The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Just watched this again for no particular reason. I really think it’s just exceptional – Dominik’s raw talent is startling, especially considering his experience. I would kill to see the 4 hour cut. Brad Pitt is really fine, he’s perfect to play the part and he does everything right. Obviously Affleck steals the show, however, as the most talented actor among a throng of vibrant Aughts male talent, including Sam Rockwell (never better), Jeremy Renner, Garret Dillahunt, Sam Shephard, and especially Paul Schneider. I think the film’s casting is highly impressive. The film’s overlong, episodic nature forces the director to think on his feet and continually make excellent decisions. Cinematography is stellar (hell of a year for Deakins) and never gets old for me. Narration is perfectly pat. And I always titter at the Nick Cave cameo, and of course his outstanding score (I’ve been a strong Nick Cave fan for ten years, and only this year saw Wings of Desire… the scene in question I found just a bit ridiculous, indulgent, and giddy with inside humor). And I find the end of the film to be devastating, genuinely tragic. 2007 was an incredible year for film – and I still have yet to see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, Silent Light, The Mourning Forest, and The Edge of Heaven (all Cannes darlings, I’m aware).

Revulsion of self

******response from Joks, on Mubi:******

^^nice review. i agree with most of it. the Cave thing was a bit much really. Everyone was laughing here both times i saw it. of course, nick cave is from the city i live in, and he is recognised by almost everyone here, so it was bound to go down that way in Australia, and for Nick Cave fans all over the world really. it doesn’t spoil the mood oddly enough.

The score for Jesse is easily the best of Cave and Ellis film scores imo. the worst being The Road.

All in all, as much as i enjoyed Chopper at the time, this is leagues ahead of it in terms of being cinematic, and for a second feature it’s incredibly promising.

3 weeks……. and Edge Of Heaven are definitely worth a look, particularly 3 weeks…….

And my response to this:

Well what gets me about the Nick cameo is… when I enter the film, I think about the people involved and what I am to expect, and I’m very pleased because I know them all and like them all. I’ve always been a Nick fan, so I think, “Alright! Great Nick film with great Nick score!” But by the time his cameo comes up I have completely forgotten about his cameo because I’m enamored in the story and am very emotional. Directly before the Nick cameo is the scene of Sam Rockwell committing suicide – it’s staunch, awful, despairing. Then this light and silly song starts, it’s Nick singing, and we watch him riff and be himself for a solid minute or more of screen time. At that point I’m just a grinny, teary mess 🙂 and I’m thankful for the Nick cameo. I’ve heard other people complain about the, I dunno, obvious nature of the cameo, and I suppose I can understand that – but I don’t, really. I like the film too much. Now – – Nick’s cameo in Wings of Desire I found downright amusing to the point of inanity. When his inner monologue is heard muttering, “Don’t tell them about a girl, don’t them about a girl…” I mean, before I knew about this I’d listened to From Her to Eternity 100 times, then I hear Nick (in the film) say the expected, “I wanna tell you about a girl.” CLAK songs begins. If you know anything about Nick, that’s a heavy eye-roll-inducing moment. But with a grin 🙂

I agree completely when you say that Jesse James is leagues ahead of Chopper. I recall seeing Chopper and being very impressed with its ingenuity and humor. But this film is a whole ‘nother animal, far more complex, emotional, even epic in scope. It rather amazes me that this film came out of virtual nowhere. Dominik’s work in the film is very nuanced. What nails it most for me are the performances Dominik got. Who else achieves such melodrama, actually achieves it? Characters are wrought, eyes weary with tears, trembling in fear of their lives, and deadened with regret.

I’m trying to weigh this film against the other best films of 2007: We’ve got No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood and this. All pretty much perfect. And all westerns! I’m always skeptical about giving the Coens too much credit, but I can’t deny that that film, for them, is about as perfect as they’ll get. It’s exceptional. And There Will Be Blood? I mean, is that not totally exceptional? I don’t know if either film carries the emotional weight that Jesse James does, and I realize I may be in a minority of those who take this much from the film. But as the end draws nigh I am woeful, teary, empathic with Bob Ford and his regret, with his poor life, his insecurities, those things which have overwhelmed him, the beauty in him that never achieved expression, and the despair of living with a horrible mistake that cannot be undone. No Country‘s ending fails me – I can invent reasons for why it’s tolerable, but it’s one hell of an anticlimax. There Will Be Blood‘s ending leaves me wide-eyed and so thrilled with Anderson’s achievement, and the exceptional, insane scene in that beautiful bowling alley. But Jesse James kills me. Every time.

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