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September 16, 2010

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Bruce Reid

I'm looking forward to The Town, since I thought Gone, Baby, Gone did a fine job capturing how, when a tragedy sweeps through, communities can bond together not only for change but also in the stubborn refusal to do so. The plot sounds a bit ridiculous in summation, but like you say, movie logic. One brand of movie logic that's beyond the pale for me, however, is when developments become both predictable and utterly improbable; I can take one or the other without complaint, but in tandem they're a reminder of how stunted imaginations--mine included--can become from years of exposure to the ridiculous being regurgitated with a straight face. So Gone, Baby, Gone started losing me the second Harris showed up, and I feared I knew what was going on; each hint of confirmation had me slumping further in my seat. Not too low to keep me from admiring the tough ending, but enough that I'd have to consider the film ultimately disappointing.

But I assume that can be chalked up to Lehane, and am definitely interested in following Affleck from here.

hisnewreasons

I have to admit that, despite your reasonable reviews, those two images push me toward Easy A. I would rather watch Emma Stone, however mediocre the film she's in, be sarcastic than behold the latest batch of handsome male actors running with shotguns and visions of Michael Mann in their heads.

Then again, I willingly bought a ticket for "Takers." Not that I liked the film, but...

That Fuzzy Bastard

Easy A definitely has the more creative and human premise. Which doesn't mean it'll be a better movi

bill

I loved GONE BABY GONE, and I'm about halfway through PRINCE OF THIEVES right now. It is, in fact, a very Lehane-y type of book, in its tone, dialogue, and all that, but it's reminiscent of GOOD Dennis Lehane, not the Dennis Lehane who decided he was ashamed to be writing crime fiction, what with him being all serious, and all.

So I'm very amped for THE TOWN (which for a host of reasons is a better title than PRINCE OF THIEVES, generic as it may sound). Affleck has real chops as a director, a great ear for human speech, and is able to get very strong performances not just from good actors, but from non-actors, as well. I don't think anyone would have predicted this turn in Affleck's career, but I'm fully on board with it.

lazarus

Nice to see Brett Favre has some other opportunities if he ever (finally) decides to retire from football.

Hopefully he's better in The Town than he was in There's Something About Mary.

John M

Is Easy A a tonal cousin of GLEE?

Because count me out if so.

Matthias Galvin

Ahmma just hoepin ahh, that theaya Bawstin accents wahsint too nawn-royahtic.

But seriously, having grown up there, it's not nearly as bad as it's made out to be. Sure the Southie projects will always be the Southie projects, but even since the 80s, most of them talk like nahmal u-min beeins.

That was one thing that really grated when I saw The Depahtid.

Brad

can we get a moratorium on Bahston movies for a few years after this one? I'm wicked tired of them.

otherbill

The trailer for THE TOWN has played in front of the last 8 films I've seen theatrically. Thankfully, I pretty much never get tired of Bank Job movies. Or One Last Job movies. Or Cops & Robbers/ Cat & Mouse movies. I'll also admit that this MA native got goosebumps every time they drop that shot of Fenway into the trailer. I may well find some way to get off work early tomorrow.

Glenn Kenny

@ John M: "Easy A" is not a tonal cousin of "Glee." It kinda wants to be "Heathers" but hasn't the balls or brains. Emma Stone is awfully Emma Stone-ish, though, which is nice.

I never tire of Bahston movies myself. I can never hear "wicked" without thinking of one Christmas holiday, 'bout 20 years back, sitting in my mom's living room with my soon-to-be-ex brother-in-law, who was watching "The Unholy" on cable; when the succubus materialized to nail Ben Cross while he was, um, nailed to a cross, he turned to me and, in an effort to "relate," said, "Wicked good special effects in this movie, eh?"

Jeff McMahon

Wow, Matthias Galvin's typed accent is so thick I can't understand it.

I don't see a lot of similarities between the trailers for Easy A - which looks more like another American Pie/Superbad/Mean Girls - and Glee, which is closer to Bring It On/Mamma Mia/Josie and the Pussycats in tone - or so it looks.

Lex

Emma Stone is the latest recipient of the Movie Critic Boner Award.

See also: Adams, Amy and Faris, Anna.

By which I mean, they are perfectly amusing and delightful and pretty, but it's fun to watch mainstream critics fall all over themselves finding new ways to describe Em-Stone as "effervescent!" or praising her "comic chops!" These are the same guys who will do everything humanly possible not to comment on, say, Jessica Alba's appearance or acting, but somehow Stone/Adams/Faris remind them of the bygone "Bringing Up Baby" screwball era of comedic leading ladies... Hence I can see a Leonard Turan-type critic sitting scrunched face, arms folded and grumbling through "Megan Fox Oil Wrestles Odette Yustman," but somehow Faris making monster sounds or Stone singing "Pocketful of Sunshine" while contorting her face gives them a huger erection than Roger Ebert watching a "Boomtown" marathon.

As for a moratorium on Boston movies: Don't count on it. Hell, we still have The Fighter and Conviction before the year's even up.

Back in 2002 when I was complaining about every movie having that faceless Canadian-shot vibe, I might've held my tongue knowing the alternative was a cheapskate 2009-2011 where every other movie was lensed in the woodsy/overcast/uncinematic blue collar workaday burgs of Boston, Pittsburgh, Shreveport (!), rural Georgia, and New Orleans. Bring the real movies back to the coasts, please.

Makes me imagine a 1976 where Scorsese had been compelled to shoot "Taxi Driver" in the Rust Belt backwoods of Dayton, Ohio.

Scott Nye

I went to college in Boston, and indeed, heard surprisingly few Boston accents in my time there (especially considering a friend went to the same school a year ahead of me and came back with a decidedly Boston inflection only a year in). My girlfriend, who grew up in the Boston suburbs, gets almost apoplectic every time a new movie comes out that paints it as a sea of "aw"-sounding words. Me, I find the accent irresistible to the ear. Can't get enough of it. Accuracy be damned, I'd much rather hear a Boston, Irish, Italian, or overly-pronounced southern (particularly of the Foghorn Leghorn variety) accent any day of the week.

And, as fate would have it, I'm seeing both of these films on Saturday after work. Hurrah!

Glenn Kenny

@ Lex: To be fair to myself, while I do indeed find the Stoner rather appealing, I note in my "Easy A" review that she's NO WAY a credible high-schooler. So my, erm, boner, such as it is, didn't TOTALLY mess with my critical objectivity/detachment.

See also, by the way, Daschenel, Zooey, early.

Matthias Galvin

@Jeff McMahon

"I'm, uh, just hoping, uh, that their Boston accents wasn't too non-rhiotic."

de-grammatically corrected for Southie emphasis.

Phil Freeman

Well, these are the two movies I'm planning on seeing this weekend (Easy A tomorrow, The Town on Sunday) and your review hasn't put me off the former. Your review of the latter bugs me a little, though, for one reason - I wish you and every other critic (and you don't do it as much as others) would stop apologizing for genre movies being genre movies as a necessary preface to praising them. If you're gonna continue to feel the need to point out that bank-job flicks or horror flicks have RULES, then at least have the stones to point out that "quirky indie dramedy" is a genre, too, and its rules are just as cast in stone. FFS, as they say.

Dan Coyle

I might actually see the Town this weekend. I like to say that when I die, my final word will be "Affleck", and then the movie of my life will be everyone trying to figure out what I meant, then you cut to my Daredevil comics being set on fire.

joel_gordon

As a Providence native, I vote for moving the crime sagas an hour south on 95. Boston peaked with EDDIE COYLE and THE VERDICT.

jbryant

Lex, I'm no critic, but Stone is the one current actress I've been known to gush over (um, not a double entendre, I swear). And although she's perfectly cute and offbeat-sexy, her primary appeal to me is her wonderful comic delivery, evidenced in Superbad and The House Bunny, a bit less so in Zombieland (which wasn't that kind of role). I've been looking forward to seeing her in a leading role, so Easy A has been on my must-see list since the first trailer. Regardless of strict believability, I will gladly pay to see her play a high school girl (all those years of 30-ish high schoolers in TV series may help with the suspension of disbelief). I would pay to see her if she were absurdly cast as the lead in Precious, or Memoirs of a Geisha, or Hobo with a Shotgun.

And God love Jessica Alba, who's a beautiful woman, but Stone is more convincing in any random 1/2 second of the Easy A trailer than Alba has managed to be in about 15 years of appearing before cameras (and seriously, I'm no hater--I thought she was quite decent in The Eye, for instance). Diff'rent strokes, Lex (okay, maybe that one's a double entendre).

Lex

There's something in EASY A who's a zillion times hotter than Emma Stone, and I don't just mean Penn Badgley.

Aly Michalka Power. Hellcats Power.

Glenn Kenny

@ Phil Freeman: I haven't had the occasion to review a "quirky indie dramedy" in some time, but I do like to believe that I'm in fact aware that such an item has its own set of imperatives. I can't claim to be the biggest expert on my own work, but I suspect that I may be on record as saying I actually have quite a bit less use for such imperatives than I do for those of bank-robbing pictures. I LIKE genre movies. Hell, they're the reason I like movies in the first place. If I, or some other critics, seem a bit over defensive about some of their conventions, it's because said conventions are the first thing you hear a lot of other critics, and know-somethingish viewers, complaining about. Such folks believe their complaints make them seem more imaginative, themselves.

Haven't watched "Hellcats" yet. Have only seen Michalka rocking the "which way did he go George?" expression in the subway posters for the show, which are simultaneously confusing and alluring. She's pretty funny in "Easy A,' though.

bill

My favorite asshole/moron moment regarding genre conventions is when T. C. Boyle said that all science fiction followed a formula. I'm still waiting to hear what that formula is.

Michael Adams

Although it probably won't happen, would love for Lars Anderson to become a Bosox star just to hear the Fenway Faithful chant his name.

Dan Coyle

Michalka was very good in BandSlam.

bill: Boyle equates cynicism with cleverness way too much.

Jeff McMahon

Thanks Matthias Galvin, apparently my problem wasn't the accent as much as that I had no idea what 'rhotic' meant (thanks, Wikipedia!).

I agree that Alba was not bad in The Eye and Idle Hands, but aside from those...yeesh.

I think a 'Movie Critic Boner' simply happens on those occasions when an actress comes along that's both attractive AND has talent and intelligence; in other words, when they're something more than a dead-eyed container for saline a la Megan Fox, Paris Hilton, anybody who was in Cloverfield, etc.

John M

Lex, for your records, you should probably add Greta Gerwig to the Movie Critic Boner list.

Phil Freeman

Saw Easy A at 10 AM. There were only three people in the theater, including my wife and me, and person #3 showed up late - for a few minutes, I was all excited we were gonna get a private screening. No dice.

Anyway, the movie was very funny. Much fun was made of the Demi Moore remake of "The Scarlet Letter," as is only right. And the Huckleberry Finn jokes (seriously) were great. Emma Stone's a good, game performer - it's a shame the screenwriter and director made her narrate the movie into a webcam.

Whim Whenders

Unless I missed something, or unless you were joking, the Wim Wenders version of The Scarlet Letter is not referenced anywhere in Easy A. It's the 1995 version with Demi Moore that is repeatedly mentioned...

lipranzer

I liked THE TOWN, and in some senses, Affleck has grown as a director since GONE, BABY, GONE (which I liked in spite of a big problem, which I'll get to in a minute); the action scenes may not be staged at a master class level, but they're exciting without bludgeoning you, and feel necessary to the plot. And the acting is uniformly good - even Blake Lively, whom I didn't really care for in THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE, does good work as Affleck's ex-girlfriend. And while Affleck the actor isn't my favorite, this type of role he does well. However, it has the same storytelling problem I had with the first half of GONE, BABY, GONE; it feels like Affleck's more interested in making sure all the plot details are there from the book than in making the story flow. It all seems very choppy, and character relationships don't feel as earned as they do in the book, except for the one between Affleck and Renner (and Pete Postlethwaite with the gang in general, but that's because he effortlessly radiates menace).

Glenn Kenny

@ Whim Whenders: I wasn't joking, and yes, I know that the 1995 version is repeatedly mentioned. Rather late in the film, Emma Stone's character goes to her local art house theater by herself; the title on the marquee is "Der scharlachrote Buchstabe." It's a single shot. I suppose it's POSSIBLE that it was cut prior to general release, but it's such a throwaway I couldn't see why.

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