Posts Tagged ‘ben affleck’

project greenlight

Episode 1: Do You Want To Direct This Movie:  One director gets chosen by judges Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to direct a film for HBO.

One thing I learned from watching this episode of Project Greenlight, I never want Matt Damon or Ben Affleck judging anything I do.  They are pretentious jerks, who were lucky enough to get a break with Goodwill Hunting, and now they live in a bubble, and think they are better than everyone.  I like Damon as an actor, but he needs some work as a human being.  And Matt, here’s a tip for you, if there was a little more diversity in Hollywood, maybe there wouldn’t be as many sequels and reboots as there currently are.

And the Farrelly brothers, based on the last few movies they put out, should be glad that ANYONE wants to direct any hackneyed script they’ve written.  The egos on this show are unbelievable, you’re not curing cancer Farrelly brothers, get a grip!

Episode Two:  Going Rogue

The newly minted director runs into roadblocks with the writer, producer, and HBO while trying to make this movie.

It’s really interesting to see all the infighting that goes on during the making of this film, and frankly no one comes out looking great, except maybe the director, who wants to make the movie he wants to make, the way he wants to make it.

Episode 3:  Gun To Your Head

The contentiousness continues as the director and producer fight, this time over location, casting and digital or film.  The friction leads to a surprise at the end of this episode.

I take back any nice things I said about anyone associated with this show, they are all sanctimonious jerks, who think they are “gifted.” Sorry to say, this show is sliding toward reality show conventions. The overheated drama over what should be small decisions seems contrived.  Even the “shocking” ending, is a contrivance. This could have been an educational effort, but Damon and Affleck want ratings, that explains Damon’s sudden “controversial” statements.  It’s tiring.

Episode 4:Duly Noted

The director finally settles on a location and a cast, rankling feelings as he goes.

This is not a show about making a film, it’s a manipulative attempt to create sides for or against what the director is doing. If all moviemakers acted the way these moviemakers are acting, no movies would ever be made.

Episode 5:  Picture’s Up

The first day of shooting finally arrives

The director’s is still a jerk, and a big one, but I will give this episode credit, it is more about making the film than the other episodes, and less about everyone butting heads.  Just when I think it’s going to be about filmmaking, the show brings more needless drama.  The drama, again, seems contrived.

Episode 6:  Hot Ghetto Mess

The director continues to film the film he co-wrote while the producer continues to remind him not to go over budget.

This show continues to be more heat than light, and it’s largely phony controversy.  All of these could be avoided and I think much of it could be avoided, and is done for the sake of television.  There are interesting nuggets of film making technique, but they are few and far between.

Episode 7:  Accident Waiting to Happen

The director can’t agree on a location for the stunt.

More of the same, the director is being  Hamlet in Hollywood, there are helpful hints like storyboarding the stunt, and using a tractor trailer to simulate movement of cars instead of greensceen.

Episode 8: Hug and Release

The director finishes the final cut of his movie, “The Leisure Class.”

More instructive lessons on filmmaking, like digital editing, and pickup shots, known to the rest of us non-movie folk as reshoots, but more fighting between producers and newly minted director, all of which seemed entirely unnecessary and detracted from the actual mission of the show.  Affleck and Damon make cameo appearances to the show where they are the draw.  No one is tuning in to see a brand new director, and producers no one has ever heard of.

I will review “The Leisure Class” and if I don’t like it, you will be the first to know.

Overall, I’m disappointed in Project Greenlight, season 4. (I haven’t seen any of the other seasons) I thought it would be much more edifying and much less confrontational than it was. I thought with Damon and Affleck at least tangentially connected to the show, the quality would rise above the usual reality show hysteria, often it did not.

gone girl movie

When Nick Dunne (Ben AffflecK) meets Amy Oliver (Rosamund Pike) at a New York City party, the attraction is instantaneous.   She is smart, witty, and beautiful.  Nick is handsome, and funny in his own right.  Amy is the successful writer of the Amazing Amy series of books, and has a trust fund.  Nick writes for a men’s magazine, the future looks golden for both of them.  They get married, it starts out well, but in five years, the magic is gone. Amy is wring quizzes for a women’s magazine Nick is unemployed, the trust fund money is gone, and they have moved from New York City to Missouri to care for Nick’s mom, who later dies of cancer.  Nick opens a bar with his sister Margo  (Carrie Coon) the bar is losing money.  On their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears.  Nick is immediately suspected, but did he actually kill Amy?

I did not like the book, and I do not like the movie Gone Girl. There’s a reveal in both book and movie, and after the reveal both book and movie grind to a slow, agonizing halt.  It’s supposed to be an indictment of the reality show, feeding frenzy court tv mentality every time there is a murder of the century.  But this is more a parody of the American realty tv culture than it is a serious indictment.  There are many clichés in this movie, I won’t bother to name them, but even the characters fall into cliché territory.  The Tanner Bolt character is Johnnie Cochran, the Ellen Abbott character is Nancy Grace.  The tone of the story is inconsistent, is it a suspense movie, or is it a dark comedy?  What I like least about this story is that it savages both lead characters, if neither character is sympathetic, the viewer stops caring about either of them, and that’s exactly what happened here. I will lay all the plot flaws at the feet of author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn, who created a carbon copy of her book with the screenplay. A better, more satirical version of this movie is called To Die For, with Nicole Kidman.  Watch that instead.

The acting is not bad.  I don’t like Ben Affleck, when Tyler Perry, playing his lawyer, gave him a direction not to be so wooden, it is ironically funny.  But Ben uses what I dislike about him most, the glib, smug, pretty boy to good effect here to play a pretty despicable character.  Rosamund Pike is very good at maintaining a cool and calm exterior while constantly thinking to stay one step of the collapsing situation around her. She makes her character almost believable, and that is saying something.  Tyler Perry also does a pretty good job of playing a cartoonish character.  Neil Patrick Harris does not fare as well playing Desi Collings another poorly written character.

Part of the responsibility of the poor quality of the film resides with the director David Fincher.  Fincher has directed some really good films, like the Social Network and the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but this is not an epic story, and does not require a 2 ½ hour running time. Fincher could have easily edited the running time by a half hour or 45 minutes and not lost the essence of the story, but he did not, and so the story drags.

Fincher also gave the film a dark look trying to make it feel more sinister, but maybe because of the gallows humor or because I knew the story from the book, the movie never felt sinister to me.

Gone Girl:  Girl Gone Wild.

Here’s my review of the book:





Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crowe) is investigating the murders of a small time drug dealer and a pizza delivery man who witnessed the murder of the drug dealer.  Sonia Baker, (Maria Thayer) an aide to Congressman Stephen Collins. (Ben Affleck)  During the investigation, McCaffrey found Baker’s number on the drug dealer’s phone. Sonia Baker was investigating privatization contracts that are worth billions of dollars to defense contractor, Point Corp.  Sonia Baker is also having an affair with Congressman Collins.  So who killed Sonia Baker?  Was it the drug dealer?  Was it someone from the contracting company to keep the billions from the government flowing?  Or was it Congressman Collins to cover his affair with Sonia?

This is a very interesting movie.  It synthesizes two hot stories that affected U.S. politics in the early to mid 2000’s.  It mixes the Chandra Levy scandal with the Blackwater scandal and it does a pretty effective job of making a suspenseful political thriller.  There are characters and subplots that are unnecessary and the overall length is too long at over 2 hours, but it does a good job of keeping the viewer guessing until the end.  I didn’t necessarily like the ending, but the viewer has to stay tuned until the end.

The acting varies wildly, Russell Crowe carries this movie, and is the reason why this movie is worth watching, he gives a gutsy, solid performance.  Ben Affleck on the other hand, thankfully given a smaller role than Crowe, watch Affleck trying to emote is actually laugh inducing, whether he’s trying to cry or trying to get angry, it just doesn’t work.  Rachel McAdams is also laughable as an internet reporter partnering with Crowe’s character to report on the juicier aspects of the story.  McAdams doesn’t show any maturity in her roles, she’s the same simpering schoolgirl type she plays in those drippy romance movies that she is in this movie. Helen Mirren is great as the tough as nails newspaper editor, who Crowe’s character works for, but Jason Bateman is badly miscast as a whistleblowing PR guy for the contracting company. The writing is good, the pacing is good, but the story is too long and could have done with some judicious editing.

Now to the hot topic de jour, I reviewed this movie at this time to review Ben Affleck’s acting, and I found nothing has changed since his bombs like Gigli and Daredevil.  Some might argue that his acting has improved in movies like The Town and Argo, I disagree, he may be a good director, the jury is still out on that but he definitely is not a good actor.  He relies much too much on his looks and his emotional scenes in all his movies leave me cold.  Bottom line I will not be going to see Affleck playing Batman in 2015.  Christian Bale raised the bar so high for Batman that no one should play that role for a long time.  But Hollywood is about commerce, and they think they can make money with Affleck, they can try, but they won’t get mine.

State of Play.  Not Child’s Play.

Movie Review: Argo (2012)

Posted: February 24, 2013 in Drama
Tags: ,


On November 4, 1979, Iranian students stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.  A little known addendum to the hostage crisis was that 6 Americans escaped to Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor’s (Victor Garber) house.  The CIA has been tasked with coming up with a plan to rescue the Americans before the Iranian government finds out that the Americans are missing.  One plan calls for the Americans to ride bikes 300 miles to their freedom in Turkey.  CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) has a better idea.  He wants to make a fake movie, and have the 6 hostages pretend to work on the movie.  Mendez calls Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) who’s worked with the CIA before on different disguises.  CIA Agent Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston) gives the fake movie idea the green light, and Mendez contacts Chambers to find a producer to front for this fake film.

Chambers finds Lester Siegel, (Alan Arkin) who buys the script for Argo, a low budget sci-fi movie set in the desert.  Siegel also gets some Hollywood stars to do a reading for the fake movie, which gets press coverage from Variety, so they can sell the idea that this is a real movie to the Iranians.  Incredibly, Mendez makes it into Iran, and tells the six hostages their new identities.  Only Joe Stafford (Scoot McNairy) seems skeptical about the plan’s success.  But there is no other option, they have to go ahead with the plan or face certain death at the hands of the Iranians.  Already the Iranian housekeeper at the Canadian Ambassador’s house, Sahar (Shella Vand) is getting suspicious.  Suddenly Jack O’Donnell calls Mendez and says the operation is being pulled, there is going to be an air rescue attempted for the 53 hostages and that will take priority.  What does Mendez do?  Do the Iranians find out about the six missing hostages and try to capture them?

This is a riveting thriller, which keeps the viewer firmly planted on the edge of their seat from beginning to end.  The fact that there is so little known about this story is what makes it all the more exciting.  I really didn’t know how the story would end, I suspected, but I didn’t know.  There are little Hollywood flourishes to make the ending more exciting, and several composite characters, but that didn’t matter to me.  The acting is great.  Goodman is superb as always, as John Chambers, he plays Chambers as an easygoing Hollywood insider, his acting is so fluid, so natural, I’ve never seen him overact or chew scenery.  Alan Arkin is the same way, smooth, natural acting, just doing what the role calls for.  Goodman and Arkin made the movie funnier than a hostage crisis movie should have been. Bryan Cranston is also terrific as Jack O’Donnell, he gives a powerful, gritty performance. There’s a bit of a controversy about the Academy not nominating Affleck for best Director.  I frankly don’t see what all the fuss is about.  This wasn’t a visually striking movie, other than a few handheld fuzzy shots, there wasn’t much Affleck did on that front.  And Affleck hardly needs to tell veterans like Goodman, Arkin, and Cranston how to play their scenes, so he didn’t have to do much there.  I think Spielberg will win best director and should win.  Having said that, I think Argo should won best picture, it is better than Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.

Argo.  Go see it, yourself.

Movie Review: Chasing Amy (1997)

Posted: November 18, 2012 in Comedy

Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) are best friends and illustrators of their own comic book, and mildly successful at events like Comic Con. Holden then meets a girl named Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) who he is wild about.  There’s only one problem, Alyssa is gay.  Banky is disturbed by the fact that his best friend has fallen head over heels in love with a lesbian, and he engages in calling her a series of derogatory names, and being generally dismissive of the relationship.   Incredibly, they start dating.  Curious, Holden starts looking into Alyssa’s past, and finds some pretty scandalous behavior on Alyssa’s part, and confronts her about it. They fight and the relationship cools.  Holden has a big idea to save the relationship, will it work?

I don’t like this movie.  Kevin Smith wrote and directed this movie, and the rough language, the way guys talk, the part of Clerks that worked so well, proves to be a distraction here.   Every other word is the f-bomb or another curse word or a brutally frank discussion of sexual practices.  I’m far from a prude, but all this cursing and sex talk made me uncomfortable.  Affleck plays a sad sack throughout the film, and it’s hard to see why he is so crazy about Alyssa.  Joey Lauren Adams overacts wildly, screaming her dialogue at one point, sobbing at others, all very overwrought.  The film is shot in a irritatingly grainy method , making it look even more amateurish.   This movie tried very hard to be a hip, modern version of a romantic comedy, and failed miserably.

Chasing Amy:  Chased me away.

Joel (Bateman) has figured out how to use extracts of flavors like vanilla as a flavor additive.  He runs a fairly successful juice factory, and he treats his employees well.  Joel hears that a large corporation is interested in buying his extract company.  One problem, an accident in the factory has caused an employee named Step,(Clifton Collins Jr.)  to lose one of his “family jewels” and now Joel can’t sell the company until Step settles the lawsuit.  Cindy (Kunis) is a con-artist who hears about Step’s predicament and sees a goldmine.  She hires lawyer Joe Adler (Gene Simmons) to sue Joel.

As if that’s not enough, Joel’s got marriage trouble at home.  He can’t get any lovin’ from his wife Susie (Kristin Wiig) Joel’s drug addled friend Dean (Affleck) suggests that Joel hire a gigolo named Brad (Dustin Mulligan) to tempt his wife, so that Joel can fool around with Cindy, guilt free.  Susie sleeps with Brad, and Joel does not sleep with Cindy.  Brad is so utterly stupid that he keeps sleeping with Susie, which drives Joel bananas.  Does Joel ever get to sell his company?  Does he figure out Cindy is a con artist?  Does he ever get Brad to stop sleeping with his wife?

This is one of the funniest most underrated comedies I’ve seen in a long time.  All the characters are funny, and I didn’t even mention JK Simmons as the plant supervisor who calls everyone dingus, and David Koechner as Nathan the neighbor who just can’t stop talking.  We all know people like that.  Bateman is as funny as I’ve seen him, Kunis is smart and funny, and if Ben Affleck can make me laugh, this is a funny script.  Everyone compares this to Office Space, but this movie stands up well on its own.

Extract:  A tasty treat.

Movie Review: The Town (2010)

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Drama
Tags: ,


Doug Mc Ray (Ben Affleck) James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner)  Albert McGloan (Slaine) and Desmond Eldon are four thieves who stick up Brinks trucks and banks, in the working class section of Boston, known as Charlestown. They have never been caught.  During their most recent heist, however, James decides to take a hostage, bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall).  Claire sees James’ tattoo, but is let go unharmed and immediately starts to talk to FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) Shortly after Claire meets with Frawley, Doug runs into her at the laundromat, this is no accident, Doug is following Claire. They start seeing each other socially, while Doug is planning his next job.  After Doug’s gang knocks over another Brinks truck, and barely escapes a police dragnet, Agent Frawley starts pressing Christa Coughlin  (Blake Lively) James sister, drug user one of the gang’s money launderers,  and Doug’s old girlfriend, for information about where Doug’s gang will strike next.  Doug wants to leave this life of crime, it’s getting too dangerous, and maybe he is starting to have feelings for Claire, but Doug is being blackmailed into doing one more job, stealing the gate receipts from a game at Fenway Park.  Will Doug go through one last robbery, out of loyalty to his friends?  Will Claire ever find out what Doug does for a living?

This is a very good movie.  The story is a bit of a cliché, guy from the wrong side of the tracks meets suburban yuppie, who he has also kidnapped, and who could also put Doug away for good.  The fact that Doug is thinking of leaving after “one last score” is a cliché too, it reminds me of Danny Glover’s character in those Lethal Weapon movies, who’s seemingly always one case away from retirement.  Despite all these drawbacks of the story, the movie works because of superior performances.  Affleck’s performance is very good for the first half hour of the movie, and then it turns into “Look, it’s Ben Affleck playing a criminal.”  But Jeremy Renner is spellbinding as a gritty, take no prisoners, off the rails cold blooded killer.  After his performance in the Hurt Locker, his star is definitely rising.  Rebecca Hall gives a mostly good performance as Affleck’s possible love interest.  Jon Hamm of Mad Men gives an honest performance that makes the viewer believe in integrity and decency.  He wants these robbers, but he doesn’t bust heads or break rules to get them.   But it is Blake Lively who is a revelation, she’s a tough talking street-wise girl, who would give anything for a life with Doug, she is definitely not just the pretty face from Gossip Girl. This movie is good because its performances rise above the material.

The Town:  Beantown’s seedy side.

Movie Review: The Company Men (2010)

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Drama

the company men

Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is a hotshot sales representative at GTX a multimillion dollar ship-building company, he’s got a big house and a Porsche, and plays golf regularly.  Bobby finds out one fine morning that he is unemployed, he thinks he will be employed in a couple of weeks.  After six months of failed interviews, and denials, he sells his house, sells his car, moves in with his parents, and straps on a tool belt to help his brother-in-law, Jack Dolan (Kevin Costner) While Bobby goes from white collar to blue collar, GTX CEO James Sallinger (Craig T. Nelson) is looking to cut more positions to stave off a corporate takeover, so he fires his business partner, Gene McClary  (Tommy Lee Jones) and one of the founding members of the company Phil Walker (Chris Cooper).  Things do not go well for Phil, he’s 60 and can’t afford to retire.  After one disastrous attempt at networking, Phil commits suicide.  After the news of Phil’s suicide, what happens to the lives of Bobby and Gene?

This is a fairly predictable story of corporate downsizing, and its aftermath.  But this one looked at upper middle income employees, and that’s part of the reason I didn’t like it.   I didn’t  care that Bobby lost his golf club membership or sold his house or Porsche.  Bobby is an overpaid prima-dona, with a bratty son. Even when he goes through the blue collar transformation, I didn’t care, because it didn’t seem to change him.  The ending is also too neat and predictable.  Affleck is Affleck, pretty boy, nice white teeth, same acting skills in every movie, some self-righteous anger, not understanding why life is treating him badly.  Tommy Lee Jones is a good actor, but he sounded ridiculous with a Southern drawl trying to run a Boston ship-building company. Kevin Costner is a bad actor, who sounds ridiculous doing a bad Boston accent, and Chris Cooper is a good actor in a small role with not enough to do. Craig T. Nelson does a nice turn as an evil, greedy CEO, but even that is a stock Hollywood character these days. The director uses a lot of silhouettes, for dramatic effect, but it looks overused when used more than once.

Company Men.  Bad Company.