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I’m trying to understand the social backlash that has plagued Ben Affleck a lot until recently.  He isn’t a terrible actor – quite good at times, especially in this movie – but I supposed he suffered through making some poor decisions, like Gigli and Surviving Christmas, to name a couple movies.  Maybe a couple years away from the limelight helped, since a lot of what he’s done recently (which I’ve only seen a couple) was well received, if not for him, than for the ensemble casts that he was in.

Actually, he was great in Extract in a smaller role in a movie that really didn’t do a whole lot for me.

Coming back to the Town, which is the second film he’s directed (the first being Gone Baby Gone, which was great), and he’s found himself a niche in directing.  He does a commendable job here, creating a tense, often chaotic environment interlaced with the quieter sequences involving Doug (his character) and Claire (Rebecca Hall), a bank manager that he takes as hostage and eventually develops feelings for.  The editing could have used some work, especially in the latter sequences just mentioned, but all in all, it wasn’t bad.  The action sequences, which include several gunfights and a car chase though narrow Charlestown streets, are easily the best filmed sequences in the film.  Especially the car chase: the narrow streets and the multi-storied residential buildings that the bank robbers and police cars fly through create a kind of claustrophobic feel that threatens everyone at every turn, not knowing who or what will jump out or fly out at them at every turn.  It’s great stuff.

The story itself is involving, and relies on some solid acting from everyone, including Affleck, Hall, and Jeremy Renner, who plays the often-times psychotic one in the group of robbers.  Doug wants out of the bank robbery business, often saying that he’ll do just one more hit before calling it quits.  He finds his way out of Charlestown with Claire.  It’s actually this relationship that provides some pretty good material for the film: she’s heavily affected by being taken hostage after the opening bank robbery, and initially, Doug – who has her license courtesy of Jem (Renner) – is out to keep tabs on her, seeing if she knows anything about who the robbers were (and she knows, but I won’t say).  Doug walks a fine line throughout, between his relationship with Claire, his familial relationship with Jem and the other robbers, the florist Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite, who comes away with the best line in the movie), and the FBI, relentlessly in pursuit of Doug and the others.

The last third of the film wraps as nicely as possible, though it stretches credibility a little bit, especially in the epilogue.  The film the work though, since everything that occurs has some sort of establishment during the film.

In short, another great effort from Affleck, who is making a nice career resurgence that started with Hollywoodland and continues here.


Note: I still need to see Hollywoodland as well.  Just adding that in there.


From what I can tell, there is no official trailer for this movie. I’ll update this post whenever an actual trailer does come to light. For now, this is what the QFest website provided for a trailer.

Speaking of QFest, welcome to my first ever film festival. As you can see, QFest involves the promotion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered films. I’m not sure of the exact count, but there are well over 100 full length and short films. Obviously I won’t see them all, but I’m going to see a small sampling of films from the festival, hopefully providing a glimpse of what the festival has to offer.

First one is Howl, which made its debut to mixed reviews at Sundance.  The movie is a biopic of sorts, involving Allen Ginsberg’s four-part poem and the obscenity trial that resulted from the publishing of the poem.

The movie is definitely a mixed bag, though it’s decent enough to see and enjoy. The movie can be broken down into three loosely linear story lines: Ginsberg explaining the writing of the poem, the obscenity trial, and a reading of the poem through live action and animation.

The best of these is the first, which is possible by James Franco and his portrayal of Ginsberg. Franco, at least to me, is severely underrated as an actor. Between this, Milk, and even Pineapple Express, Franco has shown a repeatedly ability to become the person he portrays. Hopefully he’ll get more roles like these, or even bigger ones, like he got in the Spider-Man films.

Ginsberg here is filmed in his apartment during the trial, being interviewed by a journalist about the writing of the poem. Ginsberg is rambling, but coherently, taking about various loves, his homosexuality, his mother, and just the world at large and how it has forsaken his generation. The sequences in the apartment are filmed in color, while the flashbacks are done in black and white, with random color splashes to make things stand out differently and uniquely: the sky is red, a painting in an art museum is a swirling mass of colors, all of it referencing Howl.

The trial is standard fare: supposed experts explain to the judge about the validity of the poem. The insight is interesting, and the acting is fine, but compared to the rest of the film, it seems lacking, especially since we already know of the outcome of the trial.

The mixed bag is the animation during the reading of the poem. Ginsberg, in the live action portion, is reading the poem in an underground coffee shop or bar to a live audience. They cheer and scream out when he condemns the industrial machine and sympathize with him when he laments about his mother. Meanwhile, the animation is used to help drive and explain the poem through a variety of images, many of them sexual and many more rallying against the system. The style is unique and expressive, but it doesn’t help explain some parts of the poem, and more troubling, it’s also rather distracting. There were times when I wanted to listen to the poem (read marvelously by Franco, by the way), but I couldn’t because of what was happening on the screen. A shame, a least to me, because the poem was really something else.

So, not a terrible film by any means, but it’s not the greatest either. Just decent, but it’s enjoyable.

Note: Wikipedia lists the film as having a domestic release in the fall. I don’t imagine this going beyond a limited release, but I would urge people to see this anyway, because it still is a somewhat interesting film.

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