Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Killer Joe

If you are the type that has considered setting fire to your gentiles, then this film might not be for you.  For the other 99.9% of you this is a film that will take you for a kick ass NC-17 ride. The only downside of seeing this film, is that you may never look at a fried chicken leg the same again.  After making a premier at the Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, the film finally received distribution and is ready for your enjoyment.

"Killer Joe" was an off-Broadway play in 1998 that was written by Tracy Letts.  Academy Award winning director William Friedkin brings the story to the big screen along with a brilliantly talented cast.  This film will make you wonder where the director of "The Exorcist" (1973) and "The French Connection" (1971) has been lately.  While the film isn't as good as the award winning films he has worked on before, it is still very much worth seeing. 

The story is a modern take on the often misinterpreted noir genre and brings Matthew McConaughey shirt off as you can expect.  The film starts with Chris (Emile Hirsch) seeking financial assistance from his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) to help clear him of a considerable debt.  Chris decides that the only solution is to murder his mother, and Ansel's ex-wife, to collect the insurance money.  They decide to hire Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) a contract killer, who also happens to be a police detective.  The plan is that the money will go to Chris' sister Dottie (Juno Temple) who will be held as the retainer until the insurance comes through.  As repugnant as the plan is, even Sharla (Gina Gershon), Ansel's wife, agrees to go along with the plan.  Of course, things go violently wrong and the film offers kinky twists before descending into a blood-drenched finale.

As the story unfolds, you see the brilliant acting performances from the entire cast in their trailer-trash caricatures.  Of course Matthew McConaughey takes his shirt, and pants, off.  However, his performance goes above and beyond anything else he has ever done.  He has created Killer Joe in a way that is truly terrifying.  The simplicity of Thomas Haden Church brings a light comedy to the incompetent seriousness of the situation.  Emile Hirsch continues to show his range that makes him one of my personal favorites.  If you haven't seen him in "Savages" you are also missing out another of his great performance.  The young and beautiful Juno Temple provides a performances that stands up against the other amazing talents.  Also don't miss Juno Temple in "The Dark Knight Rises".  Gina Gershon is almost forgotten about until the final sequence that not even Quentin Tarantino would have thought of.  

Tracy Letts is an amazing talent, and I for one look forward to seeing the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County which will receive the big screen treatment in 2013.  William Friedkin and Tracy Letts rely on the narrative to tell the story, and not the nudity and violence that so many lesser talented writers and directors succumb to.  Everyone should enjoy this 4 Quack film.

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