Pitt, Brad: Crime, Politics and Elections

At the press conference, following the world premiere of “Killing Them Softly,” which world premiered at the 2102 Cannes Film Fest, star Brad Pitt addressed directly the upcoming November Presidential elections: “I think we’re going to see more negative ads than ever before, and I certainly don’t want this film to in any way be mistaken for that.”

Why talk politics in a film festival?

in adapting George Higgins’ 1974 novel “Cogan’s Trade” to the screen, director and screenwriter Andrew Dominik, who previously directed Pitt in the 2007 majestic Western, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” has set the action in 2008, the year of the mortgage meltdown and financial crisis in America.
Pitt plays a gun-for-hire, a sociopath hitman who’s called in to settle scores when a couple of minor hoods raid a card game.

The film’s subtext:

As the small-time, not too bright gangsters fall upon and betray each other, their minor schemes play out against both the larger financial crimes taking place on Wall Street as well as that year’s presidential campaign.

The movie specifically uses and quotes from Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, in which he spoke of the promise of America for everyone. But though some may read that choice as a critique, Pitt insisted that was not their goal.

“I was there that night in Chicago when Obama won. It was an amazing night, people out in the street, connected,” the actor, who also produced the film, said. He argued that he sees the use of Obama’s words in the film “not as a cynical look back at a statement of failure, but as a real expression of hope.”

Release Date and Obama’s Reelection

He and Dominik insisted that it’s coincidental that the Weinstein Company will release the film in the U.S. on September 21 just as the presidential campaign goes into high gear. Dominik said: “As I started adapting the novel, I realized it was a story about an economic crisis, and I couldn’t resist drawing comparisons to the mortgage collapse that led to the 2008 crisis.”

It’s all in the genre:

Speaking of crime films in general, the director stated: “I always feel that crime films are about capitalism, because it is a genre where it is perfectly acceptable for all the characters to be motivated by the desire for money. In some ways, the crime film is the most honest American film, because it portrays Americans as I experience a lot of them, in Hollywood, as being very concerned with money.” But the specific story of “Killing Them Softly,” he added, “is about a crisis in the economy and the people who have to clean it up.”

As for the larger mortgage meltdown, Brad Pitt came strongly when he stated: “It was criminal by the way, and there still haven’t been any criminal repercussions for that.”

Getting Married

Moving from the political and cinematic to the personal domian, a journalist interrupted the more cerebral discussion of crime, violence, and politics, to ask Pitt whether he and his fiancé, movie star Angelina Jolie, have yet decided on a wedding date. We have no date,” Pitt responded courtly. “We actually, really truly have no date.”