which should go down in film history. That final line and the cut to credits is pitch perfect.
Killing Them Softly is not what you think it is. If you’re going into this movie expecting a typical mob movie, think again. As fantastic as I thought this film was, it is not a film that I would recommend to everyone because the way this movie operates is not on a level that most will enjoy. Still, if you have any interest in seeing this movie I would recommend that you not miss this movie in theaters because it is one hell of an experience.
There are just a few things I want to talk about in spoilers such as scenes I liked and in particular that final scene. So SPOILERS after the “read more” break.Read more
Trailer for World War Z
This actually looks pretty bad ass! I’ve been meaning to read the book for the longest time, hopefully I’ll get to it sometime in the future when I’ve got time. The news that they did a massive rewrite and reshoots is a little worrying, but then again MIB3 had those kind of problems as well and that turned out to be surprisingly fun (lowered expectations also helped). We’ll see how it turns out next summer!
“I’m living in America and in America you’re on your own.”
First trailer for Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly! The movie stars Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, and James Gondolfini. I was excited by the mere fact that Andrew Dominik was making a new film. His previous film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a masterpiece and in my personal top 10 films of all-time. Killing Them Softly reteams him with his Jesse James star Brad Pitt and this first trailer looks absolutely fucking amazing. This is easily one of my most anticipated films of the latter half of 2012. I’M SO EXCITED!
“Unless you love, your life will flash by.”
Just watched Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life on Blu-ray (which is 15 bucks for the Blu-ray/DVD combo set, plug, plug, plug! lol) and was kind of blown away by it. The last time I was this captured and immersed by a film is probably Enter the Void. The film employs a scatter shot narrative, but it speaks volumes with the bare minimum shown and spoken. I want to write a full review for it but it’s difficult to know where to begin… This movie has had a polarizing effect on most movie going audiences. Even people I respect as film buffs were put off by this movie so while I won’t say that everyone will love this film as much as I did, I think that it’s worth a watch just to see what you get out of it.
If you’ve been following my blog and actually paying attention (side note: lol), you might have noticed in my summer reading updates that I read the source material for this film, Moneyball by Michael Lewis. That book is an absolutely fascinating read and you do not need to know anything about baseball to enjoy it, although I do think you get more out of it if you are a baseball fan as well. I was a little puzzled at how they would make it into a film because most of the book deals with sabremetrics and discussing the ideology of “moneyball.” I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how they were able to create such a compelling drama from the source material.
The main draw here is Brad Pitt. Without Brad Pitt, this movie wouldn’t even exist and that is a fact. Moneyball was set to be made about 2 years ago starring Brad Pitt and with Contagion director Steven Soderbergh to direct. Sony, the studio financing the film, pulled the plug at the last minute due to financial worries. However, because Brad Pitt was so determined to make this film, they eventually hired a new director and got the movie into production.
Brad Pitt has been doing the rounds for the press/media and early speculation is that he’s trying to build the hype for a potential Best Actor Oscar nomination. Pitt is one of my favorite actors and he’s as good as ever in Moneyball. After seeing the film, I honestly think it would be a shame if he didn’t get at least a nomination. Pitt is fantastic. This is a much more subtle and understated performance (aside from the furniture throwing/smashing haha). After reading the very last page of the book, I knew how I wanted the film to end his arc and the movie definitely ends on a similarly toned note.
As far as the secondary characters, I thought it was funny that they showed this power struggle between Billy Beane and manager Art Howe (played by the always wonderful Philip Seymour Hoffman). Mainly because the book essentially says “Art Howe is a dummy front, he may act as the manager but he really doesn’t do shit” haha. Jonah Hill also puts in his least over the top performance of his career and does well with it. He manages to inject some humor into the film, but not in his zany “Jonah Hill” kind of way.
One of the things I loved were the “inside baseball” moments of the film (which is funny because it IS baseball, usually they use that term for behind the scenes of other stuff, not just… whatever, you know what I’m saying lol). The scenes where Billy Beane is trying to play teams against each other and pick up the players he wants are fascinating to watch. Seeing the way a team operates and does business behind closed doors.
I have to give a lot of credit to the director Bennett Miller. I was so excited to see Soderbergh attached to this project a few years ago, but Miller really did a great job. His direction is non-intrusive, very much like his direction in his previous film, 2005’s Capote. It’s not ostentatious and doesn’t draw attention to itself, but he also does a lot of nice things with the camera work and transitions. The movie also moves along at a nice pace and the 126 minute runtime never felt too long or bothersome to me.
If you are a baseball fan, the book is a must read and the film is a must see. While there is some insight into baseball, there’s not nearly as much as the book. I’m forgiving of that because the human drama of Billy Beane is at the forefront and it’s done so well. Granted it is marketed around the fact that it is a sports movie, but it’s nice to see a good drama doing so well at the box office. Go see Moneyball and support good films!
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
It’s in my personal top 10 of all-time, do I need to tell you that you should watch this?
Chris and I made a joke that Matt Damon would be begging for roles from Pitt and Clooney in 10 years LOL.
3 A.M. *phone rings*
Matt: Hey! Hey George! It’s me! Matt!
George: Matt? Who?
Matt: Matt Damon!
George: Matt? Do you know what time it is?
Matt: Oh yeah, sorry about that. I was just thinking… about when we made the Ocean’s movies, remember? Those were fun times, right? … You think we could ever do something like that again?
George: Matt, it’s 3 in the morning and I’ve got to wake up at 6 for the movie I’m shooting.
Matt: Oh I’m sorry George! But I’d love it if we could-
*George hangs up*
Matt: … That went well…
It’ll obviously never happen because Matt Damon is an A-lister now, but it would be hilarious if it ever happened like that hahaha.
Bottom GIF is one of the greatest shots I’ve ever seen in a movie. FUCKING BEAUTIFUL! If you haven’t seen The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (yes, that is the entire title lol), I implore you to do so! It’s in my personal top 10 of all-time, I love this movie SO MUCH.
You know… the one in the closet… I’m watching the movie and I just got to that part. I still remember the reaction in the theater. That might be one of the most priceless reactions/moments I’ve ever had in a theater. First everyone’s shocked like WTF!!!! And then everyone just starts laughing like crazy like WTF just happened!!!??? LOL
I think I’m in love with this woman! Megan Ellison, marry me!
Megan Ellison is almost single-handedly saving great cinema. She financed last year’s True Grit, plus she’s financing John Hillcoat’s The Wettest County in the World with Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, Kathryn Bigelow’s Kill Bin Laden movie, Cogan’s Trade which is a reunion for director (Andrew Dominik) and star (Brad Pitt) of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Paul Thomas Anderson’s next film The Master, a horror film reuniting Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze! Wong Kai-War’s The Grandmasters! This woman is amazing!
While I don’t think a new Terminator film is that great of an idea, it will be interesting to see what someone who is clearly financing film projects from some of the best directing and acting talent of our day would do with the Terminator franchise.