This is how out of it I am. I was in the video store and I came across The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and I thought, "Oh, that's out now?" I had been interested in the book and the movie and remembered hearing that it was going to come out at some point, not realizing that it had been winning film festivals and Oscar nominations, so anything positive I have to say about it won't be anything that hasn't been said.
I was surprised by how good a movie this was. The cinematography was enrapturing throughout. At times it can seem a little forced, but I don't know what other choice you have when you are trying to do something new and interesting. Every performance in the movie was at least solid. Sam Rockwell was outstanding, as I usually find him. I was surprised and impressed with Casey Affleck. It would have been easy to go overboard and play up creepiness or nuttiness in the character but he was able to make it very real and weak where he should have been and angry where he should have been. Really solid stuff. Brad Pitt walks that odd line between good and bad that I often find him in. I generally like his movies. I also think he is very skilled at being physically present in a movie the way Steve McQueen was. I don't mean that he is nice to look at, I mean he is good at making his character present through his stance or his small movements. He is underrated in that sense. He does the little stuff well in this. The subtle stuff. He has moved beyond his over the top job in 12 Monkeys, which I actually liked. , but which wouldn't have been appropriate here. Unfortunately, Pitt just doesn't do authority well. I think it is something about his voice. He sounds really bad yelling and has no real sand as a threatening force. He certainly isn't bad in the role, he is good. Just a small thing I have noticed in several of his movies. I don't think he is good at playing leaders.
I set down thinking I would watch the movie in segments but I got sucked in for the whole two and a half hours. I became emotionally invested in it in a way that I didn't expect. I also found the personal story of Robert Ford more disturbing than I knew that it was. If you haven't already, you should probably check it out.