You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘The Town’ category.

I’m at the Vegas airport, my flight was due out at midnight, but currently delayed until 2 AM, and I’m a little tipsy.  I take no responsibility for anything contained in this post.  If you are looking for a chill bar in Vegas, I recommend The Griffin, on Fremont St., downtown.  And across the street, check out Insert Coin(s), for a bar (with a decent beer selection) that features a number of old school video games.  I got to instruct my co-worker on the cultural importance of The Simpsons and X-Men arcade games.

44. Winter’s Bone

We talked about the film plenty this year, and I reviewed the film way back in October.  As with most of the other Oscar nominees, I’m all talked out here, so let’s just keep it moving.

43. The Town

Another movie we tackled some this year, including a great post pulled together by John.  I think the film ended up a little too high on my list, but 2010 really was a subpar year for film.  Honestly, I’d already forgotten that Jeremy Renner nabbed a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the movie.  Could we maybe institute a moratorium on Boston movies for a little bit?  The accent is annoying, and there are plenty of underused places in the US that would make for good locales.  Just saying.

42. Red

Red was a good idea, I just wish they fully committed to the absurdity.  Because this movie is, almost by definition, ridiculous.  If you are going to have Dame Helen Mirren machine gunning people, then just embrace that.  There was an undercurrent of seriousness here that I just didn’t get.  Not to say it was a bad movie, it wasn’t.  Just think there was the potential for something really great.

41. Dogtooth

I’m pretty certain Dogtooth is the most messed up movie I’ve ever seen.  It is just so (intentionally) wrong.  Just…wow.  To the point where I hope writer/director Giorgos Lanthimos (along with co-writer Efthymis  Filippou) seeks out therapy.  The fact that it received an Oscar nomination was heralded as a sign that the selection process for Best Foreign films was finally working.  Which may well be true.  But I think all the film’s advocates have some serious issues they need to work out.

40. Toy Story 3

Naturally came up a few times this year for us.  I gotta say, I’m baffled at the love for this film.  I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time bad-mouthing it, so I just want to clarify that I like the movie, but I didn’t love it and don’t see how others do.  It isn’t a bad movie, but not particularly compelling.  Pretty much just two hours of the familiar crew being placed in crappy situation after crappy situation.  Maybe because the characters mean so much from the first two movies that their predicaments felt a lot more meaningful for people?  I dunno.  To me, one great thing about Pixar movies is their heart, and I just didn’t see it here.

39. Salt

Questionable DC geography aside, Salt is a perfectly serviceable action flick.  Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer has come up with a bevy of thinking man’s thrillers, and he comes up with a good premise here.  The third act is a little disappointing, though, it felt like he could have gone a little deeper with the mysteries surrounding Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber (who between this and The Manchurian Candidate has found a rather specific niche for himself).  And hey, that was Smash from FNL as a CIA officer.

38. Date Night

Starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell, with cameos up the wazoo, Date Night should have been a home run, but instead settles for a double.  Which I’m inclined to lay at the feet of screenwriter Josh Klausner, who also wrote Shrek Forever After.  Man, can you imagine if Carell and Fey had co-written this bad boy?  The movie was generally funny, but I wouldn’t call the characters exactly in the respective wheelhouses of the leads.  And it doesn’t seem the film is sure exactly what question about their relationship is trying to be answered over the course of the night.

37. Kick-Ass

I mean, it was decent,  but given the hype, director (Matthew Vaughn), screenwriters (such as Jane Goldman) and cast (Aaron Johnson, Nicholas Cage, Mark Strong), I was kinda hoping for more.  I guess it was a little unsettling to see someone as young as Chloe Moretz being shot at by her character’s father, kicking butt, and tossing out curse words, but it takes a little more than that to rile me up.  Johnson does seem to have a promising career in front of him.  Also, I don’t know if it is the lack of vowels in her name or her lack of lines on HIMYM, but I was a little surprised to see that Lyndsy Fonseca is quite the fetching young lass.

36. Machete

Robert Rodriguez does a number of things very very well.  He’s probably got one of the best understandings of the sensibilities of Westerns of any writer or director working today.   Crazy shootout scenes with tons of guys going after each other?  Knocks that out of the park.  He can establish a certain gritty, Robert Rodriguez feel to a film.  He seems to work well with name actor and actresses, turning their roles in ensemble pieces into something memorable.  On the flip side, I’m not convinced he’s yet figured out how to put together a coherent story.

35. Leaves of Grass

In this Tim Blake Nelson film, Ed Norton plays…you may want to sit down for this one…a dual role.  He’s a well-regarded philosophy professor drawn back to his Oklahoma hometown at the request of his drug-dealing twin brother.  The rest of the eclectic cast includes Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss, Maggie Siff, Keri Russell and (that) Steve Earle.  The film may not be quite as insightful as it thinks it is, and occasionally veers into weird subplots (including one revolving around anti-Semitic graffiti spraypainted on the wall of a synagogue).  But it has a good heart and manages to be funny, interesting, and often insightful

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The Oscars are less than a week away and we’re taking a look at all the categories we care to. Today it’s Supporting Actor.

  • Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  • Jeremy Renner, The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
  • Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

John:

He probably could have knocked down Sugar Ray.

This is a good group, but Christian Bale is an easy winner for me. He shines when he’s onscreen. It’s the line delivery, the manner of speaking, the body language, the way he walks: it’s so fully-formed. Not that it should be surprising; Bale is terrific in pretty much everything. And I think the dude seeks out movies that allow his body weight to swing wildly.

Hawkes is my second choice, and perhaps the nomination announcement that made me happiest. He may be the most memorable part of Winter’s Bone. It helps that his character is so important and interesting, but Hawkes is still great alternating between menacing and protective. Ruffalo is also a good choice. It’s not easy being both a douchebag but likeable.

And Rush and Renner are unmemorable picks in my mind. Why was Rush the front runner for so long?

Snubs: Two of my favorite supporting performances of the year, after Bale, had shots here but came up short: Andrew Garfield in The Social Network and Bill Murray in Get Low. At least I was able to vote for Murray in the Independent Spirits.

Jared:

I’d probably argue that, pound for pound, this category is the strongest of this year’s crop.  I don’t have anything bad to say about any of the nominees.  And honestly, the five nominees hew pretty darn close to my ideal ballot.

If one of the five has to be weakest, then I guess it would be Jeremy Renner.  Hampered by a relatively weak script, he plays a very familiar character, the screw-up best friend, but does so very well.  Obviously there are significant differences, but I was reminded a lot of Ed Norton’s Worm from Rounders.  I think Renner would have had a stronger case had his character been given a little more room to shine.

Geoffrey Rush has shown incredible range in his career, further extended by his role his as a speech therapist to a king.  Even held to a stricter standard, because (in my opinion) he really is a lead actor in the film, it is hard to find anything to criticize about his performance.

I was pleased as punch when John Hawkes’s name was read on nomination morning.  Regardless of what I think about Winter’s Bone, it is really neat to see a role like this one recognized.  Teardrop is an extremely interesting character, but he isn’t a hero, villain, or foil.  Kudos to the Academy for recognizing a very fine performance in a different sort of role

Christian Bale is a guy you want in your movie.  He always give a consistently superb performance, regardless of the genre of the film in which he’s appearing.  But he also seems to allow his co-stars to shine.  It is a rare talent indeed who can range from perhaps the ultimate straight man (Batman) to a showy, scenery-chomping character like this one.  Especially with this script, Dicky could have been obnoxiously, unbearably over the top.  But Bale reels the character in to something much more appealing.

So talented, he's also nominated for Animated Short.

Only since all these guys can’t be winners, I’m going with Mark Ruffalo as my favorite.  Though in all likelihood this order would have been different had I written this entry on a different day.  I’m repeating myself, but no actor makes playing a character look as effortless as Mark Ruffalo.  If you look over his career, maybe he tends to play a certain general type of character, but it is clearly wrong to suggest he’s just playing himself.  I usually hate to fall back on the cliche, but Paul just felt real.  As in, not a character, but an interesting person.  We’ll shortly get to what I think of the script, but suffice it to say that I’m laying just about all of that on Ruffalo.

Adam:

Says that this category is probably this year’s strongest and can’t decide between Bale and Rush.  I assume he also would have insulted at least one of us.

Oscar nominations arrive Tuesday, January 25. To prepare, we’re giving you our sharpest insight and predictions. Today: What disappointing nominations do you anticipate?

Jared:The Fighter should be KO’d

At first I wondered if the cut of The Fighter in my theater was different than what everyone else seemed to have saw.  But no, the audience in my viewing seemed to have enjoyed themselves.  So I’m left to conclude that David O.Russell managed to incorporate some subliminal message telling people they love the movie and my brain just isn’t wired to receive said messages (kinda like how I can’t see those 3-D Magic Eye pictures).  Because the film is bad, failing on nearly every conceivable level, other than the acting.

I’d call the story cliche, but that would assume there was any semblance of a story.  We get very clear depictions of each character’s lot in life, but no clue as to got they got from point A to B.  To wit, the relationship between Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams is almost entirely glossed over.  They meet, go out on a date, some undefined time apparently passes and then they are inseparable.  Time, I should point out, is also irrelevant to the filmmakers.  Anyone have any clue the time between Wahlberg’s first fight show in the film and his title bout?  Melissa Leo and Christian Bale both see their characters kinda sorta maybe have a change of heart, but it isn’t clear how superficial that change is or why we should care.  Of course, that little change is really the only character or plot development in the entire film.

But OK, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a simple story.  The Fighter is a boxing movie and obviously a good chunk of boxing movies involve the fights, and it is hard to advance the story too much while the main character is in the ring.  But here’s why I’m absolutely appalled David O. Russell is on the shortlist for a best director nom: the boxing is depicted as if he really rather doesn’t like the sport.  The final match aside, the fights are glossed over at best, portrayed as some weird rejected video game cut scene at worst.  Not even bland, the fighting scenes are, if you’ll excuse my limited vocabulary, stupid.  They aren’t suspenseful, interesting, exciting, or even artistic.  Just a complete waste of time.

"Say hi to yourself for me."

Absolute worst of all, though, was the character interactions.  It felt like a quarter of the movie could be described in the following three beats: Character A says a line talking at character B.  Character B “responds” with something no human would say and tangentially relevant to what character A said.  Then there’s a cue (be it in the dialogue or visual) about how these people are white trash.  I could see a line or two for comic relief, maybe, but the filmmakers felt this bizarre need to consistently unsubtly describe the characters and their town as white trash.  It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t clever, it was just obvious and worse, it was mean.

So when Mo’Nique reads off The Fighter as a best picture nom, I’m going to be disappointed that a movie which had great acting, but failed on nearly every conceivably important other level is taking the place of so many other actually watchable films.

John: Man the levies, nomination waves are coming!

The nomination wave: it’s a common occurrence in Oscar season. A beloved film gets support across all guilds, sweeping many to nominations even if their work wasn’t as exemplary. It’s going to happen to two supporting actresses this year.

She wasn't nearly as committed to head enlargement in The King's Speech

The first, and most prominent, is Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech. Carter is a great, versatile actress, but this is such a nothing performance. It’s not like she’s bad, but she’s a stock supporting character without a ton to do. She’s more interesting this year in both Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter. Even she admits to being puzzled over why this performance is getting singled out for award attention.

I'm wicked strong willed!

The other is Amy Adams for The Fighter, a sentiment I know is not shared by many. I’ve actually seen plenty of arguments that she’s the supporting female star in the film and not supposed category front runner Melissa Leo. I just don’t think she does much beyond sporting a Boston accent. The film’s treatment of her character bothered me, and part of it is due to her performance (though the bulk is probably the script’s fault).

I’ve always said I’m an Amy Adams fan, but this is the third time I’ve come to complain about her on this blog so maybe my affection is waning? But maybe she just gets recognized for the wrong roles. Oscar nod for Doubt, critical acclaim for Sunshine Cleaning, and a probable nod for The Fighter, but not enough support for Enchanted or Julie & Julia.

Brian: The Town will rob a nomination from a more deserving film

Jared and John adeptly discussed why The Town is overrated last month. As Jared put it in his elegant way, “Frankly, I don’t even think the film is particularly good genre fare, much less a good movie.” So since they’ve covered much of why its bad, especially the horribly underdeveloped relationship between Ben Affleck and Rebecca Hall, I’ll keep my entry to this category short.

A Best Picture nom for The Town would be an embarrassment as it would only provide fodder for those critics who last year assailed the Academy’s decision to expand the category to 10 films. “It will allow mediocre, commercially successful films to sneak in,” they warned — and The Town is just that. After last year, when the final 10 offered a little something for everyone to be happy about, I hoped that these concerns would be laid to rest. But I imagine they will reappear on Tuesday when The Town gets its undue recognition.

Does anyone know why we love each other?

How anyone can deem that the best of the year is beyond me. The characters were one-dimensional (ooh, Jeremy Renner as a hothead!), the stakes were non-existent, the shootout at Fenway was cool to watch but ultimately unfulfilling, and the heists were forgettable. It’s as if the Academy has a Departed hangover and thinks that all Boston-related movies are somehow deep because people have funny accents. (Also see: The Fighter) So put this down as my big disappointment.

An interesting development this season is the awards season trajectory of The Town, the Ben Affleck-helmed, Ben Affleck-written, Boston bank heist thriller starring Affleck and last year’s Best Actor nominee Jeremy Renner (plus Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, and Chris Cooper). After Affleck’s crew robs a bank managed by Hall, he approaches her to make sure she didn’t see any indentifying features to tell the police. Naturally they fall for each other, just as he is planning one last big score.

The film bowed at number 1 in mid-September with $33 million and surprisingly rapturous critical approval. As of now it’s nearly hit $92 million. The box office success and critical acclaim has thrust it into the awards race.

Oscar bloggers are predicting it for Best Picture. Warner Bros. rushed it to DVD yesterday, just three months after its release, to time it for an awards push. Every other day there’s an item about someone loving the film, like Robert Duvall.

On the other hand, in the early awards it’s only picked up Supporting Actor nods for Renner from the Golden Globes and SAG with little acknowledgment from critics groups.

But what’s the real deal, the straight talk you can only get from the Grouches? We’re here to tell you. And we think it’s hogwash.

John

I find the Oscar buzz for The Town puzzling. Though, to be fair, I find the slobbering critical response puzzling as well.

It’s a good movie. It’s entertaining and taut. But what people see as special elements transcending its genre just don’t work for me.

Mainly it’s the relationship between Ben Affleck and Rebecca Hall that trips me up. They don’t have any chemistry and I don’t see any reason they should be together. I suppose I can understand why she would cause him to soul search. She represents a new, positive force in his life and a way out of the criminal world that he’s been considering. But I don’t know why she sticks around with him.

Faaaaaake

And because it’s not a believable relationship it doesn’t give the film the emotional depth it intends. Which just makes it a good heist film. It’s not that it isn’t a typical Oscar film. It’s that it’s not a great film.

As for the Oscar buzz, I suspect people are looking for any box office hit to throw into the race after the way The Blind Side made bank on its way to a Best Picture nod last year. And I think that’s not a bad way to look at it because voters are probably doing the same thing. I just can’t help but think it’s more about timing than quality. If it was released in the summer, I doubt we’d be talking about it now.

Jared

It’s rather unfortunate (for blog purposes) that Brian, John and I all fundamentally agree about The Town, at least in the sense that we don’t really get why it is an Oscar contender.

Frankly, I don’t even think the film is particularly good genre fare, much less a good movie.  The heists don’t feel fresh and really aren’t all that interesting.  The film isn’t twisty.  John points to the poorly developed relationship between Ben Affleck and Rebecca Hall.  I’d submit that none of the relationships between the primary characters are developed.  Mostly because none of the characters are. Jeremy Renner is the stock angry young man.  There’s not really any point for Jon Hamm or Blake Lively to be in the movie.  I’m a Rebecca Hall fan, but I don’t think she’s given anything to work with here.  And Ben Affleck, I mean, I get that he’s the brains of the operation trying to make good.  But didn’t we figure that out in the first two or three scenes?

I agree with John that because The Blind Side received a nomination in the Academy’s return to ten Best Picture slots, that people are figuring on one spot being taken by a more populist movie.  I still think that despite the good box office and favorable reviews, it has a tough road to a nomination.  Thanks to all the actors named above, plus brief appearances from the likes of Chris Cooper and Pete Postlewaite, it did seem likely to pick up some steam with the SAG awards, but I don’t see too many other groups singling it out as a best movie. The Blind Side was kept in the conversation thanks to the story of Sandra Bullock’s march to victory, I’m not sure The Town has any similar sort of buoyancy.  Besides, if you are looking for a well-received movie that broke $100 million at the box office, would Shutter Island make more sense?  Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner are well-regarded, but Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are a little bit more so, I’d imagine.

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