Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The House that Ben Built, and the Other Houses he Built, forming a Town, called The Town (a review of The Town)

Ben Affleck
If Oscar Wilde were alive today, he would be very, very old. And if he were young, he'd probably be lassoing twinks with one hand and tweeting delicious bon mots with the other.

But if he wasn't doing that, he might throw together a reimagining of The Picture of Dorian Gray, called The Moving Pictures of Benjamin Affleck. In it, Benjamin Affleck is an affable, self-deprecating interviewee and a man who generally conducts himself in a thoroughly likeable manner both professionally and personally.

Ben Affleck
But, Oscar would write, he has a terrible secret. For in his movies, the dark parts of Benjamin Affleck's soul are exposed to all those who dare gaze upon them. Despite being a pleasant chap in real life, on film he appears incredibly smug and huge-faced. As time passes, so these distortions grow. Each successive attempt to play a hero is met with more and more audience members screaming in fury at his huge, smug face. It grows larger and smugger with every release. Soon crowds are scrambling to pluck out their own eyes to lob at the screen, right in the chin dimple of his smug, huge face. Until one day the rotten head wobbles away so hugely, so smugly, that cinema-goers poo out their skeletons during the opening scene. In a rage, Benjamin vaults the jellied corpses of his audience and chins his image, ripping through it. The police arrive. For the first time a bearable, modest Benjamin acts away on screen. But on the auditorium floor lies his corpse, sporting a grossly distended head and a smug, huge grin. The cops vom in horror.

Ben Affl├ęck
It was with this expectation that I sat down for The Town. Opening credits. Fade up. Here he is. Oh goodness. So huge-faced, so - but what's this? I waited for the hatred to flood my system but, like meeting my real parents, to my surprise I felt nothing. No desire to break all my bones in under one minute to ease their passage through my rectum. I put down the ball-peen hammer. Yes, the face was still pretty massive and seemed to wobble away just above the audience in some kind of unauthorized 3D and yes, Ben Affleck appeared to throb with the effort of acting humble. But he pulls it off. He has to play the most miserable man in Borwahston to achieve it, but he pulls it off.

I haven't seen Gone Baby Gone, but The Town is better because it has fewer missing kids and more rubber nun masks. The plot? It's one last job complicated by old loyalties and a loose cannon. It's Heat-lite. Where Heat has a narrative that draws you deep into the lives of both the cops and the robbers, this is a breezier, simpler story, and one that whole-heartedly follows the crims.

It's shot and acted solidly and rips along to a satisfying denouement in which (spoiler alert) the gang nick the score to Heat's climactic bank heist. And a bit from another film. Which you'll spot. Unless you don't. In which case, steal and then watch the movies from which the stills of Ben Affleck in this post are pulled. For one of them holds the answer. If you're caught, simply explain that whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives. That's what Oscar said and he only got 4 years, for sodomy.
Ben Affleck


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