Sunday, September 19, 2010
Nog Visits Affleck's The Town!
I'm not ready to call Ben Affleck a great new American writer/director just yet, but he's certainly made two sharply written, sharply acted, crisply directed Boston crime films. I'd give his first, Gone, Baby, Gone, the edge. It might be more uneven, but it's a little darker, a little more character-driven. The Town seems designed to be a more mainstream crowd-pleaser, but the complexity of its characters is head and shoulders above most multiplex actioners. Affleck's style is never showy. He wisely makes no effort to mimic any of Scorsese's gangster-pic stylistic techniques, though one can't help think of Marty in the way his two films lead us through Boston's mean streets and the wide array of interesting characters who inhabit them. Here we're treated to memorable performances from Affleck himself (confidently taking center stage this time after turning Gone over to his brother), from Jeremy Renner (following up Hurt Lucker with another volatile performance that's arguably a little too similar to the last but still never less than riveting), from Rebecca Hall (after Vicky Christina Barcelona and Please Give, I'll watch her in almost anything), and Pete Postlethwaite (scary as hell as a criminal mastermind running his gang out of a florist shop). Faring not quite as well are Jon Hamm as an FBI agent (Affleck's good guys are a little dull) and Blake Lively as Affleck's ex (her performance exists in the shadow of Amy Ryan's ferocious bad mother from Gone: nothing can compare). Sure, some of the film's heists are fairly routine, but in between you're treated to some well-crafted dialogue in scenes such as a wonderfully tense restaurant encounter between Affleck, Hall, and Renner. Go see it and remind yourself of a time when multiplex films were actually entertaining without making you feel like an idiot.