Killer Joe – Directed by Oscar Winner William Friedkin – Starring Matthew McConaughey
Tracy Letts, a gay white man, won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for the Broadway play August: Osage County. (August: Osage County is in movie theaters Summer 2013, starring three time Oscar winner Meryl Streep and Oscar winner Julia Roberts).
The Tracy Letts movie Killer Joe (from a story he wrote) is about a detective in Dallas who is also a hired killer.
Killer Joe is directed by Academy Award Winner William Friedkin (he won the Best Director Oscar for The French Connection, and was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for The Exorcist). The movie made its world debut at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.
One may wonder what the movie Killer Joe is about, especially since it does not have a reputable, or at the very least, a commercial, distributor.
Imagine the horror of being an Oscar winning director – the husband of a former head of a movie studio, (Sherry Lansing of Paramount Pictures), and of the one of the highest grossing movies, adjusted for inflation, of all time, The Exorcist – and having to suck it up and see your latest movie, starring a former box office draw, Matthew McConaughey, released by a fourth world movie studio: Millennium Films.
Well, Killer Joe, which received an NC-17 rating, (for graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality, and vulgar language) – tells the story of 22 year-old drug dealer Chris (Emile Hirsch) who has his stash of drugs stolen from him by his mother.
Yes, his mother.
He has to come up with six-thousand dollars quick, or he’s dead. Desperate, he goes to the trailer-park to see his father, Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church), and he lays out the plan. Chris’s mother, who everyone hates, has a life insurance policy that would clear up his debt and make them all rich. The problem is that Chris’ mother (Gina Gershon) is very much alive.
Enter Detective Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a hired hit man with the manners of a Southern gentleman, who will do the job – for an upfront fee, that Chris and Ansel can’t pay. Just as Joe is about to leave, he spots Dottie (Juno Temple), Chris’ innocent younger sister. Joe makes Chris an offer, he’ll keep Dottie as sexual collateral until the money is collected and his fee can be paid. Chris reluctantly puts his debt ahead of his sister and agrees to Joe’s demand.
As the days pass, Chris watches Joe with Dottie and he regrets his decision. He asks Joe to call the whole thing off, but it’s too late, the job is already done. Feeling like it’s almost over, Chris giddily attends the meeting with the lawyer to discuss the insurance payments. When he realizes that his mother’s boyfriend is the sole beneficiary and not Dottie, Chris knows he’s been duped.
When Joe comes to collect and discovers there’s no money, he uses his detective skills to get to the bloody bottom and everyone pays the price.
I can’t even begin to speculate – honestly- about the box office prospects of this movie, because it was picked up by the fourth world studio Millennium Entertainment.
The studio has a minus/negative publicity department.
What has happened, you may ask, when it comes to directors – whom some may say are ‘past their prime’ – in Hollywood?”
Well, William Friedkin is closer to 80 than 70 – he turns 77 in August – but if provided with the proper material is as good or better than the likes of fellow two-time Oscar winning director Clint Eastwood, who is well over the age of 80.
I mean, seriously. We know that he is capable, what with The Exorcist and The French Connection. Who gives a rat’s ass that he wanted to take a couple of decades off from making movies?