Nordling Says KILLING THEM SOFTLY Is A Nasty Bit Of Awesome!
Let's get something straight - KILLING THEM SOFTLY doesn't give a fuck about you. Your wants and needs don't enter into it. Andrew Dominik's previous film, the masterpiece THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, is lush and elegiac; KILLING THEM SOFTLY in comparison is a kick in the balls to your worst enemy, on repeat. As JESSE JAMES was gorgeous and graceful, KILLING THEM SOFTLY looks like an open wound (in a good way). JESSE JAMES was long and deliberately paced; KILLING THEM SOFTLY is an unromantic in-and-out in a back roads hotel - brutal and to the point. This movie is as cynical as movies get.
At this point, it seems like Andrew Dominik can do anything - even though all of his films are ostensibly crime films, they are as different from each other as they could possibly be. The real treasure here is Dominik's script - KILLING THEM SOFTLY (based on the novel COGAN'S TRADE by George V. Higgins) has dialogue that is a joy to listen to, and very reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino's gangsters in that most of these guys like to talk just to hear their own tough-guy schtick come out of their own mouths. The cinematography by Greig Fraser takes the audience to some odd places, but it fits the jagged nature of the movie. No one gets away clean, and the movie looks it - everything has a dull gray sheen, everything looks corrupted.
Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) are as small-time as it gets, but they know better than to pass up an opportunity that Johnny "Squirrel" Amato (Vincent Curatola) offers - if they boost a local card game headed up by Markie (Ray Liotta) and split the money three ways, no one will think to touch them. Markie's already robbed his own card game once, so the three figure he'll just get tapped again and they'll get away scott-free. But loose lips prevail, and the syndicate, represented by Richard Jenkins' Driver, brings in Jackie (Brad Pitt) to clear up any misunderstandings. Jackie brings in his own partner Mickey (James Gandolfini) to help, but Mickey's a wash - drunk and newly divorced, Mickey isn't much good to anyone, so Jackie's on his own to find out what happened and to enforce a little vengeance. All in a good day's pay, of course.
There's such a mean, cynical streak in KILLING THEM SOFTLY, and it makes the point (probably too much) that America isn't the land of hope and dreams that everyone wants it to be. It's all about the money, and about who gets theirs. The movie plays itself out during the final days of the 2008 Presidential election - amidst all the hope and change and economic downturn talk, Jackie does his business, and he does it with efficiency. All the rest is bullshit. We listen to the bluster of self-important men, but it all boils down to one thing - everyone gets paid, or everyone gets dead.
Some of the aesthetic choices of Dominik and Greig Fraser are terrific - one shooting, done in extreme slow motion, with shards of glass and viscera flying through the air, will satisfy any bloodthirsty audience members. It's damn beautiful. A conversation between two characters, as one fades in and out from a smack stupor, is shot in such a playful manner you almost ignore the rich dialogue being said. Even the opening credits underscore the meaning behind the movie - as we hear Barack Obama speak, there's a current of tension and starkness throughout the soundtrack, as brutal, bleak reality clashes head-on with optimistic hope and fancy.
Pitt is fantastic as Jackie - he's not even cynical in how he plays him. Jackie knows the score and has no illusions about his role in things, and the last lines of the movie are a kick straight to the gut for anyone thinking that somehow goodness and human kindness will prevail. He's so matter-of-fact about his disdain for these illusions that he's almost convincing - even to me, an eternal optimist about most things. The politics of the movie are certainly not subtle - no one even listens to music on the radio in this movie, and I never knew gangsters to be so invested in the election and financial crisis of 2008 - and at times Dominik overplays his hand in that regard, but that's a minor quibble. KILLING THEM SOFTLY is a fantastic crime movie, and I love its black, shriveled heart. This movie cuts deep.
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Nov. 29, 2012, 4:37 p.m. CST
I'm well looking forward to seeing this. We had it at cinemas in the UK in September, but I missed it and will have to wait for rental / streaming.
Nov. 29, 2012, 4:37 p.m. CST
Nov. 29, 2012, 4:38 p.m. CST
Dominik is the directing equivalent of Day Lewis ... Doesn't do much over the years but when he does you just know its worth watching.
Nov. 29, 2012, 4:38 p.m. CST
Nov. 29, 2012, 4:42 p.m. CST
I dunno who "Scott" McNairy is, but Monsters' Scoot McNairy is the actor in Killing Them Softly.
Nov. 29, 2012, 4:44 p.m. CST
Love Andrew Dominik's work, and he seems to be able to get a great performance out of Pitt each time.
Nov. 29, 2012, 4:58 p.m. CST
but ultimately doesn't deliver on those promises.
Nov. 29, 2012, 5:12 p.m. CST
Knew it wouldn't be a gun toting action film (Like the trailer had suggested), but was very disappointed with it. And when I watch a film with Pitt in it, he never seems to have any variety. So I'm concious of that and can't take him seriously.
Nov. 29, 2012, 5:13 p.m. CST
Mark (Webb) my words, if this gets critical acclaim he will either write and/or direct the next possible tent pole blockbuster.
Nov. 29, 2012, 5:26 p.m. CST
by Julian Gratton
Saw this a few months ago in the UK and I have to say I thought it was utterly riveting. Brilliantly acted and the script is just stunning... and I would go as far as to say it has the best end line in a movie ever... that last thing that Brad Pitt says is just utter genius. Well worth watching and I guarantee this will be on many people's 'best of' list at the end of the year.
Nov. 29, 2012, 5:35 p.m. CST
SOUNDS GOOD, CAN'T WAIT, I ALWAYS WANTED TO MAKE A FILM OUT OF "NOBODY MOVE" AFTER READING IT IN PLAYBOY BY JESUS'S SON. WHAT? I READ IT FOR THE ARTICLES.
GOOD FUCKING BOOK.
Nov. 29, 2012, 5:44 p.m. CST
seeing this tonight after I pick-up my fat sack of pre- movie wizzo. scoot from monsters looks like a great character actor along side ben mendel-Animal Kingdom-sohn. been listening to cash's "the man comes around" psyching myself up for later tonight. don't think this will be box office gold...but fuck ticket sales, just look at how many great character actors are in this film...that alone is getting my ass to the theatre...that & it being dominiks next flic. it's -18* C here, & I'm still making the trek to my theatre...hope you talkbackers do the same this weekend!
Nov. 29, 2012, 5:46 p.m. CST
by Collin Armstrong
And how about some love for CHOPPER? Fucking great. Wish he worked more, but I'll take what I can get. Can't wait for this.
Nov. 29, 2012, 5:47 p.m. CST
thank you for being a stand-up tb'r, & NOT revealing the final line...props to you bud, appreciate it!
Nov. 29, 2012, 5:53 p.m. CST
better than pitt holding shotgun against all black, in my opinion.
Nov. 29, 2012, 6:46 p.m. CST
...but The Assassination of Jesse James... automatically means I will watch anything by this director. He earned it with that movie. I consider it to be one of the best movies of the past 10 years. From this review it's obvious this is a very different movie, yet I have a feeling I'll at least like it. I like it when Brad Pitt takes on darker, non-mainstream movies, and it seems to be dripping with style in dialogue and visuals.
Nov. 29, 2012, 6:48 p.m. CST
now the same writer and director is doing a mafia movie with brad pitt, james gandolfini, richard jenkins, ray liotta and vincent curatola? too excited for this
Nov. 29, 2012, 7:09 p.m. CST
...that I just found boring as all hell. Just slow and dreary and what's the point?
Nov. 29, 2012, 7:53 p.m. CST
I cut that bitches' throat! Had me some money to make, you know? Can't wait to see this shit.
Nov. 29, 2012, 8:10 p.m. CST
@kesoze4 Perhaps something more along the lines of men in spandex where one of them can fly and all have sproutly boners
is along your lines
Nov. 29, 2012, 8:43 p.m. CST
and Fuck You, Andrew Dominik.
Nov. 29, 2012, 8:44 p.m. CST
I just got back from a screening, and only one word can describe it: tedious. Like a badly written play. Has a few moments of inspiration, but that doesn't make a good film. Waste of a good cast. And I really liked 'Jesse James'...
Nov. 29, 2012, 9:29 p.m. CST
I have to say, those whose opinion is that this film is not a good one, this bland sort of criticism makes me want to see it even more.
Nov. 29, 2012, 9:31 p.m. CST
They use the say typeface in that poster as for "Let's Scare Jessica to Death." (Sorry, I only just saw that film this past year and was astonished by not only how great it was but its very particular use of 70s style to lure you in to what is one of the
Nov. 29, 2012, 9:32 p.m. CST
... one of the best vampire movies I've ever seen. (But not "Killing Them Softly," don't think it has any vampires - does it
Nov. 29, 2012, 9:32 p.m. CST
Nov. 29, 2012, 9:33 p.m. CST
Nov. 29, 2012, 9:34 p.m. CST
Though, I think that is basically the synopsis of Carnahan's new picture. Man's gotta to stick to reality, suits him better.
Nov. 29, 2012, 9:35 p.m. CST
Nov. 29, 2012, 10:44 p.m. CST
by Toe Jam
It's criminally under-seen, thought it might be, as someone else above opined, the best film of the last 10 years. I wonder if 50 years from now it will be embraced as the masterpiece that it is.
Nov. 30, 2012, 12:21 a.m. CST
I've gone on about it at length here at AICN more than once. Brad Pitt has also been a favorite actor for many years. Look at his list of films - the guy has had an amazing run. And the fact that he produced this and 'Jessie James' gets him even more respect from me. With all that in mind, I'm obviously seeing this, so I stopped reading after the first paragraph. That was enough.
Nov. 30, 2012, 1:53 a.m. CST
But I'll watch it
Nov. 30, 2012, 2:06 a.m. CST
Had high hopes for this one. After the fantastic "Jessie James" and it's elongated title, i went into this expecting another fine piece of work from Dominik. What i saw was a big gaping hole of a movie that meandered to the point of tedium. Yes, there are some fine performances from Pitt, Liotta and Scoot McNairy, but in the end the characters were all lost in an empty, shallow piece of work. After "Chopper" and "Jessie James", it's a shame His latest is left out of a perfect Hat-trick. And yes, Mr. Nordling: This movie sure doesn't give a fuck about us, which is very fitting, because I couldn't give two fucks about it either.
Nov. 30, 2012, 2:32 a.m. CST
I never ranked it in my collection but I own it and thats good enough to make a small 200 bluray collection that has maybe another 100 flicks to be added.
Nov. 30, 2012, 3:31 a.m. CST
by Hugh Gustavus
i would much rather see a character drama that takes its time then most other current flicks. dominik and john hillcoat are aussie directors who hopefully wont sell out and decide to direct a comic book or blockbuster movie
Nov. 30, 2012, 4:03 a.m. CST
I actually flinched with embarrassment when watching this film. It's trying so hard to say BIG THINGS about America that it ends up being like a song on a boy band's third album when they are "maturing" and want to use their position to make, like, big statements about like, Greed, and like, America, and, like, how stuff really sucks sometimes.
Nov. 30, 2012, 4:05 a.m. CST
First time I have fell asleep at the cinema in a long time.
Nov. 30, 2012, 4:47 a.m. CST
Been out here in UK for a while now, it's good but not great. Pacing's a bit erratic, but the performances are terrific. I'd give it 6/10 over all.
Brad is his usual laconic self but it fits the role well here. Impressive looking filming but the story and pace are uneven you feel a bit like you're kicking your heels in parts.
Nov. 30, 2012, 6:40 a.m. CST
...great film. Dominik proves (again imo) he's more than equal to PTA.
Nov. 30, 2012, 7:30 a.m. CST
by Spandau Belly
Are they ever going to release that?
Nov. 30, 2012, 7:51 a.m. CST
Jesse James was amazing. Chopper was great, as well. Pitt is a great actor. IMO, he rose from pin-up pretty boy with some inspired choices of films, even if they were not always successful, he took his chances and has earned it. On another note, I would like to see someone turn Shane Stevens' Dead City into a film. That was a great read, with hopeless criminals roaming a bleak Jersey City landscape. Thanks to King's Dark Half to turning me onto that one.
Nov. 30, 2012, 9:08 a.m. CST
Nov. 30, 2012, 9:10 a.m. CST
Jesse James was definately perfect. Saw it at dollar theater and a drunk started talking at screen whole time. It was amusing commentary but we walked out and caught the rest on blu
Nov. 30, 2012, 10:01 a.m. CST
by Julian Gratton
as much as I did!
Nov. 30, 2012, 10:36 a.m. CST
The problem with being cynical nihilist with disdain for human existence is that ultimately you have to live with yourself and if that self isn't a fun person to be with what's the point of living.
On can only enjoy money when it buys things we actually care about, but if we don't care about anything....
Nov. 30, 2012, 11:50 a.m. CST
Saw it @ the Cannes Film Festival. A bit Tarantino meets Paul Thomas Anderson meets James Gray. For little straight boys?
Nov. 30, 2012, 11:52 a.m. CST
It is nothing like "..Jesse James." In fact, it is totally pointless, lifeless, boring piece of shit.
Nov. 30, 2012, 1:25 p.m. CST
Nov. 30, 2012, 1:55 p.m. CST
by Darth Macchio
Get it together man! This isn't Creem magazine..this is Rolling Stone!
Nov. 30, 2012, 2:29 p.m. CST
"...big statements about like, Greed, and like, America, and, like, how stuff really sucks sometimes." LOL!
Yeah, that's the vibe I'm getting from this film. That's totally in Brad Pitt's wheelhouse. And all the fellow 'deep thinkers' and cynics in the audience nod in agreement while stuffing their mouths with milk duds.
Nov. 30, 2012, 2:35 p.m. CST
Wonder if Pitt and Gandolfini shared memories of The Mexican? Doubt it.
Nov. 30, 2012, 2:51 p.m. CST
by Danny Boil
Nov. 30, 2012, 4:28 p.m. CST
This movie is a nasty bit of awesome, and it doesn't give a fuck about you! It doesn't care about your wants and needs because it's just a nasty bit of awesome!
Nov. 30, 2012, 5:05 p.m. CST
yep!...you were right, great line...thoroughly enjoyed this film on a cold canadian night! i will see & buy anything dominik does... he's one of the really great new directors we've got, in my opinion...visually & a as a storyteller. my best friend is in Jesse James...opening train robbery scene, on right side of frame holding a tray of drinks...only black dude in flic. dominik signed his DVD of chopper & talked to him about the movie...how he came across it , etc. my friend was given a great compliment from Sam Shepard...also said Jeremy Renner was awesome between set-ups, kept things light. even though my friend is in jesse james for a nano second, the fact that dominik took time out for my friend was beyond professional. dominik, in my book, has my money for whatever he puts on the screen . again, thanks for letting me enjoy that last line without spoiling it for me homie. Jesse James blows me away every time I see it. it was completely robbed at oscar time in numerous categories. peace
Nov. 30, 2012, 5:59 p.m. CST
Seriously a fucking awesome piece of cinema.
Nov. 30, 2012, 6:37 p.m. CST
He seriously did not even see the movie. All the plot points in his summary are wrong. Such as Gandolfini hiring Pitt. Or Deaths that end the movie he says kick things off. Has he lost his mind or just skimmed someone's coverage? Oh...and the movie would be great if it went somewhere. But it doesn't.
Nov. 30, 2012, 6:48 p.m. CST
by The Dum Guy
Just read his review and, I saw the movie earlier today, and I was wondering what movie Ebert watched?
Dec. 1, 2012, 1:52 a.m. CST
Like others have said, Jessie James is a goddman masterpiece, but this one misses in a lot of instances.
I can only expect the main movie going public will hate this fucking film. I liked where they were going with a lot of it but for my money it came out with a bad taste in the end. Acting, dialog, direction were superb but the story... Just don't know how to describe it. And I liked the message it was trying to say. It left me wanting more and by the end felt very cold.
Dec. 1, 2012, 9:14 a.m. CST
Ah, yes. Bradd Pitt doing an anti-capitalist flik. Dontcha just love getting lectured on greed by artists who earn a fortune in the good'ole USofA while doing the lecturing?
Dec. 1, 2012, 9:34 a.m. CST
by Johnny Wrong
...Australia's answer to P.T. Anderson. Just sayin. Great film.
Dec. 1, 2012, 11:06 a.m. CST
that'd be one of my pet peeves right there
Dec. 1, 2012, 3:19 p.m. CST
No he doesn't. He has a Marilyn Monroe biopic that he wants to make but hasn't yet.
Dec. 1, 2012, 3:20 p.m. CST
If only you two had the combined brain power to be able to separate an actor from a character, you might enjoys movies more. Brad Pitt wasn't lecturing anyone, Jackie Cogan was.
Dec. 2, 2012, 4:46 a.m. CST
I believe that Brad Pitt chooses his own roles, yes? He made the decision to make millions of dollars being in a movie with an anti-capitalist message. It looks silly, and I thought the same thing watching Fight Club. But I guess if you're gonna spend 20 - 50 bucks at the multiplex to see an anti-capitalist movie, you either really enjoy irony or it tends to not register with you.
Dec. 2, 2012, 8 a.m. CST
Dec. 2, 2012, 8:02 a.m. CST
Maybe Mr 'capitalism is bad' should start doing his films for scale.
Dec. 2, 2012, 8:23 a.m. CST
by Jackie Boy
You're citing an article that compares a dark, adult, R-rated crime drama budgeted at $18 million to a $120 million teenage franchise ending tent-pole blockbuster, most likely showing on multiple screens per location.
Dec. 2, 2012, 8:39 a.m. CST
by Johnny Wrong
...keep tryin' too hard.
Dec. 2, 2012, 9:10 a.m. CST
what a self absorbed piece of shit. it was boring the long scenes with Pitt and Gandofini seemed endless and made little sense. Gandolfini dialed it in using his Tony Soprano schtick. the opening was tarantino like but went quickly downhill. why would a pro hit man like Pitt was supposed to be use a burn out like Gandolfinis character when it is obvious he is a fuck up. and Jenkins, while aslways good just doesnt gel here. sorry Norling, you are way off on this.
Dec. 2, 2012, 11:05 a.m. CST
An American Masterpiece if ever there was one.
Dec. 2, 2012, 11:33 a.m. CST
Dec. 2, 2012, 12:12 p.m. CST
See here: http://tinyurl.com/c75n365
Dec. 2, 2012, 1:46 p.m. CST
Dec. 2, 2012, 7:59 p.m. CST
I saw this when it came out in the UK. It's amazing to me that the same craftsman who made Jesse James, churned out this piece of sub-Tarantino-esque Guy Ritche referencing drivel. I'm not even being unfair here, the film is dog-balls boring. Gandolfini is wasted in a pair of over-long scenes where he talks endlessly about plot-unrelated points for tens of minutes. The audience gets the point after the first 5, he's a tired blowhard who isn't on his game. Similarly, the small hoods in trouble schtick has been doing the rounds of UK gangsterdom since Ritchie appeared on the scene back in the 90s. It's old, it's tired, it's dull. You can't fault the actors who at least are watchable and interesting, and the visual style, although over-accomplished in a "Look at me! aren't I neat!" sort of way is still well turned out. The problem is that the script is horrible and the pacing is utter utter shite.
Dec. 2, 2012, 8:16 p.m. CST
by Marc Cerasini
Which meant the public didn't give a fuck about this film right back. The public didn't give a shit about it's needs or its expectations. The public went to Skyfall.
Dec. 2, 2012, 9:22 p.m. CST
It had the long scenes of dialog like a Tarantino film, but none of the wit. It had scenes that were shot "artistically" that ended up being annoying as they went on and on. The performances were good, but the movie was pointless and the poster who called it tedious nailed it 100%. It's not the worst movie ever made or anything, but it just doesn't jell at all. I'll probably forget I ever saw it in a few weeks.
Dec. 2, 2012, 11:50 p.m. CST
Shot with Millionaire actors…. LMAO…if I wanted a grade school level philosophy I’ll get it for free on the internet from a different useful idiot in a Che Guevara T-shirt…one who doesn’t charge me money for the privilege of hearing him. …Pass.
Dec. 3, 2012, 4:13 a.m. CST
Possibly my favourite film of 2007.
Dec. 3, 2012, 4:23 a.m. CST
Don't confuse rich with capitalist, rich with greedy or greedy with capitalist. They are orthogonal categories.
Dec. 3, 2012, 8:02 a.m. CST
I agree the film is underwhelming. Coogan is easily the mosy interesting character and we don't spend enough time with him. Pitts final rant was really great though...one of the great final scenes of recent times and I loved his last line.
Dec. 3, 2012, 8:18 a.m. CST
Great cast, acting and dialogue. The whole political overlay was awkward and a bit distracting; it probably worked a lot better in the novel - though I did love Pitts' last lines in the movie
Dec. 3, 2012, 10:09 a.m. CST
Had no idea there was a movie. The book has a massive amount of dialogue in it, though it takes place in the early seventies. May have to check this one out.
Dec. 4, 2012, 4:45 p.m. CST
by mr. tree
No one else has mentioned it yet. I'm not sure how I feel about the movie overall, but what I really found enjoyable was the sound. To anyone planning to see it: pay attention to the what the sound is doing. It's fun.
Dec. 5, 2012, 10:03 a.m. CST
Brad Pitt owes me a refund of $7.25. I love Richard Jenkins but his talent was wasted in this piece of junk.
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