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Category: Ben Affleck

Trailer Trash: New preview for Ben Affleck's 'Argo' [Video]

May 25, 2012 | 12:40 pm

Affleck's next movie, "Argo," scheduled for Oct. 12, presents the hardest test yet of his expertise behind the camera, as he steps into a genre -- Middle Eastern conflict -- that has felled any number of skilled filmmakers
Ben Affleck isn't off to a bad start as a movie director.

His directorial debut, 2007's "Gone Baby Gone," received overwhelmingly positive reviews, while 2010's "The Town" earned equally great marks and grossed more than $154 million globally.

Affleck's next movie, "Argo," scheduled for Oct. 12, presents the hardest test yet of his expertise behind the camera, as he steps into a genre -- Middle Eastern conflict -- that has felled any number of skilled filmmakers. 

Based on the true story of an Iranian rescue operation that feels more like "Tropic Thunder" than anything military intelligence could dream up, "Argo" stars Affleck as the architect of the mission. 

Here's a look at the latest trailer, complete with our Trailer Trash commentary:



What's the lowdown on Terrence Malick’s Ben Affleck movie?

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-- John Horn

Photo: Ben Affleck in "Argo." Credit: Claire Folger / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / GK Films

What's the lowdown on Terrence Malick’s Ben Affleck movie?

November 1, 2011 |  7:11 pm


Terrence Malick was back in the news Tuesday when he announced two new films –- a mysterious project starring Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett titled “Knight of Cups” and an equally enigmatic one starring Bale, Blanchett and Ryan Gosling called “Lawless.

Both will shoot in 2012, and both will be seeking financing via foreign-territory sales at the upcoming American Film Market (hence the timing of the announcement). Of course, just because they shoot in 2012 doesn't mean we'll see them anytime before 2015.

But there’s a movie that will be ready before either of those, an untitled film (formerly called “The Burial”) starring Ben Affleck (who actually replaced Bale) that Malick shot right after he finished editing “The Tree of Life.” He’s tweaking the movie in the editing room now, and it's expected to be finished by next year (though that doesn't mean a distributor that buys it will bring out then).

The company selling rights to the movie, FilmNation, has been secretive, to say the least, about the details (think executives reading the script in locked offices, and the “Men in Black” amnesia-laser administered afterward). Malick’s been protective, too. Several U.S. distributors made offers just on the basis of the script and some footage, said a person familiar with negotiations. So far, he’s declined to sell it.

So what’s the movie really about?

There have been scattered reports about it, but according to a person who read the script, it’s a love triangle with an international subtext. It's also the only film Malick has ever done that's set in the same time as the period in which he's making it.

Here’s the breakdown, with the caveat that things could change drastically from script to screen (on “Tree,” Malick would sometimes rewrite scenes on the day of the shoot).

Basically, it concerns a philanderer (Affleck) who, feeling at loose ends, travels to Paris, where he enters a hot-and-heavy affair with a European woman (Olga Kurylenko). Said Lothario returns home to Oklahoma, where he marries the European woman (in part for visa reasons). When the relationship founders, he rekindles a romance with a hometown girl (Rachel McAdams) with whom he's had a long history.

According to the person who read the script, there's a bit of a happier ending than some other Malick movies (or at least a less ambiguous one than at the end of “Tree”). And a person who saw the footage said there's also the trademark visual showiness--shots of Affleck and McAdams in Malick's trademark man-in-nature style--as well as intriguing supporting actors: Javier Bardem, for instance, plays a priest whom Affleck’s Lothario visits for advice.

The more accessible dramatic premise makes one think Malick could be heading to a commercial place, at least by Malick standards. Also helping the film's prospects is the overall visibility of the director's work: After bringing out just four Malick movies in 35 years, he now can churn out three films in just a couple of years. We still wouldn't count on any interviews, though.


What's next for Terrence Malick after 'The Tree of Life'?

Image from Terrence Malick hints at his 'Blue Valentine' moment

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in the new Terrence Malick movie. Credit: FilmNation

What’s next for Terrence Malick after 'The Tree of Life'?

May 27, 2011 |  6:12 pm

His new movie is coming out this weekend, but hard-core Terrence Malick fans always want to know what's next for the director, even if he himself doesn’t always know.

Malick has finished shooting his new film, a drama once titled “Burial” and now without a title. Starring  Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Olga Kurylenko, its contents have been shrouded in mystery, as is typical for a  Malick project.

What is known: It’s a love story, and it uses some of the same radical slice-of-life production techniques used on “Tree.” One person who worked on the film described it as even more experimental, in fact. It’s also the first film Malick has made that’s not in period, which should make for a switch for viewers used to his visions of throwback America.

There’s no U.S. distributor yet for the Affleck movie, but one person who saw a few minutes that are being shown to foreign buyers said that the meditativeness for which Malick is known is there in spades. There was no discernible story or a voice-over in the footage, but shots of Affleck and McAdams in Malick's trademark man-in-nature style.

Of course, given the gaps between Malick’s movies, the big question is when the 67-year-old’s new  project will reach theaters. There were at least two sets of reshoots that had the actors flying back to a Paris location after the production was complete, suggesting an elaborate, Malickian level of tinkering.

But compared with "Tree," whose haul of effects bogged down the production, Malick's sixth project has considerably fewer visual arabesques. And Malick himself may have offered the biggest clue as to when his new movie might be ready: He has told members of his production team to keep the summer and fall open for a possible shoot of yet another film –- which means he expects to be finished with this one in a matter of months.


Image from new Terrence Malick movie hints at his 'Blue Valentine' moment

Finally, the end of secrets on Terrence Malick's 'The Tree of Life'

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in the untitled Terrence Malick film. Credit: Film Nation

Critical Mass: 'The Town'

September 17, 2010 |  1:39 pm


After a string of starring roles in less-than-stellar movies, Ben Affleck appears on track to recapturing his Oscar-winning glory days. But unlike the success of his former writing partner, Matt Damon, Affleck's comeback isn't so much on camera as it is behind the scenes. His 2007 feature directing debut, "Gone Baby Gone," earned a handful of awards and nominations, including an Oscar nomination for supporting actress Amy Ryan. But Affleck's directing follow-up, "The Town," is earning Affleck even more praise and some of the best reviews of his career.

The Times' Kenneth Turan had nothing but praise for Affleck's bank-robber drama, and singled out the actor's skill behind the camera, both in co-writing and directing, as an improvement over his impressive debut. He writes, "Affleck also seems more confident and at ease in the director's chair this time around and less like the actor with something to prove." He goes on to praise the film's impressive cast, including Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm and Rebecca Hall.

Continue reading »

Toronto lineup suggests indie crisis has affected quantity, but not quality

July 27, 2010 | 12:06 pm

The Toronto Film Festival lineup is always strong, and this year it somehow seems even stronger.

Among the notable movies the festival announced for its first batch of movies this morning are a number of historical dramas -- particularly Julian Schnabel's Palestinian period piece  "Miral," Robert Redford's John Wilkes Booth saga "The Conspirator" and John Madden's 1960s Nazi-hunting movie "The Debt" -- as well as a group of internationally set prestige films, including Mark Romanek's "Never Let Me Go," the Carey Mulligan-Andrew Garfield dystopian mood piece based on Kazuo Ishiguro's bestselling novel.

A stellar list of A-list American indie directors also bring their new films to the festival, including Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's teenage dramedy "It's Kind of a Funny Story," John Cameron Mitchell's family drama "Rabbit Hole" and Darren Aronofsky's hybrid ballet-world/character drama/genre tale "Black Swan."

The first three are listed as world premieres, but Aronofsky's film is designated only as a North American premiere, which pretty much means you can assume that it will premiere at either Telluride or Venice just before (likely the latter, given that his 2008 hit "The Wrestler" did just that.) [UPDATE -- Venice of course announced 'Black Swan' as its opening-night film last week, so it's indeed going there.]

Toronto will also be the North American venue of first resort for a host of U.S. actors who've stepped behind the camera, including Ben Affleck (crime drama "The Town") and Emilio Estevez (comedy adventure "The Way"), while  Phillip Seymour Hoffman (directorial debut "Jack Goes Boating") will bring his film to Toronto as well.

A number of more broadly commercial movies will also world-premiere at the festival, including the Robert De Niro thriller "Stone" and the ensemble comedy (Rainn Wilson, Sarah Silverman, Michael C. Hall, Taraji P. Henson) "Peep World." And just because we like her work, we'll point to Susanne Bier's Danish drama "In a Better World," which world-premieres at the festival too. (You can see the latest list of Toronto titles here; about 50 have been announced so far.)

One of the big fall movies that definitely won't be heading north of the border: David Fincher's "The Social Network"; that movie is world-premiering at the New York Film Festival several weeks later.

A few titles that have been making the festival rounds this year will also make a stop in Toronto, including Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Biutiful," Derek Cianfrance's romantic drama "Blue Valentine," Rodrigo Cortés' indie thriller "Buried" and Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger."

It's worth noting that among all the top flight titles cited here,  almost all come in to the festival with U.S. distribution -- only "The Conspirator," "The Way," "Peep World" and "Biutiful" will be looking for a home. That's not, of course, a sign of a renaissance among specialty distributors, but it does highlight the travails in the world of independent financing. Essentially, if you didn't have a distributor on board before you tried to make your movie in the last past year or two, chances are your movie wouldn't get made. 

Overall, the list of top-tier films and directors also gives lie to the idea that the movie business can't produce noteworthy specialty pictures anymore -- though we suppose one can argue that, while fewer movies got made, the ones that did came from the upper echelon of directors and scripts.

Could that in turn mean that there will be more solid movies and far fewer duds at a world-class festival such as Toronto? Optimisim, it runs Canadian.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Ben Affleck's "The Town." Credit: Claire Folger / Warner Bros.

Preview review: Ben Affleck goes to town

July 20, 2010 |  7:30 am

The Town movie image JON HAMM After years of turning in solid performances as an actor, Ben Affleck tried his hand at directing with 2007's "Gone Baby Gone." His debut was relatively well-received, but his latest behind-the-camera effort, September's crime drama "The Town," looks even more promising.

Based on Chuck Hogan's novel "Prince of Thieves," the movie tells the story of Claire, a bank manager (Rebecca Hall) who is taken hostage during a robbery. As she tries to recover from the trauma, she's comforted by Doug (Affleck), who it turns out was one of her kidnappers. Meanwhile, Doug's buddy (Jeremy Renner) is worried that his new love interest might figure out Doug's true identity, while an ex-girlfriend (Blake Lively) continues to vie for his affections. 

The trailer has an ominous tone, opening with creepy footage from Claire's abduction, before explaining that captors come from the gritty streets of Charlestown, Mass. Boston-native Affleck is clearly comfortable on his home turf, and it shows here. And despite the shooting and violence, awards darlings Hall and Renner ground the film emotionally.

Even Lively, known for her wispy portrayal of a blond socialite on "Gossip Girl," seems to be veering into more serious territory. Better yet, her Boston accent isn't horrible.

--Amy Kaufman

Photo: Jon Hamm in "The Town." Credit: Warner Bros.

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