Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Tilda Swinton

“The Killer” Is Riveting Entertainment from David Fincher with Michael Fassbender

David Fincher’s thriller “The Killer,” starring Michael Fassbender, opens in theaters on October 27 and streams on Netflix starting November 10th. It is a return to form for David Fincher, who has had this adaptation of Alexis Nolent’s graphic novel as a passion project for 20 years. “The Killer” is a no-holds-barred look at an assassin without scruples who is constantly focusing on the task at hand with dog-eat-dog, kill-or-be-killed determination. He avoids empathy, saying “Empathy is weakness.”

The Plot

Michael Fassbender in The Killer (2023)

Michael Fassbender as “The Killer.”

Michael Fassbender stars in David Fincher’s “The Killer,” which screened at the 59th Chicago International Film Festival on October 17, 2023.

The film begins in Paris, where Fassbender’s character has set up shop in a WeWorks empty office space and is waiting for his target to appear in the windows of Le Petite Raphael, a tony hotel directly across the street at 3 Rue du Grav. The killer complains about the boredom of his work (“It’s amazing how physically exhausting it can be to do nothing.”)

The killer doesn’t want to know why he is eliminating his victims. He just wants to be successful. “Fight only the battle you are paid to fight. What’s in it for me?” These are axioms that guide him, as are “Trust no one” and “Anticipate, don’t improvise.”  (“I am what I am. Consider yourself lucky if our paths never cross.”)

Fassbender has been quite successful since being recruited by Hodges, a Black attorney in New Orleans (Charles Parnell of “Grand Theft Auto”). He jettisoned a law career for a life of crime. Now he has a palatial hide-away hidden somewhere in the Dominican Republic, shared with a beautiful woman who loves him. When visiting New Orleans, the omnipresent voice-over tells us that New Orleans is a city with many good restaurants, but only one menu. Humorous asides like that make the voice-over amusing. So do the many aliases that the killer adopts including Felix Unger, Oscar Madison, Howard Cunningham, Archibald Bunker, and Sam Malone.

The problems begin when the killer’s planned hit in Paris goes awry. The dominatrix moves into the shot at the moment of truth and the real target (Endre Hules, “Apollo 13”) escapes. A secondary team is sent to the Dominican Republican to prevent any “blowback”  by eliminating the killer. When the assassin  (Fassbender) is not there, they rough up his lady love. Now the killer is going to make sure that, as he promises her brother Marcus (Emiliano Pernia), “Nothing like this will ever be allowed to happen again.”


The film has “chapters” in Paris, New Orleans, Florida, New York and Chicago. The last three locations are the homes of the hit-man and hit-woman (Tilda Swinton) and the client behind the initial Paris hit.  There is also an Epilogue. The shots of exteriors in those locations gave the film the look (and sound) of real life. There are also great close-up shots of Fassbender’s eyes as he is concentrating for a kill shot. Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt provides a riveting, thoroughly engrossing visual feast.

The sound effects and music (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) add immeasurably to the thoroughly professional look, sound and feel of this David Fincher (“Seven,” “FightClub”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) film.


The film is 80% voice-over, with Fassbender’s voice conveying observations not only on how best to be successful as an assassin, but remarks about his take on humanity, the music of the Smiths, and the relative intelligence of Claybourne, the Chicago mark, who hired Fassbender  through intermediaries. As Claybourne tries to excuse himself from any culpability, he tells the killer the hit  wasn’t personal. “They told me it was insurance to prevent any blowback. Clean-up on Aisle 3;” this cost Claybourne (Arliss Howard, “Moneyball,””Mank”) an additional $150,000.

The use of voice-over has often been criticized and really fell out of favor. But films such as “Goodfellas,” Casino,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Taxi Driver,” and “Raising Arizona” have used voice over to good effect. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a film so thoroughly given over to the use of voice-over. The asides and remarks were amusing enough that it did not come off as weak. [I particularly enjoyed Fassbender’s remark that Claybourne did not appear to be a member of MENSA, but there were many clever remarks.]

Fight Scene

There is a terrific fight scene when the killer reaches Florida. (Voice-over aside:  “Florida: the Sunshine State. Where else can you find so many like-minded individuals outside a penitentiary?”) Fassbender has to drug two pit bulls that roam the yard of the hired hit-man before he can enter his house. The hit-man does not take kindly to the intrusion and a knock-down, drag-out fight to the death ensues. At the end, the killer is racing for the exit with the two now-conscious dogs chasing him. The scene took me back to 2017’s “Bullet Head,” where dangerous dogs terrorize three men in a warehouse.

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton in The Killer (2023)

Tilda Swinton portrays the female assassin in “The Killer,” whom Michael Fassbender hunts down.

The always awesome Tilda Swinton has a scene with Fassbender that opens up some plot thoughts.  It’s not as good as her climactic scene with George Clooney in “Michael Clayton,” but it’s an excellent scene. The two are in a restaurant called “The Waterfront.” The killer has joined her at her table, uninvited. Tilda is a regular and well-known to the staff. (She also knows their names). Fassbender has tracked her down for revenge, since she was the female assassin who “looked like a Q-tip.”

The logical thing for Ms. Swinton to have done would have been to cause a scene inside the restaurant— if she wants to live, that is. True, she might not succeed and others might become collateral damage, but the killer has told us early on that 75% of all murderers are caught, ultimately, because of eye witnesses. Even if she were to be executed on the spot, she would, in a sense, be potentially taking the killer down with her.

There is a cinematic reason for Swinton to have meekly followed Fassbender outside, which I will not reveal here, but people who are facing death will go to great lengths to save their own skins. To me, Tilda’s decision to obey Fassbender’s instructions regarding leaving together represented the Kiss of Death and was somewhat illogical.


The killer has stashed away over 8 and ½ million dollars. He hopes to kick back and enjoy his ill-gotten gains with his pretty companion on a beach somewhere (much like in “The Shawshank Redemption” or 1993’s “True Romance.”) You’ll have to check it out at the theater (beginning October 27) or streaming on Netflix  November 10th to see if the killer achieves his goal.

“The Killer” is a thoroughly enjoyable 118 minutes of engrossing filmmaking.

The Dead Don’t Die: Observations from the Theater

An Irish illustrator, John Rooney, sent me his work on “The Films of Bill Murray.” Since I just took myself to see “The Dead Don’t Die” in Chicago at the AMC Theater, I told him I’d run his artwork with a few observations about the film. It’s not really a “review,” but simply some observations after my viewing of same.

The Dead Don’t Die film was exactly what I had anticipated: an oddball display of Bill Murray at his hipster best, playing a small town Sheriff with a deputy, played by Adam Driver of “Star Wars” and “BlackKlansman.” Zombie fare has been hot for a while now and this is a bit like “The Walking Dead” in that the principal characters (Murray, Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton) are told to “aim for the head.” Carol Kane also has a brief bit as a corpse who “changes” while in police custody.

Steve Buscemi plays a racist who is not mourned when he bites the dust (or, more accurately, when the zombies bite him). He is featured at a local diner drinking coffee while wearing a hat that resembles the Trump red hat with the words “Make America White Again.” Seated next to him is Danny Glover, who, at almost 73 years of age, seems to be taking just any old role these days. I saw him in a movie about the Ebola virus at the Chicago International Film Festival of 2017. It was pretty bad. Here, he only has a few lines, but the one that Buscemi speaks to him about the coffee is something along the lines of, “That’s too black for me,” which he immediately doubles back on, saying, “I was talking about the coffee.”

At one point, when Murray and Driver are trapped in their car in a cemetery and Adam Driver keeps saying, “This will not end well,” Murray freaks out and tells him to stop saying that. Murray then demands to know WHY Driver keeps repeating the line, and Driver says, “I read the script.” Murray has a momentary outburst of outrage over the fact that Writer/Director Jim Jarmusch (renowned for his “quirky” films) didn’t share the entire script with him. It’s that kind of “inside joke” film.

Tilda Swinton plays a very strange mortician. Her finale in the film is the kind that cannot be predicted, because it is fairly illogical. But, then, this is a Jim Jarmusch film. It really plays like a  long commercial for the song of the same name, which is pretty good, but an entire film about the song? Really?

The horrible ending to the film, for me, was when I was charged $39 to park for 2 hours in the AMC parking lot under the theater. I was supposed to have had my ticket validated, at which point my charge would have been a mere $17. I spent 4 days trying to reach Tiara, who oversees 6 different parking lots, they told me. I did finally reach her, only to be told that she could not put the $22 differential back on my charge card. (Sigh)


“Hail, Caesar!” Is a Joy from Start to Finish

I had been looking forward to the new Joel & Ethan Coen movie, “Hail, Caesar!” which is based on the novel plot point that the lead actor in a huge studio spectacle is kidnapped and held for ransom just as the film is in the midst of shooting. The time frame for the film is the early 1950s, which means that musicals and religious spectacles (think “The Robe,” “Spartacus,” etc.) were big. Anyone old enough to know who Esther Williams was will like this movie.

I was lucky to see the film at a theater that showed clips from some of these old movies prior to the feature film. There were clips from an old Frank Sinatra/Gene Kelly film, complete with dancing and singing. There were several choreographed swimming movies with Esther Williams (and others) looking every bit as good in her spangly swimsuit as any of today’s starlets. All of these snippets of films of yesteryear helped establish the tone and mood for the feature film.

And the feature film was a doozy! Outstanding amongst a terrific cast, for me, were the new face playing cowboy actor Hobie Doyle, Alden Ehrenheich. Alden is shown as a terrific horseman who can ride and rope with the best of them and can also sing. Because westerns were big in that era, Hobie has a career in westerns, but is suddenly traded by his studio to play the lead in a romantic drawing room comedy drama entitled “Merrily We Dance,” being directed by the oh-so-cultivated (and probably gay) director Laurence Laurentz, played by Ralph Fiennes. Since Hobie can barely speak, the scene where Fiennes tries to coach Hobie on how to deliver his lines is a comic delight. It goes without saying that Hobie cannot understand half of the terms Director Laurentz uses (words like “importune”). As we know from the clip that portrays Hobie’s dilemma, if asked to rope a cow, he would be in his element. If asked to dress up in a tuxedo and talk in a refined manner: not so much. The best Hobie can say, in trying to please his director, is, “I’ll give it a shot.” (His task: speak the line, “Would that it were so simple.”)

Josh Brolin plays the hard-working head of the studio who must put out fires on and off the lot.   Ed Mannix must deal with the kidnapping of the lead in his Biblical epic, an actor called Baird Whitlock (George Clooney).  The group that has kidnapped Baird (Clooney) calls itself “the Future.” It is a group of egghead Communists, and the leader of the group is a reveal when it comes.

The cast is uniformly great and the send-ups of what the old studio culture was all about is genius. Tilda Swinton plays two gossip columnists, an homage to the dueling gossip columnists Dear Abby and Anne Landers, probably. There is a veiled reference to the old story of Loretta Young’s love child (supposedly by Clark Gable) being adopted by its own biological mother. The rumors of gay stars and directors having to conceal their homosexuality are legendary.

On the evening talk shows, co-star Channing Tatum shares the difficulties he faced in his part, since he had to learn to tap dance. The tap dance sequence is great. The swimming sequences that mimic the Esther Wiliams movies of old are wonderful, especially when Scarlett Johanssen speaks.

Noah Hill doesn’t have enough to do (nor does Frances McDormand) but lines like this kept me wanting more: “God doesn’t have children. He is a bachelor—and very angry.” The send-up of the old westerns with singing cowboys (“Lazy Ol’ Moon”) was equally good.

I really needed a light-hearted comedy that realizes there are a few adults left in the world who go to the movies. I’ve been seeing what looks like a re-boot of “Animal House” updated to the seventies. No offense to its Austin-based director Richard Linklater, based here in Austin, who helmed the classic “Dazed and Confused,” but I’d rather stroll down memory lane with the Coen Brothers. This movie was thoroughly entertaining, from start to finish.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén