It’s official: Gray picks all the movies.
Killing Them Softly was another aftercare flick, which we saw on the Sunday of the London Grue. After Grue-cakes, extra poi practice, and more leather fun. After hugs, and thank yous, and goodbyes. After the Grue was officially over, Gray, Hedwig, and I ventured back to Hedwig’s place for quiet time.
As we all decompressed, Gray looked up what movie we would go see. Somehow he found Killing Them Softly.
The best way to describe the movie is by comparing it to another. Killing Them Softly is like an American version of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, but so much darker.
The showing wasn’t until late, around 9pm, so our trio first headed out to find dinner first. We walked to a restaurant near the theatre, only to find it was closed down. Internets fail. Instead we dined at a small Chinese restaurant a few blocks closer to the movie.
After dinner, we then searched for the theatre, hoping the internets did not fail us twice. We found Shortwave tucked inside of a block composed of multiple tall apartment complexes the surrounded a large bricked area. The offbeat establishment was a combination cocktail bar/theatre. I liked the modern style and atmosphere of the place.
The movie theatre itself was small, maybe seating fifty people. We picked seats in the middle and waited. Gray and I had a few chuckles while viewing the British commercials before the film began.
And then it started.
Going in, I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard the description I gave above (minus the darker tilt). I also knew the film starred Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, and James Gandolfini. Those three names were enough to get me in my seat, but the film far surpassed any of my meager expectations.
The basic premise is this: A small group of people conspire to rob an illegal cards game frequented by mobsters. Brad Pitt is called in to figure out who the thieves are and kill them. Ray Liotta plays the person who ran the game. James Gandolfini is another hitman.
So many aspects of this movie impressed me.
First, there is an interweaving of CNN/radio/news clips that not only sets the time of the movie but also stands as a great juxtaposition to the actions of the characters. Many poignant notes hit as I heard a radio clip being played right before someone was to get shaken down, or right before we met characters, or at the very end of the movie.
Fuck, the end of the movie. I will not tell you who says what, because this is a movie I do not want to spoil. It was just so good. But I can give you the quote.
A certain person is giving a speech that is broadcast live and being shown on a television in a bar. One of the characters cynically quips, “Watch, he’s about to say some shit about how America is a community.” There is a pause. Something to that effect is said. The character then replies, in just a cynical a fashion, “America isn’t a community; it’s a business. Now pay me.” The threatening undertone in his voice, the anger, frustration, and willingness to get what he wants right now sold this movie for me.
Second, the cinematography in this flick is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. One scene in particular which I loved features a drive by shooting. The actions in the sequence are slowed down and set to music (oh my god, the music*).
As bullets fly, everything is just so beautiful. The bullets crashing through the glass or puncturing the doors of the vehicle. The holes appearing in the victim. His brains bursting from the back of his head. And then the victim’s car drifting forward and being crashed into by traffic. The cinematographer made this brutal graphic death scene look like a dance, a slow waltz with lovely partners gliding across the floor.
Third, the acting. Each of the men cited in the description of this movie play their parts so well. It is my sincere hope that at least one, if not all three, are honored from their work.
One of my favorite moments was the introduction of Brad Pitt. He pulls up, parks his car, and gets out. The camera starts low and then slowly pans up. The boots. The pressed pants. The leather jacket. The hair. This man, though he had a brutal job, was impeccable.
And, throughout the movie, he was always honest, even when he lied. Brad Pitt’s character was by far my favorite. The movie is so named because of a line he says early in the action. He talks about the difficulty of killing a man. No one is the same when you are about to kill them. They beg. They cry. They yell for their mother. They wet themselves. He advises against any of the normal ways, of beating someone up, of teaching them a lesson first. He says you should kill them quickly, softly, one last gift before their death.
This movie is my gift to you, my fair readers. Excellent acting. Excellent writing, with crisp dialogue and a story I loved. Cinematography that made me want to weep. And a soundtrack I will be buying.
Go see Killing Them Softly.
*Footnote: The music was so good, Gray was actually occasionally pissed when they changed scenes because he wanted the music to finish. I’d say that’s an excellent recommendation for the soundtrack as well.
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