LessThanOurTweets

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Best Movies of 2007: The Lesser Affleck No Longer

Because the month of January sucks at running, I'm boycotting the sport for the coming weeks, and placing my allegiances squarely with Hollywood, for whom January is a font of delicious goodness, like one of those chocolate fountains you'll see at wedding receptions and the occasional Sweet Sixteen. Below I document my journey through the Best Movies of 2007 in preparation for the Oscars...

BACKTRACKING: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford While the Weak-Stomached Tom Phillips Averted His Eyes From the Blood, OH the BLOOD is quite the ambitious movie. I mean, what else can you say about a film that tries to get you to say all that each time you want to say anything about it? Imagine: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford While the Weak-Stomached Tom Phillips Averted His Eyes From the Blood, OH the BLOOD was good." "I liked The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford While the Weak-Stomached Tom Phillips Averted His Eyes From the Blood, OH the BLOOD." "Wait, do you mean you liked the assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford while the weak-stomached Tom Phillips averted his eyes from the blood, oh, the blood? Or the FILM, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford While the Weak-Stomached Tom Phillips Avert--" [ puts bullet through nose ]

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, dir. Andrew Dominik

Hereafter, this film will be referred to as The Ass. of Jesse James because as you probably know, that ass belongs to Mr. Brad Pitt in this film. Yes, the film is long. But whether you call it "deliberate" or "boring" depends on your tastes. The Ass of Jesse James is almost like two movies scotch-taped together at the midpoint. Observe the difference in the musical themes, giving breath to the subject of each half of the film: one inside the outlaw's myth, vibrant and dynamic, one observing the myth, a dreamlike musical box in concert with the surreal cloud images that mark the passing of time.

Why Casey Affleck has been nominated as a supporting role is beyond me. The Ass of Jesse James is a study, but one drawing its gaze not on the outlaw, but on the titular Coward (no, not that kind of Coward), and in that role, Affleck is a revelation (perhaps the first time in history those words have been used in that order). Casey certainly can hold his ground with some of the best currently practicing his craft, and his open face and doleful eyes draw the viewer into Ford's loneliness, and render one unable to turn one's eyes away.

Roger Deakins' cinematography, while only an appetizer to his work in the later-releasd No Country For Old Men, is beautiful, and of a wholly different nature than the Coens' film. Here he alternates between creating pictures fit for a storybook, and eventually washing out all contrast as the myth surrounding James erodes.

In this film, there are both moments and sequences that deserve to be called great. The film might yet be considered the same.

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