Archive for July 9th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 2007 160m) DVD1/2

He’s just a human being…

p  Jules Daly, Dede Gardner, Brad Pitt, Ridley Scott, David Valdes  d/w  Andrew Dominik  novel  Ron Hansen  ph  Roger Deakins  ed  Dylan Tichenor, Curtiss Clayton  m  Nick Cave, Warren Ellis  art  Patricia Norris  cos  Patricia Norris

Brad Pitt (Jesse James), Casey Affleck (Robert Ford), Sam Rockwell (Charlie Ford), Sam Shepard (Frank James), Mary-Louise Parker (Zee James), Jeremy Renner (Wood Hite), Garret Dillahunt (Ed Miller), Paul Schneider (Dick Liddil), Michael Parks (Henry Craig), Ted Levine, Zooey Deschanel, Hugh Ross (narrator),

Considering that Henry King directed the previously best known version of the Jesse James tale in 1939, it’s somewhat ironic that the film Andrew Dominik’s extraordinary revisionist take on the tale most resembles is King’s later The Gunfighter.  In that, Gregory Peck’s gunfighter was aware of his own mortality, and was ventually shot down by a coward who was told he would be gunned down in turn.  It’s hardly the only influence of course, for not only the ghost of Henry King but of numerous film-makers hangs over Dominik’s film.

            The film opens in September 1881, just prior to the reforming James gang’s final train robbery in Missouri.  Afterwards, Frank goes his separate way and leaves the increasingly moody and estranged Jesse behind with his wife and divers hangers-on.  Among these are his cousin Wood, his friend Charlie Ford and Charlie’s younger brother Robert, a moody sullen lad who once idolised Jesse and knew all his exploits by heart.  However, the more time Robert spends around Jesse the more jealous and fuelled by hatred he becomes.  Finally he undertakes the mission of arresting or killing Jesse to claim the reward. (more…)

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