Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Venice: The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

This is, along with Zodiac, the greatest American film of the year. I’m not the only one who thinks so (Variety’s review was a lovefest), but, judging by the mixed reaction in Venice, I also know that I’m perhaps in the minority. Certainly it’s not going to be everyone’s taste. People are talking about it as Mallick-esque like that’s a bad thing. Not in my mind. For me, it's a masterpiece, plain and simple. At over two and a half hours, it’s long, slow, lyrical, elegiac, poetic, meandering; even its director, Andrew Dominik, says it has a story but no real plot. But the cinematography by Roger Deakins is exquisite, the direction is confident and assured, and there’s a truly mesmerising performance from Casey Affleck as Robert Ford that deserves an Oscar. The use of narration, too, is some of the best you’ll ever hear in a movie. It’s not all perfect. I found musician Nick Cave’s cameo so distracting it took me, momentarily, out of the movie. But that small detail aside, it's a wonderful, wonderful film. Brave, moving, expansive, magnificent, artful, challenging, epic. Dominik should be congratulated for making it. Pitt should be applauded for not only his fine performance but for being his director’s 800-pound gorilla, and for making sure this got made the way Dominik (who was born in New Zealand, but grew up in Australia) wanted it. Ten word title and all.


Gerard said...

Very pleased to hear such positive things about the film, but a real shame about that Nick Cave cameo not working out - that was something I was very much looking forward to.

Just about to tune into the live webcast of Burton's press conference. Hopefully it shan't be dubbed in Italian :P

Mark Salisbury said...

Do come back and fill us in on what Tim says...

Gerard said...

It was quite annoying actually - I really see what you mean about the stupid questions some of these journalists ask. One asked something about if he'd be interested in lending his style to the Harry Potter franchise or something, to which Tim replied "Well, I wouldn't really see the point - they are five films in..."

And Big Fish questions abounded, which was quite silly given that he quite obviously was in the mood to talk Sweeney Todd.

One interesting point that came up regarded the film's musical numbers - no dancing, apparently, and the vocals have not been overly studio produced, in so far as the characters all quite obviously sound naturally like the characters and not shimmering, generic vanilla pop stars. Which is very good news indeed.

One journalist mentioned having already seen the Sweeney Todd footage but didn't elaborate more than this, but one poster on the IMDB claiming to be a Belgian (if memory serves...) journalist said that the scene of "My Friends" was screened?

Mark Salisbury said...

Thanks for the update. I'm hoping to see the Venice footage myself soon, and will post a report when I do.

I don't suppose the Croatian asked about Batman?

Gerard said...

Haha you know I don't think he did! However my connection was being a bit of a twit and lagged a couple of times, causing me to miss a few questions, so you never know - he could have dropped a Batbomb at one of these points!

And great, can't wait to see your report on the footage! Read the little Variety snippet on it? Souunds very promising!