I have been watching this film quite a bit recently, and I am becoming more and more convinced that this is a great movie. Maybe one of the great westerns. It is alternately poetic and realistic, with astonishing performances and cinematography that absolutely floors me. The writer/director, Andrew Dominik, has only made two films so far (his previous Chopper remains unseen by me) but I detect an unmistakable mark of genius in Jesse James, comparable with the work of Stanley Kubrick.
Yep. Best Western since McCabe and Mrs. Miller.
More at Malick than Kubrick.
A lot of Malick, the director even shot some second unit stuff for THE NEW WORLD and is a friend of Terry’s.
Loved the film too, a shame it was treated so lousily by Warner.
Dominik is very talented. I loved the film, especially with repeated viewings. The pain of shame is potent and ultimately devastating. The story itself is great enough to transcend the possible shortcomings of the filmmaking, I think.
Storywise, Dominik’s film (and Hansen’s novel) owes a lot to Sam Fuller’s I Shot Jesse James, particularly in its characterization of Robert Ford.
I never realized but yes the film is very reminiscent of Malick. I still see some Barry Lyndon in there though.
Yes, I believe it is, really one of the most beautifully shot and edited films I have seen. The acting and story are great as well, all together a wonderful experience of film.
I happened to see Fuller’s I Shot Jesse James before I saw Dominik’s film, and they are surprisingly similar in many ways. What Dominik does with his film is greater than what Fuller did, but Fuller was too radical for his time and was forced to simplify and tone down the film greatly. This is easily the best film ever made featuring Jesse James and contains the most complex examination of Ford’s relationship with him.
Snoooooze! How does one compare this pretentious piece of swill to Malick’s work? Talk about a flea on an elephant’s arse.
^ You protest too much. I found it a good contemplative Western, despite Brad Pitt.
Sorry. I know a lot of people hype this film in the forum. This is probably the 10,000th thread I’ve seen on it. I just don’t get it. I found it long, dull and unwatchable. I’ll give it a nod for cinematography, but that was it’s only redeeming quality, imo.
It’s cinematography is it’s strongest suit, agreed. Long and dull, though? I appreciated that it took time to allow for contemplation, something the Western (as an extension of the idea of exploration of the frontier) is ripe for but little utilized.
Anyway, it’s not the greatest film, but it is gorgeous and does have ambition.
This is one of those that, when I watch it, I have the unmistakable feeling in me that I am watching something great. It is long, it is slow, it does have a big name actor, but I can tell there is something waiting here for anybody willing to dig into it. I am still trying to understand why I feel it is so great; I know the cinematography is a big reason, and the acting, and there are many things about the directing I probably have yet to notice. I want to see this film many more times, and my appreciation for it will likely deepen with each viewing.
A modern masterpiece, no. A very good Western, yes. With great cinematography and great acting all the way around.
Casey Affleck can act circles around Brad Pitt and brother Ben. I usually think Brad Pitt’s acting is adequate—no more and no less—for the roles he plays, but I think he played a romanticized Jesse James very well.
This stylized Western’s methodical pace seemed to reflect the slow-moving 1880’s. Give Dominik credit for depicting the period in detail. One minor example was showing many of the characters grungy and unwashed as most people at that time did not bathe so often.
I adore Sam Fuller’s films, but I don’t see too much of Fuller’s Jesse James influence here. It is the same story, but told by two different very good filmmakers using two very different styles. After all , there are dozens of Jesse James films (and Wyatt Earp/OK Corral films) around, and how many of them are really good? These two, for sure.
I really enjoyed Dominik’s Chopper and especially Eric Bana’s portrayal of Chopper. Eric Bana BECAME Chopper.
The “meditative” western was a firmly established genre decades ago, and this was designed to fit snugly into that genre.
Am I the only one yearning to see the 4 hour cut of this film that played at Venice? It’s an incredible film as is, but I would definitely go out of my way to see the longer cut.
Would love to see Domonick Cooper take on the long awaited adaptation of Cormac McCarthys Blood Meridian. Every name mentioned in connection with this adaptation in the past has troubled me, as i feel it is an almost unfilmable novel, but if Cooper did it, and brought the same visual genius and poetic tone to the table as he did with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, I think he would do the Novel justice.
I need to see the 4 hour cut too, absolutely magnificent film
It’s a great movie. Andrew Dominik is the closest thing to this generations Terrence Malick.
Though I think Chopper is his masterpiece for me.
4-hour cut! Unbelievable! LOL
I hope Criterion releases the 4.5 hour cut of the film. That sounds wacky and I bet adds a lot to the final act.
I really want to see this 4 hour cut, everything I’ve heard of it sounds excellent.
And Franz, after seeing the mistreatment of The Road I’ve always feared an adaptation of Blood Meridian. While I haven’t seen All the Pretty Horses, seems the only way No Country was a good adaptation was by changing much of it.
That being said, I actually really like the idea of Dominick directing Blood Meridian. I’d have to rewatch Chopper and Assassination to decide entirely though. I still think the biggest problem with adapting Blood is casting The Judge. I have no clue who could even come close to playing that role, my only thought is John Goodman after I saw Barton Fink but I am really, really stretching with that one.
Just want to make a little correction here guys. It’s Todd Field that is working on Blood Meridian. Dominik has worked on a Cities of the Plain script for a while now. I think he pushed that aside though, in order to work on the Marilyn Monroe biopic he’s planning with Naomi Watts in the lead. If you really think about him doing a Marilyn Monroe biopic, it makes complete sense in terms of the themes he’s already handled.
Here’s a pic of her as Marilyn.
I completley forgot that he was working on Blood Meridian. I haven’t seen any of his work to be fair, but I’m not too sure how I feel about this.
I am very, very intrigued by this Monroe film now though.
I sure hope Dominick doesn’t make me fall asleep during Blood Meridian like he did with Jesse James. Westerns without action are just plain fodder.
I think calling this film a modern masterpiece is reaching quite a bit. It’s well-made with some solid performances, but it’s definitely not a masterpiece merely because it’s reminiscent of Malick or Kubrick (I don’t really see a major Kubrick influence in this, not Lyndon either – what the similarities these two films share?).
On the surface, the movie is beautiful, compelling, and serious in exploring its themes of guilt and shame. Still, I think what separates it from other merely good Westerns is the sophistication and relevance of the allegory—after all, it’s really about our modern cult of celebrity and its ripple effects, and that allegory can withstand a close unpacking. Is a masterpiece? I dunno. But I’d say it’s at least in the running.
I still need to watch this a few more times before I"m sure about why I feel it’s a masterpiece, but this is one where I had that inexplicable feeling. The one where, as I’m sitting there, I really feel that I’m watching something great. The train robbery sequence was one scene that really stood out to me. It wasn’t pumped up with action like so many other movies of this type. It was like visual poetry, and Nick Cave’s music provokes different emotions than excitement. The observation of Ford and James and the complexities of their relationship are fascinating, and I was amazed at the attention to detail given in recreating the time period. This is also the best interpretation I’ve seen of the actual assassination as well.