Bad to the (chicken) bone.
How do you follow 2006’s pesticidal horror film Bug? Why, you make Killer Joe, of course!
Working once again with blackly humorous playwright Tracy Letts, this film is a majestical ride to the dark depths of humanity, pushing the boundaries of narrative subjects and testing audiences threshold in the process.
Matthew McConnaughy plays no-nonsense hit man Joe Cooper. Brought into to the Smith family fold by wisecracking, angst teenager Chris (Emile Hirsch in his best-ever performance, FYI) to bump off their aloof maternal figure, when they can’t pay up the homicide fee, Joe suggests a retainer for the money in the form of possession of seventeen year old Dottie, the precocious nymph of the trailer park household. Macabre and dangerous plot twists, Killer Joe is an intense filmic experience and one that you might not be able to shake loose.
It’s in cinemas now, and so should you be.
In 2007, John Krakauer took the memoirs of young nomad traveller Christopher McCandless, adapted it to a full length nonfiction work, and then passed over the story rights to Sean Penn. The result, the film Into the Wild as the tales third incarnation, is ultimately a two and a half hour snore fest.
It would be ignorant to ignore Emile Hirsch’s staggeringly good character performance. More than losing considerable weight to match McCandless’ gradual diminishment, Hirsch is trying his damn hardest, earning his stripes and chewing up every single scene with poise and force. However, all that effort feels like a huge waste of energy when the finished product is so dull, with at least a third of the film’s length feeling superfluous.
Although Sean Penn is known for his political activism, Into the Wild feels inherently all-American and apolitical. Travelling across the vast American landscape, it’s a lonesome road movie, which is only made worse by alternative rock gruff-mistro Eddie Vedder creating the cheesy score. All of this, plus it’s ‘based on true events’ strap line make Into the Wild overtly poignant and worthy, constantly waving itself in front of academy award members, and attempting to pull on the audience’s heartstrings. Maybe mine are plucked, but I sure as hell ain’t crying.