Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We're not the only smart guys in the world.

As the economy has sputtered and bottomed out, it's an utter grind being a working stiff. In my own line of work, education, higher-ups have flat-out told us, eventually, we'll have to pay you more. The market won't be so bad forever. Well, thanks for that.
Currently, many of us are being vastly underpaid. But, with a glut of teachers out there looking for work, not to mention school budgets (which are based on property values) being slashed left and right, there isn't much we can do. Our hands are tied. We take a big ol' bite of that shit sandwich, and hard as it is to do so, swallow it down, smiling the whole time. Mmm. That sounds good, I'll have that.

Now, as I typically worry about myself and my field, rarely have I thought about how these hard times affect, say, scumbags and lowlifes. Well, different scumbags and lowlifes.  

Killing Them Softly, 2012's allegorical tale, puts these degenerates front and center in a dilapidated post-Katrina New Orleans. Turns out, things are hard for those unsavory types, too. And like the big businesses and corporations that helped financially devastate this country, a few of these crooks decide that they'll make money any way possible. In fact, these guys are too lazy to sell drugs or set up elaborate ponzi schemes. So, they do the next best thing. These guys decide their best play is rob each other. Bad move, that. The solution? Send in Brad Pitt to make sure this type of shit doesn't happen again. Well, again again.

If you can get past the fact that damn near every person who appears on screen is a piece-of-shit lowlife, you might have a good time with this one. About ten minutes in however, my seemingly angelic wife gave up and shot me the you thought I'd like this? look, to which I logically replied, Well, yeah. It's got Brad Pitt, doesn't it?

Sort of, anyway. Sure, Pitt plays the guy who anchors the story and does a lot of the dirty work, but it also felt like he was somehow a supporting player, too. While that's generally fine, his Jackie was the character I wanted to spend the most time with. So whenever they strayed too far from him (or let Gandolfini loose) things seem to meander a bit. Still, I liked the flick. I did. I just felt like something was missing. And it was likely some more face time with my boy [man-crush?] B-rad, sadly.

Sorry. There was no need for brackets there. I'm only pretending there's a question of my endless adoration of Pitt. That shit's fact. But what I'm far less certain of is the overall quality of the film. It seems like most people are deeming it a bust, but being so short in runtime, my advice would be to give it a spin and see for yourself.

But who you should stay far, far away from. That hardcore pair, the Yays and Boos. They're real wannabe tough guys. Every time I leave for school, I hear one of them yell Sonny was right. The workin' man is a sucker. Dicks.

If you can't choose Goodfellas, what's the best Liotta role?
  • As much as I love Pitt, I'm starting to think Ray Liotta is the f--king man. I mean, obviously, he's f--king Henry Hill, so there's that. But, no one plays a loveable almost-scumbag better than Mr. Liotta. Loved his confidence here. It was almost like a nod to all the other shady characters he's played before. I want Liotta's insane cackle as my ringtone.
  • While we get a fair amount of Ray, we don't get nearly enough of Richard Jenkins. Loved his turn as the pragmatic go-between.
  • Oh man, getting run over by a driverless car? Equal parts funny and awful..
  • The only thing stranger than telling your friend about a woman's post-coital suicide confession? When your buddy casually mentions, Oh, they all say that.
  • Next time I'm going to commit larceny, I'm going to make sure I wear gloves. Dish washing gloves.
  • The violence. The beating that Barry handed Markie was so brutal, it made me want to puke. Too. Then Steve jumps in. And just...damn.
  • But that scene can't hold a candle to Jackie's slo-mo assassination of a certain character. Wow.
  • The whole killing them softly idea was very cool. I like how one the one hand it's somewhat respectful, but on the other it's the biggest bitch-move ever.
  • The script can be quietly hysterical. My favorite two lines? Something about a hotel that don't like whore fights or when someone aroused the rabble. Brilliant.
  • And finally, on that note, I loved the ending. Loved that last line. Boils it all down nicely. Pretty sure Henry Hill once had a very similar monologue, too. 

Almost every scene in this movie is ugly.
  • I swear, sometimes, the accents were all over the place. I couldn't place half of these a-holes.
  • Whoa. I talk about the Movie Rules all the time, but show some respect to the Jail Rules. Rule #1 is gross. But Rule #2? Worse. I'm opting for Rule #3. Never go to jail.
  • Russell's scene where he's tripping balls was cool, but disgusting and sad, too.
  • Speaking of nodding, I began to literally doze by the end. Did I fall asleep, or did someone end up dead that we never actually saw die? Help me out, here. I missed any implications of that. Or, I have zero imagination and must be shown everything.
  • And finally, the biggest Boo of them all in this one, James Gandolfini. I'm not saying it's a bad performance or anything, but his character is the f--king worst. Not only is he the shittiest hitman on the planet, but he's also an annoying prick. I'm a big fan of awkward, but this guy is miles beyond that. Oh, and I'm taking extra points for being a real dick to the waiter. Oh, and the hooker, too. That's no way to treat people trying to serve you. Believe me, I know. (Slow down pervs, I was a waiter. Er, server).
No matter what your line of work is, we all deserve compensation. Watching Brad Pitt get his hands dirty and take care of business in Killing Me Softly made me truly feel a little compassion for all the degenerate scumbags busting their asses and not getting a dime in return. Even sleazy jerks deserve something for their efforts.

I mean, this blog doesn't write itself, you know.


  1. Good review M. It's the type of crime thriller that I like, you know, the one where it's all talking for the sake of building suspense. That's the type I like the most and that's why I really liked this one.

    1. Glad you liked it, Dan. There is a lot of talking, which is fine with me.

      The only downfall for me was Tony Soprano. What an annoying jerk that guy was.

  2. Great write-up! Enjoyed the movie...up to a point...It was way too short and lacking in Liotta. Totally agree with your Boo points, almost fell asleep too.

    1. I like short movies, but it seems like they cut twenty minutes of action and chaos. Maybe even a few scenes that tied some loose ends together, I suppose.

      Oh well, what could have been really good, maybe great, settled for okay. Just a shame because the cast is pretty frickin' rad when you think about it.

  3. That scene where they beat up Liotta made me sick. I haven't seen something so brutal in a while. I was so bored by this movie, I wish it had more Pitt in it. He was awesome and his character was very interesting but the film felt all over the place and it would be so much better if he was the clear protagonist.

    1. They really went to town on Liotta. What made it so much worse, is the fact that at that point, we liked ol' Ray. And, it was a beating he didn't deserve. Made it tough to watch.

      Yeah, seriously. More Pitt is usually a good thing. Here, it would've likely saved a pretty uneven movie.

  4. So, Drew and I have a babysitter set up for our anniversary next month - we're doing dinner and a movie on Friday, May 17th. But here's my dilemma - do we see Star Trek Into Darkness or The Great Gatsby?? I'm torn! Especially since this'll probably be our one shot at a movie for like the next year. (our last trip to the movies was for Skyfall back in November)
    What would m.brown do?

    1. I would leave a little bit earlier and see both.

      I mean, I'm sure in some cultures, popcorn could be considered dinner.

      But if I had to choose? I'm going Gatsby. Only because I love Baz Luhrmann so much.

    2. You know, I was actually considering doing both, but I don't think we can swing it. I'm leaning towards Gatsby as well - Baz Luhrmann is the best!

      "I don't care about your ridiculous dogma! Why shouldn't the courtesan choose the maharajah?"


  5. I'm not sure whether I want to see this, even with Brad Pitt, but I may give it a go, especially since you clued me in that Richard Jenkins is in it. I love your review.

    Police officers pretty much NEVER get raises. It's gotten so bad we're going to have to resort to a life of crime. I'll be sure to stock up on dishwashing gloves. ;-)

    1. It's short enough that it wouldn't be the craziest waste of time if you didn't like it, but it's likely a pass all things considered. Jenkins, even in a small role, might be worth it though. Hmm.

      Hey, there's nothing wrong with a life of crime. Especially if you have the support of the police.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  6. The three best things about this film were Pitt's leather jacket, goatee and car.

    I loved Pitt and Dominik's previous collaboration and I was hoping this was going to be more of the same.

    Found the constant radio and tv's reiterating the films message both tedious and unnecessary.

    Have you seen Liotta playing a cop in The Place Beyond the Pines yet?

    1. If you put Richard Jenkins in that top three, I'm in. Easily.

      I never saw The Assassination of Jesse James... but I'd be willing to check it out. I'll get back to you.

      As a family man watching the movie on a volume that can only be heard by dogs and federal agents, I had to read that incessant radio and film chatter. While I liked how it connected, I'm with you that it was overdone. The horse was dead, yet they kept punching it.

      Liotta is in TPBtP? I had no idea. I'm even more curious now.

  7. I also had mixed feelings about this film, so it's good to see someone's else's opinion. I thought the script was (for the most part), really clever, but you're right, it definitely felt like there was something missing. Or maybe it's just that it was not-at-all what I expected. Not in a bad way, but...not exactly in a good way, either. I don't know. I have strange feelings about this one. I think I'd enjoy it more with a rewatch. Maybe. Or maybe I'd fall asleep.

    Also, to answer your question: second best Ray Liotta is his performance in Revolver (UK version). He spends about 90% of that movie mostly-naked. Brilliant.

    1. The script was, for the most part, filled with the right kind of serious discussions about absurd things (feel free to reverse that), but it didn't really resonate with me. I think a re-watch might pay off, but it's highly unlikely that I ever will.

      Wow. Mostly-naked Liotta? Maybe I'll surprise the wife with that one. The last time she came home and I was watching some dick-swinging action (Bronson), she was curious, to say the least.

      Um, what's this?