In Lieu of “The Town”, We Remember…
While some actors may dabble with directing and many more fantasize about doing so, it’s worth giving Ben Affleck his well-deserved accolades for the graceful and gripping films that were both The Town and Gone Baby Gone. Affleck deserves the highest praise, not merely for being an actor who can actually hack it in one of the toughest jobs in show business, but for selecting genres he was comfortable with, settings he was knowledgeable in, and ensembles casts that collectively and individually were sheer forces of artistic vavoom. However, his recent successes can help but act as a catalyst for examining his career as a whole, even the darkest times, when his career decisions seemed to be the product of a lot of glue sniffing.
One of the most noxious films of this dark artistic (if you can even deign to call it artistic) period is the film Gigli starring Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. If you haven’t seen this film, you really make it a must on your Netflix queue. It’s not because the film was misjudged and actually has some redeeming qualities, it doesn’t. Not even accidentally. This film is a triple threat vomit fest of bad writing and bad acting and a bad score. It fancies itself as “Chasing Amy meets Rain Man” or at least that’s probably how they earnestly pitched it to Affleck, but it’s actually “a student film written by kid in garage having wet dream” meets “insipid crap you’ve already seen.” Christopher Walken and Al Pacino have brief cameos, and when you see them onscreen you want to yell at the television, “Stop, you’re lost! You’ve wandered onto the wrong set!” at once being deeply saddened that these veteran actors would deign to take part in this clearly ill-fated rouse. Perhaps they considered it charity work.
Jennifer Lopez twirls her hair to show the anxiety her character is faced with. She recites her lines showing off the fact that she’s actually memorized them. She bares her midriff so often; it practically becomes another character in the film. And Affleck borrows a character straight from the Bible of Hollywood Cliché’s: the tough guy who doesn’t like being so tough. His character is so one dimensional, at times you feel like you’re not watching a film but staring at a Polaroid. It seems impossible that he could be the same person who gave the lovely, distinctive and distinguished performance in the Town, but we know the facts. Should viewers just chalk up Gigli as a mistake of his youth? Did Lopez’s derriere cast the spell of abysmal judgment on him? Is he not as smart as other Hollywood elite attest? Regardless of the answer, it’s going to require many, many more films like The Town and Gone Baby Gone to help erase the taste of bile that Gigli generates.