Monday, March 28, 2011

He could be the shark!

All right pop culture fans, it's time for another pop culture edition! So grab a bowl and fill it up. Remember, pop culture always stays crunchy in milk! Or, if you don't want milk, sprinkle it with some Parmesan. Try it!

Over the weekend, I finally saw the movie The Town. It fell just short of the arbitrary $100 million blockbuster mark, so it was a solid success for Affleck, who starred in, directed, and co-wrote  the film. Just a quick summary as this post is not really about the movie. The Town is about a bank robber who doesn't really like what he does. Avoiding spoilers, the film is about what happens to him when he falls in love. Affleck does a great job of pulling off the anti-heroic role, and I was reminded several times of his role in Good Will Hunting, which he also co-wrote. The power of his performance can be summed up in this: as we were nearing the end of the movie, my wife said, "I don't want anything bad to happen. I know that bad things are going to happen, but I don't want it to."

It's good to see Ben Affleck "back." Not that he hasn't been "back" for a while, but The Town was significant in that, if it had failed, all the work he's done since the whole Jennifer Lopez thing may have been for naught, and he may have been stuck in supporting roles for, at least, the foreseeable future. By the way, if you haven't seen it, and you probably haven't, go out of your way to see Hollywoodland. There is one good thing that came out of the Lopez affair, it made Affleck more picky about the projects he's become involved in.

For my part, I never quit liking Affleck. Yeah, yeah, I hear you out there, now, "of course, you say that, now," but, really, my view has always been that the negative backlash against him (especially for something that had nothing to do with his acting) was stupid. And the worst part is that it damaged more than just him. Daredevil, which is one of my favorite superhero movies (and great to just have on in the background while doing other things), got an incredibly bad rap for using Affleck, although the worst thing most people could say was that Affleck doesn't have blond hair. Seriously? That's all you can come up with? Speaking as a comic book person, Daredevil was a great adaptation and stands solidly with Spider-Man and Iron Man. Then, there's Jersey Girl.

Jersey Girl might actually be Kevin Smith's best film. It's touching and sweet and real. And Affleck shines in it. But no one saw it. I mean, not only did it have Affleck, but Lopez has a (very) short-lived role. And, of course, Smith fans wouldn't watch it because it was such a departure from his "normal" work. What's with that? Slam a guy for only ever doing the same kind of thing, but, when he tries to do something different, slam him for not doing what he's always done? How's that okay? It is possible that the majority of Kevin Smith fans will never like Jersey Girl, because it doesn't deliver the thing that makes them like him to begin with, but that doesn't make it a bad movie, and it's no excuse for everyone else who shunned it for no other reason than Affleck was the star at a time when he wasn't popular because of whom he was dating.

At any rate, it's good to see Affleck back in the seat of respectability. He's a great actor. And he has a great smile. I cannot say otherwise: 1. because it's true 2. because my wife loves it. I'd love to see Affleck and DiCaprio in something together. Oh, the title! I wish I could remember in what interview Kevin Smith says that, but he's talking about Affleck's acting ability. I think it's in something related to Daredevil; although, it's not really important. Smith says that Affleck can do anything. In fact, he says, he could be in Jaws... as the shark!

To tie all this into writing, which, no, I don't have to do since this is an all pop culture post, but I feel like making this parallel. Sometimes, the hard times, although they seem really bad, at the time, can force good results. Affleck had to start accepting projects that would be good for his career, not just good for his bank account. Writing can be like that. Sometimes, as writers, we have to look really hard at what's good for the story, not just what feels good to us. And, sometimes, if we want other people to read what we've written, we have to look at what is appealing to the larger audience, not just at what is appealing to us. And that can be the hardest thing.


  1. "Sometimes, as writers, we have to look really hard at what's good for the story, not just what feels good to us." I think this is one of the toughest responsibilities of a writer. The story springs from our head (or maybe the little hamster that lives inside it and spins its wheels), but it will come alive inside the reader's imagination. The challenge is to build the best bridge to make that crossover possible. :)

  2. Interesting post. I have always liked Ben Afflek because I think he's handsome (judge me, at least I'm honest ;) but haven't really seen many of his movies. J Lo has always annoyed me to no end, though, so I must admit I fell off the bandwagon when THAT was going on. However. Jennifer Garner is great. And Jersey Girl, I agree, was a very good movie. It *almost* made me like the name Gertrude. And the Sweeney Todd scene! Priceless.

    Interested in this: "And, sometimes, if we want other people to read what we've written, we have to look at what is appealing to the larger audience, not just at what is appealing to us."

    I have always tried as a writer to not be *too* concerned with my perspective audience, as I find it really hurts my confidence. I get so worried that I have no voice at all. But you are right: it is very hard. Books, I've always believed, are a collaboration between the writer, the story and the reader. Everyone has to have a say! But as writers it is so easy to think we "own" our stories. Truth is, I think they own us!

    Thanks so much for your kind comments on my blog. I appreciate them so! Especially any comparison between me an an elf. I have always said that's what I want to be when I grow up :)

  3. Aw, yeah, I've always stuck by Ben Afflek, even if he has been in some real stinker films. But really, how many actors HAVEN'T participated in a flop throughout their career?

  4. Steph: Hmmm... Possibly Matt Damon? Some of his movies have been commercial flops, but I'm not thinking of any, right off hand, that have been critical flops. I could be wrong. I feel research about to happen...:/

    Sam: I don't think I have a comment to express that better. But, you know, the thought of building a bridge from the reader into my head is kind of, um, creepy. I'm not sure I like the idea of people crawling in and out of my head.

    Bess: I know exactly what you mean. That's what comes easy for me, not being concerned, because, well, that's always how I've been... unconcerned with what other people think. About me, specifically. Not a part of the herd at all. I think, maybe, The Lemming Condition had too large an impact on me when I read it in 5th grade, not that I wasn't already like that, but it really cemented me even more in my way of being. So I have to be -very- mindful of making things accessible. The trick is to write it, first, for yourself and, then, adapt it for everyone else. Maybe. :P
    Tell me what Affleck movies you've already seen, and I'll tell you which ones you need to see :)

  5. Daredevil is also one of my favorites and I always felt it was crazy that it was received so poorly in the comic to movie community. Weird that he ended up marrying his co-star from that film. Great post I especially liked the last lines about very true. I have read books from authors who are just neck deep in their own importance that they no longer write for their readers. It's kind of sad really.

  6. Oh goodness. Not sure. Pearl Harbor. Jersey Girl. Armageddon. I know I need to see "Good Will Hunting." Don't know how I missed it! But I think that's all.