twilit meditations

in the allegorical film art

of Ben Affleck


by Gary W. Wright


        Curiously, like some film stars before him like Sean Penn and Robert Redford, Benjamin Geza Affleck-Boldt aka Ben Affleck graduated from acting in films to creating film art.  However, unlike other film artists of the dread allegorical Zone War era that erupted after a shocking and outraging helicopter crash killed actor/writer/director Vic Morrow and illegally hired and employed child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le around 2:20 am in the early morning of July 23, 1982 on the George Folsey jr. produced John Landis set of the twilit, allegorical, Kathleen Kennedy associate produced, Frank Marshall produced and Landis and Steven Spielberg executive produced Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller docufeature film TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983), Affleck was a child in 1982 and thus was a part of the young Boomer brat generation that was more traumatized and outraged by the TZ disaster like than most adult audience members and film artists were at the time.  A shocked fury that Affleck implicitly channelled when he co-wrote with Aaron Stockard and directed his first twilit, allegorical and computer generated imagery (CGI) free indie docufeature film GONE BABY GONE (2007), released on September 5, 2007 and inspired by the twilit and allegorical Dennis Lahane indie docufiction novel Gone Baby Gone (1998).


“I always believed

it was the things you don’t choose

that makes you who you are.”


        Curiously, the film began with a montage of shots of the sun rising on the beat up but brash, bloodied and unbowed Dorchester neighbourhood of Affleck’s hometown of Boston.  Eventually the gritty docufeature shots were joined by a voiceover (VO) that set the scene by someone who turned out to be private investigator Patrick Kenzie-played by Affleck’s younger brother, Casey-a VO that ended outside a media mobbed brown three decker house whose inhabitants were traumatized by the disappearance of a Chen evoking three and a half year old girl named Amanda McReady-played by Madeline O’Brien-and her doll, Mirabelle.  Soon, Amanda’s aunt and uncle, the Kennedy resembling and possibly linked Beatrice “Bea” McReady and the Walter Murch resembling and implicitly linked Lionel McReady-played by Amy Madigan and Titus Welliver, respectively-arrived at Kenzie’s own three decker house and persuaded the reluctant PI and his female partner and luver Angela “Angie” Gennaro-played by Michelle Monaghan-to team up to track down and find Amanda.

        Significantly, Kenzie resembled and was implicitly linked to Giovanni Ribisi, an implicit link to Ribisi affirmed by his VO which continued throughout the film and evoked Ribisi’s equally film long VO in the twilit, allegorical and slightly CGI enhanced Sofia Carmina (SCC) Coppola indie docufeature film THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999), implicitly linking Kenzie to SCC.  As for Gennaro, she resembled Bigelow as a young woman, implicitly linking her to the tall, commanding and fearless Bigelow, an implication affirmed by the film’s allusions to the twilit and allegorical Bigelow indie docufeature films NEAR DARK (1987), BLUE STEEL (1990), and the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed, implicitly George Lucas addressing and James Cameron executive produced Bigelow indie docufeature artbusters POINT BREAK (1991) and STRANGE DAYS (1995).

        Just as significantly, this reluctant decision to find Amanda led Gennaro and Kenzie deep into the dark and dank depths of the local drug dealers, including the dangerous Haitian Jean “Cheese” Baptiste-played by Ed Gathegi-who was suspected of holding Amanda hostage and whose beautiful young Laotian girlfriend-played by Mary Bounphasaysonh-resembled and was also implicitly linked to SCC.  Surprisingly, however, and in the end, Amanda turned out to have been kidnapped by her uncle Lionel, who had cooked up a kooky scheme with his police snitch contacts, the implicitly Bill Murray linked Sergeant Detective Remy Bressant and his partner Nick Poole-played by Ed Harris and John Ashton, respectively-and their supervisor Captain Jack Doyle-implicitly linked to David Lynch given the film’s allusions to the twilit, allegorical and Ozian themed Lynch indie moving painting BLUE VELVET (1986), and played by Morgan Freeman-to pin the kidnapping and faked death of Amanda on Cheese in order to secretly free the girl from her irresponsible and alcoholic “coke ho” mother Helene McReady-played by Amy Ryan.

        And so Amanda was rescued from the safekeeping of Capt. Doyle and his wife Francine-played by Kippy Goldfarb-in the end, a traumatic rescue that led to the separation of Gennaro and Kenzie.  For the two disagreed over the need for the rescue, making it bittersweet, indeed, as the film ended with Kenzie babysitting Amanda while the indomitably irresponsible Helene went out for another drunken and coke sniffing night on the town, no doubt making Kenzie wonder if he should have listened to Gennaro and left Amanda in the safekeeping of Capt. Doyle and Francine.  Thus, given the implicit links of Gennaro and Kenzie to Bigelow and SCC, implied did Affleck that the implicit cinematic feuding between Bigelow and SCC would hurt their film art in the new millennium, implicitly symbolized by young Amanda, more than help them.

        At any rate, the fact that the McReady clan had a surname that evoked the implicitly Lucas linked McReady-played by Kurt Russell-in the eerily twilit and allegorical John Carpenter docufeature film THE THING (1982) affirmed the film’s implicit interest in the fateful and fatal year of ’82.  The fact that Harris played Hank Blaine in the implicitly Dorothy linked episode of the eerily twilit, allegorical, exuberantly macabre, implicitly Ozian themed film roasting and Screamin’ Stephen King scripted George A. Romero indie docufeature film CREEPSHOW (1982)-a film alluded to in GONE BABY GONE-also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in the twilit and disastrous year of 1982.  Indeed, this implicit interest in 1982 was reaffirmed by the fact that Patrick Kenzie’s determined hunt for Amanda-who shared the same first name as an adopted daughter of Lucas-evoked the determined hunt by world weary Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Blade Runnter Richard “Rick” Deckard-played by Harrison Ford-for a group of renegade Replicants in the crowded streets and decaying retrofitted buildings of L.A. 2021 in the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and implicitly Lucas addressing Sir Ridley Scott indie docufeature artbuster BLADE RUNNER (1982). Indeed, Kenzie’s film long VO evoked the film long VO of Deckard in the original ’82 cut of BLADE RUNNER, while a cocaine addict named Leon Trett-played by Mark Margolis-evoked the renegade Replicant Leon Kowalski-played by Brion James-affirming the implicit link of GONE BABY GONE to BLADE RUNNER.

        Curiously, the fact that a homicidal pedophile named Corwin Earle-played by Matthew Maher-resembled and was implicitly linked to Quentin Tarantino and was also shot dead at one point in the film during a confrontation at the home of Trett also implied that Affleck believed that Tarantino was a seriously warped and dangerous film artist, indeed.  Then Boston returned along with Stockard, Welliver, Slaine-who played “drug lord” Bubba in GONE BABY GONE-and executive producer David Crockett, composer Harry Gregson-Williams and production designer Sharon Seymour-all from GONE BABY GONE-when Affleck put on the co-writer/director hats and implicitly addressed Bigelow again in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature film THE TOWN (2010), released on September 8, 2010 and inspired by the twilit and allegorical Chuck Hogan indie docufiction novel Prince Of Thieves (2004).


“You’re like a brother to me.”


        Indeed, the sight and sound of the Bigelow resembling and implicitly linked Cambridge, MA bank manager Claire Kessey-played by Rebeccah Hall-being traumatized by a quartet of Skeletor masked but ironically small time punks and bank robbers comprised of the implicitly Cameron linked James “Gem” Coughlin, the perhaps Lucas linked Douglas “Doug” MacRay, the implicitly Alfred Hitchcock linked Albert “Gloansy” Magloan, and Desmond “Dez” Elden-played by Jeremy Renner, Affleck, Slaine and Owen Burke, respectively-from the rough, ready and Hollywood cadenced Charlestown neighbourhood of Boston in the opening bank robbery in the Boston suburb of Cambridge where grew up did Affleck immediately affirmed the implication that Affleck was addressing Bigelow again in his second film.  The fact that the quartet of masked bank robbers evoked the quartet of masked bank robbers dubbed the “Ex-President’s Gang” by the FBI and press in POINT BREAK reaffirmed the film’s implicit Bigelow addressing intent of the film on one level.  The film’s allusions to STRANGE DAYS also affirmed that the film was implicitly addressing Bigelow on one level.

        The sight and sound of Coughlin beating an assistant bank manager named David Bearns-played by Victor Garber-into bloody unconsciousness with his automatic rifle butt also affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Cameron on another level.  For Garber played Thomas Andrews, the designer of the doomed Titanic, in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Cameron indie docufeature Zonebuster TITANIC (1997), openly linking Coughlin to Cameron and the film to Canada, an implicit link to Canada affirmed by the many scenes where a red and white Maple Leaf flag colour combination was present.  Coughlin’s nickname “Gem” also affirmed his link to Cameron, reminding us that the Heart O’ the Ocean diamond featured prominently in the moving events of TITANIC. 

        Thus, the decision of Doug MacRay-whose names evoked Doug McGrath, who played Larry, and Charles Hallahan, who played Ray, opposite Morrow’s cranky and implicitly Richard Rush linked Bill Connor in the Fender Trap bar scene that kicked off the Landis episode of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE-to leave behind his bank robbing daze in Boston and to retire anonymously in Florida with the possibility of a reunion with Keesey in the quiet and reflective end after a last big beastly blockbuster heist of Fenway Park led to the shooting deaths of the other three members of his gang including Coughlin implied that Affleck was pleased that in 2009 Bigelow took six Academy Awards including the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars from Cameron and the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie animaction Zonebuster AVATAR (2009) with the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Lynch addressing indie docufeature artbuster THE HURT LOCKER (2006).  Indeed, the appearance of Renner affirmed that implication, as he played the implicitly Lynch linked U.S. Army bomb disposal expert Sergeant William James in THE HURT LOCKER.

Curiously, after a swift and ignominious exit from THE TOWN, Garber openly flouted his Canadian roots as Ken Taylor, Canadian ambassador in Tehran, when Affleck donned the co-writer/co-producer/director hats and also teamed up again with Seymour, Welliver and William Goldenberg-editor of GONE BABY GONE-to implicitly address Lucas again and implicitly roast another Canuck film artist in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature film ARGO (2012), released on August 31, 2012 and inspired by real events and the allegorical Antonio “Tony” J. Mendez indie book The Master Of Disguise (1999), and the allegorical Joshuah Bearman article “Escape From Tehran: how the CIA used a fake sci-fi flick to rescue Americans from Iran” (WIRED May 2007).


“ARGO fuck yourself.”


Significantly, after staring off with a retro Warners logo, the film began in an Iran that was as beat up but brash, bloodied and unbowed after decades of U.S. aided misrule by the gleefully corrupt Shahanshah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, his “government” and his violent SAVAK thugs as the Boston neighbourhoods of GONE BABY GONE and THE TOWN, linking the three films together.  However, unlike the Boston battlers, the indignant Iranians were so mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore that they rose up in indomitable rebellion, overthrew the Shahanshah, his “government” and his thugs, took over the country and installed the Ayatollah Khomeini as their more spiritually minded leader.  As retribution for aiding the Shahanshah the indomitable Iranians also stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and took most of its American employees hostage, evoking the kidnapping and confinement of Amanda in GONE BABY GONE in another link to that film.  All except six U.S. embassy employees, Cora and Mark Lijek-played by Clea DuVall and Christopher Denham, respectively-Joseph D. and Kathy Stafford-played by Scoot McNairy and Kerry Bishe, respectively-and Bob Anders and Henry Lee Schatz-played by Tate Donovan and Rory Cochrane, respectively-who managed to surreptitiously find asylum with Canadian ambassador Taylor and his wife Pat Taylor-played by Page Leong-at his residence.

Curiously, the opening prologue that set the riotous and revolutionary scene was intercut with animated film storyboards, creating a fusion of animation and live action film art that evoked the similar opening titles sequence of the brash and confident twilit, allegorical, slightly CGI enhanced and implicitly Lucas roasting Jason Reitman indie docufeature film JUNO (2007), implying that young Reitman was being addressed in ARGO.  This implicit Reitman addressing intent was reaffirmd by the film’s allusions to the equally brash, confident, twilit and allegorical Reitman indie docfeature films THANK YOU FOR SMOKING  (2005) and YOUNG ADULT (2011), and by the fact that numerous black haired, eyebrowed, eyed, bearded and moustached young male extras in the scenes in Iran resembled the equally black haired, eyebrowed, eyed, bearded and moustached Reitman.  Thus, the sight and sound of the Lucas resembling and implicitly linked CIA Agent Anthony “Tony” Mendez-played by Affleck-arriving on the scene in 1980 sixty-nine days into the hostage taking crisis disguised as Kevin Harkins, a Canadian production assistant for Six Films Productions, to successfully exfiltrate the six American embassy employees from Ambassador Taylor’s residence and out of the country against all odds disguised as members of a Canadian film crew who had been in Iran “…on a location scout for a science fiction movie” called ARGO that evoked the allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and implicitly Spielberg roasting Lucas indie docufeature film STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)-complete with a blue wookie-implied that Affleck was not pleased with the implicit roast of Lucas in JUNO and on one level in YOUNG ADULT and was striking back at young Reitman on behalf of Lucas and evoking the equally difficult battle Lucas had to fight to create STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE.

Indeed, the sight and sound of Mendez relaxing with his son Ian Mendez-played by Aidan Sussman-in his son’s bedroom surrounded by shelves full of his son’s Kenner STAR WARS action figures after the triumphant conclusion of the “exfil” op affirmed the implication that Affleck wanted Lucas and his film art easily triumphed over that of the brash and confident young Reitman, in the end.  The fact that Bob Anders and Joe Stafford resembled STAR WARS Classic Trilogy conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie and Frank Oz, the muppeteer who played Yoda, respectively, also affirmed the implicit Lucas supporting intent of the film.  In addition, given that the six rescued Americans reminded us that there were six STAR WARS films by 2012, Affleck implied that he was one of the few audience members who liked all six STAR WARS films.  Last but not least, by ending the film back in the U.S. in 1980 after the successful rescue in one of the last good years before the TZ disaster and the year of the release of the presciently and eerily twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed, Lucas co-executive produced and implicitly Spielberg roasting Irvin Kershner indie docufeature film STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), Affleck also implicitly affirmed his commitment to another Good Year and a daylit neo eon of Zone free film art, with himself perhaps emerging as the batty and fearless new Lucas who would lead the way out of the dread allegorical Zone Wars.

An implicit hope that continued when Affleck put on the writer/co-producer/director hats and teamed up again with Goldenberg, Gregson-Williams, Lehane-now also a co-executive producer-Maher, Warners, Welliver, Chris Cooper-who played MacRay’s father Stephen MacRay in THE TOWN-Chris Messina-who played Washington bureaucrat Malinov in ARGO-and Jacqueline West-costume designer of ARGO-on the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature film LIVE BY NIGHT (2016), released on December 13, 2016 and inspired by the twilit and allegorical Lehane indie docufiction novel Live By Night (2012).


“What you put out in the world

will always come back to you.”


Curiously, the film started in familiar Boston territory with the criminal misadventures of the perhaps Cameron linked Dorchester lad Joseph “Joe” Coughlin-played by Affleck-before Coughlin moved south to Tampa to work for expatriate Boston gangster Maso Pescatore-played by Remo Girone-with the implicitly Walt Disney linked Dion Bartolo-played by Messina.  Here the two intimidated the possibly Gardevil linked Gary L. Smith-played by Anthony M. Hall-into leaving town and then gunned down the implicitly Tarantino linked psycho R.D. Pruitt-played by Maher.  Creating an intriguing allegorical concoction that further contemplations to unravel it it necessitated, from a battling Boston film artist whose bloodied but unbowed oeuvre was perhaps best referred to as the…Afflix.