Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Talk of 'The Town'

I feel compelled to write a bit more about "The Town," which I in no way expected to walk out of with such smiley satisfaction. "Did you like it?" a fellow critic asked me, to which I usually offer at least some degree of half-heartedness. Here, it was full-on enthusiasm. My admiration for this film spreads well beyond the film itself and into the reality of what it means for its maker. I will admit that I was perhaps less critical of the craft because I was so suprised at how good it was for who it was made by, and I may well have picked more nits if it were the work of a seasoned pro. But how I feel about what a triumph this is for Ben Affleck directedly affected my experience, and I can safely say few theatrical experiences this year have been as enjoyable.

That's something I don't think should be discounted, as so many films are, at minimum, dusted with disappoint, choking up the entertainment value. There's never a point where "The Town" disappoints, never a point where it bores. The pacing is one crucial element I didn't heavily touch upon in my review, but it deserves acknowledgement. And while my mention of a lack of a compromise may seem contradictory when discussing a film with so conventional a narrative, there's no denying the uncompromising nature of the movie's tone and style, which are both of a grit and verve that so many other Hollywood flicks would have simply glossed over. That final showdown with Jeremy Renner? Gripping and ugly -- it brings you back to films with balls, which in this genre are scarce despite copious promo material advertising the contrary.

I know this all sounds defensive, and perhaps I'm defending myself against myself. So much of me felt that awarding 5 stars to a movie like "The Town" was simply preposterous, especially when the few other films who've drawn that honor from me this year have had titles like "Winter's Bone" and "I Am Love." "The Town" -- a generic crime thriller born of Hollywood that from the outset looks terrible, is made by a seemingly slumping superstar, and really has nothing of luster apart from its intriguing cast. It's not really my cup of anything. Or so I thought. Turns out it's a shocking, galvanizing reward and one of my favorite movie stories of the year (that is, the story outside of the movie). Calm down, self: this bitch is impressive, and it deserves those bloody stars in its own right.

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