A few of FNB’s fave posts from 2012

Happy 2013, all! Here’s a look at FNB highlights from 2012.

Marilyn Monroe shot by Bert Stern

Top 10 FNB posts (misc.)

Remembering Beth Short, the Black Dahlia, on the 65th anniversary of her death

TCM festival in Hollywood

Interview with Tere Tereba, author of “Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster”

Marilyn Monroe birthday tribute

Marilyn Monroe exhibit in Hollywood

Film noir feline stars: The cat in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers”

Famous injuries in film noir, coinciding with my fractured toe, or broken foot, depending on how dramatic I am feeling

Panel event on author Georges Simenon with director William Friedkin

History Channel announcement: FNB to curate film noir shop page

Retro restaurant reviews: Russell’s in Pasadena


REVIEWS: 2012 neo-noirs or films with elements of noir

Crossfire Hurricane” documentary


Holy Motors

Killing Them Softly

Momo: The Sam Giancana Story” documentary


Rust and Bone

Searching for Sugar Man” documentary


Wuthering Heights


REVIEWS: Classic film noir

Anatomy of a Murder

Criss Cross



Gun Crazy

Murder, My Sweet

The Postman Always Rings Twice


Sunset Blvd.

They Drive By Night


REVIEWS: Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Dial M for Murder

The Lady Vanishes



The 39 Steps

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Bleak, brutal ‘Killing’ a showcase for Pitt’s slow-burn intensity

Killing Them Softly/2012/Plan B Entertainment/97 min.

There’s a core of a really good movie inside the pale, pulpy flesh of “Killing Them Softly,” a neo noir by writer/director Andrew Dominik, based on George V. Higgins’ 1974 novel, “Cogan’s Trade.”

Changing the novel’s Boston setting to New Orleans in 2008, the film starts with two young-ish low lifes (played by Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) accepting an offer from a veteran low life (Vincent Curatola) to hold up a card sharks’ gathering and put the blame on game organizer Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta).

Of course, this gambit is not cool with the ruling mob and glacially laconic hitman Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is called in to dole out retribution. To help with the assignment, Jackie taps an old-timer assassin named Mickey (James Gandolfini) but bloated, broken-hearted Mick has problems of his own.

Dominik strikes a mood of cynical malaise, one that seems to stem from the country’s decline under the leadership of George W. Bush. Corporate America and the underworld, both big businesses, have much in common, we’re told several times. Gloomy, washed-out lighting and collages of carnage (cinematographer Greig Fraser impressively juxtaposes frenzied camerawork with slow motion) sustain the dour vibe as does the richly dark soundtrack.

But the thin story drags despite its dreadful, in-your-face violence. What unfolds, without much tension, is Jackie crossing off items on his to-do list. Still, Jackie is a character who is pretty compelling to watch. The title “Killing Them Softly” refers to Jackie’s professional style – he prefers to take his victims from a distance so as to avoid the stickiness (crying, begging, etc.) of a close-up killing – and Pitt effortlessly engages us every moment he’s on the screen.

Pitt’s brand of slow-burn intensity makes “Killing Them Softly” a showcase for his talent, whether or not that’s what the director had in mind (they worked together in 2007’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”). Pitt is particularly well matched when paired with Gandolfini – the few scenes they have together are among the movie’s best. That said, the final scene, with Pitt and Richard Jenkins as a mob bureaucrat, is as hard to beat as Jackie’s bullets are tough to dodge.

“Killing Them Softly” opened Friday.

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