Killing Them Softly (2012)

killing-them-softly-brad-pitt-poster-headerRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Two thugs are hired to rob a local mob card game. They rob it based on the assumption that a specific card player will get the blame, putting them in the clear. The robbery results in the local criminal economy to collapse, causing Brad Pitt’s character, Jackie, to be called in to fix the financial dilemma and restore order amongst the mob.

The premise is smart and interesting exploring a new angle of the gangster genre. I’ve never seen a film where the gangster world is explored to the point of it’s economy, it’s a pretty unique idea that hasn’t been done before. The plot luckily backs the premise up with some intriguing characters and stylish events. What really makes the film special is the filming, it’s clear, stylish and dynamic. Without the conveyed style, the situations wouldn’t have made an impact on the audience. Especially a certain beat up scene, it was probably one the most brutal and realistic scenes that I’ve witnessed in a film. The combination of the rainy, dark atmosphere, powerful sound effects and constant camera movements made for an emotional watch. This really illustrated the violent nature of gangsters to full effect. There was another memorable scene which explores a similar violent event with a different nature. The idea of killing someone softly is what this scene shouted out. the gentle music accompanied with slow motion effects, made the event seem graceful and less savage. There was a less reckless manner about it. Lastly the editing is worth some praise because it is fluent, consistent and effective which became apparent in a certain drug related scene, where the film taps into the mind of the drugged up character, felt extremely real.

Another positive is the dialogue, without the dialogue this wouldn’t have been anywhere near as enjoyable. The characters are so intense that their dialogue is for the most part engaging. There’s enough comedy to keep us entertained but also enough gangster terminology and nature to keep us immersed in the conversation. Brad Pitt probably holds the best lines of the film, namely the last few scenes. As well as James Gandolfini who talks a lot of nonsense but it’s calculated nonsense. Acting is solid all round by all the veterans, but props go to both Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, both putting in some great performances. McNairy was awesome in Argo despite the smaller role and so was Mendelsohn in The Dark Knight Rises. I feel they didn’t get much credit or recognition for these performances when they fully deserve it, but what they did prove is that they have a long career ahead.

I think the main downfall of Killing Them Softly is that it seems to take itself too seriously. it intends to have it’s message heard, which is evident through constant audio of Barack Obama speeches. it concentrates so much on this that it neglects the narrative.

This film is definitely a must watch of 2012. If you are into films with great filming and cinematography, which is purely dialogue driven and has a unique gangster premise then you won’t be disappointed with the transaction atmosphere of most of the scenes. If your looking for a super violent gangster film with respectful action, then you will find Killing Them Softly quite boring.

Argo (2012)

argo-image06Roze-Rating: 5 / 5 

Ben Affleck directs his third film following the successes of “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town”, and doesn’t fail to impress this time round with arguably his best piece of directorial work yet. He takes on a film based on true events which occurred in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution, who were outraged by American support towards the overthrown Shah. In retaliation to the Shah’s fleeing from Iran, a crowd of Iranian revolutionaries raided the American Embassy taking the majority of the American staff hostage, but six managed to escape, taking refuge at the Canadian Ambassadors house. During this crises plans had developed from the CIA to rescue the six unknown escapee’s, only to realize that non of their idea’s were actually viable. It took CIA specialist, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to come up with the next “bad” idea which turned out to be the best of the bunch. The elaborate plan consisted of developing a fake sci-fi film during its production stage so that the six hostages and himself could portray a film crew going into Iran for a location scout. Only that pretending the film crew had entered the country with him and leaving two days later would be bigger than just a white lie.

The film consists of two tones, a comedic and dark tone. During the planning stage of the rescue, which take’s place mostly in Hollywood is the more light hearted mood, which old timer Alan Arkin plays to comedic perfection, stealing most of the laughs. It was great to see John Goodman and Arkin together, playing the experienced boys in the film industry, which really created a good contrast to all the seriousness based in Iran. Once the tones switch to the setting of Iran, there is a much more claustrophobic feeling which is perfectly captured through filming and the performances of the six escapees. I really liked how the film transitioned between these tones, making the film flow smoothly and reminding the audiences that failure remains the most likely outcome.

There was something very genuine about this film, and it had to do with the filming and attention to detail. The fact that you felt as though you were actually in the late 70s possibly watching a 70s film just entices you more. The costumes, hairstyles and props were amazing, evidently shown during the end credits as they compared pictures of the actual people they were portraying with the actors. There was also something very 70s about the filming, there was a certain grain to the picture which gave it a more classic look as opposed to a crystal clear picture. It also helped fit in the real life footage with the film footage, effectively making them both feel connected and set in the same time. This film doesn’t contain adrenaline pumping action but consists of probably the best nail biting scenes you will see in film, which is totally aided from the filming. From the close up reaction shots to the shaky camera work, it all blends together to make something ultimately heart pounding. The scenes where the escapees are together debating their fate, were also my favorite scenes, because you can sense their panic and despair.

The whole cast are amazing and each important character had something special about them. I think the six escapees stole the film in terms of their performances, because they worked together so perfectly that you believed their emotions and their panic and their diminishing hope. Each scene where they are all together exudes pure realism, which I thought was pretty unique in films of this genre. Alan Arkin and John Goodman put in the comedic aspect of the film with their comedic timing. Bryan Cranston gave it his all during the last scenes which lives as one of my favorite performances by him, and Ben Affleck, solid as always. Overall solid performances, can’t fault that.

When looking back at the film in terms of plot, the story line is actually very thin, and doesn’t contain much substance, which is just a huge testament to the importance of filming style, because without the influence of Ben Affleck and the filming crew, this film would have been very unsatisfying. Great film.