“Holy delayed blog post, Batman! So it was just over a week ago now that the Brattle had a special screening of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Why would I pay to go see a movie that I already own on DVD? Because Casey Affleck was gonna be there. Yeah huh.
First there was an intro from the guy who’d put this screening together. About a year ago, he decided he wanted to do something about how underappreciated this movie is. So he started organizing screenings for what he described as “”the greatest movie of the 21st century””. Um, okay, that’s a pretty big statement to make.
I’d seen this once before, when I purchased said DVD. I found it kinda dry, but I was happy to have an excuse to give it a second try. I was with it for the first hour and change. Such strong and incredible performances from a remarkable cast: the aforementioned Affleck, Brad Pitt, Sam Rockwell, a pre-Hurt Locker Jeremy Renner, a criminally underused Mary-Louise Parker, and even more underused Zooey Deschanel. According to Affleck in his post viewing Q&A (more on that shortly), writer/director Andrew Dominik’s goal was to portray a story about the relationships between these outlaws. It was not meant to be about action and gunslinging. I certainly got that point, and I agree it was the right move. However, Dominik really needs to learn how to kill his darlings and trim the movie down. 160 minutes of a heavy handed talky film is A LOT. The film didn’t need western action, but it needed something to happen to move the plot.
Still, it was worth the second look, and I do appreciate the film more. But let’s be real, I was really there to be in the presence of a real live Affleck. He had some fun stories, such as how Sam Rockwell, in the adjacent hotel room, would scream out his lines every morning with different impersonations. In response to a question about whether the sometimes perceived homoerotic subtext, he took a jab at his costar “”No, it wasn’t intended. I mean, Brad Pitt’s not that good looking, no one would believe it””. He had a later laugh at his expense, when lamenting that the low reception has prevented Dominik from garnering more work “”When a Brad Pitt movie doesn’t do well at the box office, people get worried””.
He continued on about how he approached the character, and how he reconciled Ford’s actions with his own mentality. There was talk about his heroes, about how certain scenes were filmed, just all over the place. When it was over, I followed the lead of a girl in the front row and I rushed towards the stage. I got him to sign my DVD of Gone Baby Gone (although I really should have taken Assassination as well) and take a pic. He may have unintentionally stolen my sharpie, destroying the clippy part as he absentmindedly twirled it in his hands as I debated whether or not to wait for it, but it was a worthwhile sacrifice. Twas quite a fun evening indeed!”