Monday, February 28, 2011

The Town, an Unkind Review

I went to Blockbuster yesterday to rent True Grit and discovered it isn’t out yet. Bummer. So I tried to get 127 Hours, but it wasn’t released to video yet either.

So I was looking for a film that had Oscar qualities and the store helps you by putting little placards on the shelves that indicate Oscar candidates. There were several I hadn’t seen and I asked the clerk about a couple of them. He said reviews were mixed on this one and mixed on that one, but The Town had very positive feedback. So I took out The Town.

Guess what. This film is a cliché from front to back, and no offense intended but Ben Affleck is not an actor. In the film he’s supposed to be a bank robber associated with killers and yet he just seems like another guy. He’s supposed to be cool and tough and guess what? It just doesn’t work. Or is he trying to portray a hard guy who has a soft side? It's confusing.

Dicaprio has the look. Javier Bardem knows how to play it. Woody Harrelson can be a killer. Ben Affleck just shouldn’t be in this role. He’s not believable.

Wah wah wah, the whole section where he tells his life story to his new love interest is supposed to get sympathy but again, this is such a cliché way of dumping the details into the story in an attempt to make him a real character. It just doesn’t work. Maybe it's because we've seen this scene so many times before. Two thumbs down for the screen writer. The director should have known better. Oh... that's Ben Affleck, too.

What a contrast between The Town and Our Town. Thornton Wilder's Our Town delves into the fundamental issues of meaning and life, famous for its sparse stage with a couple stepladders. This Town is a shoot 'em up... predictable and boring. It will not be famous, unless some film school uses it to study how not to make a movie.

The Town takes place in Charlestown, a neighborhood in Boston, where there are more bank robberies than any place in the country. The robbery lifestyle is so ingrained in this community that it is passed down from generation to generation. In the film's opening robbery, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) is taken hostage by the robbers, but then is released. The F.B.I. tries to use her to identify these bad guys who always seem to get away, but she's not sure how much to disclose. Chris Cooper appears briefly in the film as Ben Affleck's dad, who is doing time. Cooper plays the curmudgeon role very well. Affleck, who is thick with the thieves but wants out, could learn a few lessons from the old man.

It should be noted here that viewers on imdb.com have given this film a 7.7 rating, which is to say the majority like it, and you might, too. You can probably tell I didn't.

On a related topic: Congrats to everyone associated with The King's Speech. It really was a g-g-g-ga-ga-great f-f-f-ilm.

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