No spoiler review.
Last night I watched Beowulf, the recent Robert Zemeckis version. My review can be summed up simply: it blew. Hardcore. Before it was over, I wanted to tear my eyes out. And sadly, it is true that what is seen, cannot be unseen.
Tonight, Donna and I watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Something I had heard as a kid about movies was that the longer the movie title, the worse the movie. Nothing could be more wrong in this case. What I say in this review should not be considered a spoiler, since the facts are a matter of historical record. Plus the title gives away the crucial plot point, so it’s not like you were going to be surprised when Robert Ford kills Jesse James. I won’t go into further details about the specifics of what happens.
What struck me as truly powerful in this movie was the development of Robert Ford’s character. Casey Affleck did a great job and deserved his Oscar nomination. Brad Pitt didn’t detract from the film, either. I highly recommend it if you love westerns, though it wasn’t really a western in the conventional sense.
At one point in the film, there is a guy in a bar singing a song that struck me as particularly cool. Lo and behold, it is a real song: “The Ballad of Jesse James.” Does it mean I’m getting old that I like folk songs so much? I’ve included the lyrics below the jump.
Jesse James was a train and bank robber who killed at least 17 people. He went by the name of Thomas Howard in order to escape the law. While still alive, he inspired the popular media so much, people were publishing made-up stories of his exploits. Children grew up idolizing him. When he died, he was transformed into a Robin Hood figure. The ballad portrays him as a man who stole from the rich to give to the poor. What was it about him that so captured people’s hearts and minds? I think we can’t resist the idea of that kind of freedom. He was beholden to no man. He had no boss and he thwarted the powerful. He had his own cunning and skill and the bravery to use them. He was a murderer and a thief, and people wished they could be him. He is still famous over a hundred and twenty years after his death.