My screenings these past two weeks -- cram session! -- to complete year end business, have been like one wild tonal shift after another swinging as they have from meta rib-nudging (Seven Psycopaths) to the hormonally twee (Take This Waltz), severely depressed (Oslo August 31st) and on through the defiantly stiff and self-medicated (The Deep Blue Sea)... I can't possibly write about them all. But I did feel the night to blurt out (choke out?) a few sentences on William Friedkin's Killer Joe based on the play of the same name by Tracy Letts.
Friedkin and Letts aren't quite joined at the hip as collaborators go despite the Oscar winning filmmaker taking the cinematic reigns on both Bug and Joe. Letts most acclaimed play August: Osage County went to another filmmaker though it's fascinating to think what Friedkin might have done with the material. He is, after all, at least as willing as Letts to attack his material with edgy flair, wicked humor and artistic abandon... for better and worse.
[NC17 madness and two SPOILER images after the jump]
For Killer Joe, I feel they missed at least one marketing opportunity: every ticket purchase should have come with a leg of fried chicken to gnaw on during the movie and a complimentary post-movie shower at the nearest residence (meet your neighbors! ...and make them very very uncomfortable) Killer Joe is so low rent and seedy, so proudly disreputable, that paying for it through a sterile invisible wifi connection seemed altogether wrong. Shouldn't I have had to bring a greasy bag with cash in it somewhere to watch the movie. Maybe through a peephole?
It's the only movie this year that gave The Paperboy a run for its status as The Ultimate Outre White Trash Champ. Alas only one of them made trash king John Waters "Best of" List this year and that would be this one right here. Killer Joe details the violent downward spiral of a trailer park family once they hire a dirty cop (dirty in both senses of the word, as Matthew McConaughey ably illustrates) to off their absent biological mother for insurance money.
Regarding the cast: Thomas Hayden Church is always likeable onscreen even when he's playing creeps and he's solid again here albeit in the least showy role (also ;ooks good in longjohns); Gina Gershon's grade A screen presence is a mystery to most directors (sadly) but add Friedkin to the tiny handful of directors who "get" her and thus reap indelible Gershonian rewards; Matthew McConaughey is perfectly cast as the title character whose "eyes hurt"; Emile Hirsch is perfectly cast only when he's not cast at all; And Juno Temple is... hey, shouldn't this have been a Juliette Lewis movie in the 1990s instead?!?
Have you seen Killer Joe and/or Bug and if so what do you make of the Friedkin/Letts partnership? As for Gina Gershon who else besides Olivier Assayas (demonlover), the Wachowski Siblings (Bound) Paul Verhoeven (Showgirls) and Friedkin do you think could ever make proper use of her in a movie?