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Entries in Killer Joe (4)

Sunday
Dec302012

Did You Gag on "Killer Joe"?

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]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep082012

Podcast: I Know What You Saw Last Summer (Pt 1)

The podcast returns for another Oscar season! I'm your host Nathaniel R and my ol' podcast mates Joe Reid & Nick Davis are joining me to discuss Summer Movie Season 2012. That's a wrap on summer so we're tying it off with our idiosyncratic messy multi-colored bows...

This podcast was inspired by our Summer Report Card series. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • What's Wrong With Virginia? (no, really)
  • Compliance
  • Killer Joe 
  • Best Picture Choices, Favorite Scenes, Summer Crushes
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild and Oscar's Music Branch
  • Hope Springs and Steve Carell
  • Steven Soderbergh pros and cons & Magic Mike
  • Sparkle
  • Joe's hilarious ongoing obsession with Oliver Stone's Savages
  • Bachelorette
  • Moonrise Kingdom and  Red Hook Summer Double Feature
  • Lesbian longing in Farewell My Queen
  • Michael Fassbender as the next Ed Norton?

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen right here at the bottom of the post. There's more coming in Part Two tomorrow!

I Know What You Saw This Summer (Pt. 1)

Thursday
May102012

Yes, No, Maybe So: "Killer Joe"

Hey, that rhymes.

For those of you who don't know the name Tracy Letts, a brief history. The Oklahoman born playwright first came to minor fame as a member of Chicago's lauded theater collective Steppenwolf. Killer Joe was his first play, written in 1991. Over the next two decades his career as a playwright soared, first with the electric and very naked and delusional horror piece Bug (which became a misunderstood movie in 2006) and then he achieved the kind of across the board success that most artists will only ever dream of winning a Tony, a Pulitzer and critical and popular success with August: Osage County. (That super successful play is supposedly on its way to movie theaters in a year or two with Meryl Streep slurring her way through bitchy tirades as its drug addled matriach Violet Weston).

So, in short, a Tracy Letts project is a big deal. So here's screen transfer attempt #2... Killer Joe. Let's break down the trailer with our yes, no, maybe so system.  

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep092011

Venice: "Killer Joe", Last Days & Critical "Carnage" Consensus

[Editor's Note: Manolis has been reporting for The Film Experience and the Greek site Cinema News. We thank him for that. You can read all the Venice reports here. - Nathaniel R]

Emile Hirsch worshipping at Venice's red carpet

This is my last report from Venice which I'm writing from Athens. During my last two festival days I caught five films ranging from great surprises to total mediocrities.  

Quando La Notte
This little Italian romantic drama about a troubled young mother and a mountaineer would have benefited immensely by trimming 15 minutes from its running time. The last reel or so of the film is totally unnecessary and unfortunately shows of Cristina Comencini’s weaknesses as both screenwriter and director. The two stars, Filippo Timi and Claudia Pandolfi give very good performances, but they weren't enough to save the film from the Italian critics who just massacred it. Interesting subject matter, mediocre film.

The Exchange
The Israeli film within the Competition section started off nicely. Eran Kolirin's follow up to the much praised The Band's Visit watches an everyman watching his life from the outside; he can't figure how he ended up living the life he lives. He starts to view his life from a different perspective. What begins as a somewhat original premise soon becomes repetitive and by the film's end the story seems to have gone nowhere. But for the most part it's entertaining and Rotem Keinan gives a nice turn in the lead role. 

Faust
This was much anticipated in Venice and many thought that it would turn up to be the eventual winner. I am not so sure. Faust is clearly the work of a master director and I adored Aleksandr Sokurov's previous efforts like Mother and Son, Russian Ark and Elegy but this 140 minute film felt closer to 280. Great imagery and cinematography do not guarantee a great film.  There is too much dialogue in “Faust” about difficult and philosophical matters but not enough time to “digest” all that's being said. The actors were not impressive or to be fair, I was not impressed by the way Sokurov directed them. The movie split the audience with several walkouts and others loving it. Faust is not an easy film and though it is difficult to deny its artistic merits, this is not Sokurov's finest hour.

Killer Joe
The best late surprise of the festival. William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) is back on form with a film that reminded me somewhat of movies from Tarantino and the Coen brothers. Nobody expected this to do as well as it did, but the press reactions were very encouraging. This black comedy based on the play by the acclaimed Tracy Letts (August Osage County, Bug) has several fine performances: Juno Temple is superb, Thomas Hayden Church and Gina Gershon are hilariously pathetic and Matthew McConnaughey gets what may well be his finest screen role.  I would add the phrase “Best Supporting Acting category contenders”, but the film is clearly not the Academy’s regular cup of tea. I can imagine the voters walking out of the screenings at a particularly campy moment (which involves a chicken leg) but I would be very surprised (and delighted) if it does win Oscar traction.

Eva
Another nice surprise. This Spanish sci-fi film from director Kike Maíllo has great production values and a screenplay about a shy man designing robot software which manages to hold the audience’s attention consistently. One of its great successes is that, despite its genre, we never think “imagine what they could do if they had a Hollywood style budget”.

 

 

 

The visual effects may not be many and spectacular, but they are exactly of the quality and quantity that such a film needs. Eva stars the always watchable German/Spanish star Daniel Brühl and the 12 year old Claudia Vega who is a revelation.

Critical Consensus
During the Festival, a special version of Variety magazine is published in Venice (half of it in English and half in Italian). In a special chart critics from major publications (Times, Screen, Le Monde, Indiewire, Herald Tribune, La Republica and others) provide their star ratings. It is interesting to see the critical consensus about the In Competition films; English language films dominate with both Roman Polanski's Carnage and Todd Solondz Dark Horse faring much better than expected. Please note that the films competing in the last 2 days of the Festival are not yet included in this chart and this chart will not necessarily reflect the opinions of Darren Aronofsky's festival jury.

The rankings go like so.

  1. CARNAGE - 3.95/5 average (four 5 star reviews)
  2. SHAME - 3.45/5 average (three 5 star reviews)
  3. IDES OF MARCH - 3.45 (two 5 star reviews)
  4. DARK HORSE -3.23 (three 5 star reviews)
  5. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY -3.14 average
  6. A DANGEROUS METHOD -3.11
  7. A SIMPLE LIFE -3.02
  8. POULET AUX PRUNES (CHICKEN WITH PLUMS) -2.95
  9. WUTHERING HEIGHTS -2.95 
  10. TERRAFERMA -2.83
  11. ALPS -2.69 (two 5 star reviews)
  12. THE EXCHANGE - 2.68 (two 5 star reviews)
  13. 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH -2.65 (one 5 star review)
  14. PEOPLE MOUNTAIN, PEOPLE SEE -2.52 (two 5 star reviews)
  15. HIMIZU -2.34 (two 5 star reviews)
  16. UN ETE BRULANT -1.80
  17. SAIDEKE BALAI -1.68
  18. QUANDO LA NOTTE -1.58

 

I personally support SHAME, ALPS, and CARNAGE.

Closing my series of reports from Venice, I would like to thank Nathaniel for the hospitality as well as the Greek site Cinema News, and you, the Film Experience readers.  I hope you've enjoyed the brief reports. Ciao,

-Manolis