Tag Archives: Brad Pitt

Review: By the Sea

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via IMP Awards

By the Sea (2015)

R / 122 min.

Drama / Romance

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent

Director: Angelia Jolie


A French seaside resort sounds like the perfect locale for a romantic getaway weekend.  The fresh and salty breeze kisses your face as the sound of the waves crashing upon the beach fills your ears.  It is relaxing just thinking about it.  It sounds a lot better than this damp and foggy day I am currently experiencing.  Unfortunately, By the Sea, directed and written by actress-turned-director Angelina Jolie is anything but romantic…or a good movie for that matter.

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via The AV Club

The film, starring Angelina and her ex-real-life husband Brad Pitt, is a reflective piece on the subject of grief and love.  It is a deeply personal film about a couple, Vanessa and Roland (played by Jolie and Pitt), at a crossroads in the relationship who decide to go to a French seaside resort to perhaps sort things out in their marriage.  Instead, things seem to take a turn for the weird when they begin to meet some new friends around the town, two of which happen to be a newly-wed couple next door.

What brought me to this movie was the obvious draw of a voyeuristic look into the real-life relationship of Jolie and Pitt.  It was no secret that their marriage was hanging on a thread and that things were not all roses and dandelions between the two of them.  By the Sea was advertised as a personal art-house piece about a couple going through a rough patch.  It does not take a genius to connect the dots and theorize that perhaps the movie is a story about the director’s marriage.  Despite these theories, we get nothing of the sort.  Instead, we get a rather odd voyeuristic look into the sex life of the couple next door thanks to a hidden peep hole that offers Vanessa a view into their life.  Feelings of jealousy and lust begin to creep into her thoughts as she becomes addicted to the peep hole while Roland is off getting drunk at the resort’s bar.

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via Rolling Stone

This fascination with the couple next door is certainly something I was not expecting, but it is just too bad the overall plot is boring.  The film never managed to grab me like I thought it initially would.  It does not help that 75% of the movie is one big moan fest full of self-loathing and blank stares.  Everyone just lies around drinking and acting all mopey-dopey.  The performances feel lifeless, especially from Jolie and Pitt.  The dynamic and chemistry between their two characters is the backbone that the movie relies upon but the two never feel invested in their characters.  For a movie so personal it was surprising how detached the two felt from it.

There is one department of the movie that deserves praise and that is its cinematography.  Angelina Jolie is a great director who looks to have a future ahead of her that does not solely include acting.  She takes a simplistic angle on the film, with some great minimalist shots and a lot of silence.  It was at least pleasant to look at, despite the boring travesty that was taking place in the resort.  There was also a nice orchestrated musical score that added to the movie as well.

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via Collider

Things only get worse as the movie creeps towards its conclusion, but I never found it in myself to care.  By the Sea must have been tough to create given the circumstances of what Jolie and Pitt were going through at the time, so I have to commend them for attempting to put something like this out there in the wild.  If you came into this movie looking for an irresistible look into the two’s love life however, then you are going to be madly disappointed.  It is quite possible you might self-loath yourself just as much as the characters in the movie.

by-the-sea-score

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Review: Killing Them Softly

killing them softly posterKilling Them Softly (2012)

R / 97 min

Crime / Thriller

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins

Director: Andrew Dominik


Movies that have a lot of cool ideas and ambition, yet fall short, are probably the most disappointing to me.  I started watching Killing Them Softly with a lot of excitement, but I just didn’t find myself satisfied with the final product.  This was surprising to me, especially given the work that Andrew Dominik has done in the past, including The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Killing Them Softly is a story about three, rather dumb, criminals who decide to rob a mob-protected poker game.  There is a lot of money flying around the tables, as the one criminal puts it, making it an alluring target.  This is bad for the local economy.  And by local economy, I mean the illegal poker games.  They bring in a lot of money and with this robbery, the confidence level of the players went down.

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So, they decide to hire an enforcer named Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to restore order to the situation.  He has to take out the three guys who are responsible for this “recession.”  That’s pretty much the extent of the plot.  It’s rather drab.  It’s a cut and paste story that doesn’t make itself stand out from other crime movies of it’s kind.

What makes this movie even more disappointing is the lack of challenge that Jackie faces with his hits.  Let’s just run down the robbers.  First we have Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) who, in his spare time, sells stolen dogs and does a ton of drugs.  We then have Frankie (Scoot McNairy) who seems to be dealing with constant anxiety and fear.  The guy who ordered the two to rob the poker game is Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola), who doesn’t seem to be to intelligent himself.  You see what I am getting at?  These guys don’t really provide a challenge for Jackie.  It’s hard to find the conflict in this movie when really no one stands in his way.

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Because of lack of conflict, Brad Pitt’s character isn’t too engaging.  I want to believe that Brad Pitt did the best that he could given the material that he had, but I just couldn’t find to much positives about his performance.  He seemed rather tired throughout the movie, smoking on his cigarette and killing these bozos who didn’t know what they were doing.  It wasn’t a standout acting job on Pitt’s part.

The character I enjoyed the most though was Markie Trattman, played by Ray Liotta.  He is the man that, even though he was completely innocent, was seen as the guy who was behind the hold-up at the poker game.  Even though we didn’t see enough of him in the movie, his few times to shine were great.  He played his part the best out of everybody else.

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There is also a ton of talking in this movie, and by ton I mean A TON.  This is a largely conversational movie.  I could probably listen to this movie in podcast form and still get the same effect.  Maybe that’s a little exaggeration, but it’s not that far from being the truth.  With that being said, these conversations would be okay if they were actually interesting.  The dialog is usually between Jackie and Mickey (James Gandolfini) and Driver (Richard Jenkins).  These conversations usually go on to long and they are one of the big reasons why this movie is on the dull side.  They are not fun and they tend to be a little useless.

The one aspect about this movie that interested me was the interspersed political commentary that was found throughout the movie.  Whether it was car radios or TV’s, Obama, George Bush, and John McCain could be heard giving their thoughts on the financial situation of America.  America, during this time, was going through a recession and money was low.  The meaning behind these mysterious narrations all comes together in the final scene, which did offer some closure to it all.  However, was all of this stuff necessary?  No.

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When I went in to this crime movie, I was not expecting all of this political commentary.  In fact, by the end, I didn’t really want it at all.  It intrigued me at first, but the movie just failed to really make it significant enough.  It just shows that this movie had a big idea that it wanted to capitalize on, but it just fell short of what it actually wanted to say.  For this reason, I found the political commentary not needed.

Killing Them Softly is a puzzling movie to me.  I had an open mind when I started the movie, but it’s grittiness and it’s largely boring plot just couldn’t grip me.  Like I said before, it’s a movie that had ambition and good ideas behind it, but it just didn’t attack them the way I wanted them too.  It was a disappointment.  A disappointment that I just can’t bring myself to recommend.

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