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Review: Killer Joe

Killer Joe
07.25.2012
7 10

PLOT: When low-level drug dealer Chris (Emile Hirsch) loses $6000 worth of merchandise, he knows his days are numbered unless he can pay off the debt. Knowing that his mother, who he despises, has a life insurance policy worth $50,000- with his sister Dottie (Juno Temple) named as the beneficiary, Chris and his father Ansel (Thomas Hayden-Church) plot to do her in. To that end, they hire Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) - a dirty cop, who makes a lucrative side living as a hit man. Not having the $10,000 needed to pay him, Joe convinces them to let him take Dottie as sexual collateral.

REVIEW : KILLER JOE is another Tracy Letts adaptation for director William Friedkin, following their previous collaboration, BUG. Without a doubt, Friedkin is one of my all-time favorite directors, although it could be argued that he hasn’t done a truly great film since 1985’s TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA. Still, he’s responsible for four all-time classics (besides LA, SORCERER, THE EXORCIST, & THE FRENCH CONNECTION, although a compelling argument can be made for CRUISING), and some of his recent work (like THE HUNTER and BUG) is underrated.


Like BUG, KILLER JOE seems less like a full-on movie than a filmed play, but also like BUG, the story, dialogue, and acting are good enough that you won’t necessarily care. Granted, KILLER JOE, centers on a bunch of pretty despicable characters. The “hero” is a low-level drug-dealer who doesn’t think twice about pimping out his somewhat naïve (possible semi-autistic) sister to a professional killer, and is also planning to do away with his own mother. KILLER JOE s another unconventional choice for Hirsch, who could have gone the “teen idol” way a few years ago in the wake of SPEED RACER, but instead has focused more on meaty character roles.

Stiil, good as Hirsch is, KILLER JOE is utterly dominated by Matthew McConaughey. Who’d a thunk it? It seems like the former rom-com idol is hellbent on reinventing himself following his excellent turn in THE LINCOLN LAWYER. Good as he was in that film, KILLER JOE is something else. I believe this is the first time he’s ever played a heavy, but his easygoing Southern-drawl, courtly manner, and good looks make him a unique baddie. Especially interesting is his relationship with Dottie, who, far from being disturbed by being essentially sold to Joe, is attracted to him, and later, maybe even loves him.


The last twenty minutes of the film are particularly good for McConaughey. What starts as a quick KFC meal with Church & Gina Gershon’s characters, escalates into an insanely brutal series of confrontations, with him beating several characters to a pulp, even using a can of soup to almost cave a character’s head in. McConaughey’s manic performance is something to behold, and it all leads to a final scene that is so good I decided to jump my final score on ten up a whole point, as it was not at all what I was expecting, and as far from predictable as you can get.

Whether you like KILLER JOE or not really depends on your tolerance for what’s essentially a filmed play. It’s not terribly cinematic, but it’s intriguing, and McConaughey’s performance is too good to ignore. Between this, THE LINCOLN LAWYER, and his upcoming film with Jeff Nichols (TAKE SHELTER), I think we’re seeing one of the most exciting career reinventions in quite some time.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Extra Tidbit: This film was originally reviewed on September 22nd, 2011, as part of the Toronto Film Festival.
Source: JoBlo.com

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9:12PM on 07/25/2012

Friedkin + Fried Chicken = Awesome

I managed to catch a screening of KILLER JOE at the Seattle International Film Festival a few weeks back and I loved it.

The best way I can describe it is as a "trailer trash film noir battered in dark humor and deep-fried in brutality" ... if that makes sense. I don't think it deserved the NC-17 rating (despite the notorious chicken leg scene) that has delayed the release so long but it is a helluva fun flick and worth checking out. My full spoiler-free thoughts are on my MFC profile:
I managed to catch a screening of KILLER JOE at the Seattle International Film Festival a few weeks back and I loved it.

The best way I can describe it is as a "trailer trash film noir battered in dark humor and deep-fried in brutality" ... if that makes sense. I don't think it deserved the NC-17 rating (despite the notorious chicken leg scene) that has delayed the release so long but it is a helluva fun flick and worth checking out. My full spoiler-free thoughts are on my MFC profile: [link]

Also, if you ever get a chance to see the director, William Friedkin, speak don't pass it up. The guy is hilarious and energetic despite having to be in his late '80's. He was supposed to talk for about 30 minutes before the movie but ended up talking for over an hour ... then stuck around and answered questions afterward.
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+3
1:49PM on 09/22/2011

Friedkin back on form

Bug was terrific, and I've only heard great things about Killer Joe. A definite must-see for me
Bug was terrific, and I've only heard great things about Killer Joe. A definite must-see for me
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+2
9:20AM on 09/22/2011
I knew there was a decent actor in there still.
I knew there was a decent actor in there still.
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5:20PM on 09/23/2011
I absolutely loved Bug. It was very well done and a great thriller. That said i have only seen The Exorcist and Bug from Friedkin but i am very excited to see this and some of his other work as well! Great to see Matthew McConaughey back into actual acting!
I absolutely loved Bug. It was very well done and a great thriller. That said i have only seen The Exorcist and Bug from Friedkin but i am very excited to see this and some of his other work as well! Great to see Matthew McConaughey back into actual acting!
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+1
1:47PM on 09/22/2011

Hirsch + McConaughey

= killer lineup.

this movie looks fantastic, the plot sounds great as well. Can't wait to get a chance to see it, but I gotta feeling they won't know how to market this one so it'll be in limited release
= killer lineup.

this movie looks fantastic, the plot sounds great as well. Can't wait to get a chance to see it, but I gotta feeling they won't know how to market this one so it'll be in limited release
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+0
4:16PM on 07/25/2012
Thank you for your extra tid bit.. I have been seeing a lot about this movie recently and I was under the impression the movie came out a long time ago because I had heard a lot about it back then, but I guess that was when it was reviewed at TIFF!

I love McCoughnehey, as a person he seems really interesting and as an actor he has had some great roles, I never got really into his romantic comedies (Although I did enjoy How to Lose a Guy in 10 days) but A Time To Kill and Lincoln Lawyer and
Thank you for your extra tid bit.. I have been seeing a lot about this movie recently and I was under the impression the movie came out a long time ago because I had heard a lot about it back then, but I guess that was when it was reviewed at TIFF!

I love McCoughnehey, as a person he seems really interesting and as an actor he has had some great roles, I never got really into his romantic comedies (Although I did enjoy How to Lose a Guy in 10 days) but A Time To Kill and Lincoln Lawyer and Dazed & COnfused are great movies and the guy kicks ass!
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11:40AM on 09/22/2011
Glad to know I'm not the only person who hadn't lost faith. I've often thought of him as one of the most unfortunate cases of good talent gone to waste. Kinda like Kate Hudson, ironically. But just looking back at movies like "Lone Star," "Amistad," the indie "13 Conversations About 1 Thing," and his underrated turn in "Tropic Thunder," I never lost faith in his ability.
Glad to know I'm not the only person who hadn't lost faith. I've often thought of him as one of the most unfortunate cases of good talent gone to waste. Kinda like Kate Hudson, ironically. But just looking back at movies like "Lone Star," "Amistad," the indie "13 Conversations About 1 Thing," and his underrated turn in "Tropic Thunder," I never lost faith in his ability.
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7:10PM on 07/25/2012

SPOILERS: What ruined it.

SPOILERS

The chicken blowjob scene completely ruined an otherwise fantastic movie. It was really uncomfortable watching what was essentially a hardcore sex scene in a room full of people, only instead of McConnaghey's dick it was a chicken leg. Gina Gershon was crying, gagging, moaning and bleeding while he forced her to fellate it, and it was in close up, looked so disturbing and was just an absolutely disgusting scene. Way to ruin a great movie. So disappointing
SPOILERS

The chicken blowjob scene completely ruined an otherwise fantastic movie. It was really uncomfortable watching what was essentially a hardcore sex scene in a room full of people, only instead of McConnaghey's dick it was a chicken leg. Gina Gershon was crying, gagging, moaning and bleeding while he forced her to fellate it, and it was in close up, looked so disturbing and was just an absolutely disgusting scene. Way to ruin a great movie. So disappointing
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