BEN’D OVER: Not Just Yet
The trailer for Ben Affleck’s newest project, The Town, premiered this week setting the blogosphere aflutter with speculation that the film may bolster the thesp’s floundering career. The Town, set to bow in September, could be the shot in the arm that Affleck needs after years of films that are best enjoyed mid-sleep on an airplane. It’s a strange way to talk about an actor who exploded onto the scene with an Oscar winning script (Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting) and cult classics like Dazed and Confused, Mallrats, and Dogma. Unfortunately, Affleck couldn’t sustain and fell into an extended post-sophomore slump that no Oscar winner should endure. As if his professional life wasn’t miserable enough, we were forced to watch as he morphed into the talentless hybrid Bennifer and touted his political know-how on talk shows as another annoying-celebrity-wannabe-pundit. But alas! Just when hope was all but lost, Affleck careened with a memorable role in Hollywoodland and showed that he might have some directing chops in his sibling’s star vehicle Gone Baby Gone. Now, Affleck is both on-screen and in the director’s chair in The Town, hoping to regain some semblance of respect in the community that launched him to prominence.
Here’s what we know– Based on Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves, the film follows a bank manager (Rebecca Hall) as she recovers from the trauma of being kidnapped during a bank heist. Doug (Affleck), the leader of the group that robbed the bank, cultivates an unlikely relationship with Hall’s character, as he and his accomplice (Jeremy Renner) are pursued by a crafty cop (Jon Hamm).
The trailer reveals a number of crucial plot points but seems to deliberately leave out mention of Affleck’s role as director, stating simply: From the acclaimed director of Gone Baby Gone. This ill-fated attempt to distance the movie from its star and director is frightful evidence of Ben’s diminished clout. Did they really think that was going to sneak passed viewers? In the studio’s defense, the trailer was getting a little Affleck heavy (in B.A. lingo: overly Afflecktionate). Speaking of the studio, they manage to squeeze in a little horizontally integrated self-promotion with the tag: And the studio that brought you The Departed. Warner Brothers’ thinking here is that people will flock to see this based on the assumption that its a movie about crime in Boston, handsome Irish-Americans, and simple titles harboring only slightly less simple metaphors. The release is still a ways away and initial reviews haven’t surfaced, but assuming the trailer hasn’t insulted your intelligence too much, it might be worth checking out.
Zachary Goldbaum is a freelance writer and proprietor of a local produce stand in the D.C. metropolitan area. Follow his blog at goldballs.tumblr.com.