The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Killing Them Softly | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Killing Them Softly

Directed by: Andrew Dominik
Starring: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Vincent Curatola, Sam Shepard

Pitt's hitman is hired by Jenkins to punish those responsible for the armed hold-up of a poker game.
Following on from last year's "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life", Pitt returns with another top-notch performance. Unlike the aforementioned films his presence is the only positive aspect of this pretentious and plagiaristic comment on recession era America.
Director Dominik gave us one of the best films of the noughties, "The Assassination of Jesse James", a brilliant piece of western revisionism. It was a beautifully crafted work, resplendent in it's subtle elegance. For his follow-up he seems to have taken a leaf out of the Oliver Stone guide to over the top film-making. The movie takes place in the days leading to Obama's election and Dominik makes sure you know this. Every other scene has a TV or radio in the background playing a Bush or Obama speech and Dominik manipulates it coarsely by fading up the sound at specific times just as one of the candidates makes a statement which relates to the scene. After the first couple of instances of this it becomes a serious annoyance. It's big but it's not clever.
The movie might be set in 2008 but it's very much reminiscent of the nineties and the spate of awful Tarantino imitations we had to endure in that decade. The dialogue is verbose and uninteresting but played out as if the actors were performing Hamlet. There are several scenes were the camera settles down for what we think is going to be a witty or insightful monologue only for us to endure a bland story with no punchline. I know this is how real life conversations often play out but isn't cinema meant to be life with the dull bits removed?
Dominik's use of music is a major bone of contention too, simply ripping off iconic movie music moments from movies like "Blue Velvet" and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake. The whole juxtaposition of upbeat music with violence was clever forty years ago but now is one of the more irritating cliches. I don't expect every film-maker to have a vast knowledge of music but if you decide to play The Velvet Underground's "Heroin" over a scene of someone actually taking heroin you probably need to employ someone who does. Throw in some frown inducing slo-mo and it seems this movie was made with the sole intention of annoying those of us who crave originality.
With sub-plots that are dismissed with a sentence or two and a bizarre ten second, dialogue free appearance by Shepard, it seems a large chunk of the film was left on the cutting room floor. If it's more of the same it can stay there. Because of Dominik's involvement I expected good things of "Killing Them Softly" but I guess when a movie features a character called "New York Micky" you shouldn't expect a classic.