Killer Joe (William Friedkin, 2012)

What's it about? A dysfunctional trailer-trash Texan family hire crooked cop Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) to bump off their estranged mother so they can get their hands on her life insurance policy. Well, that's bound to go smoothly, isn't it?

Is it any good?
Remember when Matthew McConaughey was good? No, of course you don't. Nobody does. Not even McConaughey. Sorry, that's a dumb question. But look here! He's only gone and set aside the maryjane and bongos and decided to act, with a terrifically compelling performance as the amoral, slithery, menacing, and thoroughly unpleasant Joe. Nasty suits him. Who'd have thunk it? Not that any of the characters in this are likable, as we watch them all self-destruct in a whirl of greed, sex, violence and fanny-flashing. It's a sordid, grimy little story, with some uncomfortably explicit scenes which are rather gratuitous and which are presumably intended to be deliberately provocative. But there's also a streak of black, black humour throughout (mostly courtesy of the deadpan Thomas Haden Church), which suggests it shouldn't be taken all that seriously. Add in a flavour of David Lynch weirdness and you have a strange, dirty little neo-noir, but I mean that in a kinda good way.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Hailed as a return to form for Exorcist and French Connection director Friedkin, but not popular with the US censors, who slapped the dreaded NC-17 certificate on it for those gratuitous scenes. Most of the criticism has focused on the notorious 'chicken-leg scene'. I would say that part would put you off eating KFC, but KFC do a pretty good job of that themselves with their food.

Anything else I should know? Actually, I do remember when McConaughey was good. It was in the excellent Lone Star, which I've reviewed here. And 2012 has proven a strong year for the naked bongo man, with rave reviews for his turns in Magic Mike and the upcoming Mud and The Paperboy. Don't be surprised if he gets an Oscar nomination in a few months time. Or actually, do be.

What does the Fonz think? I don't feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight.

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