A Tribute to James Gandolfini: Killing Them Softly
Inexplicably repudiated by most critics and audiences last year, Killing Them Softly is ripe for rediscovery, a highly stylized, caustic satire which uses a hired killer (Brad Pitt) as an emblem for the last word in private enterprise. Based on George V Higgins’ novel Cogan’s Trade, but updated to the economic meltdown (and Presidential election campaign) of 2008, and set in a mildewed, post Katrina New Orleans, the movie may be the last great film noir. Gandolfini is at his very best as another professional killer, a bloated, vicious, self-pitying wreck of a man, perhaps the ghost of Cogan’s Future.
"A caustic, corrosive piece of pulp nihilism… In the movie’s superb, sour centerpiece, there are two lengthy conversations — monologues, almost — featuring James Gandolfini as a bloated, alcoholic, bitter and defeated killer. He’s an aging hit man gone to seed facing a third long spell in jail and no one there at home when he comes out again. Gandolfini is brutal in this role, all his tenderness turned vicious and repulsive through self-pity. But still, at least we discern the ashes of emotion in this wreck of a man." CNN
"Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly is a slick ensemble-nightmare of middle-management mobster brutality and incompetence in the tradition of Goodfellas and Casino, Pulp Fiction and TV’s The Sopranos, with something of the opening voiceover monologue from the Coens’ Blood Simple: the one about being on your own. It is outstandingly watchable, superbly and casually pessimistic… a smart, nasty, gripping movie." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian