*The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, written and directed by Andrew Dominik, based on the 1983 novel by Ron Hansen, starring Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt, featuring a bazillion other crazy talented actors, scored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and shot by the renowned Roger Deakins.
1. The Cinematography--Movies ought to be a synergistic explosion of compelling characters saying interesting things in a beautiful-to-watch way. This movie was beautiful. I loved the vistas, I loved the coloring, I loved the costuming. BONUS. This is one of the few recent movies that realizes that movies are less about plot than they are about characters and visuals. A certain director of increasingly bad movies could learn a lesson.
2. The Acting--Casey Affleck, I think we all know, is an amazing actor. Brad Pitt is surprisingly underrated, despite creating great characters in a lot of movies lately. (Did you see him in Interview with the Vampire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, or Mr. and Mrs. Smith?) Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, and Paul Schneider support the leading duo like professional actors. Mary-Louise Parker turns her 6 lines in 24 minutes into a brilliant study of the devoted wife of a larger-than-life man, and Zooey Deschanel turns her 6 lines in 2 minutes into a fascinating study of the supporting girl of a crumpled man. There are too many brilliant actors doing too many brilliant things to list it all. When you watch it, pay close attention to the scene when Jesse James comes over for dinner. Brilliance on cellophane.
3. The Score--Long story short, I haven't enjoyed a score this much since Moon.
1. The Running Time--First, a caveat. This movie is terribly long at 160 minutes. Second, an admission. I cannot think of 2 minutes that could be cut without taking away from the movie. Still, I can't see myself popping it in on a Tuesday night when there's nothing on TV.
2. The Mumbling--Being from the quasi-South (Is Texas Southern? Is Maryland? I never know.), I can appreciate a good Southern accent. Mumbling is part of it. But interesting dialog is only interesting if it is understood. I think I missed out on half of the great lines.
3. The Long Title--I dread telling my friends at work, "Have you seen The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford? It's great!" And, since I have a Texas mumbling drawl, they'll be all like "Wha--???" and I'll have to repeat it. And I can't shorten it because I despise shortening titles. Sigh.