Ben and “The Town”

This is a review of the new feature The Town, helmed by one-time Gigli star Ben Affleck, from a script that he co-wrote with two other writers who presumably have no connection with Gigli, working off the novel Prince of Thieves, written by Chuck Hogan and which presumably has no connection to the ’91 Kevin Costner Robin Hood picture.  Got all that?

Yes, I've directed another movie. And it's really good!

As one who’s always felt Ben Affleck’s a better actor that movies have often demonstrated (no, seriously, stop laughing–  check out his performances in State of Play, Hollywoodland, Bounce, and especially Chasing Amy), I nevertheless went into his 2007 feature directorial debut Gone Baby Gone a little skeptical–  could the one-time Jack Ryan really direct?

Well, anyone who saw that crime caper knows I was proven wrong.  While that picture may have overreached now and then in its classical ambitions, it was nonetheless a surprisingly well-made flick with real stakes (owned, in part, to the writer Dennis Lehane, who also gave us Mystic River).  And perhaps due to the connection, I thought of Affleck’s directing on that underrated picture (had the Academy nominated 10 flicks per year then, it almost surely would’ve garnered a nomination) as ‘Eastwood lite’.  And that is a compliment.

So let me state that his follow-up, The Town, is, to my mind, even better.  No, it doesn’t have the classical themes of a Lehane novel; no, it’s not as “deep”; in fact, it’s pretty much a ‘B’ picture dressed up as an ‘A’ picture.

I'm in it too. And I'm beautiful.

But, its direction is so assured, its missteps so infrequent, and its filmmaking so damn adult and rare and entertaining, that it’s simply the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long time.  (And I didn’t need a shower in the morning–  it’s not a guilty pleasure, whatever that means–  it’s a pleasure.)

Concerning– and this will shock you– Boston and bank-robberies, it features an impeccable cast that brings together Affleck, the incredible Hurt Locker actor Jeremy Renner, the always lovely Rebecca Hall, and some guy named Jon Hamm (what’s he from again?).  It features three bank-robberies, all of which serve as thrilling set-pieces (including a very John Frankenheimeresque car chase!), and at least one truly unexpected, audacious laugh-out-loud moment.

"I'm in it too!" No, not Betty White.

The flick’s very slight missteps include a jarring (in this cast) and over-the-top Blake Lively, and a somewhat implausible romance.  But damn it if you don’t just go with it by the end of this picture.

And that’s the reason I think it may be an ever better flick:  It doesn’t have overreach, it doesn’t have the classical ambitions Gone Baby Gone.  It’s just an exceptionally well-made, well-told, entertaining picture–  and those are never ‘just’.  So if my fellow cinema-going friend hyperbolically declared it, “… one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, ever.”, she’s only off by a little.  (Okay, a lot.)  But it’s still a damn good flick that everyone ought to see and enjoy.

Ben Affleck, director of good films.  Also, 38.  When Eastwood was 38 (another actor turned director) he hadn’t even helmed Play Misty for Me yet.  Can’t wait to see what Affleck does next.

Shit, does this mean I have to direct?!


One Response to “Ben and “The Town””

  1. George and “The American” « Wally's Blog Says:

    […] Wally's Blog Just another weblog « Ben and “The Town” […]

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