Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Gone Baby Gone – Affleck Attack

Ex-superstar actor, and now-superstar director, Ben Affleck's debut feature, ‘Gone Baby Gone’, was a film I always found interesting, but never engaging.


For one, the strange televisual tone is problematic. The film draws some comparisons with HBO's brilliant police drama, ‘The Wire’; it is dealing with police work in a similar part of the world (Boston and Baltimore) and some of the streets could have been ripped straight out of the first season of The Wire, with Affleck even going as far as shooting them in a similar way, with virtually useless transitional shots (often accompanied by a voiceover) showing ‘life on da street’, which just ended up disrupting the flow of the narrative. But, however hard the film tries, ‘Gone Baby Gone’ has nothing on ‘The Wire’. The depth of social commentary and psychological exploration dealt with in ‘The Wire’ is replaced with cardboard cut-out characters and a rushed moral message.

However, saying that, there are a couple of occasion when Affleck really does pull it off. The final shot, for one, is exquisitely beautiful and asks more questions of the audience than the entire two hours leading up to that point. It’s silent, it’s measured, and it’s fantastic.

Affleck also had a mixed bag with his cast; the prime example being his baby brother and lead, Casey Affleck. To his credit, his more low-key scenes are well performed and seem suitably natural, but when the film makes its way to high drama and thrills the poor guy crumbles and the constant look of absolute boredom does nothing to help his cause. On top of this, Michelle Monaghan, an actress that I like, has absolutely nothing to do but cry and seem pathetic, and then tops this off by being a meany to Casey Affleck's at least partly likeable character. However, Ed Harris, someone who I often find disappointing, is a shining light. He plays his part with real conviction, and puts his all into every rum-fuelled, expletive-ridden rant, and he still manages to just about stay on tracks after some dubious character revelations.

The moral quandaries brought up in ‘Gone Baby Gone’ are definitely worth talking about, there’s no doubt about that, but I just felt like it could have had a far stronger and more engaging narrative vehicle to carry it along. Compared to the strength of the issues it deals with, Gone Baby Gone is weak. Watchable, but weak.

★★★

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Inevitability Killed the Cat

I just broke into a house. My own house, in fact.

Ten minutes prior, I’d locked up and posted the keys back through my letterbox, not expecting to need them again.

However, I soon found myself walking back down my driveway wanting to get back inside.

I even found myself walking to the front door, just to check the dog hadn’t eaten the keys or something. And with a sigh of relief (on behalf of my dog’s digestive system), I wandered round the back of the house to our secret cubby-hole, expecting to find the spare key. But, no . . .

There was no anger, there were no obscenities muttered under my breath, there was just a sigh of inevitability. For on my walk back to the house I had toyed with the possibility that the spare key would be missing, and lo and behold . . .

So I headed to the garage to arm myself with a thief’s greatest weapon; policemen have their notebooks, robbers have their dusty sticks. I crouched down and poked the stick into the letterbox, feeding it through until it brushed the metal key ring. I gently eased the point through the largest ring and, in one deft movement, flicked the keys up, securing them at a safe distance up the stick. I reeled it in and plucked my prize from the monsters jaws.

Victory!


Or not . . .


Because, in a strange way, it felt like it had never happened. For once, one of my flights of fancy had come true but, seeing as I’d already lived it out in my head, it had kind of lost its shine. I was used to just picturing these thrilling scenarios, these chances to really prove myself and laud it over the mere mortals I surround myself with. But, now that I’d actually ‘lived one out’, well . . . it turned out to be a bit of a let-down, really.