Friday, October 1, 2010
The man can make movies. He may have had some ups and downs as a young Hollywood movie star, but he's matured into not just a sharp political analyst and articulate spokesman for positions we share in that realm (catch him any time he's on Bill Maher and if you're not impressed with his grasp of facts and figures and the integration of them into his analyses and perspectives you ain't listenin') but a fine fine director.
As my friend Jamie (I think it was) said, he may be our new Clint Eastwood, in terms of movie stars turned stars/directors. And yes, I know he's no Clint in many ways (including willingness to go on politically slanted talk shows), and has nowhere near Eastwood's iconic stature, but, after seeing THE TOWN I have to say, not only did both his direction and his acting remind me in many ways of Clint Eastwood's direction and acting, they compared favorably to them. (In fact, for my taste GONE BABY GONE and THE TOWN are both better in many ways than Eastwood's film with similar themes and location MYSTIC RIVER.)
I was knocked out by Affleck's debut as a director with GONE BABY GONE, still one of my favorite films, and now in this second outing as a director—his first as director/star—I'm even more impressed. THE TOWN is more ambitious than GONE BABY GONE, and as a result it is a little more uneven in some ways (mostly in the casting of better known actors, or more of them, who don't always come across as as authentic as—wow, that's a lot of "as's"—the lesser knowns in GONE BABY GONE, e.g. John Hamm can be, well, a little hammy at times (and his Boston accent came and went) and Blake Lively made a courageous effort (if sometimes over the top) but doesn't live up to the high standards for portraying authentic working class Boston-area Irish that Amy Ryan did in GONE BABY GONE ).
But THE TOWN is also more of an accomplishment than GONE BABY GONE as Affleck tells a more conventional and bigger movie story—the big heist caper cops-and-robbers one that goes as far back as the silent movie days—and does so with style and pizazz. And moments of pure movie-making joy. I left the theater with that deeply satisfied if cliched feeling of having eaten just the right amount of ice cream to satisfy the craving but not too much to end up feeling stuffed and a little sorry. Know what I mean?