Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Assassination of Jesse James by... -
Andrew Dominik (2007)

Still rolling off from BFI's Sight & Sound poll 2012 - great films all through September.

Here's another late addition based on a recent suggestion... continuing through The American Western Frontier.

The Assassination of... (2007)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
dir. Andrew Dominik. 2007, USA.
Sight & Sound 2012: Directors' #546
Roger Ebert's movie review
DVD from the Amazon [Blu-Ray]
Watch via Amazon Instant / iTunes

The Assassination of Jesse James by... trailer (2007)

Jesse James: Can't figure it out. Do you want to be like me, or do you want to be me?

I think this might be the most character-study type of film I've covered so far - not surprising as the title includes the two main characters' full names. So there's a lot of development and plot, but also lyrical flights of fancy. As in all arty Westerns, illiterate yokels wander the line between colorful idiom and Shakespearean eloquence. I will give the film credit for successfully pulling off some story maneuvers in the "Too Stupid To Lie Well" vein - frequently a killer. I think someone claimed to practice haruspexy, and I'm not talking about high-society Charley's soothsayers.

The other quote I considered spotlighting (1 each) was when Bob piped up at the burial to help out with The Beatitudes. Not to brag, but I saw it coming a mile away - still, nicely done.

Jesse James
Some interesting stylistic choices - we return to dark interiors, but these are high-contrast B&W rather than murky brown. Exteriors sometime come framed in hazy edges, kind of like looking through old thick wavy pane glass. Jesse's snake-handling bit was quite saturated. I always tend to question the need for a Narrator voice-over, but I'd have to rewatch before I decide if I can see any better options. And on first viewing, the last third tended to drag a little, with a number of acceptable endings strung together.

But the violence was good, and the kid was a surprisingly good pistol shot. Top-notch cast and cameos. Nick Cave showed up, plus Zooey D. in Creede, CO. O yeah, Cave & Ellis did the soundtrack! Very nice, and I think I've forgotten to mention several OST's so far...

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