Sunday, September 19, 2010

“Movie Review: Ben Affleck gains confidence as director with 'The Town' - Sacramento Bee” plus 2 more

“Movie Review: Ben Affleck gains confidence as director with 'The Town' - Sacramento Bee” plus 2 more


Movie Review: Ben Affleck gains confidence as director with 'The Town' - Sacramento Bee

Posted: 17 Sep 2010 12:00 AM PDT

Ben Affleck's "The Town" is the work of a filmmaker with an eye for faces, an ear for dialect and a light hand on the editor's shoulder. It's the best heist picture since "Heat," and it confirms that Affleck, who co-wrote the adaptation of a Chuck Hogan novel, is no "Gone Baby Gone" fluke.

Set in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood, "The Town" is about a profession that has consumed generations there – bank robbery. Doug (Affleck) picked it up from his dad, who's in prison for life. His pal Jem (the terrific Jeremy Renner from "The Hurt Locker") was born into the biz, too. Their crew knocks over the occasional armored car or bank. Not too often, mind you. They don't need the cash, or the hassle of the FBI getting close to them.

They splash bottles of bleach all over crime scenes, sweep up hair from barber shops to leave in their stolen getaway vans – which they then torch. DNA evidence? It'll be the wrong DNA.

But one robbery puts Claire (Rebecca Hall of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona") in their way. She's pretty, which Doug notices through his disguise. She's local, which he picks up on. She works for the bank and tripped the alarm, which he hides from the others. And when they kidnap and blindfold her, he's the one who whispers, "No one's going to hurt you."

The feds, led by an intense Jon Hamm of "Mad Men," can't get much out of her. But Jem, a two-time loser, isn't in the mood to take chances. Doug isn't hearing it.

"She's already scared," he says.

"Maybe not scared enough," Jem spits back.

Thus, an unlikely, far-fetched relationship begins – the still-traumatized Claire, who has no clue that this charming working-class Joe she met in a laundromat had once held a gun on her, and the good-hearted bank robber who has this great big lie hanging over his hopes for the woman of his dreams.

As unlikely as all this seems, Affleck makes it work. This is a movie about a milieu and the hard people who inhabit it.

Renner brings a Cagney-like intensity to Jem. Blake Lively plays Jem's too-hot, too-stoned younger sister. And the great Pete Postlethwaite is the "florist" who sets up these robberies, and has for decades. And the robberies, from the opener to the "one last job" that heist pictures have lived off of for decades, are as fast and furious as the real thing.

Best of all is the movie's sure sense of place, as Affleck shoots chases through the narrow streets and tentative, romantic dates in the distinct, off-the-tourist track corners of the city.

He's directed and starred in a thoroughly involving, perfectly entertaining thriller, and one that celebrates the rough edges of his "Town" without polishing them off.

THE TOWN

CAST: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Pete Postlethwaite, Blake Lively

DIRECTOR: Ben Affleck

THEATERS: Century (Downtown Plaza, Folsom, Greenback, Laguna), Palladio Folsom, Regal (Auburn, Davis, El Dorado Hills, Natomas, Placerville), UA (Market Square, Roseville), Sacramento Drive-in

123 minutes

Rated R (violence, language, sexuality and drug use)

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Movie Trailer: Ron Howard’s The Dilemma - Slashfilm.com

Posted: 17 Sep 2010 12:39 PM PDT

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Movie Review: Emma Stone makes the grade in "Easy A" - Daily Oklahoman

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 09:58 PM PDT

Copyright ©2010. The Associated Press. Produced by NewsOK.com All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

After a few years of supporting roles in films such as "Superbad" and "Zombieland" where she perfected the fine craft of scene thievery, Emma Stone finally gets her showcase with "Easy A." There's hardly a frame of film in director Will Gluck's high school satire in which Stone isn't front, center and completely killing with her screen presence. Fortunately, the material is nearly as good as she is.


Emma Stone stars in "Easy A." Screen Gems photo Adam Taylor


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"Easy A"
PG-13
1:323 starsStarring: Emma Stone, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes.(Mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language, some drug material)

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Olive Penderghast (Stone) is a smart, independent-minded student who doesn't easily fit any of the social categories at her Ojai, Calif., high school. She is a generally well-adjusted teen with tart language skills who gets along great with her sweet, sarcastic parents (the superb Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson) and impresses teachers like Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church). But like so many teenagers, there is insecurity lurking behind Olive's cool veneer, and one day, while talking trash in the restroom with her buddy Rhiannon (Aly Michalka), she claims to have had sex the other night with a hypothetical college guy.

Unfortunately for Olive, this supposedly harmless brag is heard by campus zealot Marianne (Amanda Bynes), who launches a whisper-and-text campaign that decimates Olive's good name. Olive actually is still a virgin who happens to be willing to tell lies for profit, which is her second mistake. She pretends to have noisy relations with her gay friend Brandon (Dan Byrd) to bolster his image in exchange for a gift card, and suddenly every kid with money to spend and a reputation to enhance is standing in line.

Olive's predicament is somewhat paralleled in the text being studied in Mr. Griffith's class, Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," and as her perceived virtue plummets, Olive has the grace and attitude to play along, dressing appropriate to her new status as Ojai's Hester Prynne. But Olive's hard lesson is something her would-be boyfriend/school mascot Woodchuck Todd (Penn Badgley of "Gossip Girl") discovered long ago: It's best to just do your own thing and not worry about high school reputations.

While references to the characters and situations in John Hughes films abound in "Easy A," Bert Royal's sharp-witted screenplay more closely resembles 1989's "Heathers," all the way down to Olive's barbed narration. It's not nearly as nasty and fearless as "Heathers" — Olive's teen angst doesn't have a body count — but it does have a similar view of high school as a tough-to-bear microcosm of adult society.

With her expressive face and raspy delivery, Stone is note-perfect as Olive, a teenager with a well-developed brain whose impulsive behavior sends her into a social spiral — she'll be fine once she makes it to college. What is refreshing is that Olive acts like the natural spawn of Rosemary and Dill Penderghast. As played by Clarkson and Tucci, these are intelligent, loving, bitingly funny people who speak to their smart daughter like they speak to each other. This is one of those rare cinematic households where the parents are not caricatures and the family dynamic makes complete sense, just one of the many reasons why Stone and the rest of "Easy A" make the grade.

George Lang





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