I know the phrase "in these economic times" or some variation thereof have become something of a joke. But Killing Them Softly is definitely a really cynical, crime noir where all the criminals in one way or the other are being affected by the recession. In this case it takes place in 2008 before, during, and after the election so the economic shit has just hit the fan, so to speak. Between bursts of fairly brutal violence, criminals have long talks with each other, everyone from the lowest on the totem pole to the top brass enforcers, are having trouble economically or personally. This isn't the issue though, the issue is that it is so heavy handed, the soundbites from the politicians at the time are one thing (although it seems a little much that a bunch of gangsters would conveniently have CNN on to George W. Bush speech about the economic collapse during a robbery that provides the narrative momentum for the whole movie. I'm not a gangster though, so what do I know?) But then right before the end Brad Pitt gives a small speech to Richard Jenkins ONCE AGAIN hitting the nail too squarely on the head. It's interesting in that it is definitely not your average gangster movie, it definitely aspires to be more, I'm just not sure it hits the heights that it is going for. The Richard Jenkins rule is in effect here: anything he is in is automatically 20% better because he is in it. And it was really weird to see Max Casella, Vinnie Delpine from Doogie Howser, MD, lay a vicious beatdown on Ray Liotta which seems to last forever.
I was excited for this: Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock, a movie about one of my favorite if not my favorite directors, and the making of Psycho, one of my favorite movies. And everyone is actually pretty good (although Scarlett Johansson playing Janet Leigh and Jessica Biel playing Vera Miles seems like a weird, cosmic joke) Patton Oswalt once had a routine (one which I 'd post but can't seem to find a copy of it online) on his first album about biopics and basically how filmmakers have to try and graft a narrative onto a life which often has no real narrative of their own. I mean there was something there with Alfred Hitchcock and his making of Psycho and when the film focuses on that it's really interesting-although I think his obsession with Ed Gein is overstated here. He was obsessed with making a good movie for sure, but this whole fantasy he creates in the movie talking to Ed Gein seems off to me. But the film keeps focusing on his relationship with his wife, Alma, and whether or not there is infidelities there and what not, and even though Hopkins and Mirren are, as usual, good, and I know that Alma had a hand in helping Hitch with all of his movie-every time they would focus on Hitchcock's marriage instead of the actual making of Psycho, I , well, I just didn't care. I see what they are trying to do, but no disrespect to Alma Hitchcock, I want to see how the director crafted this thing, and its sort of in there but gets sidetracked way too much. It's too bad, I thought with the focus just on Hitchcock and the making of Psycho the filmmakers might be able to not fall into the trap of so many biopics, not focusing on a life but just a smaller part of one seems like the way to go. But they couldn't focus on the part that interested me the most, so yeah, I feel like it was a lost opportunity. On the flip side the book they based the movie on: Alfred Hitchcock and the Making Of Psycho is really good if you are interested in that sort of thing.