On The Edge Films

Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds

Cult Collisions: Andrew Dominik

One director that deserves applaud in this day and age is New Zealand born director Andrew Dominik. You probably haven’t heard of him but you will have seen at least one of his three films which to date are Chopper, The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford and most recently Killing Them Softly. Since the year 2000 Dominik has been expertly crafting beautiful cult cinematic creations and with the success of his most recent film we though it time to take a look at his career so far.


Based upon the best-selling novel by real life criminal Mark “Chopper” Reid who wrote the book on which the film is based from within prison this film introduced Eric Bana as an actor and to this day is a classic cult film. Dark and violent in parts and at times highly humorous, Dominik tell the story from Reid’s perspective. We see Reid’s horrible personality and how it affects the people close to him in and out of prison and we also see him as the hero of the story. The aim from Dominik it seems was to show just how insane Reid was and is. Reid believes he is doing the right things all the way through and shows little remorse for his actions. The casting for this was perfect Bana’s career in stand-up comedy helped him portray the jovial Reid. It really does pull comparisons between Nicholas Winding Refn’s ‘Bronson’ we are almost rooting for the protagonist when in reality he is the antagonist and is to be criticised not revered. All in all it brought Dominik to Hollywood’s attention but it would be seven long years until he made his directorial return.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford

It was worth the wait, Dominik returned to the director’s chair with Jesse James (abbreviated for convenience) and Brad Pitt as his leading man. A partnership that has gone on to become even stronger with Dominik’s third film. Jesse James is nothing short of beautiful and tragic, expertly cast once more. Firstly Pitt as James himself, played with just enough chaos and fury, he really is a man to be feared. Casey Affleck plays Robert Ford who’s only chance of fame is to gun down the man he once called leader and Sam Rockwell as Charley Ford, Robert’s brother and partner in crime. This reviewer is not ashamed to say that he cried when Robert Ford gunned down Jesse James. Pitt’s character is in the only place where he refuses to be violent, in front of his children and the Ford brothers exploit this garnering the brand of coward. It’s a masterfully directed film and got Oscar nominations for its sheer immense beauty. Dominik proved that you could add sensitivity to violence and betrayal, the film ranks up there with great epics like ‘Laurence of Arabia’ and only strengthened Dominik’s position as a top film maker.

Killing Them Softly

Five years after Jesse James, Pitt and Dominik re- united with Killing Them Softly a dark political satire slash gangster flick. It was shown at the Cannes film festival is sure to get Pitt that long sought after Oscar in 2013. For as the films lead character Jackie Cogan Pitt gives the performance of his career. The film itself is Dominik perfection, that air of sensitivity and precision in his craft is evident. Excellent casting of actors like Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini as well makes Killing Them Softly one of the best films of this year so far. Many may see it as another gangster film but purely in its essence the film promotes a message of anti- violence. Cogan doesn’t enjoy killing, “I like to kill them softly from a distance” his job is harrowing and distressing and he recognises this. Whatever Dominik chooses to do next, and I for one cannot wait, it sure to be as perfect as the last three films. But if he reverts to type we may be waiting four of five years… it will be worth it be sure about that.

-Josh Senior


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