« Big Ed's used farms | Main | Mickey Baker, 1925-2012 »

November 28, 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I am very, very, very, very, very conflicted about this movie. Not that I've seen it yet.

Mark Schoenecker

Couldn't agree more about Cogan's Trade being a near perfect crime novel. For my money, George V. Higgins is a near perfect novelist. Crime-wise, and otherwise-wise.


Been holding my breath for a review of this film from a reliable source. Thanks, Glenn.


I wonder if this movie would've gotten bankrolled without the election/economic collapse angle. Could the project have attracted an up and comer like Dominik and stars like Pitt and Gandolfini if not for the stabs at relevance? I read and loved the novel too and would love to have seen a bare bones version with a bunch of unknowns.


Thanks to your review, I have now been inspired to power through COGAN'S TRADE today so that I can see KILLING THEM SOFTLY directly after work on Friday. I already spent my bus ride to work this morning with my mouth wide open like a bass reading the big scene where Frankie and Russell hold up the card game. Goddamn! Higgins, you magnificent bastard!


I really need to read COGAN'S TRADE again. I read it so many years ago, I don't even really remember it.

Eddie Carmel

Very accurate, well-written review, Glenn. I thought it was a pretty good picture but your comment re: pretentiousness was dead-on: I wondered what purpose the heroin-scene stylistic nonsense served, and I had no idea why Dominik chose to score certain scenes involving a twentyish/thirtyish grubby criminal with airy ironic songs recorded in the 1930s, and it got to be a joke about how every mob flunkie/hit man/loan shark/drug addict apparently listen to NPR reports on the economic meltdown nonstop when driving, instead of say, hair metal, hip-hop or Sublime (that last one was a joke, I know.) I really don't know why the Mob card game had George Bush on TV and those scenes with Gandolfini were the most dramaturgically flabby scenes I've seen in a film all year: at least five people in the theater I was in walked out during those two (long) moments. That said, the Pitt/Mendelssohn scene was tops, and the ending's a pip, even if a little on the nose. Thanks again.


Being a confirmed admirer of Mr. Dominik's work, I'm approaching this movie with some trepidation. I was relieved to read your review, Glenn, but dismayed when Brody and a couple others confirmed fears I'd had since I first saw the trailer. There's also what Dominik's admitted attitude has been, basically calling this film an attempt to up his "commercial" cachet, saying that it's "more bubblegum" than "Assassination." It's like, dude, tell us how you really feel. I mean, I appreciate the candor, but there's just a bit too much bitterness on display, and it sounds as though it might have spoiled some elements of the film. If it's half as good as Chopper (which was brilliant but flawed) it'll be worth talking about, but I'm a bit concerned that it'll fall short. And, apparently, it is not performing well at the Box Office. There's your mercenary tactics, Dominik! Now go make another fruity movie about people and their feelings.


With Cogan's Trade all you had to do is film the book. Just like John Huston did on The Maltese Falcon just type some stage directions around the great dialogue and there's your movie.

Ed Hulse

This is the kind of movie that makes me want to stop going to movies.

Glenn Kenny

Yeah, didn't think you'd like it, Ed.

The more I think about it, the more I agree with Hawksian. All you need to do is film the book. Dominik was in a prime position to do just that, and he went and put on that torn-from-today's-headlines overlay on it. I stand by my review, but I grow more retroactively irritated.

Mark Schoenecker

Definitely, just film the book. Like Peter Yates did w/ Friends of Eddie Coyle -- I think, when dealing w/ Higgins it's foolish to do anything else.


I think Andrew Dominik is one of the best out there on the basis of CHOPPER and TAOJJBTCRF, but this one was a disappointment - not a grievous one, I mostly had a reasonably good time with it, but definitely a disappointment. And I'd certainly agree with previous criticisms - you should do Higgins straight up or not at all. The political shit simply does not work. THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE conveyed a lot more about the fraught economy of the 70s without saying anything directly, and KTS almost literally works you over with ham-handed "relevance."

Eddie Carmel

(Apologies for writing Mendelssohn up there when the great tense scene--that I'm thinking now was one of the only redeeming qualities TO this film--was with McNairy: like a dumbbell I wrote without checking! Oh well.)

Mark Schoenecker

For the record, Higgins didn't think he was writing crime novels.
He told an interviewer he was writing stories "about people... a number of whom have a tendency to break the law."


Well, I liked it. Mostly. Basically, I agree that all the political stuff was overstated and on the nose. But darn if every single scene (except that heroin one, what was up with that) was set up, shot, edited, acted, and overall directed with more creativity and originality than any movie I've seen this year but The Master. It constantly kept me off-balance and entranced from scene to scene just on craftsmanship alone, and the robbery and the first murder had my eyes bugging out. Dominik is a world-class filmmaker, absolutely brilliant, and just because this film was too focused on a theme that didn't work and so let it's plot meander a bit too much is no reason to start dumping on him.

There were glints of greatness here; it's worth seeing.


Finally caught up with this, and yes, it is flawed, but not nearly as much as some of the more hysterical detractors have claimed. And it even has moments of brilliance. I can't help but speculate that at least some of the ill-will it's generated has to do with it's pointed fuck-you to the hypocrisies of the current political class, Obama included. Yeah, the political stuff is strained and awkward, but it wasn't all THAT distracting, and the mood that Dominik creates is much more prominent and interesting.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tip Jar

Tip Jar
Blog powered by Typepad