"Killing Them Softly"

(R) ★★★

Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly has a lot going for it; a hot director, a famous actor, an appearance at Cannes, love it/hate it festival buzz and a killer cast. So exactly what happened for it to hit a major bump? Before going into a monday matinee of the film, I had yet to encounter a person that liked the film and critical buzz has been tame to say the least. Suprising given the fact that Dominik's highly underrated The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was a mesmerizing journey into an American killer's mind. Know what I say? Don't listen to the haters. Sure Killing Them Softly is an imperfect American dream through hell, however if you give it a chance it might just lure you into its sadistic criminal world. With nary a light in sight within its frames the film is heavy on dialogue and gruesome violence. You can tell Dominik's trying to find a groove in the film, he struggles at that, there's very much a European cinema influence in here but there are also shades of 90's Tarantino. It's this confusion in style that limits the potential of the film - yet some of the scenes Dominik creates stick with you.

A heist is done on a poker game, Markie (Ray Liotta) is manager and works under gangsters. He already pulled a heist once before and got away with it but this time around -even with him not involved- he gets eyed upon by his bosses. Not good but exactly what the guys that pulled it off wanted - that is until one of them fucks it up and puts his crew in a lot of heat. That is where Brad Pitt's Jackie comes into the picture, a hit man that is given the task of chasing these heist pullers and killing them (softly as he says). He brings in Mickey - the never better James Gandolfini- a slimy hitman that has turned into a drunk. The action scenes are tensely delivered, with Dominik's handheld camera bringing realism to the surroundings. The flaws come in some of the dialogue driven scenes that get stretched out a bit too long, Dominik is aiming for Tarantino-like slyness but only ends up doing it half well. No worries, his movie pulls you in with its dark humor and even darker violence. He means to tell us that the America these gangsters live in is the same one that inhabits our lives.

The film takes place in 2008 when America's economy was down and out. Dominik -With a soundtrack that includes speeches by then senator Obama and President Bush- hammers on his message that our nation is driven by nothing more than corporate greed. Fair enough and not far from the truth but I could have done without some of these insinuations and more story-based stuff. The actors do deliver, Pitt is a marvel and you believe in his acting (when haven't we) and Gandolfini stretches himself out here and does the best work he's done since the last season of The Sopranos. This isn't a movie that cuddles to its audience or answers all the questions when the credits roll, this is a film that is demanding and can frustrate primitive minded people. That makes it all the better for us. Killing Them Softly is rough around the edges but is a unique piece of work. It takes chances that not many movies these days would, how good is that?

Image Of The Day 12/14/12

Re-watching Martin Campbell's Casino Royale last week was an invigorating reminder of just how good Bond has been these days. None of the artifice of the previous Brosnan pictures is present. This is a modern, flawed James Bond played by a perfectly cast Daniel Craig. Everybody is talking about the dark suspense that Sam Mendes brought forth with last month's Skyfall yet Casino Royal -released in 2006- is just as good, a menacingly playful film that has some intense set pieces. None more intense than the poker game that has our secret agent facing off against Le Chiffre in a battle of -yes- wits. It's the first time in ages that a James Bond film has had to rely on brains instead of action to give us thrills. Well played sir.


This is how 2012 is looking so far and YES there will be very big edits as the holiday movies roll along but always fun to know where we are at right now. An average year to say the least. Notice I have changed my ratings system, no longer out of 4 stars but now 5 stars. I just wanted to switch it up a little.

✭✭✭ 1/2

The Master
Zero Dark Thirty
Holy Motors
Killer Joe
This Is Not A Film
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
The Dark Knight Rises
Moonrise Kingdom
Beasts Of The Southern Wild


Rust And Bone
The Sessions
21 Jump Street
Seven Psychopaths
Life Of Pi
Jack Reacher
The Kid With A Bike
In Darkness
Premium Rush
Cabin In The Woods
The Woman In Black
Les Intouchables
The Hunger Games
Get The Gringo
Killing Them Softly
Miss Bala
Silver Linings Playbook
Django Unchained
That's My Boy
Take This Waltz

✭✭ 1/2

Safety Not Guaranteed
Project X
The Imposter
The Bourne Legacy
Searching For The Sugar Man


The Grey
Jeff Who Lives At Home
The Queen Of Versailles
The Hobbit

✭ 1/2

Safe House
Being Flynn
Friends With Kids
Casa De Mi Padre
American Reunion
The Five Year Engagement
The Avengers
The Dictator
Your Sister's Sister
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World
Magic Mike
The Amazing Spider-Man
Ruby Sparks
Hope Springs
The Campaign
Pitch Perfect

Act Of Valor
Raid: Redemption
Damsels In Distress
Cloud Atlas
People Like Us
Salmon Fishing In Yemen


Piranha 3DD

Deniro still got it

Contrary to what we might think, Robert Deniro still has great performances left in him. If you want further proof of this statement watch him in "Silver Linings Playbook". The movie might not have met the expectations we had going for it after its Audience Award at TIFF but there are good things to be said about the film's performances. We all know about Jeniffer Lawrence's great performance but the one that really got to me was Deniro as Pat Solitano Sr. - an Eagles/football obsessed father that has never been diagnosed for what clearly is a major case of OCD. Pat Sr. is a man that has issues yet you root for him and Deniro is nothing but brilliant in the role. THIS is the Deniro we knew, an actor that can give out a million emotions with just one simple gesture of the face. It's the kind of playful, artistic performance that the actor was known to give in almost every movie he made in the 80's. Of course we can't forget all the terrible bombs he's given us the past 15 years, movies I'd rather not mention at this very moment, but Deniro still has the fire in him to make us feel alive at the movies again. This "Silver Linings Playbook" performance is of course not the at the level of intensity that he had in films such as Raging Bull, Taxi Driver or The Godfather but instead resembles more the dark playfulness that he showed in The King Of Comedy, Brazil, Wag The Dog and -even- Analyze This. If you want a darker, more intense Deniro you might be pleased to know that he confirmed last week a new collaboration with Martin Scorsese in a gangster film based on the book I Hear You Paint Houses. Al Pacino and Joe Pesci will co-star with him, now that's the stuff that dreams are made of. For the time being we have him doing his best work in years with "Silver Linings Playbook", a film that might just get him his 7th Oscar Nomination.