* The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This is a lot of movie. It is also a *beautiful* movie, which should be no surprise as it’s lit by Roger Deakins, one of the few cinematographers I manage to know the name of. The others include Christopher Doyle, of course, and Conrad Hall, who made Sam Mendes’s films look much better than they actually were. (Famously, when Hall passed away, I wondered who on earth Mendes would get next. Mendes is no fool. He now works with Deakins. Who, by the way, also works a lot with the Coens.) ANYWAY. This was a horribly mis-managed film from a marketing perspective. I mean, this is a Brad Pitt film fer crissakes, but it sat around for ages, and then when it was finally released, in many cities reviewers weren’t even given the chance to see it. It’s long, the pacing is a little weird, it’s clearly influenced by Malick (which for me is a good thing, but I am not normal), Mary-Louise Parker is desperately underused, but Pitt is excellent, and the film is carried on Casey Affleck’s surprisingly capable shoulders. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I am really curious about a longer cut.
* Also lit by Deakins, No Country for Old Men is one freaky movie. I have two favorite moments. First, when Brolin & Macdonald are sitting on the couch early on in the film, both looking straight ahead, but in their demeanor & dialogue you can totally tell the depth & strength of their relationship. Second, when Bardem exits a house and checks the bottom of his shoes. Bardem, who I have long adored, and now? He terrifies me. THANKS, GUYS. Good thing Tommy Lee Jones was there being awesome. Also, it is probably worth noting that I had read the book a few weeks before seeing the film, and it was still totally engaging.
* I had really been looking forward to American Gangster, but it seemed to spend the whole time hanging on the edge of being a great film. It was good, well-cast, etc, but I couldn’t help comparing it to Zodiac which I loved. AG pales in comparison.
* I really enjoyed Michael Clayton, for Clooney, of course, but also for Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson & his touch of scenery-chewing. Satisfying!
* Finally, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead sort of destroyed me. I respect it, it was full of strong performances, but it was really draining to watch. Now I am looking for a film that will not make me want to slit my wrists. Suggestions?