The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
I’m not sure how many options there would be for this DVD cover, but to put Brad Pitt smack dab in the middle in a GQ kind of pose isn’t the way I would have gone. It gives the wrong impression about the movie, which is what really bugs me. So, if the cover leads you to think it’s a Bradfest, don’t be fooled, it is NOT.

The menu is good old fashioned DVD navigation, which translates into a still image with buttons to click, nothing more, nothing less.

Features: 0/10
No extras. That’s ok with me. Even though it’s the reason this DVD doesn’t get a 10, it’s acceptable to have no added content, for now. I think some movies speak for themselves. I don’t really want any extras for this film just yet, but someday I’m sure they will put together a new DVD with some stuff tucked in the corners.

Movie: 10/10
The title says it all, pretty much. The ‘assassination’ and ‘coward’ parts are fairly subjective, but any story based on real living or dead people is going to have a lot of room for truth and interpretation. I’m born and raised in Missouri, that doesn’t mean I have some cosmic kinship with Mr. Jesse James and his nefarious ways:) It also doesn’t mean I have been schooled in the details of his life. Only the big world class criminals get class time in most school curriculum. All I have ever known is that he robbed trains and was shot.

However, the episode of The Brady Bunch in which Bobby reveres James as his hero enlightened me a great deal. He was portrayed as murderin’ bad guy and even if it was just a TV show, it was the most education I have ever had on the subject. That being said, now I’m being giving more information, even if it’s through the eyes of Hollywood once again.

Maybe that’s the way some people’s lives go. Their existence means more with all the myths and gossip and tall tales than who they really were. I’m sure there are tons of bank robbers, train bandits, violent nut bags through the history of human existence who we have never and will never hear of. It’s the fair few who get the cult status people like Jesse James have reached.

Ok, so, what about the movie? It’s amazing. I feel stuck for words when I see a movie I truly love. It’s a combination of things and the absences of others that bring some movies into the “must see” “never forget” range for me. The style of the film is subtle, brooding, and yet so intense. I don’t like to compare movies to one another, but this one is hard to explain. What they didn’t throw at us is the BIG, FAST, LOUD dummied down version. It’s not an action shoot’em up modern western like Young Guns. It’s not a wild trip through the mind of a crazed killer like Natural Born Killers.

The groove is slow, methodical, and it gives you time to think about these people and who they might really have been. I’m not a fan of taking movies as truth. No matter what the trailer says, no true story flick is true. The thing about this film is that while it’s giving you some characters in a time and place that are based on real people and performed by professional actors, directed and contrived, it still gives you a chance to wonder what it was really like.

I don’t need to go on and on about the performances. For me every single person was exactly right. Casey Afleck is, well, I’m hooked. Pitt does an excellent job of giving the different sides of the brutal, depressed, charming James. Sam Rockwell, oh what can I say? I have a crush on him so I might be blinded by that (don’t tell Mr. Ascully), but he’s truly captivating, my favorite of the whole cast.

The look of the whole movie is gorgeous. There are a few camera tricks to give us some hints at the states of mind of certain characters, or maybe even tell us that what we are watching is through some tainted glass of history and storytelling. I’m not sure, but either way the whole thing is visually a treat. (‘Treat’ sounds so corny, but so true.)

The music is a real part of the experience. It’s modern but timeless in that it is more based on an emotional sound track for the sadness and tragedy that comes with the story.

I love the whole movie, from frame one through the very end. In fact I was hoping it wouldn’t end when it did, and it’s a long film. Sometimes, rarely even, a movie comes along that thrills me….and this is one of them.

Value: 7/10
I can’t be blinded by a brilliant movie enough to accept a price tag I don’t approve of. This is an amazing movie, yes. Is it worth buying? YES Should it be 20 bucks? No. This is a DVD and these days that should be a packaged deal with something besides the movie. I know I said THIS movie doesn’t need extras. I will stand behind that. What that means, however, is that the DVD then should be in the $10-$12 range. There, I said it. If a DVD is just the movie, no matter how good it is, we should not have to pay the same amount we would for a disc that does have tons or even just a few extras.

I still recommend owning this DVD, regardless of my political views on pricing. I would wait a while to see if a super-duper version comes out in the future, but if you appreciate seriously top quality movies, this is one for your shelf.

Overall Score 8/10