Tag Archives: The Town

A Week In Film #360: Allsorts

Strange Magic title screen
Strange Magic
If we’re charitable, a very mediocre CGI animated take on A Midsummer Night’s Tale from George Lucas’ tech shop, directed by Gary Rydstrom and featuring the voices of Evan Rachel Wood, Elijah Kelley, Meredith Anne Bull, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Alfred Molina and Sam Palladio.

The Town title screen
The Town
Tight mid-budget crime caper flick, with Boston boy Ben Affleck adapting a Chuck Hogan’s source novel as well as starring in it. He leads a security van heist crew from a notorious Beantown neighbourhood, which includes pals Jeremy Renner, Slaine and Owen Burke. They take care of business, but the pressure is on.

Class Action title screen
Class Action
Solid courtroom drama from Michael Apted, with the reliable Gene Hackman as a liberal civil rights lawyer acting for clients injured by a car defect, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as his estranged daughter who is now a big corporate attorney hired by the auto company to defend the claim.

The Martian title screen
The Martian
Ridley Scott and Matt Damon give us an audience-frlendly spaceman-against-adversity drama in which a stranded astronaut must figure out how to survive alone on Mars until he can be rescued.

Home title screen
DreamWorks CGI feature about aliens invading Earth, with HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES. Director Tim Johnson previously helmed Antz and How To Train Your Dragon, so knows the ropes.

Shaun The Sheep Movie title screen
Shaun The Sheep Movie
Does exactly what it says on the tin – and manages to make what is essentially an hour and a half-long silent movie feel effortless.

A Week In Film #137: LA, Cleveland, Boston – all Greek to me

Jason And The Argonauts
Directed by British journeyman Don Chaffey and starring Todd Armstrong in the titular role, but remembered more for the stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen – and for good reason! Properly definitive work, including the creaky giant bronze statue Talos, the flying Harpies, and of course the seven killer skeletons at the end… “Kill them! Kill! Kill! Kill them all!”

Okay, so in some respects it doesn’t look ‘realistic’, but FFS! Killer skeletons ARE NOT REAL, and the whole thing is based on ancient myths and legends, and it is a movie for kids and families. For these reasons – plus it doesn’t pretend the gods are not directing much of the action (take heed, Troy), and it has some great character actors in supporting roles (Nigel Green as a non-roid-ragey Hercules, for instance), and it has a superlative Bernard Herrmann score – this is a stone cold classic.

Hollywood Homicide
Bloody awful procedural following the two-contrasting-cops-thrown-together formula, this time with Harrison Ford as a cynical veteran detective with a sideline in real estate thrown together with Josh Hartnett, a young buck who isn’t really into policework, teaches yoga and dreams of becoming an actor. Some rappers get killed. Their boss did it. Boring, and a waste of money on all levels. Director Ron Shelton should have stuck to his sports comedy-dramas.

Kill The Irishman
Before director Jonathan Hensleigh and lead actor Ray Stevenson came together on this Irish-American mob picture, they shared a connection through different movie reboots of Marvel Comics’ Punisher character – Hensleigh directed 2004’s The Punisher (the one with Thomas Jane), whilst Stevenson starred in Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone four years later.

Here they complement each other well, with Stevenson playing real-life Cleveland underworld figure Danny Greene whilst Hensleigh rattles through plenty of based-on-real-events episodes with competence and occasional flair. Overall it’s less satisfying than it could be, with whole narrative avenues ignored: Greene’s long career as an FBI informer, the there-but-for-the-grace-of-god Irish cop played by Val Kilmer, Greene’s sudden paleness with Italian mobster John Nardi (Vincent D’Onofrio)… But it’s not really pretending to be that deep, so it can be forgiven the hokey “be a good kid” ending.

The Town
Ben Affleck is shaping up to be a pretty decent director. Here he pulls together an efficient crime caper, like his debut Gone Baby Gone also set in Boston (though this time its Charlestown not Dorchester).

Affleck and his best mate (Jeremy Renner) and a couple of other friends are a crew who specialise in taking down scores on armoured cars and banks. It’s something of a class thing – Charlestown has something of the white ghetto about it, and armed robbery has become like a local industry. The boys’ success brings them to the attention of cops and the Feds, and puts the gang under pressure, something intensified when they realise a witness may be able to identify them.

It’s not the most original film, it’s not the most original heist flick, but it is refreshingly lean, and well-put together. Imagine Heat but several degrees less pretentious, and with a touch of class consciousness. Plus it’s based around the Irish-American mob, so doesn’t rely on all those overcooked Italian mob tropes. Pete Postlethwaite is good in a cameo as a neighbourhood godfather, Rebecca Hall as the witness. Renner, as ever, is excellent. And the action sequences are very well put together.