Thursday, September 18, 2014

Entertainment Roundup with A.C. Hall

September 20, 2010 by ac  
Filed under Columns

I’ve come to a conclusion that just might strike some of you as shocking.  Ben Affleck is a genius.  Here’s a guy who showed up on the scene in 1997 and shot to super stardom thanks to Good Will Hunting. He then becomes a mega-star, enjoying millions of dollars and a string of big movies.  But after about five straight years of all the Affleck we could handle, the guy’s career fell apart.  Thanks partially to overexposure and partially to a string of really awful movies, the Affleck ship had sailed and the guy was well on his way to being the next Cuba Gooding Jr. or Steven Segal (someone who does a handful of straight to video movies each year).

But Affleck did something that none of us expected.  The guy disappeared.  He was married to Jennifer Garner, he was rich as heck, and so he just took a few years to step out of the spotlight.  We all forgot about Gigli and moved on.  And then Affleck returned.  But this time he wasn’t taking every role under the sun.  Mr. Affleck has been choosy, picking surprising roles, dramatic roles, challenging roles.  Roles of a high quality.  And then he tried his hand at directing and the result was the wonderful film Gone Baby Gone.

Ben Affleck, post Gigli.

This past weekend Affleck released his second film, this one not only directed by him, but also written and starring him.  It’s called The Town and it’s easily the third best movie of the year so far (Behind Inception and Scott Pilgrim). This is a beautifully shot movie.  It’s just fun to look at it.  I always sort of assumed that Boston was just some hell hole (I blame movies and television for giving me this opinion) but Affleck makes it look beautiful, vibrant and full of character.  His love affair with the town is well known and again he does a brilliant job of bringing it to life and crafting a great story set within it.  He even works in a nod to his beloved Red Sox in a way that you won’t expect.

Another reason that I loved Affleck’s directing on this film so much was because of the way he shot the action sequences.  At some point in the last five years Hollywood became obsessed with the “shaky cam”.  Some stuffy old guy in a suit sitting in an office somewhere made the decision that to feel closer to the action filmmakers should use a handheld camera that shakes like an earthquake is happening throughout action scenes.  Either that, or we can blame Paul Greengrass, the director of the Bourne Trilogy.  Either way, I hate it.  ”Shaky cam” is among the stupidest things to happen to the movie industry in a long time.  It may’ve started out as a way to try to be more authentic but it’s turned into a cheap, corner cutting gimmick that can allow a filmmaker to “shaky cam” his way through an action sequence instead of having to carefully choreograph it and shoot it.  I say all this to tell you that Affleck DID NOT use “shaky cam” in the town.  The action was wonderfully clear, easy to follow, and just flat out awesome.

I’m sure it goes without saying but I loved this movie.  Great story, great acting, great action, great directing, go see it now.  If he stays true to this new career path then Affleck is well on his way to solidifying his status among a select group of stars who can act, write and direct.  Doing any one of the three well is exceptional, but to do all three of them this good is just unbelievable.

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There’s been some great new music showing up lately for those that care enough to dig around and find it.  After going through a few years of feeling like there was a big lack of original and outstanding new artists I’ve been stumbling upon them at a steady rate in 2010.  To close us out this week here is “MoneyGrabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums.

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A.C. Hall can be reached at freejenkins@gmail.com.  He is the co-owner of Hall Brothers Entertainment, a website featuring original fiction online and in print.

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