Louis Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Wed Jul 23 07:18:06 MDT 2003

Graham Barnfield wrote:

>Hi Louis
>I liked the commentary posted at
>Just a thought  - I wonder how the recent crop of 'hit-man in mid-life
>crisis'/'hit-man develops a conscience' movies fits in with your thesis? I
>refer to movies like Panic (2000), Mr In-Between (2002 - very good movie,
>even though I'm in it), Grosse Pointe Blank and more.  Perhaps the amoral
>fantasy is getting too much for the protagonists?

Honestly, the thought of William Macy as a hit-man was so far-fetched that
I didn't see the movie. After seeing him as the feckless auto salesman in
"Fargo", I can't imagine him as a killer no matter how hard I try. Same
thing with John Cusack in "Gross Pointe Blank". He is the ultimate
narcissistic brat, although he was pretty good as a grifter in the movie
with that title. Beyond that, both these movies are about wasp hit-men.
Such a thing does not exist in the USA. This is an ethnic profession, just
like boxing. Not familiar with Mr. In-Between, but now that I see you are
in it, I will have to track it down.

The only movie that I have seen recently about a heterodox hit-man is "Gun
Shy" which stars Liam Neeson as a guy who is in group therapy to work
through job-related anxiety attacks. In other words, the same plot as
"Analyze This (and now That)" and "The Sopranos". I enjoyed "Gun Shy" and
"Analyze This" much less so (can't stand Billy Crystal). But there is
something a bit too cute and self-referential about all these movies.

If I were to do a movie about a hit-man, I'd make it super-realistic. I
think it would be fascinating to see a movie about Sammy "the Bull"
Gravano. I would make it like "Wise Guys" but even more sordid. I think
that hit-men and spies are the scum of the earth and no effort should be
spared to depict this realistically. This does not mean that you would end
up with a repellent work of art, going by "A Coffin for Dimitrios" for example.

Finally, to my great disappointment, Columbia's one copy of Ernest Mandel's
history of the crime novel is missing. Will track this down and try to
respond to it on the list.

Graham, I trust you won't object to me cc'ing the list on this...

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