Saw the new Ben Affleck movie The Town (which he also directed) over the weekend, it's above average. Overall though, it's nothing special. Definitely plagued by some slow chunks in the first half. The robbery scenes though, are very well done and very entertaining. The acting was also good, Jeremy Renner (the Hurt Locker guy) probably doing the best job. I don't like or dislike Ben Affleck, I tend to just not think about him all that much, but I wouldn't have minded if someone else was cast in his role. I liked the main female character a lot, I actually don't know her name, but I recognized her from The Prestige and Vicky Christina Barcelona. And of course I loved me some Don Draper action as the FBI agent.
Since it is very much a Boston-centric film, if I had to do some obligatory comparisons to other recent Boston crime movies, I'd rank The Town behind The Departed, but ahead of Boondock Saints. I feel like maybe it's a little overrated based on its Rotten Tomatoes score, I see a 94% and expect to be blown away, I wasn't. But as pure entertainment, it's worth checking out, even if you might not really see anything new.
This movie will be at the top of my list when it comes out on DVD. Gone Baby Gone was very well done.
Ben Affleck may become one of the great directors if he keeps at it and branches out from Boston crime dramas. Apparently he was reluctant to do The Town for that very reason.
I'm sure it is difficult to direct yourself objectively - or does the AD do the directing when the director is acting?
Ben has had some duds as an actor, but some gems too - much like most actors.
[Mike Cohen] "...does the AD do the directing when the director is acting?"
This will vary on a case by case basis, but in general, ADs are more connected to producing than directing. They typically manage tracking shooting progress against the production schedule, call sheets and timing for cast and crew, and, sometimes, directing extras (along the lines of "I need you people moving in this direction").
David McGiffert has been in the COW for many years - 2002? 2003? - and served as AD for Sydney Pollack (David worked on Tootsie, Absence of Malice, and The Interpreter that I remember), Barry Levinson (Rain Man), Zemeckis (David did all 3 Back to the Futures, Roger Rabbit), Terry Gilliam (Fisher King), and buuuuunches of others. Here's his IMDb profile, and here's his amazing article for Creative COW Magazine. Favorite story: his first job directing extras was moving 10,000 extras among 13 cameras, as Jessica Lange runs to the fallen body of King Kong (the 1977 version).
My guess for Affleck, who is a lot more focused than you might think from reading the tabloids - he did after all win an Oscar for WRITING - rehearsed with both cast and crew, and let the DP do the heavy lifting as the cameras rolled. The cast helped him keep sharpen the performance, and the DP confirmed that he hit his marks and that the rest of the shot came together.
Ben could say, "Actually, my AD took care of everything," but that's how Clint Eastwood tends to do it. He uses the same crew on every picture, so he's able to leave everything in their hands on pay more attention to his performance.
I wouldn't be in a hurry for Ben to leave aside Boston crime any time soon - New York crime has certainly served Scorcese well, and left him free to branch out into many different directions as the opportunity arose: documentaries, concerts, comedy, etc. In the meantime, no need for Ben to mess with what's starting to work pretty well. I haven't seen this movie yet, but it's among the handful I'm most excited to see when I can.
Looks like Mr. Affleck might be sticking to crime, but leaving Boston for his next job: