Sunday, September 23, 2007


I have already reviewed THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD on the blog so I don't necessarily need to write another lengthy piece. From the surreal opening train robbery to the chilly, desolate landscapes that punctuate the entire story, writer-director Andrew Dominik is operating on another level of storytelling with this epic yet intimate Western. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, aka cameraman of the Gods (FARGO, JARHEAD, KUNDUN, O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU?), shoots the film as a living, breathing painting, which springs to life in a lyrical, haunting fashion. It's pure visual art, filmmaking of the highest order, a triumph for all involved. Casey Affleck is a revelation as Robert Ford; awkward, off-putting, and sneaky. And Brad Pitt is simply magnetic as Jesse James, giving one of the absolute best peformances of his underrated career. You will never take your eyes off him in this picture when he appears on screen. Here is a real life Jesse James (in a certain way--see the film and you'll know what I mean) playing a cocky, brash outlaw thug, with a rabid, mad-dog intensity circulating in his eyes and in his mannerisms. The entire ensemble cast, including the always fascinating Sam Rockwell, James Remmar, Paul Schneider, Sam Sherpard and Mary-Louise Parker all lend deft support in memorable roles. Movies like JESSE JAMES come around once in a great while, and it would be a shame if the public gives it a cold shoulder. It did very well in limited release this weekend which is encouraging. And it will get a wider release in the weeks to come. But this is a specific film for a specific type of film goer. It's a monumental acheivement, and easily the best film of the year.

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