Wednesday, March 06, 2013

"Killer Joe": Matthew proves machismo by playing a rogue cop aka hitman

William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe” attracted controversy in 2012 in the arthouse circuit because of one particularly graphic scene near the end, where Matthew McConaughey’s character Joe (police officer and moonlighting hitman) demonstrates his machismo (which is necessary, given his smoothness) with a female character Sharla (Gina Gershon)w with the help of a particular prop, a fried chicken leg.  (In the trade world, this seven-minute sequence is called “The Chicken Scene”, although that’s not quite accurate; it will probably become a trivia question for Millionaire.)
Perhaps the film could have been used to promote Chick-fil-A,  Oh, I’m being sarcastic, of course.
All the characters in this black comedy are either dimwitted (Chris, the indebted drug dealer, played by a usually innocent Emile Hirsch) or despicable.  So when Chris hires Joe as a hit man to knock off his mom Adele (Julia Adams), for life insurance money, there are all kinds of complications and “terms of service”, of course. 
Actually, the final scene, where sister Dottie (Juno Temple) exacts justice, is even more graphic than the scene that earned the NC-17 (the DVD is officially unrated).  Although an R version existed, Friedkin resisted showing it. 
It’s pretty obvious to compare this film with Quentin Tarantino’s “Djano”, the latter of which makes this little Texas film (actually shot in New Orleans) seem worth overlooking. The film does have the style of a "modern" spaghetti western.  Modern Dallas isn't like this now.  (I've lived there.) 

The official site from Lionsgate is here

The title of the film (“Joe”)< brings to mind the 1977 film by Jud Taylor, “Tail Gunner Joe”, about Senator Joseph McCarthy.  That was far more interesting to me (and seems ironic to mention here.)


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