Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Way The World Works

I spent last weekend up in Santa Barbara which means that this during this past weekend I had plenty of movies to catch up on. But wait: what am I actually supposed to go see anyway? I spend most of the year complaining about how there aren’t any movies for adults. Now they’re out there and I’m finding it tough to get interested in any of them. Besides, I’ve seen this past Thursday’s 30 ROCK which contained, among other things, Special Guest Star Carrie Fisher, an out-of-nowhere joke involving H.R. Haldeman (“Was that a person who lived?”) and a scene with Alec Baldwin that was so jaw-droppingly funny that if it doesn’t surpass his GLENGARRY GLENN ROSS appearance as the quintessential Alec Baldwin scene then at least it ties it for the title. So why shouldn’t I just watch that 30 ROCK over and over? Should I really go to the Arclight and see if there’s anything I would actually pay money to see?

Ben Affleck makes his directorial debut with GONE BABY GONE, a film based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, author of MYSTIC RIVER. Like that earlier film, it involves the Boston working-class and crimes involving children, in this case a little girl who is kidnapped. It’s an impressive debut, but there is little of the operatic feel that gave a lot of the power to the earlier film This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if there’s any real drawback it’s that Affleck’s visual style feels like it’s still being developed. Way too many scenes involve people having discussions in close quarters that involved alternating close-ups and medium shots. By a certain point I felt like I needed a little variety, a little breathing room, but something more than the occasional helicopter shots of Boston locations that the film continually cuts to. But by the time the events of the final half-hour begin to come into play the movie really does take hold and linger afterwards. It is a first film, yes, but there are signs that the star of REINDEER GAMES may just do even better work in the future. Those helicopter shots aside, there’s also a lot of interesting location footage of Boston and there’s probably enough left over that Affleck could probably cut together an interesting piece to music which focuses just on a lot of the found moments he happened to pick up.

Stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman are all very good, as expected, though in the case of Casey I think it’s his work in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES that will be remembered from his screen appearances in 2007. Really, it’s the more weathered faces which pass in front of the camera—such as Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver, John Ashton, along with the many bit parts which are obviously local Boston hires—that give GONE BABY GONE a lot of its resonance. It doesn’t provide the hysterics that this week’s episode of 30 ROCK gave me but if I had to choose something to see this weekend, I think I did all right.


Anonymous said...

Alec's appearance in Glengarry is indeed a corker. But I have an inexplicable fondness for the moment he tells Nicole Kidman: "You ask me if I have a God complex. Let me tell you something: I am God!"

Mr. Peel aka Peter Avellino said...

There are tons of "quintessential Baldwin moments" out there. GLENGARRY, MALICE, a few bits in THE DEPARTED. Some of his SNL sketches. Now this 30 ROCK scene. And a few other things from 30 ROCK I can think of, for that matter.

"It's after six. What am I, a farmer?"