Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
Empire Blogs
Under The Radar

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Venice 2010: The Town, Plus The Venice Story So Far...

Posted on Wednesday September 8, 2010, 16:33 by Damon Wise in Under The Radar
Venice 2010: The Town, Plus The Venice Story So Far...

The festival has been on for a week now, and, looking back, it's been a solid if not especially amazing festival. Surprisingly, nothing has done much to dethrone Black Swan as the most broadly admired film so far, but Potiche was well received, as, apparently, was Alex De Iglesias' Sad Ballad Of The Trumpet. For my part, I was moved and unnerved by Pablo Larrain's grim Chilean coup d'etat elegy Post Mortem, a much more serious film than his debut, Tony Manero, led me to expect. Meek's Cutoff was, quite frankly, boring as hell, with Bruce Greenwood leading a heritage-farm production in which some US settlers rolled across the prairies in 19th century Oregon. And of the three period chop-socky films, John Woo and Su Chao-Pin's Reign Of Assassins is the best so far (Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins screens tonight). Starring Michelle Yeoh, it plays like a role-reversed History Of Violence until a sneaky switcheroo turns it into a version of a similarly themed film that I won't name for fear of spoilers. Tsui Hark's Detective Dee And The Mystery Of the Phantom Flame, by contrast, was rather plodding, and its clumsy CG work was made bearable by the gorgeous Li Bingbing as the spy sent to watch over Detective Dee (Andrew Lau) as he investigates a series of weird, fiery deaths that point to a conspiracy to kill China's first empress.

If I'm going to make predictions about awards, I'm not sure anything is likely to go to Jerzy Skolimowsky's Essential Killing, in which Vincent Gallo plays a terrorist who escapes from custody while being transferred from Afghanistan to a camp in eastern Europe. It's very beautiful, and surprisingly gripping despite a near word-less script, but it may not be enough for the jury. I'd more strongly tip Aleksei Fedorchenko's Silent Souls, a bizarre Russian road movie in which a smalltown factory worker goes with his boss to dispose of the body of the latter's dead wife. A mix of David Lynch and Guy Maddin, it's a a visually ravishing film with an incredible air of mystery and a very unusual score. Outside the competition, in Giornate Degli Autori, Denis Villeneuve's haunting Incendies showed up Schnabel's awful Miral for the unsophisticated tat that it is, telling the story of two Canadian twins coming to terms with the secret past of their recently deceased mother.

Screening today, out of competition, came Ben Affleck's The Town, and he really is two for two with the films he's directed. I perhaps slightly prefer Gone Baby Gone, because it was less traditional, but The Town is a very assured and very powerful second feature all the same. It baffles me that Warner Brothers are putting this out without much ballyhoo, since, if I want a grown-up Hollywood feature, I want to see a movie like this, not one with some po-faced clothes horses donging about in somebody's dreams. The Town is beautifully drawn; it has characters to care about and a situation that, though a little implausible, carries its own internal logic. And unlike that dream movie, there is real action here, with blazing guns, exhilarating car chases and violence with authentically fatal consequences.

It begins with a robbery at a bank in Boston; Doug MacRay (Affleck) is leading his usual crew on a heist timed with military precision. These guys don't mess about: the doors are locked, guards tied up, phones confiscated and dunked in water, hard drives swiped and cooked in the microwave, while bleach is used to destroy any traces of DNA evidence. For security, they kidnap the bank's terrified manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall), and later release her unharmed. But when the robbers reconvene, they realise there is a problem: their victim is a local girl, from the working-class area of Charlestown, and Doug's accomplice Jem (Jeremy Renner) starts to fret. What if the girl can identify them? To see how much Claire knows, Doug starts following her. By chance, they get to talking in a launderette, and before long they are friends, and then lovers. Doug falls hard for her, and starts making plans to leave his old ways behind. But Jem won't let him go that easily, so Doug agrees to one last job, organised by a creepy Mr Big known as The Florist, before he quits.

Its staple one-last-job stuff, but Affleck handles it perfectly. The end is a little cleaner, and much more text-book Hollywood, than Gone Baby Gone, with a very twee postscript that's rather hard to swallow, but, for the most part, this is surprisingly complex stuff. Affleck never dials down the threat his character faces, and the film flirts constantly with the only two ways its story can go – death or escape – to riveting effect. The supporting cast is excellent – notably Renner, Hall and especially Blake Lively, as Doug's white-trash girlfriend, who really help Affleck sell his rough-diamond antihero – while Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper make memorable appearances as The Florist and Doug's father respectively. But Affleck deserves special mention too. Though he's a little too clean-cut and articulate ever to seem especially blue collar, there's a lot of subtlety in his performance here, especially in a crucial scene with Hall. He still uses too many flashbacks and too much montage, but I'll forget that for now. All I'm really concerned about is how good his next movie will be.



Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 Acho
Posted on Wednesday September 8, 2010, 20:17
I'm quite looking forward to The Town, although I was worried that the trailer gave away too much. Won't know until I see it, of course.

We have Ben Affleck coming over to Dublin for a screening of The Town on Monday week, so very much looking forward to seeing it then. I really liked Gone Baby Gone, and anything with Chris Cooper in it has my vote.

2 hatebox
Posted on Friday September 10, 2010, 10:05
"The Town is a very assured and very powerful second feature all the same. It baffles me that Warner Brothers are putting this out without much ballyhoo, since, if I want a grown-up Hollywood feature, I want to see a movie like this, not one with some po-faced clothes horses donging about in somebody's dreams"


I've seen both films and Inception is far better. The Town completely loses its nerve in the second half and becomes a cliched thriller that plays up to all the tired conventions.

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (432)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (56)

Words From The Wise (33)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Night Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney
By Owen Williams

Film4 FrightFest 2013: Sunday and Monday
By Owen Williams

Film4 FrightFest 2013: Thursday and Friday
By Owen Williams

Bloody Cuts In Conversation
By Owen Williams

European Film Awards 2012
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2012: Silje Reinamo and Thale
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2012: Juan Martinez Moreno and Attack of the Werewolves
By Owen Williams


RECENT COMMENTS

Aruba 2013: Juan Francisco Pardo Q&A
"Sadece on altı dakika içinde iyi bir görsel hikaye anlatmak önemli beceri ve bel"  skndrdmr
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Opening Gala
"That really amazing."  ommrudraksha
Read comment

2013 IIFF - The Winners
"Hi Simon, Trying to get in touch with you. Hope this works. I enjoyed your piece on Enter t"  matthewpolly
Read comment

Christoph Waltz will win an Oscar
"although its old now :(, of course he was gonna win it :), one of the many idols of why i wanna be a"  SONYA ALALIBO
Read comment

Brisbane International Film Festival: First Report
"I think it is pretty clear the story revolves around The Blacksmith, in The Man With The Iron Fists,"  owenyunfat
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Thanks for the feedback! I hope I didn't give the impression that Cloud Atlas is a write-off; I just"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Hi Damon With regards to Cloud Atlas, I fear that it will face the same problem a"  ChesterCopperpot
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"No worries! I just try to describe things as I see them, and I often forget that, as Empire has grow"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your early reviews from the festivals, and of course, I'm not alway"  pythonlove
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Ryan Gosling as a stunt rider who has mechanic skills and gets involved in bank heists. It sounds li"  keef_mac
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Sundance Part Six: In The Loop
13 comments

The Times BFI London Film Festival Preview
9 comments

Basterds Blog
9 comments

Damo's Top Ten Of 2009
9 comments

Sundance 2010: Four Lions blows everyone away!
8 comments

Sundance 2010: The Killer Inside Me causes outrage!
7 comments

Chris Hewitt Of The Year Award!!!!
7 comments

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
7 comments

The Wrestler
6 comments

Uncle Boonmee: An Explanation
6 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (295)
Helen O'Hara (166)
James Dyer (85)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (54)
James White (28)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright and Ford on the films that inspire them

The Remake Report: Hollywood's Do-Overs Coming Our Way
The redoes, remakes, reboots, reworkings and reimaginings headed our way…

The Nebraska Playlist
Alexander Payne programmes a movie marathon for us

John Michael McDonagh Talks Calvary
The director on his follow-up to The Guard

More Found Footage: Another 25 Trailers That Tease Missing Scenes
Further sequences that disappeared between promo and final cut

Ten Career Lessons From An Oscar-Winning Producer
Jeremy Thomas on everything from The Last Emperor to Sexy Beast

Directors Joe And Anthony Russo Share 15 Captain America: The Winter Soldier Secrets
As heard on Empire’s special spoiler podcast interview…

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)