THE TOWN (Ben Affleck, 2010)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Friday, July 19, 7:30, and Monday, August 5, 6:30
Tickets: $12, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk beginning at 9:30 am
Ben Affleck, who displayed great skill as a director in his debut feature, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, did it again with his follow-up, the romantic thriller The Town. Affleck, who also cowrote the script, stars as Doug MacRay, the leader of a small group of bank robbers in tough Charlestown, Massachusetts, the bank robbery capital of America. As the film opens, the thieves are just hitting a bank and are forced to take a hostage, manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). After later letting her go unharmed, they soon realize that she lives in their neighborhood and might be able to recognize one of them, so Doug starts hanging around her, pretending to be interested in her so he can tap her for information. Meanwhile, Boston cop Dino (Titus Welliver) and FBI Special Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) are getting closer to the gang, who continue to pull off daring heists regardless of the heat on them. Although there are a handful of plot holes you could drive an armored truck through, The Town ends up being a compelling action film and love story, with car chases, massive shootouts, and a tender relationship as Doug begins to fall for Claire, and vice versa, even though the truth threatens to blow everything apart. Also threatening to blow everything apart is Doug’s right-hand man, Jem (Jeremy Renner, channeling James Cagney in White Heat), who likes hurting and killing way too much. Affleck, who as a director allows his actors a large amount of freedom, has gotten fine performances across the board; the cast also includes Pete Postlethwaite as an underworld florist, Chris Cooper as Doug’s long-incarcerated father, Blake Lively as a drug-dealing tramp, and Boston rapper Slaine, who contributed songs to the soundtrack as well. The film, based on the Chuck Hogan novel Prince of Thieves, also benefits from Affleck’s genuine affection for the place where he grew up, shooting on location and setting the finale in a world-famous landmark. It’s been fascinating watching Affleck come of age in public, from his early days acting in such films as School Ties, Mall Rats, and Dazed and Confused to his wildly successful directing career, with his third film, Argo, being named Best Picture at this year’s Oscars. The Town is screening July 19 and August 5 as part of the MoMA series “A View from the Vaults: Warner Bros. Today,” consisting of thirty-one films from the last twenty years of movies coming out of the famed studio, including the Harry Potter, Dark Knight, and Lord of the Ring series as well as such wide-ranging fare as Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, Ted Braun’s Darfur Now, Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, Todd Phillips’s The Hangover, and Zack Snyder’s Watchmen.