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Capone Digs YOU KILL ME!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Director John Dahl has been something of a personal hero of mine since his first three films hit me with a one-two-three punch combination back in the late 1980s, early 1990s. KILL ME AGAIN, RED ROCK WEST and THE LAST SEDUCTION are just three of the greatest crime dramas of their time. They are dark, sleazy, weird and, above all else, kind of funny. His greatest success came with the gambling crime drama ROUNDER, which featured early and solid performances from Matt Damon and Edward Norton, followed by the pseudo-stalker movie JOY RIDE. His latest film, YOU KILL ME, is quite simply his best work. He takes his usual brand of pitch black storytelling, injects a great deal of dark humor, and the result is one of the greatest character studies ever done about a criminal, in this case, a hitman named Frank Falenczyk from Buffalo. Frank (played with ballsy bitterness by Ben Kingsley) is an alcoholic, whose bosses indulge him because his condition has never interfered with his work — until it does. Frank lets a rival mob boss (Dennis Farina) escape a hit because he passes out waiting for him at a train station. Frank's boss (Philip Baker Hall) clearly loves Frank dearly, so rather than kill him, he ships his off to San Francisco to dry out. Frank, a man who clearly loves Buffalo for the weather, is against the idea, but goes anyway. After being set up with a place and a job (as a funeral home makeup assistant!) by a local arranger (Bill Pullman), Frank goes to his first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He finds it ridiculous, but he does meet a new friend and gains a sponsor, a gay man played by Luke Wilson, in what might be his most non-Luke Wilson-ish role. And slowly but surely, Frank's life gets better, one step at a time. Perhaps unwisely at this stage in his life, Frank meets a prospective love interest in Tea Leoni's Lauren, who steps into his world as she sets up the funeral of her stepfather. Lauren is a woman with no boundaries or filters, and her honestly inspires Frank to be as open and honest with her and his AA comrades as possible, including coming clean about his hitman occupation. I'll be the first to admit, I've never really liked Leoni as an actress (with the exception of her hilarious role in FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, a film similar in tone to this one), but she's impressive as hell in YOU KILL ME. Her delivery sometimes seems flat and without energy, but when you combine her performance with the words she's saying, it all feels right; the delivery is exactly right. Her emotionless exterior is hiding and protecting a troubled soul. And while we feel fairly certain these two would make a perfect dysfunctional couple, their being together is not a forgone conclusion. Meanwhile, the rivalry between the two mob figures is becoming a problem, and Frank is called back to finish his unfinished job, leaving his life in San Francisco in limbo, and his future in the land of the living a big question mark as well. I think the film could have ended just as well without the return to Buffalo, but this plot turn in no way damages my love of YOU KILL ME. What Kingsley accomplishes here is glorious and in the same league as his scary work in SEXY BEAST. The subtle changes in his character as he begins to accept his condition and what it's going to take to pull him out of his private hell are something only a perfectionist like Kingsley could pull off. Frank latches onto a routine that keep him from drinking, and when he dares to stray from it, things go either very bad or very well. Either way, it scares the crap out of him, and John is smart enough to never let us predict exactly what direction Frank's life is headed next. This is an intelligent comedy that taps into some of the human condition's darkest corners and manages to be charming and thought provoking. Better than that, it never stops surprising you.


Readers Talkback
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  • June 25, 2007, 11:13 a.m. CST


    by Kamala

    Now let me tell you about that JAWS remake, coming soon from Brett Ratner...

  • June 25, 2007, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Lookin forward to War, Inc.

    by greyspecter

    Lucky Number Slevin was so-so, for the all star cast, but Sir Ben was solid

  • June 25, 2007, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Jaws Remake Part 2.

    by Kamala

    Brett says it will be the best movie since "Chill Zone". Josh (Dead Eyes) Harnett signed on as Chief Brody. Ratner says he won't wait till 90 minutesin the film to show the shark. That son of bitch will pop his cgi head up out of the water in the first scene, when he eat Fergie in her first movie role....

  • June 25, 2007, 11:24 a.m. CST

    Ben Kingsley News!!!!

    by Kamala

    Has signed on as the nazi-war criminal dentist in the remake of "Marathon Man". Michael Douglas will be playing the Dustin Hoffman role, but instead of a distance runner he will be a mall walker. Directed by Tim Story.

  • June 25, 2007, 11:28 a.m. CST

    All the snow in this film was CGI

    by Shigeru


  • June 25, 2007, 11:49 a.m. CST


    by lost.rules

    The new first.

  • June 25, 2007, 11:50 a.m. CST


    by lost.rules


  • June 25, 2007, 12:05 p.m. CST


    by Kamala

    Too many fat chicks. No jobs. Thanks Hillary. GO BILLS in 2007!!

  • June 25, 2007, 12:09 p.m. CST


    by kilik777

    I liked Joy Ride but never saw any of the others. Its sounds like it has potential.

  • June 25, 2007, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Hope it's different to The Matador.

    by Alfred Einstein

    What's with this criminal-sorting-his-life-out-in suburbia subgenre? What started out as a fresh take on post-Godfather-cinema/existential crisis is getting out of hand. <p>I count seven movies, including two sequels. Some are better than others, obviously. But the concept has been done to death.

  • June 25, 2007, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Awww Kamala, did Hillary take away your manhood?

    by ScamsAndFlams

    "we have no jobs because of Hillary Clinton!" Conservative personal responsibility at its finest. can't find your boot straps or did you think only the blacks had them? Sad little man

  • June 25, 2007, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Philip Baker Hall + Dennis Farina = I'M IN.

    by Stuntcock Mike

    This sounds pretty good.

  • June 25, 2007, 12:42 p.m. CST

    really good film

    by PVIII

    Not a lot like the Matador either, which was like I was expected. Like Quint said, an interesting character piece, with really crisp story-telling and direction. Didn't quite buy the romance angle though. Wilson was great too, which Quint forgot to point out--and after just seeing Idiocracy, he's 2 for 2 in my book.

  • June 25, 2007, 12:51 p.m. CST

    ScamsAndFlams here comes a body slam

    by Kamala

    If you moonbats can blame Bush for hurricanes and tidal waves, I can blame Hillary for the shitty economy in western part of state she represents. Now, do you want the choke slam or the air Kamala?

  • June 25, 2007, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Gandhi Gotta Eat!

    by BetaRayBill07

    This sounds good. Tea Leoni does nothing for me, but what the hell, I'm in!!

  • June 25, 2007, 1:33 p.m. CST

    Walked out of this movie

    by Corsair

    Which I have only done a few times in my life. It couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a dark comedy, a drama, or what, and decided to be neither. Teal Leoni was poorly cast, she was really unbelievable in the role. Ben Kingsley was great in Sexy Beast and numerous other films, but in this his character just wasn't compelling. I should say it wasn't his performance, it was the material. Even the great Philip Baker hall was given nothing to do. Overall: unbelievable characters (especially Tea Leoni's; poor script; didn't know what the film wanted to be. Saw Paris J'etaime the next day and it was great.

  • June 25, 2007, 1:40 p.m. CST


    by cutest_of_borg

    Jesus Christ.

  • June 25, 2007, 1:44 p.m. CST

    I really want to see this...

    by Bloo

    I love Rounders. I was in college when I saw it, writing movie reviews for our college paper and spending my money that I earned on beer. Doing nothing really with my life. I didn't play poker, didn't even know what Texas Hold 'Em was-remember this was way before celebrity poker showdown and the WS of Poker was on all the time-, but man did that movie speak to me about following through on dreams and what you're good at and the cost of friendship and when to let a deadbeat friend go. Still haven't done much with my life but I'm closer then I was 10 years or so when that movie came out. Ok enough of my Rounders love...You kill me looks great

  • June 25, 2007, 2:48 p.m. CST

    Joy Ride????

    by Punch Man

    That shit was horrible. I'd leave that one out the next time you're recommending Dahl

  • June 25, 2007, 3:17 p.m. CST

    Dahl does good work in general

    by palimpsest

    except for that Ray Liotta sci-fi thing he did.

  • June 25, 2007, 3:58 p.m. CST

    ATTN Photoshopers:You kill me poster contest

    by magnetoelectric

  • June 25, 2007, 5:36 p.m. CST

    It was okay. Surprising? Hardly.

    by Bronx Cheer

    It was uneven, but I'd still recommend it. It was weird, though. I'm a recovering alcoholic, and I go to bars to see bands, hang out with friends who drink, and have no problems at all. But I saw this movie and it was a massive trigger. Watching Frank struggle with booze hit close to home, more so than dramas about the same subject. It was good to see SF again. The bridge stuff was sweet.