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#Sundance: Winterbottom Defends The Killer Inside Me

by Anne Thompson
January 27, 2010 7:24 AM
64 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

It's a director's worst nightmare. The night of your world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, the first questioner from the audience is an outraged woman: "I don't understand how Sundance could book this movie," she said. "How dare you? How dare Sundance?"

Others in the Eccles crowd were also disturbed by the brutal hands-on beating of two beautiful women in Michael Winterbottom's tough noir The Killer Inside Me, starring Casey Affleck as deputy sheriff Lou Ford in 50s Texas. Kate Hudson plays his fiance. "The violence is shocking in the book and it's shocking in the film," Winterbottom responded. "It's not a police procedural. The story is being told by someone who's crazy. The story is the way he tells it and sees it, not the way it happened. The film has no sense of pleasure in the violence."

Later on the phone, Winterbottom admits that he was "taken aback, to be honest," by this feedback to his first film shot in America.

Thompson on Hollywood

The movie is quite faithful to Jim Thompson's 1952 novel, he says: "Like all noirs, it has violence in it. It's violent and shocking, cathartic in a way. Thompson is trying to create this imaginary dark wild Texas. It's also a quite tender story. The audience didn't understand that when they watch this shocking violence, Casey is not the hero where the audience gets off on it. It should be shocking and brutal."

Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart) may have done his job too well. His best-looking and most controlled film, The Killer Inside Me introduces an iconic period western sheriff's deputy --a representation of authority and order--telling his own story in voice-over narration. There's a whiff of S & M in his sex play, but anyone not familiar with the novel will be stunned when he impassively turns and punches to a bloody pulp a woman he clearly adores, with his fists, over and over. And soon after, he does it again. While Ford's male victims in the movie are shot cleanly with guns and hanged (that one is off-screen), the women are pulverized. In close-up.

Of course Winterbottom isn't asking us to get a charge out of this violence. But he may not realize how hard these scenes are to watch. It's the tactile, intimate aspect that is so disturbing, as beating these women is an extension of Ford's love for them. "He wants to destroy anyone who is intimate with him, and he wants to destroy himself," Winterbottom says. "The implication is that we should not be allowed to show violence against women. No one is encouraging that. There's a lot of violence against women in the world. You can show men and women being killed, and as long as it's entertaining, it's ok. And if it's brutal, we don't want to see it."

USA Today withdrew its report that star Jessica Alba walked out of the Sundance screening (her reps say that she supports the film). She's quite good in the movie; so is Affleck as the disturbing man who keeps attacking the people he loves. The story's headline: "The Killer Inside Me = The Andy Griffith Show directed by Eli Roth." (Here's The Guardian.)

It's hard to imagine anyone getting off on this movie the way they would, say, a Roth torture-porn horror flick like Hostel. The Killer Inside Me is an art film aimed at sophisticated art-house audiences who might have already read the source material. It will earn an R-rating. Controversy sells; the film has both supporters and detractors. Reviews will help to prep moviegoers for what they may or may not want to see. The point of attending a film festival is to be confronted with movies that are new and undigested. In this case, Sundance was absolutely right to program the film.

Producer Andrew Eaton hopes to land a distributor out of Sundance. Some companies considering acquiring the film have asked to pull back from the worst of the violence. Visceral audience reaction like this could limit the stateside commercial potential for this elegantly made $13-million 35 mm movie, which was funded by a Canadian investor and foreign sales company Wild Bunch. Icon is set to open the UK in May.

UPDATE: IFC has acquired stateside rights to the film, which reminds some of the controversy surrounding another film about a serial killer, Nick Broomfield's doc Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer.


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More: Festivals, Sundance

64 Comments

  • Casey Affleck Fan | September 29, 2010 2:48 AMReply

    I just watched the 'Killer Inside Me' last night online, and I wasn't disgusted by the beatings or repulsed by Lou's nonchalance, I was impressed. It was a movie, for God's sake! Did anyone realize it was a remake of an older movie, or that the first movie was inspired by a book? It's someone's imagination, and it was very well portrayed in a realistic and believable fasion, with a hint of dark humor and insanity. The only problem I had with the movie was Jessica Alba's poor acting, but other than that the movie was exellent and brutally harsh and refreshing. The violence in the movie was just a taste of what really goes on in the world.

  • POSSESSEDBYSATAN!!!!! | August 23, 2010 1:59 AMReply

    SHARON! YOU ARE RIGHT!!!! I WAS JUST A NORMAL NICE GUY UNTIL I WATCHED THIS MOVIE AND THEN AS SOON AS THE TITLES ROLLED I BECAME A PSYCHOPATHIC KILLER!!!!!! I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IT JUST SEEMED LIKE A REALLY GOOD IDEA TO KILL!!!!!! OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!! I THINK IT WAS SATAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have never seen Superman but I'm going to give it a try now. Wish me luck!

  • Premiere Attendee | February 15, 2010 12:15 AMReply

    The film was certainly for a unique audience, in the form it was aired. The woman who jumped up and screamed out about how horrible it was of Sundance to book this film was a cook. She was a ticket re-seller who was buying up as many tix as she could then selling them for exponentially more. She openly admitted her reason for being at the film festival was to be "noticed." She sat in the front row and simply used the controversy from this film as a platform to be seen and heard by all. Just FYI - immediately after her comment, she was boo'd back into her seat. While several people could not stomach the film and had to leave early, the overwhelming majority stayed to hear out the film makers and understood that this was a type of fantasy film, not intended to make a statement about or encourage violence against women.

  • JM | February 1, 2010 8:20 AMReply

    Not trying to change the subject, but Michael Winterbottom has shot a film in America before, and a pretty good film at that: The Claim was filmed in Alberta and Colorado.

  • Brenda H | February 1, 2010 4:21 AMReply

    This was a film! Get over it! The actors did a great job! If this would have been a movie about a woman beating men up - the women at the screening would not have gotten as upset. When that first lady made her remark - she was sitting in the row behind me - I said loudly - that she could have walked out on the movie at any time - but what did she do - she stayed for the whole thing and then complained. How many times have you walked out on a movie because you did not like the contents or you were bored, etc. ?? Nobody made her stay for the whole movie. Was she really that uneducated that she did not know that she could leave the movie and not return? People did not have a problem getting up to go to the bathroom but they are not smart enough to leave a movie if they don't like it. Again - I say "Get over it - it was just a movie!" My daughter and I found it to be a movie that kept us on the edge of our seat. There was no way that we were going to leave to go to the bathroom or do anything that would require us to miss a minute of this movie!! Great job on a movie that has everyone already talking - that is half the battle of getting your movie out there! yeah!!

  • Bik | January 31, 2010 8:45 AMReply

    Karen is right. Even scarier than violence is the ignorance in our society, as demonstrated by so many of these posts.

  • Bo | January 31, 2010 3:02 AMReply

    "How many people have been killed and injured because someone got an idea from a movie?"

    Name one.

    "We women have a reason for being upset when we see violence toward a woman in a film. It perpetuates more violence toward women."

    Proof?

  • Brian | January 30, 2010 11:14 AMReply

    Barry, that is called natural selection.
    But seriously, if parents bothered parenting, their children never would have seen the film that inspired them to be so stupid.

  • Brian | January 30, 2010 11:12 AMReply

    Art is meant to illicit a reaction and make people think, obviously this film has succeeded. I wont see this film because I dont enjoy watching realistic violence, but I'd never say this film should not have been made and the violence it contains is irresponsible. If you dont educate yourself on the content of a film you're going to watch, you're an idiot and you only have yourself to blame for the outrage you feel. If you think violence in the media/films/video games is negatively effecting the youth of america, dont allow YOUR children to view it. People need to start taking more responsibility for themselves and their children and stop expecting everyone else to.

  • Barry Fleckmann | January 30, 2010 10:53 AMReply

    Years ago, there was this movie that depicted students at some school lying-down in the middle-of-the-highway, over the white center lines, enjoying the excitement of having cars pass by them by mere inches at fast speeds. Well, some of them were killed by clueless motorists. Guess what? In real-life, the "sport" soon became a self-fullfilled prophecy. Actual students started to "copy cat" the stunt. Actual students WERE killed. Some of the posters on this board exhibited the attitude, "it's just a movie. Get OVER yourselves!" No, there ARE copy cats in this world. People who are SO impressionable, that they'll take to beating up women just because they saw it in a movie. I doubt very much that the version of this movie that played at Sundance in front of HollyWeird liberals, is the same version that plays in America. I'm sorry, if YOU want to see beautiful women beaten to a pulp, wait for the director's cut.

  • Travis | January 30, 2010 10:25 AMReply

    Good thing you can tell us about our "educationl" system Karen. Way to look down on people when you yourself are guilty of the same typos.

  • RZ | January 30, 2010 9:57 AMReply

    THIS IS DISGUSGTING. DON'T TELL US THE MOVIE FOLLOWS THE BOOK. IT'S JUST ANOTHER MOVIE THAT USES WOMEN, SUBJECTING THEM TO VIOLENCE, BRUTALITY & DEATH. THERE IS SO MUCH VIOLENCE IN AMERICA, DO WE REALLY NEED TO MAKE THIS TYPE OF MOVIE? THIS MOVIE REPRESENTS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ARTISTIC. THAT ALBA MADE THIS MOVIE IS SHOCKING & TURNS MY STOMACH. AFFLECK MAKING THIS KIND OF MOVIE? AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, HE'S JUST ANOTHER ACTOR WHO NEEDS SHOCK VALUE TO GET PUBLICITY. HUDSON WILL DO ANYTHING FOR PUBLICITY. AM SHOCKED AT ROBERT REDFORD & OTHERS WHO OK'D THIS FOR THE FILM FESTIVAL. IT'S SICK. NO ONE NEEDS TO BE EXPOSED TO THIS TYPE OF XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX-RATED VIOLENCE!

  • john | January 30, 2010 9:50 AMReply

    it is peoples choice and freedom of speech!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! sharon richard who do you think you are telling people what they should watch ????????????? I for one am tired of bible thumping types of movies but i dont tell anyone to stop watching i just dont go.

  • Fred | January 30, 2010 9:33 AMReply

    Well, considering Jessica Alba is one of the liberal-est of all liberals, it'd always be nice to see her beaten to a bloody pulp, albeit, it's only fiction.

  • Kat | January 30, 2010 9:02 AMReply

    Do people not realize that even if you take away all the violence in the media (movies, video games, music, etc.) you are still gonna have the crazies out there who are sick in the head and come up with similar stuff in their own minds. Then what??? Think of the tons of other people who watch this and still are not violent but learn from it and know thats its a movie or that it is History that should never be repeated. Bitching about how violence in fear that it will increase crime rates is a waste!!!!! It is going to happen no matter what. Yeah it sucks but what are you going to do???? And yes it is horrible that women get beat up, once again it will happen even without violence in the media, because there are some sickos out there who cannot control their rage and are going to take it out on who they want to blame. And once again instead of bitching, why not do something more productive like help out at a women's shelter. Foreign directors make movies like this because their countries aren't as prudish and honestly not as immature as the United States. Granted not all countries, but England, France, Italy......countries like that. Our freedom has made everyone in to sue-happy complainers and its pathetic.

  • megan | January 30, 2010 8:55 AMReply

    Well it is just a movie, but mainstream audiences may not be able to handle pretty little jessica alba or kate hudson get the shit beaten out of them. I remember seeing whats love got to do with, the biopic about Tina Turner. That was hard to watch, this sounds even worse than that.

    The reality is that there is violence all over the place everyday. Its always been there, but I think because we have more access to seeing it on tv, films, internet its become overwhelming and its seems more prevelant now than any other time. When in reality its always been there, its just wasn't reported or seen in movies as much .Plus old hollywood films didnt show alot of violence, or sex scenes or unhappy endings. That didnt happen until much later. So gradually over time we see it more and more and its become apart the "norm" in tv , movies ect..
    That being said, movies to me represent entertainment , a way to bide the time from ordinary life.
    I dont think I would want to see this film, unless the female characters find a way to overcome what happened to them. Doesn't sound like thats the case here though....

    thesaurus comment from author, awesome. I dont think i have ever seen writers make comments on their own stories

  • Karen | January 30, 2010 8:47 AMReply

    I am afraid. Very afraid. The quality of the language used in these postings--spelling, inappropriate word usage, vulgarities used to make a point--indicates the failures of our educationl systems. The movie issue is easy. Don't watch it. Our educational failures aren't easy to remedy.

  • Danielle | January 30, 2010 8:18 AMReply

    I haven't seen this movie so I can't say for sure how the brutality of this movie plays out on screen, but if its what people are saying maybe the director should have pulled back just a bit. It's one thing to show a violent scene that pertains to the storyline, its another to show it in full detail. There are ways that the director can show a violent scene without horrifying the audience to point where it's unwatchable, because when it gets down to it isn't that was the director wants? For people to actually watch the movie?

    As a women I'm not really offended by this. Mainly because, well, that's the story is about. I don't think this film promotes anit-women, but that in reality it's about a seriously disturbed man, and that's really all. But then again I haven't seen it, but I doubt that a lot of people who are claiming that this film is offensive towards women have actually seen it either. Plus there are also plenty of other movies made that are pro women and are reverse of what people think this film is saying about women.

    Kay sorry for the long post but one more thing. To b, I'm sorry but I have to disagree with you. Films cannot be blamed for people's actions. While they do play some part in a person decisions it's almost insignficant compared to the other factors that play in, such as enviornment and the person's stablility of the mind to start out with. And like what Dan said, it's just a movie people.

  • Mike | January 30, 2010 8:05 AMReply

    It is difficult to determine the sicker of the occupations - the egomaniacs who make the films, or, the bacteria that make a "living" trying to write about them.

    "Saving Private Ryan" was a good film - thankfully the last time I spent a dime on the fecal film industry.

  • Sick of Hypocracy, Ignorance and Violence | January 30, 2010 7:59 AMReply

    I’m so sick of the hypocrisy/stupidity of people who say that someone they agree with has the right of free speech but someone who disagrees with them should just shut up and get over it. Why should the director have the right of free speech to make the movie but the viewers who protest it should not? Interesting how that double standard works, wouldn’t you say?

    On the subject of violence begetting violence, it’s a complex question. Obviously violence existed way before movies and books. But that doesn’t mean that constant exposure to violence has no effect on society. Scientific studies have shown pretty conclusively that watching violence produces an increase in aggressive behavior for most people. When people grow up witnessing violence and death day after day, night after night—everywhere from the evening news, to the show One Hundred Ways to Die, to movies like Pulp Fiction and Friday the Thirteenth Part Six-Hundred-Forty-Three, I don’t see how anyone can make a rational argument that our society is completely unaffected.

    Finally, why do advertisers pay all that money to show their commercials over and over if repeated exposure doesn’t have any effect on viewers? Do you really think they’d pay millions of dollars if it didn’t convince viewers to have positive attitudes about the products and companies and motivate them to go out and purchase products? If it has the power to affect viewers’ buying habits, then it also has the power to affect their degree of violence and their attitudes toward violence. Just as you can’t rationally have freedom of speech for the director and not for the viewer, neither can you have it one way for the promotion of products and another way for the promotion of violence.

    Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that someone who goes out and starts committing mass murder has something more wrong with them than simply having watched a violent film somewhere along the way. But if they do have something wrong with them, is it not possible that a violent film could set them off, inspire them, or otherwise trigger them to begin acting?

    Does that mean we should police videos and remove all violent ones? No, I don’t think so. It just means that we should use some common sense and minimize violence. Don’t use it gratuitously and don’t glorify it. Most of the time you can show the effects of the off-camera violence briefly without having slow motion close-ups of murder after murder and shooting after shooting and beating after beating.

    Was it justified in this case? I can’t say without having seen the film—and neither can anyone else with any accuracy. What I can say is that I have no desire to see the film personally and likely won’t. I agree with the writer who says he’s decided to choose a higher path. Whenever we connect with our higher self—with the Goodness that is part of each of us—then we contribute in some small way to making this a better planet for everyone, so I call on each of us to do that as much as possible in whatever way your spirit calls on you to do it. But each of us must make the decision for him- or herself about what to watch and what to avoid. That’s the right and responsibility of freedom.

  • Nigerian | January 30, 2010 7:58 AMReply

    Why are you dumbazz westerners complaining about this movie.You guys are such hypocrites and blatant racists.You guys were cheering district 9 a movie that depicted Nigerian men as cannibals and Nigerian women as women who sleep with other alien species.That was not horrible to you but you are crying because your beloved actress got a few punches to head.What suckers you guys are.

  • Don | January 30, 2010 7:48 AMReply

    Of course you wouldn't want to let your child watch it !! But what gives you the right to tell people what they can produce or watch ?? Mind your own buisness !!

  • Edwin Williams | January 30, 2010 7:46 AMReply

    I just watched the movie 2 days ago and to be honest with you, it's too disturbing and upsetting for me to watch. Jessica Alba is one of my favorite actresses, but why in the world did she choose to make this movie, knowing it will upset many viewers (not all of the viewers though)?

  • Don | January 30, 2010 7:44 AMReply

    Quit crying!! Don't go see the film !! Of course you want to tell me what I can watch ??

  • b | January 30, 2010 7:42 AMReply

    Whoever said cinema can’t be blamed for people’s actions couldn't be farther from the truth. This is conditioning. That violence is o.k. that's in all of us, that it's just part of us. Look at the increase in violence in music, art, video games and movies then simply compare crime rates. As youth becomes more and more numbed by violence they become more accepting of it. To say this doesn't effect society is a lie. I like what one poster said when they compared it to violence porn. This is just gutter filth. Whoever said, if you don't like it don't watch it, is also right. So I won't. But God help us if we ever become a society that accepts snuff porn as entertainment.

  • Pearl | January 30, 2010 7:39 AMReply

    This is nothing but another publicity stunt, and it is selling. It's been rather difficult to find/see a good movie nowadays. Where before masterpieces were made with full creativity, and art, and leaving yet more to the imagination, and being just as "disturbing," today there's little of that, more graphic impact, and more imitation.
    It is interesting though, that unlike the novel, that the movie is more explicit about the violence (in and out of sexual context) with women than it cares to be when the violence is acted agaisnt men. What made such things sell so much? We can only but blame ourselves.

  • watsos | January 30, 2010 7:38 AMReply

    The furor is not surprising. Sundance types are fond of recreational outrage.

  • BB | January 30, 2010 7:31 AMReply

    We women have a reason for being upset when we see violence toward a woman in a film. It perpetuates more violence toward women. There are over 5 million violent crimes toward women in the USA each year. I don't blame the viewer. I would have walked out as well. In fact, I'm glad I read this article. I will not watch this film. I don't care when it was written or by whom or how artsy or well produced it is. I don't want to see something that wraps sexuality around violence to a woman and makes a glorified feast out of it.

  • Cole | January 30, 2010 7:27 AMReply

    Why are films like this that focus on sensationalizing the worst aspect of America always made by a foreign director and financed by foreign investors? The reviewer/author refers to the film as a portrayal of small town Texas in the 1950's. Obviously not, or the people of those small towns would have been locking their doors years ago to protect themselves from all the psychos who inhabit rural America according to the movies.

  • Katie | January 30, 2010 7:19 AMReply

    Yes, it is only a movie, but what is gained by the beatings? Do we really need to have the reality of the brutality of which a crazy man is capable rubbed into our faces? Is there any good reason to have such a movie which is narrated by the "crazy man" from his point of view? With freedom of speech should come a sense of responsibilty. I am tired of so-called artists who use their freedom for nothing more than "shock value". This is "violence porn" which is much worse than "sex porn". There is much pain in life, such as terrible accidents, but no public purpose is achieved by portraying the suffering so vividly.

  • James | January 30, 2010 7:16 AMReply

    Why do we need a movie about violence, and why would anyone pay to see a movie about violence. Are those who support this crap so addicted to violence that they can't get enough of it from real life? You want real violence turn your TV on, it's free everyday. Walk down any city, big or small and you will eventually encounter violence. Go to a shelter for abusive women and children and you will see violence. Ride with your local police and you will see violence first hand. If that's not enough and you really really need that rush then join the military and volunteer for Iraq or Afghanistan then you will experience it first hand and maybe get the ultimate rush, die from violence. Yeah, it's just a movie and we can choose what we see but it is not just that, it is a reflection of society, and what that society values - there is not enough violence in real life, so the society must imitate it in its literatures/entertainment.

  • Dani H | January 30, 2010 7:06 AMReply

    Basically james summed it up. People are entitled to their own opinion and if your looking for a movie without violence go see When In Rome or something along those lines, I'd doubt that there wouldn't be any sort of S & M in that film that would conflict your emotions. And thank you to rinsmith, I agree with you on cinema and how it can't be blamed for people's actions.

  • cwlange | January 30, 2010 7:05 AMReply

    I do not care how elegantly this was made artistically. I am older and middle aged and a woman and have grown very tired of the violence towards women in our US society. To glorify it is a trajedy. Spend a little bit of time in real life with women in the Emergency Rooms in our hospitals and with the survivors, you may change your mind. I am remembering
    a Werewolf movie that came out in the 1970's. My parents went with a young group of friends who thought it was fantastic. They on the other hand did not like the glorification of death.

    We in the US take in millions of images that glorify violence in a year. Saying, "It is just a movie misses the point." Images even in fictional settings do have impacts on behavior. Read your Social Science studies. Look at the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that recommends the limit of seeing violent images. Yeah, to the younger writers this is serious stuff.

  • Sal Padula | January 30, 2010 6:54 AMReply

    AMEN!(Luis) ---oh wait, I probably offended or outraged somebody w/ my comments religious overtone.

  • Luis | January 30, 2010 6:48 AMReply

    I like what Dan said, "it's just a movie folks..." some people are taking this too seriously

  • Sal Padula | January 30, 2010 6:47 AMReply

    In response to this crackpot's comment quoted below, get a fu**in grip. this world is becoming too puss*fied for my taste. Grow up!----

    "I PERSONALLY AM SICK OF THE MOVIES YOU IGNORANT DIRECTORS CHOOSE TO MAKE. I DON’T WANT TO SEE A MOVIE WRITTEN BY A CRAZY PERSON. I AM SICK OF THE PERVERSION AND VIOLENCE AND CRUELTY IN THE MOVIES NOW. I AM SICK OF MOVIES THAT HAVE LITTLE OR NO MORALS IN THEM. I WILL NOT PAY TO SEE A MOVIE LIKE THIS ANYMORE. YOU PEOPLE NEED TO STOP GLORIFYING THESE MONSTERS AND MAKE MOVIES ABOUT REAL HEROES. YOU WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE ONE DAY AND SO WILL THE SO CALLED ACTORS AND ACTRESSES THAT SELL THEIR SOULS TO BE IN THESE VILE MOVIES. SHAME ON YOU ALL.

    posted by sharon richard "

  • Alex | January 30, 2010 6:45 AMReply

    The name of the film is "THE KILLER INSIDE ME". what did the creeps think, it was going to be a love story. thats the problem with america , people complain way to much. Here is an idea Shut up an deal with it you snoody creeps.

  • rinsmith | January 30, 2010 6:40 AMReply

    yeah, cause as we all know, violence didn't exist before movies. The world was a lot more civilized back then, NOT! People don't need to watch movies, read books, or play video games in order to get ideas for criminal acts. Therefore the idea that watching this movie will cause a person to go out and beat someone up is BS! "The video game, movie, book made me do it" is the new "the devil made me do it" excuse. People are accountable for their own actions. And anyone dumb enough to imitate something they saw in a movie probably shouldn't be watching anything.

  • garry | January 30, 2010 6:27 AMReply

    your writer a ass hole.

  • Dan | January 30, 2010 3:06 AMReply

    It's just a movie folks...

  • nos | January 30, 2010 2:59 AMReply

    Actually wolf when the passion of the christ was made people stood up in the middle of the movie and started crying out in outrage, most people burst into tears and sobbed, some even asked for salvation in the threatres, i know i was there when it was first seen at the theatres by my home.. personaly i believe we do have freedom of speech but i also believe its diplorable what is actually shown nowadays in society on that silver screen. hasn't anyone else noticed at all the rise in torture crimes?home invasions,murders... more and more the news is getting darker.people are becoming darker,people are becoming more ruthless and unmoved by horror it is because they have been desenzatized to it by what it shown to them via, internet,via tv,via video games via movies. as we watch our society crumble into a postulating stew of hate and contempt who is really to blame?

  • WOLF | January 30, 2010 2:29 AMReply

    YOU TELL EM JAMES, RIGHT ON!

  • Dan | January 30, 2010 2:28 AMReply

    Jim Thompson is my favorite author. His books are dark, gritty, brutal, unflinching stories about criminals, drug addicts, drunks, floozies, psychopaths and other unsavory characters. This is not the first time this book has been turned into a movie, nor is it the first Thompson novel to be turned into a movie. Most notably were the films "The Grifters" with John Cusack, Annette Benning and Anjelica Huston; and "The Getaway" starring Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw and directed by Sam Peckinpaw ("The Getaway" was remade years later starring Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.) Thompson has been sited as a favorite author by such people as Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick. In fact, Thompson wrote the screenplays for several of Kubrick's early films. Given the people drawn to Thompson's work (King, Peckinpaw, Kubrick), is it any surprise that this book is dark, violent and disturbing? There's a lot of movies out there I find offensive, and you know what I do? I don't watch them! If you think "The Killer Inside Me" is too disturbing, don't watch it.

  • WOLF | January 30, 2010 2:27 AMReply

    sharon richard HAVE YOU TAKEN YOUR MEDS TODAY? DONT LIKE IT ? DONT WATCH IT DUH!

  • brendan | January 30, 2010 2:24 AMReply

    Does art imitate life or pervert it?
    Can there be free expression,
    if it is offensive?
    Cartoons can be violent.
    What limits can be placed on images?

  • james | January 30, 2010 2:20 AMReply

    ... and to the thesaurus comment / response... one word. "owned"

  • wolf | January 30, 2010 2:15 AMReply

    Is this woman out of her mind? can you say its just a movie? Highly controversial and enormously successful, Mel Gibson's religious biopic chronicles the last 12 hours of Jesus' they beat Jesus to a pulp and I didn't hear anyone say "How dare you," lets take SCARFACE the film tells the story of a fictional Cuban refugee who comes to Florida in 1980 as a result of the Mariel Boatlift. Montana becomes a gangster against the backdrop of the 1980's cocaine boom. The film chronicles his rise to the top of Miami's criminal underworld and subsequent downfall in tragic Greek movie and I still didn't hear 'How dare you', how bout some films like Friday the 13th Camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to re-open a summer camp that was the site of a child's drowning.what about those poor collage kids that were brutality butchered yet still I didn't hear 'How dare you,' I say this to Ms. 'how dare you,' HOW DARE YOU WASTE MY TIME AND EVERYONE ELSE, LAST TIME I CHECKED THIS WAS STILL A FREE COUNTRY WHY DIDNT YOU JUST WALK OUT? 'HOW DARE YOU'!!!!

  • james | January 30, 2010 2:15 AMReply

    This is why your not forced to watch anything. It's a free country, and your welcome to your opinion...but that's about it. Far too many people in this day and age feel it is their right to ostracize something because they don't agree with the context...YOU are not the voice for the community in which you live sir / madam... you are but ONE voice... so please state your opinion, and as they say nowadays..."keep it movin" , because in this persons humble opinion, anyone who jumps up and starts saying "how dare you" to a director at the world premiere of his movie is the crazy person, not the director.

  • JR | January 30, 2010 2:07 AMReply

    I have not seen the movie, nor will I, as is my choice. Therefore, I cannot specifically comment on the film content or to whether this film which evidently exhibits extreme violence, particularly toward women, should be made.
    What I find interesting and don’t quite understand is the vehemence some posters direct at other posters who take offense at the degree of violence in some movies.
    I do understand the vehemence and outrage of those offended by the violence depicted. Their reactions are visceral, as Ms. Thompson has stated, and I believe, not necessarily born of any highhanded desire to squelch another’s’ desired form of entertainment. (If indeed these types of films can be put in that category).
    The common thread in all posts defending, “artistic freedom” and such, seems more a juvenile cry of “don’t tell me what to do!” than any defense of an inalienable right. After all, would our lives be adversely affected by not having graphic violence to view on the big screen?
    I would not go as far as to say that movies depicting extreme violence should not be made, as some of you have so strongly suggested. We do have the choice, to watch or not to watch. If we start to censor movies, what next, books?
    The difference is that when reading a book we have many options once we are engaged. We can skim, skip or close the book. We can limit the degree to which our minds form the pictures described in the book. Not so with movies. Once we are seated in the movie theater we feel bound to finish what we’ve started, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. To simply walk out in the middle of a movie invites unwanted conjecture or inconvenience to others who may have accompanied us to the show. This is exactly why I would consider reading the book, but would not see the film.
    Thanks to reviewers like Ms. Thompson and the gift of free press, we are given enough information with which to make our choices.
    So, do we stop a film maker’s attempt to produce violent films? No, absolutely not. While film makers like us to believe they are in the business to make art. The bottom line is “the bottom line”. Audience censorship is a necessary balancing tool. So, do we stop audiences from voicing outrage (it is a form of free speech, isn’t it?) at movie screenings and on blogs etc. and insist that they "get over it"? No, absolutely not.

  • Charlie Kirkpatrick | January 30, 2010 2:03 AMReply

    Everyone has an opinion. If you don't like a movie don't watch it. Grow up people. We don't live in a Communist country. It is called Freedom of Speach. If you are so worried what our children are going to learn from a movie, maybe you should take a look at what they are playing on their x-box.

  • Michelle | January 30, 2010 1:46 AMReply

    Yes, everyone is right. It is just a movie. But lets see how far "it's just a movie" goes if someone were to make a movie about a woman having a spree cutting off men's "private parts"- told and seen from the woman's point of view. Then when instances like that become common around America, people can just say...The movie didn't make women do that, that was bound to happen anyway... Then let me hear you say "It's just a movie"! NO, you wouldn't because then you would realize movies and TV give people ideas and inspire people to do stuff...DUH!

  • Anne Thompson | January 30, 2010 1:40 AMReply

    That's thesaurus. But you are right: one is a quote, I replaced another, left the third.

  • colleen | January 30, 2010 1:34 AMReply

    You used the term 'get off' three times in this article. I would like to send you a thesarus.

  • sharon richard | January 30, 2010 1:34 AMReply

    I PERSONALLY AM SICK OF THE MOVIES YOU IGNORANT DIRECTORS CHOOSE TO MAKE. I DON'T WANT TO SEE A MOVIE WRITTEN BY A CRAZY PERSON. I AM SICK OF THE PERVERSION AND VIOLENCE AND CRUELTY IN THE MOVIES NOW. I AM SICK OF MOVIES THAT HAVE LITTLE OR NO MORALS IN THEM. I WILL NOT PAY TO SEE A MOVIE LIKE THIS ANYMORE. YOU PEOPLE NEED TO STOP GLORIFYING THESE MONSTERS AND MAKE MOVIES ABOUT REAL HEROES. YOU WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE ONE DAY AND SO WILL THE SO CALLED ACTORS AND ACTRESSES THAT SELL THEIR SOULS TO BE IN THESE VILE MOVIES. SHAME ON YOU ALL.

  • tom | January 30, 2010 1:14 AMReply

    "It was just a movie". How many people have been killed and injured because someone got an idea from a movie? We live in a violent world, it keeps escalating because money is involved. Witness the deaths of people over a few bucks, we are becoming Rome in the dark ages.

  • Michele O'Connor | January 30, 2010 1:01 AMReply

    There is violence everyday, just turn on the news! I guess because it offends certain people, they can't report it anymore. I don't like opera but I guess Im lucky that I haven't been forced to go. We all have choices. Don't buy lemons and complain that they were sour !!!!

  • Longing for LA CONFIDENTIAL | January 30, 2010 12:30 AMReply

    What is a miserable, miserable film. Michael Winterbottom is no Curtis Hanson, and this noir drama (not thriller) is no LA CONFIDENTIAL. If this is a thriller, I would suggest examining the lack of compelling dramatic tension, other than that experienced while watching Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson be pummeled.

    Though its edit felt less than terse, and its art direction very thin, the film may have had wonderful dialog, but that's assuming that the audience could understand what Casey Affleck was saying through his thick West Texas accent. To his credit, the accent was solid throughout the film. There was also a strong performance in the later half of the film from Kate Hudson.

    Highest compliments to the company which created a stunning title sequence. Unfortunately for the talented Mr. Winterbottom, it was the best part of the film.

  • MG | January 30, 2010 12:15 AMReply

    Brian, your comment about 'natural selection' made me laugh out loud. Seriously, if some dimwit sees 'Superman' and decides to try and fly, is the blame on those who created the movie? I am far more alarmed at the stupidity of humans at large (as evidenced on this comment board) than any movie depicting violence against women. Do you people who are "so outraged" truly believe violence against women doesn't exist? It's one thing to choose not to see the movie; I personally don't like cheese so I don't eat it. I don't condemn those who do, nor do I try to blame cheese-eating on the commercials that promote it. Good God, what is this world coming to? As for the author of the above review? It's her job, and someone deemed her opinion worthy enough to allow her to voice it in a public way, so let her do her freakin' job. If you don't agree, that is your choice, as it is mine. And most importantly, why oh why doesn't natural selection work more quickly?

  • True Drew | January 30, 2010 12:11 AMReply

    With all respect to Sydney Levine, my problem with The Killer Inside Me was not that it forced me "to confront something within myself I didn't t want to see." It was that it forced me to watch something hateful and disgusting that I didn't want to see, and offered no insight or poetry in return. It was a schlocky, not terribly well-made exploitation film with movie stars masquerading as art, which thankfully, most Sundance attendees saw right through. At least torture porn--and actual porn--is honest enough to admit what it is. And while I think Sundance has the right to show whatever it wants, it's hard to believe they couldn't have found a better film with less "pedigree." Then this piece of crap could have gone to AFM where it belonged.

  • Melissa | January 30, 2010 12:02 AMReply

    People who are slamming the film seem to be from the "If We Ignore It, It Will Go Away" Camp. Keeping dirty secrets allows them to fester, does it not? If you ignore the violence against women, it won't exist? ART imitates LIFE, not the other way around. And for those who believe that violence in video games and in movies is to blame for the uprising in violent behavior in kids? Your blame is misplaced; bad parenting is the problem. Is anyone really suggesting you allow your kid to watch a film like this??? This film is about the human condition, and whether it is your particular condition isn't really the point. Life can be cruel and ugly for a million different reasons; a film that shines a light on an aspect of life's ugliness doesn't make life uglier, it brings it out of the shadows so we all can see it and perhaps even understand it. Violence, death...they are compelling and even sexy, and if you don't believe that then you should take a look at the top grossing films, the bestselling books. Violence and death has been around since the beginning, hasn't it? Human beings are drawn to these subjects. We are human, and as such, we are imperfect.

  • MarkT | January 28, 2010 5:49 AMReply

    I gues none of these critics saw Martyrs then.

    It's a freaking movie. Get over youselves.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek | January 27, 2010 7:12 AMReply

    An excellent article.

    (Spoilers for 'The Killer Inside Me' and 'This Is England' follow)

    Looking at the lengthy trailer that's been leaked online I do agree with Anne's suggestion that Winterbottom has miscalculated what the audience will feel here. The scene showing the beating of Alba's character keeps cutting from an over-the-shoulder shot of Affleck to Alba's POV, which strikes me as a mistake, and an uncharacteristic mistake from someone as intelligent and talented as Winterbottom.

    What I mean is this; if you look at the final scene of violence in Shane Meadows's 'This Is England', where a white neo-Nazi beats a black man to a pulp, most of it is shot from the victim's POV apart from one shot of the man's bloodied face after the violence has ended. This scene, like the ones of violence against women in 'The Killer Inside Me', is shocking not just because of the violence but because of the attitudes and prejudices that underline the violence. But Meadows treats it responsibly - he puts you solidly in the victim's shoes throughout, only showing any gore once the actual action is over, so the focus is on the victim's pain rather than giving the audience any kind of kinetic enjoyment.

    Winterbottom, by contrast, keeps putting you in the victim's shoes, then cutting to this congenial, almost sympathetic over-the-shoulder shot where you can get a good long look at how badly Affleck is messing up Alba's face. Without seeing the film, it's hard to know why he thought this was a good idea; in interviews, he's said he wanted to make a film from a deeply disturbed man's point of view, and presumably this is why he chose the over-the-shoulder angle, but it's hard to sympathise with someone - even someone who you accept as being insane - when you're having your nose rubbed in the horror of what they do.

    I remember hearing Kubrick saying he deliberately aestheticised the violence in the first half of 'A Clockwork Orange' so that audiences could at least understand why Alex has chosen this life. Perhaps this is what Winterbottom was trying to do. If so, the response to Kubrick's film on its release may indicate he's got a tough time ahead of him.

  • Pain-Body redux | January 27, 2010 5:35 AMReply

    i have gotten to an age where I donit need these kind of imprints in my life. eckart tolle would call it the "pain-body" that part of us attracted to voilence etc...the above poster thinks it as part of an honest look at life... "depth" well I say there are higher vibes, and we can heal the "pain-body" -- there is enough male gaze at this festival (and in mainstream movies)... it's annoying enough... just watchin the camera in High School or other boy flicks... women as objects just gets old, as does having imprints of violence against women... there are lots of great films here... gasland, blue valentine, cyrus... as ones I have seen --and for a film that shows us the potential of human interaction: freebie... anyway, my two cents, i enjoy my life a lot more now that I dont see films with voilence, rape, etc... why bother? I am over that drama and anger, and wanting to spend 2 hours with characters who are so suffering and addicted to pain...and have looked at the "addiction" to it in myself as manifested in the pain-body...and dont need to be around that kind of vibe. it is amazing what happens when we just say no to the voilence in our life... when we do the work of noticing the chemicals in us and the addiction to it... this is the real "depth". namaste.

  • Sydney Levine | January 27, 2010 12:45 AMReply

    This was one of my favorite films of the narrative films. Like 'I Am Love' it is totally uncompromising in telling a story which originates deep within the human psyche. The puritanical fear of prurience forces the American audiences -- even those interested in independent cinema -- to consider storytelling from its outside forms, of getting from point A to point B to point C. But the depths out of which all stories develop begin with psychological and even archetypical points deep within the human psyche. Depicting the depth in cinema, a depth which is beyond the human eye, makes people squirm because it forces them to confront something within themselves they don't want to see...but in seeing and admitting to sharing it, a real participant in the cinema experience, as in Greek tragedy, the classic origin of drama, is transformed.

    Hats off to Michael Winterbottom and his great actors' performances. And to Jim Thompson for his consistent novel investigations of sex and murder in small town America.

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