The only thing left for me to ponder in Terence Malick’s latest meditation on preponderance, To The Wonder (a contemporary love story of an Okie and a Eurotrashy ditz with happy feet from Paris), is where exactly in France is that fairytale castle surrounded by mushy sandy waters? And why the fuck would they settle down in the badlands of Oklahoma instead?
Well, turns out that castle is Mont Saint-Michel, in the lower region of Normandy that dates back to the 10th century. But as far as to why they (or anyone for that matter) would want to live in a newly built two story house in Oklahoma without a fucking washer and dryer? Golly, I still couldn’t tell you. And that’s probably the most enduring mystery of the film. If I had to guess, it had something to do with Ben Affleck’s job there – walking around with a picnic cooler surveying the land for god knows what when he’s not busy chasing his wife (Olga Kurylenko) through wheat fields and smelling buffalo chips. Which is probably why everyone is so loopy and dizzy and suffers from lymes disease. That being said – as if we didn’t already know Olga is not the greatest actress, we now know she sure shit can’t fucking dance either. And while Ben may not be the greatest dancer he sure shit can’t fucking act without his beard – besides the scene where he wears a lampshade on his head. To be fair, Malick finds more poetry in the visual silence of sheer curtains blowing in the wind and adults jumping up and down on beds then good old fashion dialogue.
After watching those boring ass lovebirds, Rachel McAdams is definitely a breath of fresh air as she radiates like she were in a Carhartt/Sundance catalogue, unconvincingly playing a ranch handler with not a speck of dirt or grime on her. Still, not a bad rebound for Ben.
As for priest Javier Bardem – he is either mumbling to himself or to Jesus. I’m not really sure. But the scene when Olga goes to him for confession is truly a revelation, in that it’s so private that there’s no way I could tell you what was revealed and neither could Malick. You just have to go see the movie yourself to come up with your own conclusions but I’m telling y’all right now your time will be better spent at the local laundromat instead of watching them do theirs.
Considering Roger Ebert gave this a thumbs up you have to wonder if he knew this was likely his last review and therefore took comfort in the Javier’s sermon of “God to the left, God to the right…” – whereas I’d have to give it a thumbs down because all I see are clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right and here I am stuck in the middle. But till then Roger, please save me an aisle seat…
First, let’s just get this out of the way, the only reason why the CIA gives a rats ass about Iran is the fact that it has one of the largest proven oil reserves. That being said, Argo begins with a montage of stock footage and a brief narrative history lesson on Iran’s political chaos and succession of dictators/supreme leaders in the 20th century leading up to the year of the infamous hostage crisis that we all know lasted until the minute after Reagan was sworn in – immediately arousing suspicions of a conspiracy, known as the October Surprise Theory. But that’s another story, probably for the limousine liberals like Oliver Stone and Michael Moore.
Anyway, Ben Affleck not only struggles to convince us that he is to be taken seriously as filmmaker, but also that this so-called taut, suspenseful, political caper thriller of six American diplomats who evade capture and are holed up in Iran is “based” on a true story – when in fact the actual escape depicted in this movie orchestrated by super shaggy exfiltration CIA expert, Tony Mendez, (played none other than hero Ben) was a complete fabrication and distortion (with maybe the exception of the shuttle bus engine not starting right away) and just an excuse for him to create nonexistent tension with cross cut editing and extreme close ups of all the diplomats sweating bullets trying to board a plane out of Dodge.
But don’t trust me, the side by side stills comparing images of 1980 vs. Ben’s vision during the end credits are proof positive on just how accurate this romp was or it’s sad attempt for authenticity. And yes I understand it’s only a fucking movie and the concept of dramatic license, but if you can believe this than you probably believe that Ben and Matt actually penned Goodwill Hunting.
To be fair I did find the cover story of a phony Hollywood sci-fi movie production to be fun and amusing, but it was killed by contrived snappy, cute dialogue delivered by Alan Arkin and John Goodman.
But it was credible enough to enamor all those old fogies like Rex Reed who’s year’s favorites include Hope Springs, and also able to distract them evil Iranians who were busy playing aliens and shooting finger space guns at each other before they jumped into cars attempting to chase a down a 747 plane as it’s taking off. Whoa, that sure was a close call! For a minute there I actually thought that they would paint the plane into a corner and kill them all! But thank God Ben saves the day and God Bless America.
“It’s a little like masturbation. You gotta know what you want, know
where you are going, it’s intuitive.” – Ben Affleck on directing himself
“It’s a town full of losers. And I’m pulling out of here to win.”-Born to Run
The Town‘s “critically” acclaimed director, Ben Affleck, earned enough praise from his Gone Baby Gone debut that this time around he’s confident enough to add a co-writer and lead actor cred too. Set in blue-collar Charlestown, Massachusetts, the “bank robbery capital of America” you’d think these bankers and FBI agents would have had surveillance or some better locks (it’s called kryptonite!) or that these gangsters would have to be a team of Ocean 11 charmers. Alas, no. The film starts off with habit masked trick or treaters, douche-bag Dougy MacRay (Ben Affleck), a reborn recovering alcoholic/drug abuser and “mastermind,” and homeboy, wildcard Jem Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), holding up and pointlessly kidnapping “toonie” bank teller, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall), who upon her release is questioned by pretty boy FBI agent, Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm). Which poses threat to these townies when they find that in this one square mile town Claire lives around the corner. So Dougy decides to creep and ask Claire out to after taking pity on her crying in a laundromat over some blood stains.
Nothing like a Dunkin Donuts to charm the pants off a girl eh? Followed by a series of confessions about tortured pasts, “My mother left…,” “My Brother died,” these two skip the small talk and fall fast as Dougy is inspired by her volunteer gardening and assistant teaching to give up the robbing business for good.
Ben admits to wanting to do this script so that he could play the part, but picked the most pathetic of them and is out-shined by Rener who proves he can act outside The Hurtlocker, and John Hamm, who plays Don Drapper, showing no sympathy for anyone and doing whatever it takes to take down these ruffians. Even Blake Lively, who Ben wanted to “give the opportunity to surprise people as a talented actress,” adds a Boston accent to her skank whore role from Gossip Girl, to Ben’s lap. But other than that and some good car chases these Boston track suit wearing townies are leaving a story as dull as it’s title.
“Uh oh B. This just in; life isn’t a fairy tale, and happy endings are few and far between. Forget a grand entrance – Everyone knows that it’s the exit they’ll remember. XOXO” – Gossip Girl