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Salon The Town Review Attacks Affleck for Celebrity Malaise

by Anne Thompson
September 20, 2010 5:28 AM
  • |
Thompson on Hollywood

While the rest of the world is restoring Ben Affleck to star status after his well-reviewed and well-attended The Town opening, Salon's Andrew O'Hehir is playing Armond White. He detects "troubling signs of celebrity malaise" in The Town, compared to Affleck's directorial debut Gone Baby Gone: "you can't even describe [it] as more of the same. It's less of the same." The movie is "mediocre," with plenty of "unnecessary expositional detail" in the dialogue written in part by Affleck.

Given the presently "debased standards of action cinema," O'Hehir believes that the film's final heist scene could be enough to make The Town a success. The downside? Affleck winds up getting out-performed by nearly everyone else in the film, even if Jon Hamm doesn't get enough screen time. Blake Lively "totally kills," and Jeremy Renner is dangerous and "oddly charismatic." O'Hehir describes Affleck as a "massively vain celebrity who's totally convinced himself of his own authenticity," and pleads for an intervention before he directs again.

Wake up Salon. Affleck's a gifted director who will be rewarded by this successful critical and audience hit with more directing and acting assignments. We need more directors to cut through the studio crap, and he's one of them.


  • Bob Hawk | September 21, 2010 3:08 AMReply

    Love the "playing Armond White" designation. Should become part of the lexicon for gratuitous, predictable, knee-jerk contrarianism.

  • John | September 20, 2010 11:30 AMReply

    Just saw "The Town," and it's predictable that there would still be a few film-snobs trying to hate on Ben Affleck. I'll admit that I thought he was kind of lame before I saw this film, but you've got to give credit where credit is due. With this kind of subject matter, Affleck could have EASILY slipped into total cheez, but he showed great restraint as a director, assembled an awesome cast, and turned out a fine acting performance of his own. I think it's time to just accept the fact that Ben Affleck has got some skills.

  • Joe Valdez | September 20, 2010 11:10 AMReply

    You're right on the button here, Anne. We need more movies like THE TOWN. It's not a remake, it's not in 3-D, it's not pre-sold. Rough around the edges and not interested in appealing to every ticket buyer on the planet.

    It's not just that I disagree with Andrew O'Hehir and Salon. You can spot their approach a mile away: stake an extreme position and watch the phone lines light up. If they were addressing reality, no one would be talking about them.

  • Will | September 20, 2010 6:32 AMReply

    Other than a bit of self-aggrandizing toward the end, I thought 'The Town' really worked extremely well. It's not trying to reinvent the wheel, but I think we're far too quick to be cynical toward a sharp, effective movie that sets out to entertain and does it in spades.

  • Keil Shults | September 20, 2010 6:14 AMReply

    So basically...the guy can't win.

    Of course, Salon hasn't posted anything worthwhile since the Mulholland Dr. piece in 2001, so who cares what they have to say?

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