If you were to take a poll purely of film critics and not the general moviegoing public, I think you’d find that “The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford” is considered one of the most unjustly overlooked films of the last decade. I know I tried to impart to my readers an urgency in regards to seeing the film on the bigscreen, and if I was the sort of person who got crazy about awards at the end of the year, I would have spent most of that year’s award season sputtering and spitting about the film’s mistreatment.
I think history will eventually hold the film in high regard, and part of the reason for that is the incredible ensemble of actors that director Andrew Dominik put together. Casey Affleck did some of the best work of that year in his role as Robert Ford, and Brad Pitt did career best work in the lead. Sam Rockwell, Garrett Dillahunt… these are some of the best guys working now, and Dominik not only put that great cast together, he also knew what to do with them.
Now word comes that Dominik and Brad Pitt are going to reunite in what sounds like a comic heist picture. “Cogan’s Trade” is described as the story of “Jackie Cogan, a professional [enforcer who investigates a heist that takes place during a high stakes poker game under protection of the mob.” And in addition to Pitt, there is a chance Dominik will be using Rockwell and Affleck, which would be tremendous news. If he adds Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem to the mix, that sounds too good to be true.
Keep in mind the American Film Market is in progress in Los Angeles right now, which means you’ll be reading a lot of casting news and word of exciting new projects, and it’ll seem in the next ten days or so like every one of these projects you read about is happening, absolutely, set-in-stone, no-chance-anything-goes-wrong. That’s not the case, of course. Much of what the AFM does is hypothetical, in which rights packages are sold and unmade movies are described in the most glowing possible terms.
I like hearing that “Cogan’s Trade” is meant to be at least somewhat funny. As much as I love Dominik’s last film, making a slow and elegiac film about the death of the Old West and the impermanence of legend is hardly the way to set the box-office on fire. Dominik’s early film “Chopper” is hardly a comedy, but there’s a macho bluster to it that is funny at times, and I think there’s a chance Dominik is one of those guys like David Gordon Green, who starts with films in one vein, but who is able to easily switch genre and style because of his skills. He seems enormously gifted, and I hope we’re just at the start of his career, and that he’s got a lot more to show us.
We’ll have more on “Cogan’s Trade” when and if it develops.