Brad Pitt


Killing Them Softly is the new film by New Zealand-born, Australian director, Andrew Dominik. It stars Brad Pitt who plays Jackie, a smooth hit man who oversees the killing of a trio of small-time mobsters who have robbed an illegal poker game. One of the targets, a dog thief and wannabe heroin dealer, is played by Australian Actor, Ben Mendelsohn. The film has variously been hailed as “menacing”, ” casually pessimistic” , “smart, nasty and gripping”.

Rachel Ward and her husband, Bryan Brown  went to see it. Read on:


Andrew Dominik seems like a nice guy. 

Despite the absence of females, I’m a huge fan of his films Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James. He’s almost as handsome as Brad Pitt who, he admits, he is close to. Other cool guys flock to him. Nick Cave composes his music, Luke Davis writes a review of his new film, as if it’s a hit of pure gold in his veins.

Ben Mendelsohn, a notoriously reticent interviewee, suddenly finds his voice when it comes to lauding Dominik. He gets invited to Cannes and to banter with demi-god Brad in press conferences.

The word ‘genius’ gets used around Dominik. So Killing Them Softly is not a film I’m going to miss.

I can always tell when my hubby isn’t enjoying or is bored by a movie. He doesn’t toss and turn and throw his Malteesers around, he goes quiet, so quiet sometimes I think he’s asleep (which he often is) and, after a good nap, he’ll wake pleasantly rested and hungry for his pan fried barramundi.

Last Friday night he went quiet.

Steely quiet, which means he’s battening down the hatches. I can almost feel the guns of defence sliding into place. They’ll be no sleeping through this one. He’s alert to every vile invective, every false character, every tired genre gimmick, every slick advertising ploy masquerading as art.

We’ve come out with friends and I can only image the guns blazing at dinner and the blood on the tablecloth if there are differing opinions amongst us.

I am merely bored by yet another tedious gangster movie that thinks it has something new to say that we didn’t get in the first five minutes, (yes the irony of Obama’s messages of HOPE to his desensitised, alienated, “couldn’t give a fuck” countrymen. Got it.)  and loathing the characters and wondering in how many films Brad can wear long side levers and chew on matchsticks before the game is up.

Nothing worth spoiling the pan-fried barramundi for.

Surprisingly, Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly has gone deeper with Bryan. 

He gets up quietly. There’s no bluster, no head shaking, no proffered opinions as we leave the cinema. He walks the pavement quickly, his head down, his mouth buttoned. Like a man ashamed.

And that, as it unravels over a subdued dinner, is what he is. Ashamed and saddened by the way men speak of women.

“I would hate”, he said with uncommon anguish, “for my son (19yrs old) to have to sit through that movie with his girlfriend and think that is the way men speak and think about women.”

Of course Dominik will protest that that is his “art”, to show how men – base, desensitised, traumatised, uneducated, drug and drink addled men – speak and think of women.

As a filmmaker myself, I have and continue to wrestle with the fine line between truth and exploitation, common good and bad.

As artists we often throw light on the weak and corrupt in order to expose humanity’s errant moral compass but, in this case, I question what is served here other than to normalise the kind of horrible, vindictive misogynistic language and thought that permeates this movie.

I, and, judging by some of the reviews I’ve read by female reviewers, are so used to reading and hearing about ourselves as if we’re “cunts” first and foremost with hair – and a beating heart somewhere in the background, that we barely notice or object to it when we hear it.

But this is a mainstream Hollywood movie, quality-sanctioned by Cannes film festival branding. Brad Pitt is in it and presumably endorses it.

Andrew Dominik – poster boy for hip and cool – either dreamt up or transposed from the book on which it based, the character’s dialogue.  They may distance themselves through the veil of “art”, but they are all tainted.

Tainted because, yet again, nastiness towards women has been normalised and, worse, glamourised.

Thank God, as my husband shows, there are millions of men like him who shut down in shame when they hear other men speaking of women this way, and we girls can not allow ourselves to become inured to these vile displays of word and thought.

As Andrew Dominik and his film show, cheapness masquerading as romance lurks in very deceptive and attractive packages.

I look forward to the filmmaker Andrew Dominik can be.





Rachel Ward’s Franco style file, 1

50 and invisible? I don’t think so

*In her former life as an actress, Rachel Ward was the recipient of several international drama awards and nominations, which includes two Golden Globe nods. She is probably most known for her portrayal of Meggie Cleary in one of the most successful mini-series of all time, The Thorn Birds.

Today, Rachel focuses her experience and knowledge of film making into writing and directing. In 2008, Rachel adapted and directed Beautiful Kate, a novel by American author Newton Thornburg which starred Ben Mendleson, Rachel Griffith and Bryan Brown. Beautiful Kate was nominated for 10 AFI Awards and was invited to screen at both the Sydney and Toronto Film Festivals.

In 2009 Rachel directed three episodes of  My Place, a TV series produced by Penny Chapman and in 2010 she directed two episodes of Rake, an ABC mini-series starring Richard Roxburgh.

In 2011 she directed several episodes of another  Penny Chapman Television project ‘ The  Straits’ which  aired early in 2012 on the ABC.

Rachel is patron of the YWCA and has helped raise more tahn $5 million for various family support services and Arts development programmes.

Visit her official website here.



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  • Reply October 17, 2012

    Wendy Harmer

    Hear, hear, Rachel! It’s the same at my place.
    Sometimes the level of anger my husband displays at misogyny shocks me too.
    It’s only then I realise how much I am inured to commonplace and everyday sexism.
    As you say, thank God for good men who see it and remind us that this is not the way decent men frame their lives.
    If we ever lose sight of the legion of blokes who are moral and upright, then we women are lost.
    I also am very grateful that as a dedicated father, this is not the way he sees the future for our son and daughter.
    Thanks you for writing this ( I can imagine this has not been easy as a member of the Australian film community) and bless your wonderful husband and his unerring moral compass.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    I find the same with detective/crime forensic-type shows on telly. They seem to revel in depicting violence towards female victims – the bloodier & the more sexually depraved the better. Take note Silent Witness, CSI-Whatever, Whitechapel etc etc

  • Reply October 17, 2012

    Matthew Chuang

    Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Bull. Should they not have been made? Chopper belongs in that list.

    You’re a fellow filmmaker. To tell another filmmaker to censor their characters, their language, their actions is ridiculous. It’s disrespectful to both the filmmakers and the audience. I’m sure you wouldn’t stand for it when it comes to one of your films. And clearly with Beautiful Kate you want to tell dark stories and layered characters. Not all likable but definitely not censored.

    Different films are made for different audiences. Men and women can watch and enjoy films like Killing Me Softly, Goodfellas, The Wire, Chopper and still walk away with the upmost respect for women. In the same way people can watch a film like Beautiful Kate and walk away with a little more understanding and insight of *SPOILER* incest and sexual discovery.

    • Reply October 17, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Erm, Matthew,Rachel is not being “disrespectful”, she’s engaging in the time-honoured practice of criticism in the arts. Every film maker, writer, fine artist, musician ( whatever) has to be up for that. And quite clearly Rachel is not on any censorship board and can’t ban anything.
      However, as a grown woman, film maker herself, Rachel is well entitled to her opinion and well qualified to make it without being chastised for being “disrespectful”. Was Robert Hughes “disrespectful”? Has the whole history of art criticism passed you by?

  • Reply October 17, 2012

    Simon A

    Hollywood has a major problem with women. There are not nearly enough films focused on women, or films with complex female characters. If a film has a male at its centre, it’s for everyone, but a film with a female lead is too often labelled or designed to be a “chick flick”.

    A film that shows men who speak disrespectfully and violently about women as being stupid, thuggish criminals and, in the case of Ben Mendelsohn’s and James Gandolfini’s characters, grotesque, is not glamourising misogyny. It paints such men as the violent idiots that they are.

    Given the choice between this film and one that casually disrespects women, and doesn’t punish or mock male characters disrespect women, I’d take Killing Them Softly.

  • Reply October 17, 2012

    Tracey Coulton

    So sick of these dumb, violent movies, where women are portrayed is such sexist Hollywood stylised roles. Apart from this they are so boring.No weak sheilas/ gals in Tarintino movies or The Straits.

    Hey Rachelle I didn’t get the unconditional family loyalty in The Straits, yet my husband did!Keep making entertaining and intellectually stimulating drama. We love it.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    My partner has become aware of the concept of male privilege in the past few years – “Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf.” (More reading –

    I think he’d have the same reaction as Bryan. This Gillard speech is having deeper, wonderful ramifications, in that its bringing women who have a higher amount of visibility out of the woodwork to speak about their experiences with sexism. Our world is submerged in it, and I think we are about to go through another social shift where some things just aren’t good enough anymore.

  • Reply October 17, 2012

    Narelle SALINGER

    Every word heard,every image seen leaves an imprint in the heart of man waitin for the moment to be replayed again. How much violence dishonour and sexual depravity has its roots in what is portrayed as “ok because its art”?
    Thankyou Rachel for speaking up and Bryan for being a man of respect and honour.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    This is a conversation that needs to be had and it is fantastic that high profile filmmakers like Rachel are prepared to speak out in an articulate way about what is wrong with the perpetuation of this language in films.
    In fact popular culture in general has a lot of violent lyrics and oversexualised images of women.
    Parents have to constantly be vigilant to counteract a lot of the messages that are out there.
    Maybe it’s time the adults were a little more aware of what they are creating.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    My frustration with films that normalise misogyny as opposed to an art piece that provides some sort of insight or reflection on the reality of the way some view and talk about women in a misogynist way is the very thing that Rachel points out in her review – that in too many films it is depicted as being normal, when it’s not!
    If those films showed men talking about another ethnic group or gay people in the same way as being just the way it is, it would be viewed as racist or homophobic, but for some reason, if it’s women that are being disparaged, that’s just the way it is. If, when people talked about the opposite gender in a sexist way, they swapped the word woman or man for black or gay, they would suddenly see how offensive what they are saying is – how sexist it is. In my mind that cuts both ways – the way some men talk about women and the way some women talk about men. Sexism is all too often seen as normal and acceptable (especially the violent and more demeaning attitudes towards women). I loved the review Rachel. I love that you’re married to a man that wants better for your son.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    Enough already. Can almost count on one hand the mainstream movies that aren’t sexist/ misogynist, either blatantly or subtly. What we need are some exposés of this fact, not more of the same but worse.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    Interesting test
    The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule. For a nice video introduction to the subject please check out The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies on

    It’s amazing that the bar for the test is one non male focused conversation!!

    • Reply October 17, 2012


      I cannot imagine many recent films passing that test!

      Misogyny has been normalised overwhelmingly now – tv (especially crime, as has already been pointed out); politics and the media; books and magazines; music. I could go on and on… Heck, most of the time there’s no one brave enough to say something!

      Ha… except you, Rachel. You are one spunky woman, and very much admired by so many of us. And so is your husband. The only way the rot will be stopped is if men get up and say this violence is not acceptable. They are the ones with the power, as you rightly point out, to star in the films, make the films, direct the surrounding commentary. As far as I’m concerned, if no man involved with this film speaks out about the ‘irony’ or god-knows-what it’s supposed to be of depicting attitudes like this, then it’s not art, it’s crap.

  • Reply October 17, 2012

    John Chester

    Rachel, there are a lot of us like your husband. We are obliged to stand up and be counted, we have to vocalise whenever we see this horizontal attack on women. I am urging all the men I know to join the call. Unfortunately some shameless women do join in, e.g Bishop and Mirrabella

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    Rachel, as a feminist, I understand your disgust, I really do. But the dilemma here is – do we only make films depicting “nice” people saying and doing “nice” things? If language and violence is gratuitous, then I agree, we should expose the fakery, but if it is an authentic portrayal of characters that we see around us, then maybe it can become a catalyst for discussion and change? I think the key here is for filmgoers to be analytical and discerning…

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    Hear hear!

    We need more films where all three of the young female leads get their tits out, a female guest defaces a poster of a dying father in his house with the C word (totally illogical apart from shock value) and ticks almost all the boxes for the cliches ridden in woeful Australian films: depression, alcoholism, incest, animal cruelty, gratuitous nudity masquerading as art, suicide, social realism, the outback, terminal illness, a fatal car accident, misery and angst.

    If you were angry after Killing Them Softly, Beautiful Kate wanted me to shoot my DVD player, Elvis style.

    • Reply October 31, 2012


      Rob, standing ovation.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    love your husband. love wendy’s husband. love that there are men who react that way to seeing such nastiness and worrying for their daughters AND sons. my husband does too. yay for the good blokes.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    Terrific personal account of a mainstream movie, which many guys from 12-20 will watch without being involved in a critical conversation about what these representations of gender are and what that means to wider society as a consequence.
    I’d love to rest easy that every 14year old has this in Media Studies at school, or via the radio etc.
    I will not bother seeing it whether its by the cool film-making dudes sphere. I have seen examples of their work, have no inclination to do so again. Time is precious.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    Rachel, I find that this trend is prevalent in a lot of contemporary music and with 2 sons and 2 daughters I really am shocked at the overt misogyny in rap + hip hop music that so many children are listening to. Girls as well as guys are penning very aggressive and offensive lyrics and unless you as a parent are aware of them, they can be listened to by any age as I find myself changing radio stations every 30 s on my car radio to protect the kids.

    At least in a movie you hope the classification will screen out very young and impressionable kids.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    I liked chopper and jesse james and ben m is a strong actor but they lost me at the opening of this when they introduced the film swimming in their own cool and gracelessness and then male ego pervaded the film and i find their outmoded idea of cool neither smart nor cool nor entertaining. Slow motion bullets? Give me a break!

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    Thats the way we speak in court

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    That’s the way people talk behind women’s backs

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    I wasn’t very interested in seeing this movie after hearing the review of it on At the Movies. Now I’m even more disinterested. The characters sound boring with the exception of Ben’s. I probably won’t understand half of it because they’ll mumble to sound cool.

    I did see Beautiful Kate. Loved it.

  • Reply October 17, 2012


    I have to agree that after seeing the trailer for this movie I mentally filed it under the heading ‘movies I will not be seeing’ and moved on, but because I never investigated it any further I was unaware of the content of the film (which is obviously not displayed in the trailer)

    I think it’s great that men are rejecting these kinds of films and the normalization of misogyny, as it is when the men start standing up alongside the women and saying ‘enough!’ that we will see some real changes in the kinds of movies that are produced.

  • Reply October 18, 2012


    Whilst I do agree with some commentary and I commend Jodie for hers inparticular… the overall commentary related to the movie I just don’t get what the big deal is. It’s not as bad as you’re all making out. As a woman, I didnt feel uncomfortable with this movie at all… I havent allowed it to infect me. Whilst I love ‘The Hoopla’ and your writers for the most part… does still feel to me that it’s all too sarcastic and negative. Your content doesn’t start from a positive place or tone and on this badis I’m turning more and more towards environments and blogs such as Justb… I always feel uplifted and puts me in a great headspace. Sometimes, I’m sorry to say ‘The Hoopla’, but your articles and conversations make me feel argumentative and ready for a fight 🙁

  • Reply October 18, 2012

    Simon A

    So I’ve been thinking about this piece and the comments since reading them yesterday and I really am quite troubled with it, I think because I agree that misogyny, sexism and double standards are something that is rife throughout entertainment, but think this is totally the wrong film to be calling out for that.

    There is something unusual about Killing Them Softly, and that is that there are almost no women. There is one female character, in one scene, and she’s a prostitute (who to the film’s credit stands up for herself and comes out on top). No one would accuse this film of being female-heavy. But other crime films of this sort do tend to have a perfunctory love interest thrown in. There is no such character here. This is a very male dominated film, and deliberately so.

    The other unusual thing is the casual, often vile, discussion of women in the film. This sort of stuff might feature in other crime films, but here, there is a focus on it. For a story that is about criminals robbing and killing each other, or planning to rob and kill each other, there is a whole lot of dialogue that has nothing to do with the plot. All of it is to paint these men as sexist pigs. This could be seen as a problem with the authorial voice of the film, if there was anything redeemable, likeable, or sympathetic about these men, but there’s nothing of the sort. Ben Mendolsohn and James Gandolfini or the biggest offenders with how badly they talk of women, and – I would argue not by coincidence – they are the most pathetic characters in the film.

    I think (and this is somewhat cribbed from BBC critic Mark Kemode’s review of the film which is worth seeking out – it’s on YouTube) the political stuff that plays in the background throughout the film, mostly about the 2008 financial crisis, coupled with the criminal characters’ talk of committees and budgeting and planning, these criminals are stand-ins for those on Wall Street and other business types who walk in similarly macho, testosterone soaked worlds. I think there is the suggestion that this is how men in such worlds talk, behind womens’ backs, and it’s disgusting, and a problem. Killing Them Softly is attacking the very thing it is here being attacked for.

    That might be taking the reading of the film a step too far, but I think it’s very hard to argue that there is anything romanticised, hip, or cool about the characters in this film, particularly the ones who say the worst things.

    The worst thing perhaps is if people watched this film without a critical eye, took the dialogue at face value and emulated it. If this was a film on a much larger scale, that is an argument that could be mounted. But this is a deliberately small-scale, dirty film, that isn’t intended to get in that sort of crowd. This isn’t a Michael Bay movie.

    I hope my thoughts above have come off as respectful and thoughtful, because Hollywood does have major problems that do need to be dealt with. I just don’t think this film is the one to attack for these problems.

    • Reply October 18, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Thanks Simon,very thoughtful. I haven’t seen the film though there’s one thing I’d like to offer… if this is indeed an allegory on Wall Street and has broader meaning that one only is able to divine through criticism and addendums – not the film itself – then there is a problem (as I think Tom Wolfe in “Our House To Bauhaus” may have written).If the meaning of the film is unclear – that it is being attacked for the very thing it is attacking ( to paraphrase you ) – then the filmaker has not done their job adequately.

      I am all for “enigmatic” but not for downright obfuscation,exploitation nor an attempt by others to shore up what is lacking in the directorial vision.

      Let the film speak for itself, I say. And in this instance – viewed by seasoned people in the business- it seems the message is garbled. (deliberately or not). I’d also say that when you employ Brad Pitt as lead actor it is not a “small- scale” film. As Rachel says, it has the imprimatur of the Cannes Film festival. It is hardly “art house”.

      There is also the problem of the oft-repeated line that , in portraying the worst excesses, the so-called “heroes” of the film are not to be emulated. I do not advocate censorship, however this is becoming a well-worn line and overlooks the fact that a character played by Brad Pitt will be emulated.
      That’s, after all, what advertisers are hoping for when they employ him to flog Chanel perfume.
      Thanks again for your comment. Lovely to have you reading The Hoopla.

  • Reply October 18, 2012

    Tony W

    Girls, get over Brad Pitt’s looks. He can’t act. Fullstop. Name me one single role he has played where his character is convincing. I can’t believe they keep casting him in violent roles, he’s a lightweight, nothing sinister about him at all.

    • Reply October 18, 2012


      Drear Tony W, stop attacking poor Brad Pitt. His role is as “eye candy”, acting ability not required. I’ll take a “Chick Flick” over a “Dick Flick” every time.

  • Reply October 18, 2012

    Tony W

    Actually I’m being unfair to Brad. He was very convincing in The Mexican, playing a lovable but none too bright guy who was roped into a world of violence and was doing everything he possibly could to get out of it without having to shoot anyone. Get the picture?

    • Reply October 18, 2012


      His role as the gym beefcake/dullard in ‘Burn After Reading’ was perfect.

      • Reply October 18, 2012


        Look guys, Bratt knows his limits – and he knows how to look pretty – now we should stop this beatup before he getts worry lines.

  • Reply October 18, 2012

    Tony W

    Ella – evidently you prefer your eye candy to be dumb as dogshit with zero emotional range. Personally I’d go for someone like di Caprio who can actually act.

    • Reply October 21, 2012


      Tony W, actually I favour Woody Allen films/actors. I was mainly defending Mr Pitt out of pitty, as not only can the man not act, but he has all those children to support.

    • Reply October 26, 2012


      yes Tony, check the effect of that acting with all the women Leo had here when doing GWTW!

  • Reply October 20, 2012


    It used to be the arts’ role to reflect our society back to us.
    Does showing violence towards women on the screen then beg the question?
    No, I don’t think it does any more because we have not educated people as to what the arts actually do in our society.
    It’s become “entertainment”, therefore commodified.
    “Limited release” is what I read on the films that are worth seeing while the pap is fed through spectacularly large cinemas on every corner = smoke screens.

  • Reply October 21, 2012

    Miranda Muer

    I will not…… the portrayal of violence against women. I am BOYCOTTING this film and urge all other women and men who care to do the same…….speak with your inattendance and your refusal to pay money to see men trash women.

    • Reply October 21, 2012


      Totally agree with you Miranda M, I can’t bear violence at any time and I certainly don’t see it as entertainment.

      I think people become habituated to violence in movies and computer games and thats dangerous, as we see in the mindless violence in our streets after dark.

  • Reply October 22, 2012

    Luke Davies

    Hi Rachel – glad you think I’m a “cool” guy, though the idea that I’m one of a gang “flocking” to Andrew Dominik is a little offensive, since by implication it questions the integrity and seriousness with which I take my film reviewing. It denigrates my close analysis of the film, implying I’m part of some kind of “boys’ club”, the membership of which might be fogging my critical faculties in my Killing Them Softly review. Rachel, I know and like Andrew Dominik – just as I know and like you – but I don’t believe the knowing and the liking would get in the way of my ability to review a film of his, or of yours, critically and dispassionately.

    Putting aside all the commentators here who say they haven’t seen, and won’t see, the film (!! great way to join a conversation, guys — nothing like a bit of hearsay-based opinion!), an area that’s largely been missed in this excellent discussion, and that makes the film quite unusual, is that the film’s acidity, I would argue, lies in a shockingly misanthropic, rather than misogynistic, worldview. Pretty much all of the film’s misogynistic dialogue emerges from the mouths of its two most broken, damaged and lost characters (played by Ben Mendelsohn and James Gandolfini): the misogyny is part of their rage, their despair and their self-hatred, and I don’t believe Dominik’s methodology as director here is careless or glib. Gandolfini’s washed-up hitman is a bone-chilling portrayal of evil gone to seed. He’s one of the ugliest characters I’ve ever seen in cinema. The level of his disdain for, and hatred of, women, is vile; I don’t think we’re supposed to feel anything other than revulsion. Watching him made me feel no less uncomfortable (DEEPLY uncomfortable, because I recognize in him such a real type) than I imagine you felt. But Dominik has chosen, within the larger context of the film, to dramatize this type of man. Calling the film misogynist is mistaking the messenger for the message. With respect, if your 19-year-old son were to go through life believing there are not men who talk like this about women, then that part of his own worldview would be demonstrably and factually incorrect.

    Not wanting to see the film, on the other hand, because it portrays misogyny – and despair, and rage, and self-hatred, and brokenness – that’s a different matter, and a valid choice. It’s a dark film, after all. Commentator Julie said it’s a shame that boys 12-20 won’t be part of the critical conversation, but seriously: to say this film might glorify and support (even inadvertently) the misogyny it so viciously portrays is to credit even a young male audience with less basic cinema intelligence than they have. If anything, they’re going to be bewildered by the film, so art-house is its deconstruction of the male ugliness. The parallel may be a bit creaky (oranges and apples), but saying Killing Them Softly validates misogyny in some way would be akin to saying Beautiful Kate validates incest because it dramatizes and humanizes the circumstances of its unfolding in the story it tells.

    (Interestingly, Fight Club is a more relevant example than Killing Them Softly of a genuinely ethically troubling film: a terrific, intelligent, funny, thought-provoking film that nonetheless you just KNOW will be utterly misinterpreted by young men the world over.)

    Meanwhile, back to my point. Hollywood is sick. Most of its films are bad. They’re bad in oh so many ways, including the way in which they normalize misogyny: it’s part of the very fabric of the industry. In Killing Them Softly Dominik brings it to the surface. That may not always make for pleasant viewing, but it’s good film-making that interests me. (Breaking the Waves, with its devastating portrayal of the terrors of the patriarchy, is not easy viewing; that doesn’t make it any less one of the great films.)

    Two more points. If commentator Julie reads this – re: your comment “I will not bother seeing it whether its by the cool film-making dudes sphere. I have seen examples of their work, have no inclination to do so again.” I’m curious. Who are some other members of the “cool dudes sphere” in relation to Andrew Dominik? And what are some of their films? Without specifics, it’s hard to know whether to agree or disagree with you.

    Finally, Rachel, a cheap-shot, even in the service of making a point, is still a cheap-shot. “Luke Davis [sic] writes a review of [Dominik’s] new film, as if it’s a hit of pure gold in his veins.” “Hit” and “veins”, get it? Now that’s a cheap shot!

  • Reply October 22, 2012


    There’s no changing Hollywood as it’s all about the big bucks so the next best thing is to find a reliable reviewer who rates the films according to the violence, offensive language and so on. I find‘s movie reviews by Peter Rainer to be extremely helpful and on target.

  • Reply October 22, 2012


    I guess Rachel is forgetting the amount of skin she flashed in her early acting career in those various ‘arthouse’ films like Sharkey’s Machine, After Dark My Sweet and Against All Odds LOL. Hey, whatever it takes right?

  • Reply October 22, 2012

    Tony W

    “Tony W, actually I favour Woody Allen films/actors.”

    I’m definitely with you there Ella, I can never get too much of Woody Allen, esp with Diane Keaton. Saw Manhattan again recently, just brilliant.

    I can’t see much appeal for me in Killing Them Softly. My problem with violence is that I’m completely unmoved by it. I just find it boring. Doesn’t matter how you dress it up, there’s only so much you can do with violence. It is after all a rather meaningless activity!

  • Reply October 23, 2012


    Apologises Luke for my cheap shot. indeed it was. if it was Dominick’s intention to bring mysogyny to the surface, it worked and it enraged and he’s copping the flack from me for the glut of it, everywhere. I am as capable of being as cheap as the next person. We all need reminding or questioning when we go too far or get it out of balance. Perhaps Dominic too.

  • Reply October 23, 2012


    There is nothing wrong with film criticism. But Ward’s article was not an intelligent contribution. As a filmmaker, surely she has a level of responsibility to contribute to intelligent and insightful debate on film, rather than contributing with an ill-thought out piece, which smacks of bitterness and jealousy. This is the same kind of responsibility I think she is trying to articulate in her article, but falls short of actually expressing that. I assume you are not speaking about censorship, Rachel, given your own film dealing with sensitive issues. Surely you are not saying we aught not to tell certain stories. Surely you are wanting to bring up the worthy debate about the representation of women, generally, in film.

    Why domesticise the issue and slander people? Let’s elevate the discussion beyond a bitch-fight, and speak intelligently about how our contributions of cultural artifacts directly evolve our culture, and that we have a level of responsibility as artists in how we treat certain subject matter. And that this is about the craft.

    If we are to turn specifically to Killing Them Softly, I agree it is a very unsubtle film, handled without much elegance, certainly not for my taste. But serious criticism has nothing to do with personal taste, or anecdotes, or about lauding our own husbands as good men. Perhaps it is the nature of these forums (including twitter, face book etc) where everyone can have a say, a knee-jerk response to things that should be pondered so we can have a valuable public debate.

    I think the film is trying to critique the things you are offended by. I don’t think it always succeeds, but this is a question of form, and this is why the film doesn’t achieve its intention: because of the way the beating is shot, because of Pitt’s (as always) wooden performance, and because the humour is sometimes mis-placed.

    Luke Davies: thank you for your contribution to this debate.

  • Reply October 23, 2012


    There is a distinct difference that must be made between a misogynistic film and a film that features misogynists. Had the film romanticised and rewarded these grotesque men it would befit Ward’s criticism. However, every single male character in this film is undermined and de-romanticised. Compare its constant undermining of masculinity to a series such as Underbelly which is far more accessible to a younger audience and more prone to influence or protract terrible tropes. worse of all is that UB is an incredibly popular Australian production.

    Is Hollywood lacking stories for and by women? yes. does that mean that films which subvert, discuss and utilise the masculine figure should be marginalised and attacked by those who havent even seen it? no, we should be ensuring our tickets go to films willing to explore cinematic genres and the contemporary landscape of economics, politics and gender.

  • Reply October 24, 2012

    Luke Davies

    Apology accepted , Rachel. Thankyou for replying. It’s a lively discussion, and that’s a good thing. After I got to posting my comment, I got to thinking about a film I hadn’t thought of for a long time: In the Company of Men, Neil LaBute’s first feature (1997). I’ve only ever seen it once, and I really disliked it. It felt provocatively, gratuitously, and genuinely misogynistic. It angered me, because the film-makers at the time (and the majority of imdb commentators, even up to the present day) tended to say various versions of the argument that “it exposes misogyny but it’s not misogynist.” I smelt a rat: it actually felt that LaBute was hiding REAL misogyny behind this convenient line. Maybe I’m wrong: a lot of people love it and stand by it. But I just didn’t think Killing Them Softly comes near to that kind of ambiguous (and exploitative?*) territory.

  • Reply October 24, 2012


    @ Miranda – no violence against women here as there’s NO WOMEN here full-stop. There’s plenty of violence against men though. As has been pointed out in this excellent discussion, the offence to women in this film is in how they are discussed by the men but importantly by the two most pathetic losers in the film.
    Interesting how this thread morphed into a Killing Them Softly v. Beautitful Kate thing – what’s that about? Rachel’s entitled to her opinion as is Luke and we read their reviews in the hope of getting some idea as to whether WE, the cinema going audience feel its a film worth spending time and money going to see.
    We trust the reviewers and have our favourites but there are no absolutes in criticism and in the end have to decide for ourselves. I saw the film last night and it was a choice between Killing Them Softly and Lawless – wish I’d chosen Lawless now as while KTS was an excellent film – great performances from all involved and a script to die for, beautifully shot, in my opinion it wasn’t s good as The Killing of Jesse James.
    One last point, I think Brad Pitt is a bit past it now to be an influentional role model for young men so no worries on that score and I think he CAN act and acted mighty finely in this film.

  • Reply October 24, 2012


    Wow, what a lively debate this has caused. I am disappointed though. I am a massive fan of both Ward and Dominik , both I look up to as film makers. This reminded me of how it felt when mum and dad would argue and you just wanted them to stop it and like one another as per the ideal. I hate ideals.

  • Reply October 24, 2012


    Well written Rachel. Intellegent and honest!

  • Reply October 27, 2012


    Luke Davies –
    I agree with you that this film did not glorify the misogyny except in the way that all crime films glorify criminals to some extent (consider Dominik’s other films). You have to admit that the 2 main characters were at least somewhat sympathetic.

    But … there was no dissenting voice to the misogyny. Brad Pitt could have easily played that role. It is like the writer/director went out of their way to make the characters misogynistic, in a context where the majority of viewers do not even accept that misogyny is real, and then provided no comment to suggest that maybe there is more wrong here than just “being offensive” or “being bad”.

    This is the problem. The characters were unlikeable, but if the intent was to make the characters unlikeable they could have done many things other than extreme misogyny. Misogyny is like a cheat, easy emotional manipulation to show the characters are bad.

    Considering the climate of misogyny denial we live in, I tend to feel an artist/director who makes a conscious choice to use misogyny needs to make it clear that the misogyny is a specific problem, not just a way of expressing “badness”. It needs specific comment.

    Especially in a film without a single woman character.

    So I agree with Rachel. A thousand times. And Beautiful Kate is possibly the best movie I have ever seen!

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    I just do not want to see this stuff. It’s on tv every day. Violence. Abuse, Swearing. What more can this film say that hasn’t been said before. It’s an addiction and I for one am not swallowing it.

  • Reply November 2, 2012


    Rhoda, I agree.

    It is an addiction, as are those violent video games. It is not art and it does not educate except in a destructive way. How much more violence and abuse do kids, or adults for that matter need to see. Society has been affected badly.

  • Reply November 2, 2012


    By the way I have not seen the movie and do not intend to.

  • Reply January 19, 2013

    Tone May

    A Film in which mercenaries mostly sitting in the car and talking about things, you should at least have the good lines. Killing them softly reminiscent of a David Mamet drama where progress kneeling under the weight of dialogue.Dominik also goes a bit over board with the use of political speeches of Bush and Obama as the constant buzzing in the background on tv screens and car radios,emty slogans of political used car salesmen who babbels incessantly about americas unique spirit,unity and strength. Pitt has a fantastic ruthless small monologue towards the end where he piss on the American dream.

    And the whole film has a resigned cynicsism that feels liberating these hypocritical elections times. One can easily imagine the scenes from the film used aditions monologues for aspiring theater students for years to come.
    Norwegian viewers usually like this type of violent movies, but they failed Dominik is strongly. Numerous syntheses young viewers said they were disappointed by the use of language and pitt as a role model for many young people,and we are a country of great tolerance for movies of this type. This is written by critis in Norway,in Norway has the movie 15years age limit……….Hope the translation is understanable……Aftenbladet./

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