Posts Tagged ‘Frank Capra’

The Town – Not Just Hunting For A Paycheck

Posted 26 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

The Town, USA, 2010

Directed by Ben Affleck

The Town feels like a film that could stand on its own, and Affleck makes the material his own, while paying respect to Charlestown and the novel itself. In 1997, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon gave us a soft and emotional tour of Boston in Good Will Hunting, as they knew it growing up. They explored the values of hope and family. In 2007, ten years later, Affleck went it alone and took us back to Boston with Gone Baby Gone, exploring themes of loss and grief, right and wrong. In 2010, Affleck took us to the doorstep, sat us down on the curb, and said, “Watch.” The town, Charlestown, to be specific, lives and breathes by itself as the central hub of bank robberies in New England. The film’s opening quotes tell us that the trade is almost a birthright, something you’re born into, or against. For the four lads in this film, it’s the only life they know, and they’ll go to incredible lengths to protect it.

Ben Affleck is a fantastic director. Being an actor, he understands how to work with them and get the best performances possible. There isn’t a false performance in this film, not one, and if Good Will Hunting and Gone Baby Gone weren’t already an indication, he’s an extremely gifted writer. He’s a great American filmmaker, if I may be so bold. After only two films as director, that’s pretty bold, but I’ll stand by it. Sue me. Affleck understands pacing better than most directors working today. I think it can be attributed to his involvement in the scriptwriting, and his timing as an actor. All of these elements elevate his films beyond what they might be in the hands of other directors. He isn’t a Scorsese or a Capra or a Coppola, but he’s Affleck, and, at the very least, he was the bomb in Phantoms. Read More

I Love You Phillip Morris

Posted 06 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

I Love You Phillip Morris is a unique and hilarious romantic comedy. I Love You Phillip Morris, France / USA, 2009

Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

This is one of the best and most unusual romantic comedies I have ever seen. The way it subverts the genre and toys with audience expectations is truly exceptional, which is probably what should be expected from co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writing team behind the highly unusual and subversive Christmas movie Bad Santa (2003). They followed that with the lazy Bad News Bears remake (2005), which basically retread the same ground in a much less funny and original way, but for that I shall give them a pass, mainly because Santa is so severely excellent (it has replaced Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life as the traditional Christmas Eve movie in my family).

I Love You Phillip Morris is a film that lives up to the promise shown in that previous work. It begins by assuring us that “This really happened … No, really, it did,” a disclaimer that becomes increasingly necessary as the story unfolds. Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell, whose book I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks provided the source material for the film, and it is quite possibly the very best performance of his entire career. Carrey, who was always known as an energetic physical comedian but not really seen as a seriously good actor until the late ’90s when he began tackling weightier roles in films like Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998) and Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon (1999), dips into his whole repertoire here, employing his trademark grinning facial contortions and manic slapstick while also tugging the heartstrings with a portrayal of surprising emotional depth. This variety of technique is perfectly suited to the character of Steven, a con artist who is never quite what he seems and constantly pulls from a huge bag of manipulative tricks to get what he wants and needs, first because, as he puts it, “Being gay is really expensive,” and later in doing whatever it takes to be with the love of his life. Read More