Afflix:

twilit meditations

in the film art of Ben Affleck

 

by Gary W. Wright

 

Curiously, like some film stars before him, Benjamin Geza Affleck-Boldt aka Ben (BA) Affleck graduated from acting in films to creating film art.  However, unlike other film artists of the dread allegorical Zone War era that implicitly exploded into being after a helicopter crash killed actor/writer/director Vic Morrow and illegally hired and employed child extras Renee Chen and My-Ca Le around 2:20 am in the morning of July 23, 1982 on the George Folsey jr. produced John Landis set of the twilit, allegorical, computer generated imagery (CGI) enhanced and Kathleen Kennedy associate produced and Frank Marshall produced Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller and Steven Spielberg film TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983), BA was a child in 1982 and thus implicitly more traumatized by the TZ disaster like most child and teen audience members at the time.  A shocked and tramautized outrage that BA implicitly channelled when he co-wrote with Aaron Stockard and directed his first twilit, allegorical and CGI free indie docufeature film GONE BABY GONE (2007), released on September 5, 2007 and inspired by the twilit and allegorical Dennis Lehane 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 but unbowed Dorchester neighbourhood of BA’s hometown of Boston.  Eventually the gritty docufeature shots were joined by a voiceover (VO) 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 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, 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 three decker house and persuaded the reluctant PI Kenzie and his female partner and lover, Angela ‘Angie’ Gennaro-played by Michelle Monaghan-to team up to track down and find Amanda. 

 

Significantly, Kenzie resembled Giovanni Ribisi, an implicit link to Ribisi reaffirmed by his VO which continued throughout the film and evoked Ribisi’s equally film long VO in the twilit and allegorical Sofia (SCC) Coppola docufeature indie film, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999), implicitly linking Kenzie to SCC.  As for Gennaro, she resembled Kathryn Bigelow as a young woman, implicitly linking Gennaro to the fearless Bigelow, an implication affirmed by the film’s allusions to the twilit and allegorical Bigelow indie docufeature films NEAR DARK (1987), and BLUE STEEL (1990), and the twilit, allegorical and James Cameron 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 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 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 crooked 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 and allegorical Lynch 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 Amanda 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 rescue that led to the separation of Gennaro and Kenzie.  For the two disagreed with 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 his wife.  Thus, given the implicit links of Gennaro and Kenzie to Bigelow and SCC, implied did BA 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 name that evoked Kurt Russell’s MacReady in the eerily twilit and allegorical John Carpenter film THE THING (1982), reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in the twilit and disastrous year of ‘82.  The fact that Harris played Hank Blaine in the implicitly Dorothy linked “Father’s Day” episode of the twilit, allegorical, gleefully macabre, implicitly Ozian themed film roasting and Screamin’ Stephen King scripted George A. Romero film CREEPSHOW (1982)-a film that was alluded to in GONE BABY GONE-also affirmed the film’s interest in the twilit and disastrous year of 1982.  Indeed, this implicit interest in the fateful and fatal year of ‘82 was reaffirmed by the fact that Patrick Kenzie’s hunt for Amanda-who shared the first name of an adopted daughter of George Lucas-evoked the determined hunt by Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard for the renegade replicants of the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Sir Ridley Scott film BLADE RUNNER (1982).  Indeed, Kenzie’s film long VO evoked Deckard’s film long  VO in the original ’82 cut of BLADE RUNNER, while a cocaine addict named Leon Trett-played by Mark Margolis-whose name evoked the replicant Leon Kowalski-played by Brion James-in BLADE RUNNER, affirming the resemblance 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 shot dead at one point in the film during a confrontation at the house of Trett also implied that BA 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 BA put on the co-writer/director hats and implicitly addressed Bigelow again in his next twilit, allegorical and CGI free indie docufeature film THE TOWN (2010), released on September 8, 2010 and inspired by the twilit and allegorical Chuck Hogan 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 Keesey-played by Rebecca Hall-being traumatized by a quartet of Skeletor masked but ironically small time punks and bank robbers comprised of the perhaps Lucas linked Douglas “Doug” MacRay, the implicitly Alfred Hitchcock linked Albert “Gloansy” Magloan, the implicitly Cameron linked James “Jim” Coughlin and Desmond “Dez” Elden-played by BA, Slaine, Jeremy Renner and Owen Burke, respectively-from the rough, ready and Hollywood cadenced Charlestown neighbourhood of Boston in the bank robbery in the Boston suburb of Cambridge where grew up did BA at the beginning of the film immediately affirmed the implication that BA was addressing Bigelow again in his second film.  The fact that the quartet of masked robbers evoked the quartet of masked robbers dubbed the “Ex-President’s Gang” by the FBI and press in POINT BREAK reaffirmed the film’s implicit Bigelow addressing intent.  The film’s allusions to STRANGE DAYS also affirmed that the film was implicitly addressing Bigelow on one level.

 

Thus, the decision of Doug MacRay-whose names evoked Doug McGrath, who played Larry, and Charles Hallahan, who played Ray, opposite Morrow’s Bill Connor in the Fender Trap bar scene that began the Landis episode of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE-to leave behind his bank robbing days 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 blockbuster heist of Fenway Park led to the shooting deaths of the other three members of his gang including Coughlin implied that BA was pleased that in 2009 did Bigelow take six Academy Awards including the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars from Cameron and the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced 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.  In addition, the hopeful phrase “...see you in Florida, kid” spoken by MacRay to Coughlin shortly before the final blockbuster heist reaffirmed that the film was addressing Cameron, for Cameron liked to say “...see you in the sunshine” before entering a submersible for another undersea adventure in his documentaries. 

 

Significantly, the presence of Victor Garber as an uncredited assistant bank manager named David Bearns who was roughed up by Coughlin in the film’s opening bank robbery in Cambridge also reaffirmed the film’s implicit Cameron busting intent, as Garber played Titanic designer Thomas Andrews in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Cameron Zonebuster TITANIC (1997).  Preparing us for the return of Garber as Ken Taylor, Canada’s ambassador in Tehran, when Affleck put on the co-writer/co-producer/director hats and 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 his next twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced docufeature film ARGO (2012), released on August 31, 2012 and inspired by real events and the allegorical Antonio ‘Tony’ J. Mendez 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, the film was set in an Iran as beat up but brash, bloodied but 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 neighborhood of GONE BABY GONE, linking the two films together.  However, unlike the Boston battlers, the indignant Iranians were so mad as hell and not gonna take it no more 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 another link of ARGO to GONE BABY GONE.  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 a fusion of animation and live action film art, evoking the similar opening titles sequence of the brash and confident twilit and allegorical Jason Reitman film JUNO (2007), implying that young Reitman was being addressed in ARGO.  This Reitman addressing implication was affirmed by the film’s allusions to the equally brash and confident twilit and allegorical Reitman films THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (2005) and YOUNG ADULT (2011), and by the fact that numerous black haired, bearded and moustached male extras in the scenes in Iran resembled the equally black haired, bearded and moustached Reitman.  Thus, the sight and sound of the Lucas resembling and implicitly linked CIA agent Tony Mendez-played by BA-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 the Canadian ambassador’s residence and out of the country disguised as members of a Canadian film crew who had been in Iran “…on a location scout for a science fiction movie” implied that Affleck was not pleased with the implicit roast of Lucas on one level in YOUNG ADULT and was striking back at young Reitman on behalf of Lucas. 

 

Indeed, the sight and sound of Mendez relaxing with his son, Ian Mendez-played by Aidan Sussman-in his bedroom surrounded by shelves full of his son’s STAR WARS action figure collection after the triumphant conclusion of the “exfil” op affirmed the implication that Affleck wanted Lucas to triumph over 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 muppeter who played Yoda, respectively, also affirmed the implicit Lucas supporting intent of the film.  In addition, given that the six rescued Americans reminded us of the six STAR WARS films, 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, Affleck also implicitly affirmed his commitment to another Good Year and era 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, Welliver, Chris Cooper-who played Stephen MacRay in THE TOWN-Chris Messina-who played Washington bureaucrat Malinov in ARGO-and Jacqueline West-costume designer of ARGO-on the twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film LIVE BY NIGHT (2016), released on December 13, 2016, and inspired by the twilit and allegorical Lehane novel Live By Night (2012).

 

“What you put out in the world

will always come back to you.”

 

        Curiously, the film started in familiar territory with the criminal misadventures of the perhaps Cameron linked Dorchester lad, Joseph ‘Joe’ Coughlin-played by BA-in Boston before Coughlin moved on south to Tampa to work for 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 and gunned down the implicitly Tarantino linked psycho, R.D. Pruitt-played by Maher.  Creating an intriguing allegorical concoction that necessitated further contemplations to unravel, from a battling Boston film artist whose outraged, twilit and allegorical oeuvre was perhaps best referred to as the Afflix.