Archive for the ‘Directed by Ben Affleck’ Category


27 Oct

Argo – directed by Ben Affleck. Docuthriller. The staff of American Embassy in Iran is seized, but six escape. A CIA agent determines to spirit them out by the bizarre means of imposturing them as a B-level Hollywood sci-fi film crew scouting locations. 120 minutes Color 2012.
Ben Affleck plays the agent and carries the film’s strong script by being able to convey the ability to tolerate his own uncertainty of success, all along the line. From the time the U.S. government first realizes the six are, unbeknownst to the Iranians, holed up in The Canadian Embassy and starts hatching escapes, each one worse than the one before, it finally ends up with the best of the worst, devised by Affleck. He is pals with a famed Hollywood make-up artist, played by John Goodman, who is always a welcome presence, and Goodman enlists a superannuated director, played by Alan Arkin. Both of these expertly supply the comedy, for the three men have to come up with a script and a shooting schedule and an announcement bash to get the film, Argo, in the papers, so it will sound real to the Iranians when the time comes for Affleck to go Tehran and attempt the caper. Affleck has directed a first class suspense thriller, and lets us see the point of view of the hiding six, the government who okays it, the last minute changes of plan and favor, much as it all must have happened to everyone back in the day when President Carter was stuck with the horrible embarrassment of the situation to the U.S., and the peril to the majority of the Embassy staff, who remained imprisoned for 444 days. Affleck is great in the part, the music is good, the script is nifty, the color is suave, and you wonder how they ever managed to film all those crowd scenes. How’d they ever do it! Terrific. And educational too: I never heard of this daring escape before. Did you?


The Town

27 Oct

The Town –– directed by Ben Affleck –– a gangster crime-flick: a bank robber falls in love, which sorely threatens his career. Color 1020.

* * * * *

Boy is Ben Affleck a good actor. And a good director. And a good writer too. Given the grace of a regional accent to execute, he comes alive like nobody’s business. It’s really not possible not to watch him while he’s on camera, and, unlike most actor-directors, he wisely does not hesitate to give himself proper screen time –– wise, because the internal life he endures is what molds the plot, and we need to be privy to it at all times. The picture is a bank-heist piece, with three, count them, three robberies, all done in costume, and all executed with charming finesse. Jeremy Renner plays the Joe Pesci part, a man addicted to his profession, just as he was in The Hurt Locker. Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite come in as ruthless old geezers, and Postlethwaite’s final scene is something to write home about. Actors, come and rejoice! Pete’s a treat. You completely believe in his power to intimidate. It’s never played for evil. Nope. The romantic lead is Rebecca Hall, and I find it hard to take an interest in her much, but the character is very well written. The whole picture has the virtue of its sources in the gangster films of the 30s with Lawrence Tierney and Pat O’Brien and James Cagney and Edward G Robinson, and it’s fun to think back on those movies and how simple they were in telling the same story. I like the relentlessness of that simplicity. And I like the searing spectacle of such modern elaborations as this. And I particularly light the sight of The Town of Boston, in which the director feels fully at home and alive.


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