Killing Them Softly (2012, Andrew Dominik)

“America’s not a country. It’s just a business.”

First movie I watched post-election. I only picked it because I liked Dominik’s Nick Cave movie this year and was looking for something that wouldn’t require much emotional energy on my part, so a Brad Pitt hit-man flick seemed to fit the bill. Turned out to be the ideal pick for my mood, full of perfectly cynical characters, using Obama’s hope-filled election speeches as ironic counterpoint.

Affleck ally Scoot McNairy and Aussie Ben Mendelsohn (Slow West) are hired by Sopranos regular Vincent Curatola to rob a card game run by Ray Liotta, assuming that Liotta will be blamed since he has admitted to robbing the game himself in the past. During the ensuing period of gangster and gambler mistrust, Richard Jenkins hires outsiders Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini to come down to New Orleans and kill whoever robbed the game (and kill Liotta too, just in case).

It’s usually not a visually dynamic movie, just excellent actors having serious conversations, but whenever Dominik gets a chance, he throws in an amazing setpiece – entracingly chopping editing in the opening titles segment, a freaked-out heroin scene, and Liotta getting shot in extreme slow-motion. Reminds of the Nick Cave movie, which mostly looks like a realist behind-the-scenes interview doc, but every once in a while the camera escapes through a knothole and into outer space. Based on a novel by The Friends of Eddie Coyle writer, and shot by Greig Fraser (Spider, Bright Star, the next Star Wars movie).

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