Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just glad they didn't go with the long title: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

Yes, I was curious about this movie mostly because of the silly title. Then I saw that it was really long, and didn't see any reviews that made me think I SIMPLY HAD TO SEE IT IN THE THEATER, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY! So I waited, and there it was on one of those movie channels. Score.

Brad Pitt ("Cool World") is the first title character, and Casey "The One Who Can Act" Affleck is the second one, a sniveling little guy who idolizes the legendary outlaw ... right up to the time he kills him. If that sounds simple, well, it kind of is. But since this is a character study, we have to chew up more than two hours before we get to the big fat kill.

In the meantime, we see how the coward falls in with the James gang, how Jesse handles different guys' degrees of loyalty after their last heist and how guys do a lot more talking and staring than shooting. In case you get lost, a narrator pops up to point us in the right direction.

Among our supporting players are Sam Shepard as Frank James, Sam Rockwell as Affleck's older brother and another gang member, and Jeremy Renner, Garret Dillahunt and Paul Schneider as other gang members. Schneider probably is the best, but they're all actually solid. So is Pitt, albeit largely restrained. I guess that's the idea - that Jesse was low-key guy with a family ... who could still kill folks as needed. I might not read too much into that as others, but sure, Pitt was OK.

Affleck, though, is the key, and he proves again that he's not afflicted with the same wooden nature as his better-looking brother. His Bob Ford is a hopeless worshipper who somehow thinks he's destined for greatness despite no evidence. How his character evolves to wimp to accidental assassin to celebrity to has-been is interesting, and Affleck pulls it off well.

Enough to make me love this movie? Not really. It's not necessarily too long for what it is, but it's still work to watch, and I wonder if we could have gotten the same character study with fewer scenes of silence. But it does look good, if only for all the different hats Affleck wears. Stovepipe ... bowler ... where's the beanie?


At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Casey does play a good creepy, stalker character in this one. Two major things wrong with this movie: 1) there are no aspen forest in Missouri. 2) Everyone from Missouri pronounces it Missourah. James Carval should know this being from the south.

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe there's some dispute about this, although who knows how it broke down in the 1880s. One thing I think we can all agree on, though, is that everyone in Missouri pronounces the state to the east as "Ill-i-noise."

At 10:21 PM, Blogger Jefferson said...

In all matters Missouri, I take comments from my father with a grain of salt ... nay, the entire shaker. This is the man who told his impressionable young son that natives of the state were "Filthy, Disgusting Missourians," as if it were a well-known fact. Fact though it may be, it made for some embarrassment when I later shared this in all seriousness with others. What, you didn't know that?

At 2:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please. It's not only a well-known fact, but I've also been asked to write the Wikipedia entry.


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