As the film’s tagline describes, “Killer Joe” is a “totally twisted deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story,” according to the film’s official website. The film, which has earned an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, has disturbing content, including brutal violence and sexuality. The film doesn’t pull any punches, using anything and everything at its disposal to create a ruthless, yet effective, film.
The film follows the Smiths, a redneck family in Texas, and centers on the son Chris (Emile Hirsch) who is in debt for $6,000 for bad bets. It is made clear to him that if he does not pay he will die.
He has a sister Dottie (Juno Temple), the innocent one of the bunch, whom Chris has a more than brotherly affection toward. Unable to come up with a reasonable way to cough up the cash, he decides to have his mother killed for the insurance money. Chris hires the titular character Killer Joe Cooper (Mathew McConaughey) to murder her and pay Joe out of the insurance settlement.
Killer Joe is ruthless. Every action he performs is planned and methodical. He is also sadistic, demanding the money up front, which Chris can’t produce. Joe asks for his sister to do with the money what he wants and the family obliges knowing that they will soon have a small fortune.
All this leads to an ending that can best be describes as carnage. With meticulous direction by William Fridkin, who has directed such classics as “The Exorcist” and “The French Connection,” every little piece is in the correct place for this film.
The score is lifeless, comprised of subtle tones which fits the characters and the setting well. The acting is supreme. Friedkin’s film is Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsh’s best performances to date.
“Killer Joe” is not for the faint of heart. It is a film that goes to dark places and succeeds delivering a bombastic murder story in the middle of nowhere.
Robot & Frank
“Robot and Frank” is an interesting character study – one that has been told before – but not like this. The film, set in the not-too-distant future in upstate New York, follows Frank, played by Frank Langella, a retired cat burglar who’s done serious time for his crimes. He now suffers from early Alzheimer’s disease and his memory is slowly fading.
The film shows Frank’s everyday life and interactions with his son Hunter (James Marsden), daughter Madison (Liv Tyler) and a librarian (Susan Sarandon). Each of them show affection towards Frank, who is generally kind but hesitant towards fully interacting with them.
All this is pretty formulaic as far as motion picture dramas go, but it does differ from other films. Hunter, fed up with the long commute to help take care of his father, buys his father a robot, voiced by Peter Sarsgaard. The robot aims to help take care of him and keep him company. Frank is initially reluctant, as all old men are in films to trust technology, but eventually embraces it when he finds out that Robot is willing to help him commit robberies to keep his memory stimulated.
This is director Jake D. Schreier and writer Christopher Ford’s first film and it shows. Clocking in at only 89 minutes, it doesn’t go as in-depth with the characters as it should. The film suffers from the typical pitfalls of its genre, drama, and has an ending that feels very forced.
Overall the film worked and was enjoyable. “Robot and Frank” shows promise for Schreier and Ford in the future.
Celeste & Jesse Forever
“Celeste & Jesse Forever” is a different kind of romantic comedy.
The opening credits show what we are used to: a montage of the titular characters falling in love, getting married and fighting. When the opening credits stop we are shown Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) driving together to a dinner to meet up with friends. They are acting like a loving couple, joking and laughing. However, when they arrive at the dinner, their friends start to ridicule them that people broken up shouldn’t act that way.
Celeste and Jesse have been split up for half a year but convinced that they are each other’s best friend. They refuse to stop seeing each other and seem perfectly happy. Most movies like this start with the couple meeting, falling in love, fighting, breaking up and then, in the end, getting back together.
This film is about trying to love the one you used to be with. Can you co-exist just as friends? Who is to blame for the failure of the marriage? And how do we move on from a failed marriage?
The film is mainly focused on Celeste. While most films blame the guy in the relationship, this one makes it very clear it was Celeste who ruined the marriage and focuses on her coming to terms with it.
“Celeste and Jess Forever” was a decent film. The acting felt real, had a good soundtrack and enough comedy to keep the audience engaged. The main setback was the terrible direction.
Directed by newcomer Lee Toland Krieger, he tries tries to over-style the film but often only has half of a person’s head in the frame. Despite this, the film has many other redeeming qualities.
Don’t wait forever to see “Celeste and Jesse Forever.”