"I'm livin' in America. And in America you're on your own."
December 2, 2012 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Killing Them Softly - Trailer(Youtube) - is based on a 1978 novel by George V. Higgins (Boston's Balzac), set in Boston. The movie was filmed in New Orleans and set in 2008.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominik, who previously directed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta(Interviewed by Esquire), Vincent Curatola

The film has opened to mixed reviews:
Positive:Rolling Stone, Paste, The Guardian, Grantland, Mother Jones, The AV Club, CSMonitor
Middling: The Village Voice, Reason, Vanity Fair
Negative:Chicago Sun-Times, Slate, NYTimes, New York Observer

The Atlantic:
An heir to Hammett and Hemingway and Chandler and Cain, Higgins, who died in 1999, has somehow fallen out of the hard-boiled firmament. Yet the tough, literate, dialogue-driven idiom he helped invent is everywhere in ascendance: David Mamet and Elmore Leonard have cited him as major influences (the latter calls his first book, The Friends of Eddie Coyle [a movie too], "the best crime novel ever written"). Groundbreaking entertainments such as The Sopranos, The Wire, and the collected oeuvre of Quentin Tarantino have all followed closely in the vernacular path beaten by Higgins.
The Criminally Overlooked Novels Of George V. Higgins, full of linguistic loot. The NYTimes has collected reviews of his novels. George V. Higgins’ Eddie Coyle: Even Better than True

The NY Times discusses the sound effects, and has and interactive piece with the sounds in one scene.
Featured prominently in the trailer is Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around," which is one of his last original songs and has a significant amount of Christian apocalyptic imagery.
posted by the man of twists and turns (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm eager to see this movie because it's such a perfect storm of things I enjoy: great cast, great book, a director/screenwriter who one-inch-punched me with his previous film, but I can't figure out why Weinstein and company are being so soft with the release. I know the American audience now wants more kicksplode, but it's a Brad Pitt Crime Movie. With Brad Pitt.

Going to try to make time to see it this week, even if it's playing in two of my most hated BOS theatres: Kendall (which always gets great movies but has the laziest projection staff in the business) and Boston Common.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 7:38 AM on December 2, 2012

I don't pay to see movies in theaters very often, but this is definitely going on the "be sure to catch it on the premium channels" list.
posted by hippybear at 7:46 AM on December 2, 2012

This is one of those movies where they awkwardly say the name of the movie in the movie. I know because it's in the trailer.

There's also a line like, "I don't know what it is about these guys; they can't keep their mouths shut about nothin'!" And there's a sawn-off shotgun that is way too sawn-off, because stupid.

So, judging by the trailer, the theme seems to be Steve-Buscemi-in-Fargo-meets-Steve-Buscemi-in-Airheads, but they couldn't get Steve Buscemi so it's just some guys you've never heard of, and all the subtext is stated explicitly, and also Brad Pitt is there.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:57 AM on December 2, 2012

Great post: lots to chew over here. I've read the book and seen the movie (it's been out in the UK for a while now). I was a bit afeared of transplanting Higgins' particular Boston-area cadences and concerns to another time and place, but my fears were unfounded, really. The New Orleans thing is a bit of a red herring. The setting is basically Anytown, USA, in the sense of the omnipresence of urban social decay, and Dominik decision to move the action into '08 works well (and if anything is overplayed a little). Everyone is superb (although Sam Shepard is bafflingly underused). As a by-the-by, that Ebert review is a little strange: he gets major plaot strands totally wrong. It reads like he drifted off halfway through the movie and woke up ten minutes later slightly off-beam. Anyway, it's a fantastic movie, a worthy companion-piece to Mitchum in '...Eddie Coyle', and it's got one of the all-time great final lines ever.
posted by hydatius at 7:58 AM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

The setting is basically Anytown, USA

One thing that has really driven the growth of the movie industry in New Orleans is that, being such an old but relatively small city, within 50 miles of your base camp (which will probably be in Elmwood) you can find neighborhoods that can comfortably stand in for just about anywhere in the US*. So while your made in NOLA movie can have that Louisiana ambience if you want, it doesn't come baked in just because you make the movie here.

*or, at least, anywhere that's flat.

posted by localroger at 8:21 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Saw it Friday night and while the political sub(super?)text is ladled on a bit heavy, the movie overall is a terrifically-paced, tightly wound bit of noir. It feels like it would have been right at home in the golden age of Eddie Coyle's and Popeye Doyle's. It would have made a great double feature with Argo for maximum modern throwback appeal.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:43 AM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's so great to see Richard Jenkins finally getting his due. I've liked him ever since his hilariously understated turn in Flirting With Disaster, but his career goes back much farther.
posted by dhartung at 8:49 AM on December 2, 2012

Richard Jenkins in Burn After Reading may have the funniest performance in a film loaded with great ones. He's an actor I'm always happy to see.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:00 AM on December 2, 2012

Yeah talk about a guy with a late-career explosion..

I loved Richard Jenkins in three vastly different movies:

Step Brothers playing straight-man to two out of control man-children

Cabin in the Woods the wizened expert in control until the gory end

Eat, Pray, Love i know, i know.. but his role stood out in the movie, for me
posted by ninjew at 11:33 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

there's a sawn-off shotgun that is way too sawn-off, because stupid.

This is a detail lifted from the book. From what I've heard, it's largely a faithful adaptation of the source material, with some rather heavy handed political commentary thrown in, which seems unnecessary, since if you haven't figured out that organized crime is capitalism in its most undiluted form you're probably not allowed to go to R rated movies.
posted by dortmunder at 11:43 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just saw it. I thought it was a disaster. They should exile whoever made the song choices and murder the person who chose the music cues.

I love Higgins but this piece of garbage is a complete waste. The director doesn't have a unique thought in his head.
posted by dobbs at 12:09 PM on December 2, 2012

Jenkins was shockingly good as a elderly autistic man in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation Dear John.
posted by PinkMoose at 1:22 PM on December 2, 2012

Brad Pitt's "Killing Them Softly" barely had a pulse at the box office this weekend.

Not only did the crime flick debut with a weak $7 million, according to an estimate from distributor The Weinstein Co., but audiences hated it. Those who saw the film assigned it a rare average grade of F, according to market research firm CinemaScore....

Typically, a F CinemaScore indicates that moviegoers were expecting something far different from a movie than they ended up getting....

Indeed, the film notched a strong 79% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie, which stars Pitt as a hit man looking into a crooked poker game, marks the second collaboration for the actor with Australian director Andrew Dominik. Unfortunately, it seems "Killing Them Softly" will follow the same trajectory as their first partnership, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." That 2007 film earned strong reviews but only collected $3.9 million.

"Killing Them Softly" marks the lowest wide-release opening for Pitt in nearly two decades. He hasn't had a live-action film perform this badly in its first weekend since the beginning of his career, when his 1994 romantic comedy "The Favor" launched with $1.5 million.

posted by dhartung at 2:51 PM on December 2, 2012

Okay, this lead me to two questions:

a) Why aren't they selling this at all
b) Is it a strange little knot of a thing that people aren't understanding or is it something different--we are living in the golden age of post-modern recreations of the gangster film, and is this more like Drive or Port of Call, because those two films are fucking genius and I suspect this might be too...

Also with its ambition, length, and pacing, Jesse James seems to be a set of questions about american myth right in the middle of this rise of patriotic fervor, it was oblique as hell, but it's rare that oblique is done well.

I like that Pitt seems to be working thru a set of directors who are asking interesting questions, he seems to be more concerned about making interesting texts than making either art or pure entertainments--though sometimes he does one or the other--look at the movies he has made in the last ten years and those questions seem to be about how to live as a man in an America whose institutions are corrupt or will become corrupt (aside from Happy Feet): Moneyball, Tree of Life, Inglorious Basterds, Burn After Reading, even Button or the Ocean's Movies.

Pitt (because he is pretty, because he is laconic?) makes choices that are politically smart and artsitically worthwhile, and then works thru them, and he doesn't get rewarded. Makes me wonder about this one.

Haven't seen it, but will soon.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:08 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Being a UK resident, I saw this a couple of months ago.

Very good, superb nihilistic atmosphere, tight script, funny and nasty, great look, v good performances by Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNair (?), gandolfini and liotta and everyone else are fine.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 3:05 AM on December 3, 2012

Saw this last night. I will read the book. I am sure it will be better than the movie. The movie is awful. Way too heavy handed with the political context of 2008. Great sound horribly used.
posted by Roger_Mexico at 8:44 AM on December 3, 2012

KTS, while not my worst film of the year (that honor belongs to The Paperboy), makes my list of biggest disappointments.
posted by wensink at 3:51 PM on December 3, 2012

« Older The clean, fresh air of Scandinavia   |   The Hawkeye Initiative Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments