The Assassination of Jesse James: The Poll

The Assassination of Jesse James: The Poll

****
11
44%
*** 1/2
8
32%
***
2
8%
** 1/2
2
8%
**
2
8%
* 1/2
0
No votes
*
0
No votes
1/2 *
0
No votes
0
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 25

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Postby Sabin » Sun Sep 30, 2007 1:14 pm

Start puckering. :p



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Postby Damien » Sat Sep 29, 2007 6:49 pm

I was very disappointed in The Proposition, Josh. The characterizations are dull and the situations neither terribly believable or interesting. The film aimed for grandeur and an epic quality, but ultimately all it was was noisy.
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Postby Sabin » Sat Sep 29, 2007 4:45 pm

I forgot to mention Paul Schneider. I've found the actor a ridiculous dullard in the past, but he gives a fantastic performance here. I need to go out and rent 'Chopper', because Dominick seems to bring out the best in all of his actors here (including Pitt, who I still say is a little hit and miss but still does some of his best work ever), and I've heard his work with Bana in that film is the stuff of legends. Two or three days later, I can't wait to see 'The Assassination of Jesse James' again. Not a bad sign for a film of 2 1/2+ hours.

A great time for Westerns, Damien. I need to see 'Seraphim Falls' and I'm all caught up. I have a feeling that 'The Alamo' and 'The Missing' I need not bother with. How did you feel about 'The Proposition', Damien?
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Postby Damien » Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:14 am

I mostly loved The Assassination Of Jesse James, alrhough it does have some serious flaws. The film is a fascinating examination of the mythologizing of history, but its subtexts are even more interesting, as the characters' actions reveal their struggles with self-identity and a self-awareness of personal inadequacies. It's very much a movie about yearning and it is very grave and tremendously moving.

The main flaw for me is that lack of development of the characters other than Jesse and the two Ford brothers. There's an inter-changeability about the other members of the gang, and it's hard to care what happens to them, and the relationships between various characters is vague.

Sabin, I liked the mirror effect that Deakins created. I don't think it was absolutely necessary, but it was a nice way of expressing Memory.

I was surprised at how lively Brad Pitt was -- terrific performance and an interesting take on the character as a mercurial killer rather than the traditional misunderstood hero. I also liked Paul Schneider immensely as the self-declared Lothario Dick Liddil. But most of all, I was bowled over by Casey Affleck, who's just perfect. It's a brave self-effacing performance, and which he brilliantly conveys would-be bravado and deep resentments simmering under a scarily calm exterior; he also makes us aware of the huge ego that's dying to get out. A great perfromance.

As for the other subject of this thread -- Kid Nation is a hoot, a combination of Lord of the Flies and The Little Racsals.
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Postby Sabin » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:34 am

No idea how this thread got so far off track, but if I could bring it back for a moment...

Watching 'The Assassination of Jesse James...' I was half-convinced I was watching a masterpiece and half-convinced I was watching something fairly silly. I think I'm right on both counts. There is a choice made in this film so phenomenally wrong-headed I can scarcely believe it; when Roger Deakins loses the Oscar this year, it will be on account of this choice. It's an in-camera effect to refract all light on the edges of the frame to create a mirror effect and whenever I saw it, it gave me a headache and pulled me out of the movie. Does the choice make sense aesthetically? Of course. On the other hand, why the fuck would Roger Deakins' cinematography need anything so cheap a trick as that? And this is the master's best work since 'O' Brother, Where Art Thou?' for sure.

The other mistake is that I never believed that Jesse James would allow Robert Ford so close. "No, he can't ride with me. He's creepy and gay. Sorry." And yet Casey Affleck's performance works quite well. It's his show. Pitt on the other hand creates an enigma and not a fascinating one at all. Sam Rockwell lends terrific support as Bob's older brother Charlie in another thankless supportingi role that the actor knocks out of the park.

I want to revisit this film but I will say for now that scene for scene, it knocked me for a loop. I loved it, and yet I'm not quite sure how effective it is as a whole. Nick Schager writes that it's "a movie's movie, a knowingly synthetic construct that relishes its every artificiality." There is a shift in tone during the epilogue that kept me completely interested. Strongly recommend, and a 2 1/2 hour film that I will not hesitate to revisit again. That's a damn good thing.
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Postby The Original BJ » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:21 pm

I don't mean to totally divert this thread, but, for what it's worth, a number of my friends worked on Kid Nation, and they are SHOCKED that the series has caused such controversy. (I'm not justifying the premise -- it's clearly one that would lend itself easily to disaster.) But, according to them, it was a fun shoot, any problems were dealt with quickly and appropriately, and no one thought it would appear this traumatic and exploitative. Again, I wouldn't want to be the producer in charge of those kids, but they were definitely NOT unsupervised.

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Postby 99-1100896887 » Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:01 pm

Ah, but Wes-- whether it is exploitive or not it will be seen as such. Don't expect it to be around very long.

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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:47 pm

flipp525 wrote:And let's not forget the uber-exploitive Lord of the Flies, I mean, "Kid Nation" set to begin airing on CBS this fall. It's a reality series in which 40 kids are dropped off in an abandoned 1870's town in New Mexico to "create a society" in the fashion of the old West without any adult supervision. Reports are that a child was badly burned by splattering grease and another actually drank bleach that was being stored in an unmarked soda bottle. Exploit your children for network profits!

Well, from all the press going on around it, the kids had to "obey the adult supervision" so, I highly doubt it's as unscripted as they suggest. I don't care if it exploits children because it's really not as big a deal as they are claiming, but the entire concept is just over-hyped for what's likely to amount to very little.
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Postby flipp525 » Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:36 pm

And let's not forget the uber-exploitive Lord of the Flies, I mean, "Kid Nation" set to begin airing on CBS this fall. It's a reality series in which 40 kids are dropped off in an abandoned 1870's town in New Mexico to "create a society" in the fashion of the old West without any adult supervision. Reports are that a child was badly burned by splattering grease and another actually drank bleach that was being stored in an unmarked soda bottle. Exploit your children for network profits!



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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:56 am

For those of you who like Westerns, this review, if it holds true, should make the third western of the year to receive heaps of praise. If they can all do boffo bo numbers, then your rebirth will have arrived.

By TODD MCCARTHY

Brad Pitt plays the legendary outlaw in the Warner Bros. release 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.'


A ravishing, magisterial, poetic epic that moves its characters toward their tragic destinies with all the implacability of a Greek drama, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is one of the best Westerns of the 1970s, which represents the highest possible praise. It's a magnificent throwback to a time when filmmakers found all sorts of ways to refashion Hollywood's oldest and most durable genre. Given the narrower current notion of what constitutes an acceptable commercial feature, Andrew Dominik's daring high-wire act will trod a very hard road to find secure theatrical footing, which suggests Warner Bros. might do best to nurture it in a small number of theaters in the hope that critical support and word of mouth will snowball into long runs and a slow rollout.
Whether it directly resembles them or not, this impeccable new picture is at one with the adventurous spirit that produced such films as "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid," "Bad Company," "The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid," "Jeremiah Johnson," "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "Days of Heaven," "The Long Riders" and, yes, "Heaven's Gate," rather than with anything being made today.

Shot two years ago and long delayed in editing, pic marks an enormous advance for Dominik beyond his 2000 Aussie prison crimer "Chopper." Elegant, artful and consumed by a fascination with American history and Western lore, his adaptation of Ron Hansen's popular 1983 novel retills the once overworked ground of outlaw legend so thoroughly that it has become fertile once again. Pic's hefty 160-minute running time will no doubt cause carping in some quarters, but this is one film whose length seems absolutely right for what it's doing.

Meticulously noting dates and locations, and framing the story's long arc with discreetly distanced narration, yarn commences on Sept. 5, 1881, just prior to the last train robbery pulled off by the James gang in their 14-year career . After this spectacularly staged nocturnal job, the older surviving brother, Frank (Sam Shepard), calls it quits and disappears back East, leaving Jesse (Brad Pitt), who's 34, to continue with the help of dubious lowlifes such as the Ford boys.

Most questionable member of the latter clan is 19-year-old Robert (Casey Affleck), whose wimpy demeanor, thin, unemphatic voice and irritatingly sycophantic manner mark him as a singularly unpromising gunslinger.

But even when Jesse returns to his life with wife and children under the alias of Thomas Howard, he can't quite bring himself to get rid of Bob, a leech who has collected every dime novel written about his hero. Jesse is both appalled and amused , at one point taunting Bob with the question, "You want to be like me, or you want to be me?"

Although arrestingly different from the outset, pic initially feels over-elaborated; shots in which the edges are purposely blurred, and a soundtrack too conspicuously mixed to emphasize ambient sounds of insects and weather, warn of incipient pretension. Fears also gather that Dominik has no intention of supplying the film with enough dramatic traction to sustain interest over the long haul, as the deliberate pacing seems designed to accommodate numerous embellishments and digressions.

But any sense of viewer impatience is soon overtaken by the film's accumulation of detail on every front -- narrative, historical, folkloric, behavioral and psychological. Pitching the dialogue in a way that neatly injects prairie twang with a literary lyricism, Dominik settles into an expansive narrative strategy of the sort often found in novels and longform series, wherein the story skips and meanders among events whose relevance and meaning may be initially unclear, but which are all there for good reasons.

While Jesse cools his heels and smokes his big cigars at home, attention shifts to cohorts Charley Ford (Sam Rockwell), Bob's grinning older brother; Jesse's cousin, the homely Wood Hite (Jeremy Renner), and Dick Liddil (Paul Schneider), a self-styled ladies' man . Jesse's shadow hovers over them all, and narrative's dominant ploy is that the other characters are constantly afraid that Jesse, no matter where he is, will find out about any transgressions on their part and will come after them.

Which, in fact, he does. Intensely aware of his legendary status and willing to play it up when it suits him, especially with the worshipful Bob, this Jesse James is both paranoid that everyone's out to get himand resigned to the fact that his days are numbered. His antennae for sensing when something is amiss are almost supernaturally acute, and he takes more than one long journey to track down people plotting against him . The irony is that the man he really needs to have his eye on is the one closest to him.

Eventually, the long-ineffectual authorities get into the act, setting in place the mechanism leading to Bob Ford's almost ritual killing of Jesse as he dusts a picture frame in his house. But that's not all, as the final half-hour provides its own fascination in playing out the strange fate of the man whose fame came with its own curse.

At least as conceived here, Jesse James is the biggest celebrity in the land, and Pitt generously endows the character with the droit de signeur he switches on at will. Thesp emphasizes Jesse's mercurial nature, but in a way that suggests much of it is calculated, a strategy that, until the end, he uses to manipulate events . It's a layered, continually interesting performance.

Affleck makes an indelible impression as the insecure, physically unprepossessing weakling who endures no end of humiliation, and eventually embodies the sort of nobody who has bloodied American history from time to time to insure his own immortality.

Rockwell's effectively drawn Charley Ford is weak, but in a different way than his brother, always ducking to stay out of trouble, and he's a good foil for the other, more withdrawn rural men. Supporting turns are vivid all around, including a vibrant cameo by political strategist James Carville as a big-shot governor.

Even those who resist the film itself will be in awe of its surpassing visual beauty and consummate craftsmanship. Just when it seemed that cinematographer Roger Deakins had achieved another career high with "No Country for Old Men," he trumps himself yet again, here using a subdued palette of parched-plains earth tones captured with an extraordinary luminosity and delicacy.

Made on various Canadian locations, pic boasts great production values from top to bottom.
Wesley Lovell

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Postby Precious Doll » Fri May 04, 2007 3:51 am

I am so sick of seeing the trailer for Lucky You. I have lost count at the number of times I have endured it over the last couple of months.

Needless to say the film looks terrible and the entire plot is revealed in the process. I like Barrymore and she looks sweet in it but Eric Bana has the charisma of a rotting piece of wood.
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Postby Reza » Thu May 03, 2007 12:02 pm

LA Times

Brad Pitt's 'Jesse James' comes under fire
Early cuts of Brad Pitt's 'Jesse James' have tested poorly, but Warner Bros. is sticking to its guns.




By John Horn, LA Times Staff Writer

Every great western has a duel, and there's a showdown at the center of Brad Pitt's new movie about gunslinger Jesse James. The struggle hinged on the film's tone and length ? at one point its running time was more than three hours ? according to several people close to the production.

But running time wasn't the main issue. The thornier challenge was to come up with a cut of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" that satisfied audiences and Warner Bros., the studio making and distributing the film. At one point there were competing versions ? one from writer-director Andreew Dominik and another from producer and star Pitt, according to a person familiar with the making of the movie. It's unclear which version of the film will be released.

Warner Bros. only recently announced a Sept. 21 release date for "Jesse James," about two years after it was filmed. (In the time since, Pitt has had daughter Shiloh Nouvel and completed two other movies, "Ocean's 13" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." "Ocean's" will be in theaters more than three months before "Jesse James.")

Adapted from the novel by Ron Hansen, the film follows the last heist committed by James (Pitt), and Ford's (Casey Affleck) devoted and then vengeful relationship with the legendary outlaw.

Dominik, a New Zealand filmmaker who rose to prominence with the 2000 crime drama "Chopper" starring Eric Bana, wanted to deliver a dark, contemplative examination of fame and infamy, in the spirit of director Terrence Malick ("The New World"), according to several people familiar with the production. The studio, on the other hand, wanted less contemplation and more action, closer to Clint Eastwood's filmmaking style, sources said. (Dominik, Pitt and Affleck declined interview requests.)

Various versions of the film were assembled and tested, with Pitt, producer Ridley Scott ("Gladiator") and editor Michael Kahn ("Saving Private Ryan") either overseeing new cuts of the film or suggesting revisions, according to people familiar with the process.

Early test scores were poor, but some who have seen the film say the performances by Pitt and especially Affleck are among the best in their careers.

One otherwise favorable review of a research screening posted on the website www.aintitcoolnews.com said, "I see one serious problem with this film. A major studio made it. This film isn't for everyone. This isn't 'Tombstone,' it's not an action-packed Western."

In a statement last week, Warner Bros. said that the version being released this fall "is true to the source material and in keeping with the creative vision of its filmmakers. We do not comment on the internal creative process of bringing a picture to the screen, but the goal of both the studio and the filmmakers is to deliver the best film possible?. We are all very pleased with the piicture we are bringing to theaters this fall."

Modestly budgeted at around $30 million, "Jesse James" is one of several Warner Bros. films facing problems in the editing room. Some half-dozen different cuts of the $50-million Bana- Barrymore romantic comedy "Lucky You" have failed to wow preview audiences, and the studio is now cutting back on its marketing push for the film, which opens Friday opposite "Spider-Man 3," according to a person familiar with the production. The studio also has reshot approximately 50 pages for the Nicole Kidman movie "The Invasion," replacing original director Oliver Hirschbiegel with James McTeigue, with new screenplay pages written by Larry and Andy Wachowski ("The Matrix").

Yet as Warner Bros. knows, difficult productions do not always mean death at the box office. The studio (and some cast and crew) clashed with "Lake House" director Alejandro Agresti, but when it came out last summer, the $40-million film grossed more than $100 million worldwide.


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