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The Killer Inside Me

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Links to In This World (2002), Code 46 (2003), 9 Songs (2004), Road to Guantanamo (2006), and A Mighty Heart (2007). These links serve to remind me that I still need to see the last two listed!

Michael Winterbottom's latest is adapted from the Jim Thompson novel, and will star Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Casey Affleck, Bill Pullman and Ned Beatty.

There's some info up Here, which has the same five-minute promo trailer also found at YouTube. Caution: Alba butt-cheek shown. Also caution: this thing looks grissly.

Edited by Persona

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Not really sure I'm going to like this one. I'm kind of getting neo-noir, American Psycho vibe here. On the other hand, ever since Gone Baby Gone and Assassination of Jesse James, as a general rule I'm probably going to give a chance to anything Casey Affleck decides to try.

Edited to add: didn't intend for that to be the youtube screenshot there. The preview does look like Affleck is acting the hell out of his part though.

Edited by Persiflage

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Nice timing on the bump. Link to Winterbottom's The Shock Doctrine.

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Thom and I were going to see it this weekend until reviews started pouring in. They are not very good. As responsible adult film watchers with children in the home, we decided it was better to wait for the DVD, and another film for a better night out.

Ebert's 2-1/2 didn't really have anything quoteable, the At The Movie guys gave it a "Skip It" and a "Rent It." Those three combined are enough for me to go with the latter.

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I'm kinda torn on it because it is a Winterbottom, it's a film from a contemporary true auteur. However, he has had some huge missteps before, and he is in fact the maker of 9 Songs (not to mention the loathsome The Claim), a really bad career move when it comes to people like me that will remember his previous work when considering his future films.

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Jim Emerson @ Chicago Sun-Times:

I would suggest that "The Killer Inside Me" succeeds where Michael Haneke's "Funny Games" (in both nearly-identical versions) was too obvious and schematic to succeed. . . .

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Jim Emerson @ Chicago Sun-Times: I would suggest that "The Killer Inside Me" succeeds where Michael Haneke's "Funny Games" (in both nearly-identical versions) was too obvious and schematic to succeed. . . .

I'm not sure that's a good thing.

I love film noir. I hated this film. I'm a big fan of Casey Affleck, Elias Koteas, and Bill Pullman. I often find redeeming qualities in some noir films that no one else likes. I appreciate the story of the anti-hero in an incredibly bleak world who, even though he's not perfect, finds something of moral worth to believe in and fight for. This isn't that sort of story. I suspected parts of this film were supposed to be played for laughs, but I couldn't find any humor in any of it. I don't exactly understand why I loved No Country For Old Men and hated this one, but I'm chucking The Killer Inside Me on my list of films I'm sorry I sat through along with Funny Games. Recently, SDG criticized The Expendables for lacking any sense of humanity. While not as well made, I'd happily take the moral worth, however shallow it might be, in The Expendables over The Killer Inside Me any day.

I understand some films make a point of simply putting together a good script, good acting and an interesting story all in order to portray the depths of depravity of man. What I don't understand is what's the point? I can feel perfectly dirty and aware of my own sin nature without gaining anything from watching a film like this. Between experiences in the army, spending a year in Iraq, and a few other things, I sometimes wonder if I might be a little more desensitized than your average viewer. But there are some films I don't have the stomach for, and this is one of them. If you haven't seen this yet, don't bother (even if you're an James Ellroy, dark noir, or Casey Affleck fan). It's not worth it. It may have been an interesting chance for the actors and actresses in the film to try something they hadn't tried before, I just think they could have done so with a different film from this one. (On a side note, I also kept getting constantly distracted by the fact that Affleck's character's name was Ford.) It's got over 50% positive reviews at rotten tomatoes. But a couple of the most negative reviews explained my feelings on the subject.

Rob Thomas

But there's no getting around the fact that "Killer Inside Me" is a very hard movie to watch because of its subject matter. It's Winterbottom's first entry into dark noir, and I think a more seasoned hand in the genre would have given Lou's horrible actions their proper moral weight. I can pinpoint the exact moment "Killer Inside Me" lost me. It's the scene immediately after the most gut-twistingly awful one in the film. (You'll know it.) While the audience is still reeling emotionally from what it's just witnessed, Winterbottom chooses to play a jaunty old cowboy song on the soundtrack. He obviously means it ironically, but it trivializes the drama in a way that really leaves a sour taste. Bad things happen to good people in the movies. But "Killer Inside Me" at times is so gratuitously mean-spirited that it makes you feel like a chump for bothering to care about its characters.

... and almost ashamed of yourself that you kept watching to see how it would all end.

Bill Weber

These horrific episodes are irony-free—and hence a welcome corrective to the near-monopoly of just-for-fun mayhem that makes contemporary fanboys giddy, e.g., roasting a throng of Nazis in a burning theater, and dates back at least to Anthony Hopkins's cannibalistic camping for awards and popular approval. When people gasp and cringe in their seats at Lou Ford's ferocious assaults, then sermonize about artistic irresponsibility or misogyny, their outrage seems to be lit by the switch from the distanced, jokey diet of filmic carnage to which they've grown accustomed. In attempting to represent Thompson's morbidly economical prose ("It was like pounding a pumpkin. Hard, then everything giving away at once") in concrete dramatic terms, any less blunt treatment of Lou's sadism would be open to charges of soft-pedaling his venality. Since the character's mocking of his fellow citizens of Central City with deadpan aphorisms like "Haste makes waste"—bullshitting the rubes—could endear him to some indie-film viewers on the coasts, a more distanced rendering of his crimes could result in one more cool American Psycho–style antihero. The tone is misogynistic and brutal, because at its most ambitious this Killer Inside Me is a film by Lou Ford, just as the universe in the first-person novel exists between his ears. More's the pity that jack-of-all-genres Winterbottom, after communicating his seriousness with the uncompromising killings, can't bring such power consistently to the dark, hell-bound plot ... The result isn't drama so much as a waking nightmare of play-acting and predestined doom.

Funny that Weber's comparisons include Inglourious Basterds and American Pyscho. Personally, I can find moral worth, a sense of humor, heroes to love and root for, and a number of redemptive qualities to Inglourious Basterds, I can't find any of that in The Killer Inside Me. At least Patrick Bateman was engaged in an internal struggle with himself to try and NOT do the things his depravity/insanity tempted him to do - that was one of the only things making American Psycho at all compelling. There is no such internal struggle for Lou Ford. Heck, even Charlie Ford was cold-hearted in Assassination of Jesse James, but at least he was human enough to understand his own cold-heartedness.

Jason Di Rosso

Michael Winterbottom's latest film, based on the 1952 novel by hardboiled author Jim Thompson, has attracted some harsh criticism for its depiction of violence ... The violence, while extreme even for splatter standards, should be viewed in the context of the film's study of corruption in a 1950s American boom town. This outwardly polite, softly spoken sheriff is a symbol of the hypocrisies of the American middle class and the puritanical underpinnings of the American work ethic. Essentially he's a serial killer whose desire for intimacy conflicts with a pathological thirst for control over others, and the film's frank depiction of the violence he unleashes, which goes hand in hand with his penchant for blackmail and double-crossing, feels like a bold choice from Winterbottom more than an exploitative one.

I can admire films with bleak depressing endings. I can find worth to films with gratuitous depictions of violence. The main problem with The Killer Inside Me isn't really the violence and ending, it's the worldview. Even No Country for Old Men questions the meaninglessness of evil, and therefore, life itself. The Killer Inside Me doesn't really question anything at all, in Lou Ford's world, there's no reason to ask questions. I'm still wondering why, but I disagree with Di Rosso, it's not bold, it's just pointless.

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Not much to add. I appreciate noir, enjoyed A Mighty Heart, and believe Afflec has done some great acting in the past. I had heard about the subject matter so I proceeded with caution.Try as I might, I could not see the point in what the film makers did here. This is the first movie in recent memory that I had to turn off halfway through and promptly return to Netflix. The Film Comment review makes the claim that Winterbottom and the film just present Ford and his actions as they are without making any judgments on him. I'm not buying it. Ford's beating of Joyce is completely subjective and stylized. Winterbottom gets the camera in close and swings it towards Alba with each blow. The only way I can think to make the scene objective and impartial would be to completely locked the camera down and just let the scene play out. FWIW.

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The flood of negative reviews on this are too bad for us Winterbottom fans. I won't say I'll never see it, but it certainly isn't popping up to the top of my queue any time soon.

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I understand some films make a point of simply putting together a good script, good acting and an interesting story all in order to portray the depths of depravity of man. What I don't understand is what's the point?

This reasoning is totally fair, and I especially like how you compare your viewing experiences to your experiences in Iraq. That's reasonable.

Some films that make a point about man's depravity are easier to stomach, and easier to connect with, because they're not necessarily films about a serial killer. Why should we connect to a story about a serial killer? Certainly not because of his actions. (I think, and hope, that no one here is a serial killer.)

I personally think for a serial killer film to work, it has to be much more formally striking, like Silence of the Lambs or Se7en, and much better acted... like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. Even The Cell is better acted than this, and its ideas (that of the mind) are more interesting. And it is certainly more formally striking -- in fact, the visuals are what kept me involved in The Cell.

The sex scenes, too, are so outlandishly harsh as to come off as fake. How many women are there that want to have sex after you slap them around a little bit? I'm sure there are some, but I'm sure there are ten times as many per capita in the movies. The sex scenes reminded me of the greatest problem in 1974, which is that I don't believe this woman would have slept with this man, not under these circumstances, not under these conditions.

And then there's Casey Affleck in general. He mumbles through this movie like he's afraid to speak up. He can beat people to death with his fists, but he's afraid to speak up? For a voiceover narration? Give me a break. Affleck's mumbling adds to his character's vile nature to make someone I simply don't care to look at.

I haven't finished the film. It's doing nothing to draw me in. I saw two rather brutal scenes and fell asleep on it about an hour in. I'm not sure I'll go back and finish, I just don't see much there to justify the time. We'll see how I feel about it later.

Too bad for Winterbottom. We can't win all the time, but why would he have thought we'd be entertained by this material?

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