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  1. #1
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

    Holy crap, what a movie. I took it in this afternoon at the local multiplex and from frame one this one feels like a classic. Writer/director Andrew Dominik (Chopper) unspools the story of Jesse James' last days, leading up to the notorious outlaw's death at the hands of one of his own men. The picture trades on the same sense of building dread that made Zodiac so successful earlier this year, except that it replaces that film's desperate sense that something has to happen with a queasy inevitability-- every one of the characters moves as if in the trance of destiny, knowing only that they have a role to play in a script they don't fully understand yet. Pitt plays the titular gang leader as a man haunted by his own infamy, trusting no one, given to seemingly capricious behavior underlied by calculated paranoia. Although he spends the entire story increasingly convinced of conspiracies against him, he nonetheless exudes confidence-- Pitt does an incredible job making the character's mere presence dictate the way every scene & situation play out. Casey Affleck plays Bob Ford as James' polar opposite-- a young man who has grown up hero-worshipping the dashing criminal and who is convinced of his own similar greatness but is in practice thoroughly ineffectual in every instance. James recognizes this quality in him instantly but yet never sends him away, and the central conflict plays out between the two men when Ford realizes that since James will never fully accept him, the only way to become close to his idol is to insert himself permanently into the James legend by killing him. The pacing is languid but dead-on, and Dominik and lenser Roger Deakins create incredible atmosphere (the rapturous, Malick-like shots of the Canadian landscape, standing in for 19th-century Missouri, cast it as practically the third main character in the film). It's a real testament to the filmmakers' skill that a story with an ending that is telegraphed right in the title can be this gripping.

    One of the best films I've seen so far this year, certainly.


  2. #2
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Troy, New York

    Thanks G.C.

    Two good if not great westerns in one year... Sheesh whodathunkit?
    Thanks for the thoughtful and concise review. Doubt it'll do much in the box office coming on the heels of 3:10 but who knows. Also the title has to be the worst I've ever seen.

    Da Worfster

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