Killing Them Softly
You know the economy is bad when hitmen have to fly coach. That’s exactly what happens to the Mafioso in Killing Them Softly, set during the lead-up to the 2008 election, which draws parallels everywhere between the crime underworld and big government. The action revolves around two thugs named Russell and Frankie (Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy) who take the promise of a quick payday, robbing a local gambling circuit run by Ray Liotta. When things go awry, as they always do, the legendary Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is called in to clean things up. Cogan likes to kill his targets up close, “softly”, without all that pleading and calling for their mamas.
There’s some complicated negotiating between Jackie and Richard Jenkins who plays the middle-management go-between, and haggles about the price of the hits. Jackie calls in an old friend named Mickey (James Gandolfini, channeling Tony Soprano) because he can use the work, not because he’s necessarily up to the task. So Jackie becomes our anti-hero, a sympathetic killer trying to make it in a tough business that’s been stripped of any glamour and loyalty it had. At times the political rhetoric gets a little heavy-handed but it more than serves its purpose about how much hope has been leached from the middle class. Great performance by Pitt and supporting cast, great film.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
This is a cute story about a couple (Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton) unable to conceive their own child who write down all the attributes their child would have had, such as being artistic, scoring the winning goal in a soccer game, being compassionate, and then bury the box in the back garden. Low and behold, a boy called Timothy (CJ Adams) appears all muddy and sprouting little leaves on his legs. He has all those attributes, as it turns out, and he teaches Jim and Cindy how to be parents while teaching the community to be more tolerant of people who are different. Adams is perfect. However, Jennifer Garner is so convincing as the frantic mother that she verges on annoying. It’s G-rated, so expect corniness, but overall it’s a film the whole family can enjoy.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
This film focuses on the small population living in “the Bathtub” an area outside the Louisiana levees that is sure to go under when the next big storm hits. Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) lives there with her father, who disappears for days at a time, leaving the little girl to fend for herself in their rundown bayou property. It’s both a story of how these people band together after a Katrina-type storm does hit, and how Hushpuppy’s father prepares her to take care of herself when he’s not around. It feels post-apocalyptic, this world, but it’s not too far away… Excellent film.
Dark Knight Rises
Batman (Christian Bale) is once again in hiding, having accepted responsibility for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent. He is lured back into the world after one of his inventions is weaponized and Gotham City is threatened, by the sinister Bane (Tom Hardy). It’s the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, featuring astounding visual effects and timely political commentary about the disgruntled 99 per cent. It’s dark, and not just in the title. Over 3 hours of bonus features on the blu-ray, so fans will love it.