This week we’ve got three of our new DVDs available via streaming: there’s last year’s Best Documentary Oscar-winner, Undefeated, the absolutely beguiling A Talking Cat!?!, and –if you hate yourself- Paul Dano and his stupid face in For Ellen. As for my picks, with all the praise Ben Affleck has been getting lately as a director, I thought it might be good fun to recall some of his films as an actor:
This was Affleck’s first semi-high profile starring role and he stars as a comic-book writer who manages to f*ck the gay right out of a lesbian. I’d like to say it’s more complicated than that, but this film is from Kevin Smith, and it really is just that simple. The film was praised at the time of its 1997 release for being an evocative look at relationships and dating in the mid-90s, but now is remembered mostly for being ‘the one where Silent Bob speaks’.
Shakespeare In Love
After appearing in Phantoms and Armageddon, Affleck tried his hand at ‘serious’ acting by co-starring in this Oscar-winner (which was co-written by Tom Stoppard, screenwriter of this week’s Anna Karenina). Affleck’s part isn’t that huge, but he tries an English accent and this was the first taste audiences had (after the seeming fluke of Good Will Hunting’s success) that he might have artistic aspirations beyond being a one dimensional, hunky, Hollywood star. Hailed at the Oscars as the Best Picture of 1999 (beating out Saving Private Ryan), the film is now best known as ‘the one where Gwyneth Paltrow shows her boobs’.
You knew this one was coming. This was -and still is- considered to be one of the worst flops both critically and financially in recent Hollywood history. There’s no two ways about it: everything about this 2003 film is terrible. Most people saw this film as evidence that Affleck’s acting career had surely hit rock bottom, but after Gigli he still made Paycheck, Jersey Girl, Surviving Christmas, and the straight-to-DVD Man About Town before bumping back with Hollywoodland. Today this film is still recognized as terrible, but many of its flaws are blamed on Jennifer Lopez and her insistence on kidnapping young girls throughout the filming of the production, an experience Affleck readily admits served as the basis for Gone Baby Gone.
Even after the success he found as a director with Gone Baby Gone, Affleck still found time to ham it up in goofy flicks like this one from Mike Judge. In what must surely have been an inspiration for his character in Argo, in this film Affleck sports long hair and a beard (as seen above). Just so, Affleck insists that his rumination on the title of this flick -and also the very concept of extraction- was the basis for his desire to make Argo. That, and a deep abiding desire to piss off the Iranian government.