Calling all pundits. Its a baffling caprice of the zeitgeist to have two studio Westerns released in the same month, 30-odd years after the genre basically gave up the ghost. James Mangolds better-than-competent 3:10 to Yuma has provided a harmonica fanfare for something more ambitious and polarizing. Written and directed by 40-year-old, New Zealandborn Andrew Dominik, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a deeply, unsentimentally nostalgic movie. Gritty but mythic, a dirty Western with clean shirts, Jesse James is a bold, even wacky reinvention a psychological chamber drama in which the wide-open spaces are geographic as well as mental. Unfolding mainly in the aftermath of the James Gangs last holdup, the movie concerns the paranoid relationship between charismatic Jesse (Brad Pitt) and star-struck Bob Ford (Casey Affleck), the Judas who will murder him. The relationship between crime and celebrity clearly interests Dominik; his only other feature, the 2000 Chopper, was a portrait of an Australian career criminal the self-dramatizing author of nine autobiographical bestsellers, one titled How to Shoot Friends and Influence People. Thats more or less an ironic description of Bob Fords fate. A year after shooting Jesse, hes re-enacting the deed on a New York stage, condemned to relive his crime until, inevitably, hes dispatched by another irate nobody.