Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Assassination of Jesse James

I've asked my son Danis to guest-write a post for you today. He studied film at Otago and in New York and is now back in Auckland. With this debut post he features a film made by the New Zealand-born director Andrew Dominik. Now he's on board, I'm pleased to say you can look forward to more posts from Danis. KR.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is the second feature film by Chopper director Andrew Dominik. It stars Brad Pitt, in possibly the finest role of his career, and Casey Affleck.

This is a film that doesn't pull any punches or surprises; the plot is spelled out in the title. However, it is the way the story is told that makes this incredible film, that spans almost 3 hours, entirely captivating.

[Spoiler Alert]

The Assassination of Jesse James... is a film that shines in its portrayal of celebrity. Although based in the 1880s, it portrays America's fascination with stars. It does this by centering around Bob Ford's absorption of his idol Jesse James, and his obsession with befriending James and joining his gang, only to grow disillusioned by the outcome.

The film is also blessed with beautiful cinematography, providing a real and gritty look at what the West was really like. This look is complimented by an incredible score (and cameo) from Nick Cave. It also features stunningly detailed and developed performances from not only the two drawcards, but also a handful of the supporting cast.

Along with The Proposition, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is part of a new breed of Western; slow burning, gritty, honed and not falling back on gun slinging and knife fighting. Highly recommended.


David said...

Well said Danis.

"The finest role" of Brad's career?? Huge call.

Looking forward to hearing Nick Cave's score too.


Susan Plunkett said...


I know there are many films with great scores and great cinematography however I rarely go and see a film. Partly lack of interest and largely because I always wind up restless and my attention drops away. Some exceptions of course but they are rare.

So, what about this film do you believe will keep me interested and not longing for a pause button so I can go do something else for a few minutes (which is almost invariably the response I have). What's the key gift this film offer it's audience compared with other movies in the same genre?

I hope you talk about film noire sometime as I admire that genre and the power of light/shade and 'hints' opposed to that which is gross and graphic.

Susan Plunkett said...

I'd also be interested to hear your view on the films that have been emerging from say South Africa in the last 2 years - perhaps the topic more along the lines of emerging industries in nations and how they are informing the world about issues internal to that country. I saw snippets of a brilliant film that portrayed the struggle a young family had with the parents about to die from AIDS but the film was clearly African. In that instance albeit the director had had training in the US, the film, as stated, was imbued with the pulse and rhythm of Africa.

So, as ethnographic and cultural artifacts I think these emerging industries have much to offer. They provide an insider look into life stories and draw in cultural perspectives rather than the issues having been filtered through western eyes and mindsets.

Are there similar films emerging from South America and the former cold war countries? Are there films emerging from independents in small countries like Sri Lanka or Fiji?

Andy said...

Hi Danis,

great to have you on board!

Look forward to further posts.

Anonymous said...

The family of Jesse James has posted their own review of this film on their family web site. The 5 page review also includes other stories about the James family's former experiences with Hollywood and Jesse James movies.

Kempton said...

Hi Danis,

Thanks for your review. Look forward to your future posts.


Anonymous said...

I loved Jesse James so much that I forgot my bills, my daily problems, the city I live in that I hate. This beautiful hypnotic film took me into their world. I was scared of Brad as was the Gang.
Brad was amazing and I forgot his beauty but was mesmorized by his transition into Jesse James.The tired JJ..the paranoia I understood.I teared when he got killed.
The cinematography was so stunning.
The sound & I still (3 wks later) still cannot forget this hauntingly beautiful masterpiece.
I heard Brad say in an interview, "this is a film lover's film"
I am happy I am considered a film lover. A good film takes you away from your world & takes you into their magic. I happily was.
I think it's a shame the film was not better promoted & still today (Feb 25,'08) Wall Mart, Target stores are short in supply. Out of stock. Shame on Warner Bros for letting such a treasure slipping through their fingers.
But, time will prove it to be a cult classic. Watch it happen.

Gabriella Kantor
Los angeles

Kevin Roberts said...

Glad the film touched you, it’s one of my favorites – destined to become a cult classic!