Saturday, December 1, 2012

Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik, 2012) -- 5/5

Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly stands alongside Magic Mike and The Master as one of 2012's genuine American masterpieces. Already mistaken as a slight genre work (critics must have fallen asleep), Dominik questions the essence of signification via genre forms, while melding genre fiction and fact (the film's 2008 backdrop often consists of snippets from Bush Jr. and Obama speeches). However, these inclusions are not merely knee-jerk reaches to provide supplementary relevance, nor are they didactic political cries. Rather, Killing Them Softly concerns itself with rhetoric, both in visual and spoken terms. Aural/visual playfulness abounds, often conducted in such a mannered style as to suggest satire - but Dominik is never so forthcoming. Likewise, how to interpret the lengthy, often non-sequiter conversations in-relation to Bush and Obama yammering on about the economy? There's a lot of yammering here, a lot of detours - but Killing Them Softly is not confined by its seemingly straightforward convictions. Rather, the narrative's relative simplicity is a red herring to exorcize cinematic demons - is this a revisionist crime film or a rebuttal to Michael Haneke's Funny Games? For Mr. Dominik, I am happy to let him have his shotgun and shoot it too.