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Brad Pitt

It’s Jesse James’ birthday today, September 5th. I mean the famous “frontier outlaw,” sometimes referred to as “America’s Robin Hood,” but actually an obnoxious Missouri sumbitch still venerated and romanticized by an addled public. In movies he tends to get played by pretty studs like Brad Pitt and Colin Ferrell and Rob Lowe and Tyrone Power. There’s an occasional “revisionist” attempt to come to grips with James’ less lovable qualities, such as Robert Duvall’s fake-pious looney in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, or Brad Pitt’s fame-swollen paranoiac in  The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. But it’s still Brad Pitt, for God’s sake, all gleaming and starry, and you can’t hide the hero-worship by claiming to do a serious critique of celebrity culture 19th century-style.

We generally get the Western-hero version of Jesse James as bold bandit and manly martyr, on accounta it’d be awkward to focus too much attention on the true-life particulars of secession-mad Border State Jesse James, the virulent racist Jesse James trained up in terror tactics by Confederate heroes William Quantrill and “Bloody Bill” Anderson, the Jesse James whose gang wore Ku Klux Klan hoods during one train robbery.

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September 5th, 2011 | Comments (44)

Inglourious Basterds: Interesting? Boring? Both?

When I heard Quentin Tarantino was making a Dirty Dozen-like action film set in WWII, I groaned in spirit. With all the amazing eras and dazzling historical figures and slaughterhouse horrors not yet represented in cinema, we’re going to visit…

August 23rd, 2009 | Comments (36)

FILM REVIEW: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the Audience That Loves This Kind of Crap

Ossified baby, anyone? The Curious Case of Benjamin Button—is it one of the worst American films of 2008, or THE worst American film of 2008? Can’t be the worst, you’ll argue, not while we have Australia to kick around. True….

January 7th, 2009 | Comments (16)