Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Movie Reviews: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD & GONE BABY GONE
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
A cowboy named Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) joins the gang of outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt), only to become resentful of James' fame and plot his death.
Cast Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker, Paul Schneider,
Jeremy Renner (more)
Director(s) Andrew Dominik
Writer(s) Andrew Dominik
Release Date Sept. 21, 2007
DVD Release Date Feb. 5, 2008
Running Time 160 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for some strong violence and brief sexual references
The Assassination of Jesse James is truly a spectacular piece of tempered film making. A true feat when you consider the themes are all well traveled it not quite in this particular genre. This film feels like a dreamlike almost ethereal meditation on the themes of fame and obsession. Cinematographer Roger Deakin's was totally deserving of his Oscar nod and probably should have won, at least in my opinion. Needless to say the look and feel of this movie is just wonderful and entire engrossing. Director Andrew Dominik, Chopper, doesn't mind allowing the movie to progress in a natural manner; he allows scenes to go on as long as needed and gives the audience a chance to savor each line of dialogue. Some people maybe be put off by the movies slow pace but I personally had no issue with it at all, I found it perfectly paced. Acting wise there are sparklingly performances abound. Brad Pitt in the titular role gives his character the right mix of charm and charisma infused with a level of madness simmering just below the surface. Of course the star of the show is Casey Affleck. Affleck's portrayal of Robert Ford captures the characters inherent fandom and sadness which evolves into contained rage. Affleck is able to convey so much through his facial reactions without ever saying a word. Ford's a sycophantic resentful man who capable of murder as long as he can rationalize his actions. Sam Rockwell also delivers a great performance in a smaller role as Ford's older brother. As a whole this is the kind of film that can't be chewed and swallowed like fast food, it's the type of film that needs to be savored and enjoyed slowly.
GONE BABY GONE
Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) work together as private investigators and are hired to find a 4-year-old girl who went missing from the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. The media spotlight on the case burns brightly, and the pair are forced to team up with a detective (Ed Harris) and the chief of police (Morgan Freeman) to help solve it quickly. But as the clues start mounting and Patrick and Angie get involved with drug dealers and child abusers, it quickly begins to appear that there's a lot more at stake here than just one missing little girl.
Cast Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan (more)
Director(s) Ben Affleck
Writer(s) Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard
Status On DVD
Release Date Oct. 19, 2007
DVD Release Date Feb. 12, 2008
Running Time 114 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for violence, drug content and pervasive language
Gone Baby Gone is a mixed bag of a film for me. My main issue with the film is the last 3rd heads which delivers ludicrous twist after ludicrous twist, sadly it kills a lot of the fine work done in the first 2/3rd. Ben Affleck's directorial debut is fairly impressive and he does a good job of giving his film an authentic feel from the get go. This is a movie propped up by fine performances from the excellent cast. Casey Affleck turns in a solid performance is fairly believable in his role even if it's a bit hard to buy his tough guy act when he looks like he looks as big as Amy Whinehouse. Never the less he does provide a solid sense of grittiness needed for his role complete with subtle mannerism that make his character seem more realistic. Michelle Monaghan also does some fine work here, providing the film a great emotional center throughout. Ed Harris's character is sadly a one note player and while Harris does the best he can with it there isn't much on the page to work with for him. Amy Ryan garnered a Supporting Oscar nod for her performance here and in her limited screen time she makes you despise her character. It's a real accomplishment considering her character more or less disappears in the 2nd half of the film. As stated earlier, the movie takes a few twists and turns as it nears it finale and the writing does seem to falter occasionally. I have a slight issue with the way the characters are written as well. All of them seem to be extremes. Ryan's character isn't just a bad mother; she's the world's worst mother complete with Jerry Springer watching habits. Affleck's character isn't just a good guy he's a good guy to a fault. Ed Harris's character is the best example of this as he's portrayed throughout as a hardnosed cop with almost no wiggle room for anything else. Affleck's character and his attributes are understandable as he's central to the thematic element and message the movie is trying to convey. The rest however feel a bit more like types as opposed to actual people, aside from Monaghan's character, which is odd as the film is really going for realism. In the end I think the excellent acting being done really covers up some of the story's short comings however some flaws, like the twist-a-palooza at the end, are hard to ignore.