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#079 Andrew Dominik: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford vs. Killing Them Softly

Download MP3 In today's episode Nate and Austin compare Andrew Dominik's best and worst rated films, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and Killing Them Softly (2012), respectively. Nate oozes over the lighting, Austin tries to get over a cold, and they're both surprised by how solid both of these films were. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST for our milestone 80th episode where we will compare George Lucas' Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999), his best and worst rated films.
Also check out this interview with actor Ben Mendelsohn and director Andrew Dominik about Killing Them Softly:

Killing Them Softly Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.
  • Ratings: IMDb 6.2 | RT 74% C / 44% A
  • Released: 2012
  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer(s): Andrew Dominik (screenplay), George V. Higgins (based on the novel “Cogan’s Trade” by)
  • Cinematographer: Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, Rogue One, Zero Dark Thirty)
  • Notable actors: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Vincent Curatola, Ray Liotta, Trevor Long, Max Casella, Sam Shepard, Slaine, Linara Washington
  • Budget: $15 million
  • Box office: $37.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The Turkish former minister of culture found the movie so offensive that he told the press that he wanted the age bar for this movie to be raised from 13 to 18 or, if possible, remove it from the theaters altogether.
    • Originally titled Cogan's Trade.
    • Richard Jenkins's character is never seen standing. He is either sitting in his car or sitting on a bar stool.
    • The first feature film to use Kodak's 500T 5230 film stock.
    • One of the three films that received an "F" CinemaScore from audiences upon their release in 2012, along with The Devil Inside (2012) and Silent House (2011).

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.
  • Ratings: IMDb 7.5 | RT 76% C / 75% A
  • Released: 2007
  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer(s): Andrew Dominik (screenplay), Ron Hansen (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Roger Deakins (Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Sicario)
  • Notable actors: Brad Pitt, Mary-Louise Parker, Brooklynn Proulx, Dustin Bollinger, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Jeremy Renner, Sam Shepard, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Schneider, Joel McNichol
  • Budget: $30 million
  • Box office: $15 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • Brad Pitt's personal favorite movie that he has acted in.
    • Of all the films made about Jesse James, his descendants have claimed that this is the most accurate. They were especially enthusiastic about Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck's performances.
    • Cinematographer Roger Deakins has called the arrival of the train in darkness is one of the high points of his career.
    • According to Andrew Dominik, Brad Pitt's contract stated that the movie's name could not be changed.
    • In reality, Jesse James suffered from a syndrome that made him blink much more than the average person. Although it's mentioned at the start of the film, Brad Pitt barely blinks during most of his scenes.
    • During filming, Sam Shepard was in his 60s and Brad Pitt was in his 40s. The characters they play are supposed to be in their 30s. Casey Affleck was in his early 30s, close to Robert Ford's age during the epilogue, but much older than Ford's age during the main plot.
    • Nick Cave's score was written before the film was shot.
    • The original cut of the movie was nearly four hours long. It was edited down to two hours and forty minutes at the studio's request. At one point, Pitt and exec producer Ridley Scott put together their own cut. When it tested poorly, they went back to Dominik's cut. The 4-hour version played at least once, most notably at the Venice Film Festival.
    • A scene at the beginning reveals that half of Jesse James' left middle finger is missing. The top half of Brad Pitt's left middle finger was digitally erased in every scene in which his hands appeared.
    • Ron Hansen, writer of the novel, spent about a week on the set. He helped with editing and even had a cameo in the film. During an interview, Hansen lauded Casey Affleck, who he thought added his own perspective to the complicated character of Robert Ford. Hansen then said, "In some ways it feels like he was born to play this role."
    • When Jesse goes looking for Jim Cummins, he introduces himself as Dick Turpin. A legendary English rogue and highway robber of the 1730s, Turpin was romanticized in English ballads and popular theatre of the 18th and 19th century. Dick Liddil introduces himself as Matt Collins, a play on Mattie Collins, Liddil's wife.
    • Jeremy Renner was originally considered for the role of Robert Ford. He was rejected as too old.
    • The film had two production designers, Patricia Norris and Richard Hoover. Only one name could be listed in the credits, so both decided to go uncredited.

Intro music by Eric Lynch

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