Sometimes a director has a favorite actor that they jibe with whom they cast in a whole whack of movies in a row. Think Scorsese and DiCaprio Wes Anderson and Bill Murray or Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst. It's a sort of professional infatuation that can serve a project well but it can also lull them into self-indulgence. Although this is only the second time that Killing Them Softly's writer/director Andrew Dominik has worked with Brad Pitt it feels like they have a certain camaraderie. The symbiosis previously worked in their favor in 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This time around they never quite find the same rhythm.
Of course Killing Them Softly has an entirely difference cadence than that golden-hued meditative Western; it's stylishly violent and blackly hilarious. After all the catalyst for this whole affair is a half-cocked scheme cooked up by a wanna-be gangster nicknamed Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) and carried out by a desperate ex-con (Scoot McNairy) and a scummy Australian junkie (Ben Mendelsohn) who steals and sells purebred dogs for cash. Their plan to knock over a mobbed-up card game is air tight (or so it seems): the game runner Markie (Ray Liotta) has confessed to setting up a heist of his own game in the past. The knuckleheads think the card-players will blame him again.
Unfortunately for them Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is called in to investigate the matter. His record is impeccable his glasses mirror-slick and his hands steady. His technique is of course to kill his victims "softly " from a distance. "It's so embarrassing " he comments to a middleman played by Richard Jenkins to watch his targets plead and cry and lose control of their bodily functions. It's just as embarrassing to see his colleagues lose their mettle like Mickey (James Gandolfini) a gangster he called in to help out. Mickey is a dogged drunk and a womanizer who's given to rapturous platitudes about a prostitute he knew in Florida. "There's no ass in the whole world like a young Jewish girl who's hooking " he tells an increasingly frustrated Jackie. Grossly funny scenes like this the scatological problems one encounters while driving dog-napped pups across country and an explosion gone awry are outweighed by a weirdly bloated narrative that makes pits stops so characters can loll in junkie nods to the tunes of the Velvet Underground.
The changing political climate of the era is used as a clumsy foil for this underground economy. At first it's interesting and makes you feel a bit clever to notice the TV in the background playing an old clip of George W. Bush droning on about the economy or a huge political ad on a billboard looming over a desolate area. As time goes on Bush is replaced by Obama (first as senator later as president) on TV but nothing really changes for these people or their situations. Midway through it's obvious and by the end overbearing especially as Jackie lectures Jenkins's lawyer (and us) about why the system is as screwed as the characters. "America's not a country it's a business. Now f**king pay me " he tells Jenkins's Driver in an echo of the classic Goodfellas line uttered by Liotta.
Dominik has only made three films but he's a formidable writer and director with a keen eye for assembling ensemble casts. It's possible that time and multiple viewings will treat Killing Them Softly as well as it has The Assassination of Jesse James or Chopper but for now it works better as a character study or perhaps a showpiece for its talented performers than an overall experience.
This episode of Glee once again left out our NYC counterparts (Rachel and Kurt) but not to worry music-lovers! There was plenty of drama in the McKinley halls the week to keep us preoccupied. So grab your cape and check out all the superhero fun you may have missed in “Dynamic Duets” this week!
So Here’s What You Missed on Glee:
Super Gleeks!: The episode opens with Blaine dressed in an adorably awesome cape and leading The Secret Society of Superhero’s club in a very valiant voice. Right away we’re lead into a super awesome roll call: Tina—aka Asian Persuasion, Sam—The Blond Chameleon, Joe—Tarantula Head, and Sugar—Sweet and Spicy. (Side-Note: I’m seriously loving Sugar’s sparkly headdress thingy but then again I love everything she wears. Must be that whole from the future thing…) There are a bunch of other people dressed up as super heroes but they don’t get to be apart of the roll call because… well we basically don’t care about them, now do we?
Blaine says it’s time to induct new members into the group and we soon get to meet Dr. Y (Artie), Human Brain (Brittany) And Queen Bee (Becky). Just then Dottie runs into the room panicking that there’s trouble in the choir room. (Side-Note: You guys remember Dottie. She’s Tina’s awkward freshman assistant from the season premiere and the poor thing that Kitty tricked into thinking she’d been left behind in the fake rapture.) After a very dramatic run down the McKinley halls, the super gleeks see (via laptop message) that their first place nationals’ trophy has been stolen by a blurred out Warbler in a creepy voice. Dun dun duuuuuun!
Finn to the Rescue: Over in glee club, Finn welcomes their two newest members: Ryder and Kitty. But Tina, still clearly pissed that Santana was given the part of Rizzo in last week’s Glease, questions why Kitty is allowed to be in the club. We soon have a super strong sense of déjà vu when Finn reveals, “We’re under the gun, we have to go to sectionals next week and we need 12 members to compete.” (Side-Note: At least Kitty can sing. Luckily, this isn’t nearly as random like that time they brought in Lauren Zizes. Sheesh!)
After fumbling around with the white board pen, Finn reveals their sectionals theme that he carefully chose: Foreigners. Oh yes, you read that correctly dear readers. Our beloved drummer/not dancer wants the New Directions to sing songs by foreigners, in foreign languages wearing foreign costumes. Clearly the group is not impressed, especially our beloved Kiki. (Important Question: Can she become a series regular? Like now?) Blaine saunters out of the room (cape billowing behind him) and announces that he is leavening to go get back their trophy. “The one you haven’t even noticed is missing,” he coldly tells Finn. (Side-Note: Finn’s response, “Crap!” was just about the cutest thing ever.)
Finn looks to Coach Beiste for some guidance and after discovering that he hates the taste of coffee, the new New Directions leader decides to fully embrace his inner superhero. He arrives at the next glee club rehearsal dressed head to toe some sort of yellow and blue fabric that isn’t nearly as tight as it should be. His alter ego? The Almighty Treble Clef: The Uniter of Glee Clubs! Finn then compares his students to The Avengers and says that they only way they can be truly great is if thy come together as a team. Cue this week’s assignment: Dynamic Duets! Finns assigns Jake with Ryder and Kitty with Marley in hopes of turning these enemies into allies.
Step Away From the Blazer: Blaine is walking down the gorgeous spiral staircase of Dalton and Klaine fans everywhere are feeling a dull ache in their hearts as they remember Kurt and Blaine’s first meeting: “Well next time don’t forget your jacket new kid, you’ll fit right in.” (Side-Note: If there were a word stronger than swoon, I’d use it ten times right now. For those of you who’d like a more in-depth journey down the Klaine memory lane, might I suggest taking a look at one of my all time favorite videos right here.) Blaine sees our old nemesis Sebastian and assumes he’s behind the disappearing trophy act.
However it seems that Sebastian and his “obnoxious CW hair” has turned over a new leaf and is doing the unthinkable: being nice. Gasp! The real villain is Hunter Clarington, the new captain of the Warblers and only wants one thing: Blaine. No not in a sexy way—this kitten lover is 100% straight. Hunter offers to give back the trophy only if Blaine will return to Dalton and rejoin the Warblers. They tempt him with a blazer and the power of the perfectly aligned stitching and classic colors makes our former Warbler break out in into a gorgeous version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Dark Side.” (Side-Note: Sigh. Oh how I’ve missed the sweet melodies and gentle yet precise swaying that only the Warblers can bring to Glee)
Blaine later admits to Finn that he feels like he belongs back with the Warblers. “They embraced me like a long-lost brother!” We all know that every since Kurt moved to NYC, Blaine has been feeling beyond lost. And unfortunately now that they have broken up, (Side-Note: I hate typing that.) Blaine feels even more out of place at McKinley. “Everything in this room reminds me of him. We were a dynamic duo in here. Kurt was my anchor, Finn, and now that he’s gone, I just feel like I’m floating.” When Brittany notices that she no longer smells raspberry hair gel, Finn reveals to the group that Blaine has decided to spend the remainder of his senior year at Dalton. Noooo!
Luckily our handsome VP Sam is there to help his P through this time of confusion and asks why Blaine keeps trying to punish himself ever since he and Kurt broke up. Blaine finally says his secret out loud: “It was a guy who friended me on Facebook. I went over to his place because it felt like Kurt was moving on with his life and I wasn’t apart of it.” We see a flashback of a teary-eyed Blaine sitting on stupid “Eli’s” bed realizing that he had just made a huge mistake. Sam tells his friend that even though Kurt is not ready to forgive him, Blaine desperately needs to forgive himself. “Yeah, you hurt Kurt that wasn’t cool so you’re trying to make it right, but exiling yourself to Dalton won’t fix anything.” Sam asks Blaine to stay at McKinley for just one more day so that he can help show his friend that he is not this bad person that Blaine thinks of himself. Their duet to “We Could Be Heroes,” is absolutely lovely and we see the New Directions bonding together in their efforts to do some good. (Side-Note: How freakin adorable was that paint scene?!) The two friends more commonly known as Slaine or Blam (your choice) rescues the trophy from the Warblers and solidifies their spot in our hearts as besties.
NEXT: Dyslexia and Duets
How Bromantic: Jake approaches Marley in the hallway and very sweetly asks her if she’d like to go out on a date this Friday. Unfortunately, Marley just kind of awkwardly stands there, stuttering until Ryder swoops in a reveals that she already has plans to cheer him on at the away football game. (Go Titans, go!) Ryder quips, “See Jake it’s funny. Girls don’t like it when you make it seem like you’re really into them and then totally blow them off.” (Side-Note: And then girls everywhere screamed at their TV screens, “Oh my God that’s so true!”) Snarky remarks are exchanged, the awesomeness of Razor scooters are questioned and before we know it, the two are in a full on brawl while Marley just stands there wearing that awful hat. (Side-Note: Take that off girl! You keep hiding your pretty hair under these random hats and it’s really confusing me.) Just then Finn comes to break up the fight and gleeks everywhere had to do a double take because at first he looked exactly like Mr. Schue in that flannel shirt and sweater vest. Damn, he does look good though.
During their assigned duet, Jake and Ryder show up dressed in glasses and suits to conceal their same hidden identity: Mega Stud. They sing “Superman” together and the performance quickly turns into another fight for Marley’s attention. (Side-Note: The look on Kitty’s face during the entire song is priceless.) Finn is pissed that they fought in the choir room, so he tells the young’ins that they each need to reveal they deepest, darkest fears to one another: their kryptonite. Over in the locker room, Sam is using his chameleon-like powers to channel Bane from The Dark Night by placing a jockstrap across his face. (Side-Note: God I love him.) Jake passes his singing partner a note with his secret written on it, but rather than reading it Ryder makes Jake feel bad about it: “Don’t just hand me some lame note. Be a man. Tell me face-to-face.” Jake admits what we already knew (That the fact that he is “half white, half black and half Jewish” makes him feel like he’s never going to fit in.) Jake then asks for Ryder to reveal his secret and after some resistance, the football stud finally admits the truth: “I made you tell me what your note said because I couldn’t read it.”
Jake is concerned for his new acquaintance’s problem and he turns to Finn for help. Finn brings Ryder in to see the districts special education teacher and she works with him on a number of exercises and tests to help figure out the problem. Ryder tells Finn that he is dyslexic and then opens up to his new mentor about all the problems he’s been having growing up knowing that he always knew something inside just wasn’t right. (Side-Note: This scene was truly heart-breaking and I just wanted to reach through my TV screen and give him a big hug.) In the end, Ryder is genuinely appreciative that Finn stepped into help him, but Finn, being “the uniter of glee clubs” and all, gave all of the credit to Jake.
In the lunch line Jake is having a super sweet moment with Marley’s momma but then as per usual the heckling jocks of McKinley ruin their adorable moment of mother and boy-who-likes-my-daughter bonding. Just as the huge gang of meatheads was about to happily beat up baby Puckerman, Ryder walks up and proudly says, “Jake’s my boy. From now on if you mess with him, you mess with me.” Artie and a few of the other awkward superheroes show up as well to defend Jake, but it was definitely Ryder’s declarations of dominance that stopped the misfits. It was oh-so bromantic! But the cutest moment of the show goes to Jake and his big bro Puck’s adorable brotherly cell phone convo! While walking the Hollywood Blvd. streets dress as “The Puckerman” and swindling the naïve L.A. tourists out of their money, Puck receives a call from his “half bro with the afro.” Jake explains his Marley dilemma and asks for advice of how to get to the girl without pissing off his newfound friend. Puck’s advice is simple: play it cool. “Just sit back and play nice and in a couple of weeks I guarantee that she’ll be begging for you.” (Side-Note: This 2-minute phone call may have just totally and completely made my day.)
Girl Power: Marley admits to Kitty that she wants to back out of the duet because she is too self-conscious to wear an outfit made of tight, clingy, spandex. Kitty puts on a sweet (but we all know it’s fake) smile and asks Marley if she’s still “driving the bus to puketown?” Our naïve newbie admits that she has thrown up her food every day this week and Kitty then praises Marley for her new-found disgusting habit. (Side-Note: Once again ladies I really really need to stress to you how unhealthy and horrible bulimia is. This is NOT something that should ever be considered as an option for dieting or even an acceptable act. Remember if you ever need someone to talk to, please reach out to a parent, a teacher or even me.) Kitty uses this weak moment to try and fake-bond with Marley.
Over in the ladies’ room, Kitty steps out of the stall looking mighty fine (and she knows it) in head to toe tight black pleather as her superhero alter ego Femme Fatale. Marley uncomfortably stumbles out revealing tight gold pants, a purple flowery top, and a big “WF” belt for wallflower. Kitty quickly nips her new friend’s awkwardness in the bud and tells her that her new name is “Woman Fierce.” The music plays and we see Kitty in the middle of the splits shimmying and slithering across the choir room floor singing “I Need a Hero.” Marley quickly enters the room and the two ladies give a brilliant performance all while showcasing some pretty fancy dance movies using Kitty’s whip.
The Final Five: Ryder approaches a hat-less Marley in the hallway (yay!) and says that he is really sorry but he needs to reschedule their date on Friday. He uses the excuse, “I have to study” but we all know that it’s a valid one because he has his first appointment with the dyslexia specialist on Saturday. He sweetly asks for a rain check for the following Friday and Marley half-heartedly agrees. Kitty sees this as an opportunity to pounce and once again tear down Marley’s confidence, but our new and improved “Woman Fierce” has a different idea. She walks straight up to a nearby Jake and asks him if he’s free on Friday. Jake happily accepts her offer and Marley is all smiles as she struts down the halls, despite Kitty’s baffled face. (Side-Note: Okay guys I’ve officially decided, I’m team Jarley! Please feel free to send your congratulatory flowers to the Hollywood.com offices in LA.)
The New Directioners are thrilled to have their trophy back and they then present Finn with his very own fanny pack. (Side-Note: I’m gonna call it a Finny pack instead.) Some of the highlight inside the Finny pack include white board markers, antacids, a Barbie doll head (nice addition there, Britt Britt!) and a treble clef pin. A touched Finn tells the group, “I’ll never let you down, I promise.” Dressed in red, the group performs Fun’s “Some Nights” and it’s nice to see that everyone in the group has their own little time a to shine. Next week, Sectionals!
Most Heart-Warming Moment: The look on Finn’s face when he opened his Finny pack.
Most Heart-Breaking Moment: Watching Ryder cry as he expressed how difficult it has been to live with dyslexia
“I think I am human and you are the machine.”—Kiki
“I’m from the planet testostergen. I can digest any known subject and cry at the drop of a hat.”—Coach Beiste
”Please don’t melt us with your bulge.”—Brittany
“Yes! Absolutely, we need a team with a lot of gel and you’re like the biggest part of that.”—Finn to Blaine.
”Unlike the rest of those Lima-losers you have superior Puckerman testosterone that’s pumping those hallways full of premium Puckerman brand pheromones, just let her catch a wiff.”—Puck
Vote it out!
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/6710224/"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;What was the best song of the night?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
What did you think of “Dynamic Duets” Glee-bees? Did you miss/even notice that Rachel and Kurt were completely MIA? Think that one day we’ll ever get purely NYC-based episode? Sing me your thoughts in the comments below!
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[Photo Credit: FOX]
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