Ben Affleck was everything in El indomable Will Hunting, but it took me years to understand him, years to realize that he is a great man of cinema, a sharp person with a marked sensitivity to images and narration, an actor who understands the characters very well but also a man who is not easy, full of of contradictions. It took years, partly because of him and partly because of the Hollywood system that grinds, squashes, and molds everything and everyone to predefined models, so that the public always finds something predictable. And when you see a big, handsome guy, you’d expect him to be a sexy action hero.
He was actually on TV from the age of nine, a thousand guest appearances, including one on Buffy Cazavampiros and then in independent films by Linklater and Kevin Smith. The must-see movie of this stage is Life Is a Dream, in which he has a small role, but he was that kind of person and actor, the one who at one point writes a little movie with a friend (Will Hunting to be exact) and the search for a consecrated director Gus Van Sant makes the success (Oscar for best screenplay).
From there everything changed, he became famous with his friend Matt Damon (but he was the real screenwriter, we would understand years later). It immediately became interesting for blockbusters, Michael Bay sculpted it, changed it and adjusted it to the needs of Hollywood, first for Armageddon and then stop Pearl Harbor. He literally fixes him: fixes his teeth, sends him to the gym, covers his body with oil, and films him like sex symbols are filmed. And indeed it becomes one. Between 1998 and 2006 he made some of the dumbest movies possible in search of big success as an action hero. The movie of this stage that you have to see is Operation Reno, a beautiful film by John Frankenheimer, although he is an exception. To really understand it, you have to go down and see Gigli, translated by us as a dangerous relationship with Jennifer Lopez (with whom he was dating at the time) or Daredevil with Jennifer Garner (who would become his wife and for whom he would have three children), the worst of a long list. However, he has a lot of eye… and head. He’s much smarter and more savvy than the movies he makes, and in 2004 he became the California State Poker Champion and thus qualified for the World Poker Tour. I leave it there. But Hollywood wants him to be big and dumb, and when he doesn’t get the kind of gigantic success that blockbusters demand, the Tom Cruise kind of success, he is lucid enough to understand that he has to change.
It is the best moment in a story of rebirth at the expense of an image of cheap beauty that has quickly and well taken root in public opinion. And at the center of it all is a dangerous relationship. That movie is a massacre, more than any other bad movie I’ve ever done that sentimental comedy becomes a landmark, mocks and pilloried. Jennifer Lopez also ends the rising part of her acting career with that film, but for Ben Affleck it is an awareness. The massacre placed him at the lowest point of a career as a handsome man who never went where he seemed to be heading and forced him to return to more serious cinema (three years later he won the Coppa Volpi in Venice in 2006 with Hollywoodland, which everyone considered a mistake) and then to write and try to direct movies. In fact, it forced him to go back to being a filmmaker, as he had started. bye bye little girl bye bye, is the film of this stage that must be seen, his debut with his brother Casey as the protagonist, incredible considering that it is a debut. A story of missing children and a couple of detectives in overalls, dry, shot with exemplary and very serious essentiality, it seems like the film of an experienced master. A revelation. the next movie, city of thieves is a leading cinema, and the third, Argo, won the 2012 Oscars.
It’s a complete reversal of Affleck’s career, though it would be a direct continuation of how he really started, when he’s no longer chasing giant success, making movies with Terrence Malick and choosing more mainstream ones instead (which they never deny when they come). So he even ends up being cast as Batman (and he’s a perfect Bruce Wayne, perhaps the best ever seen on screen) for the series of films supervised and directed by Zack Snyder. The same one who, in the mid-’90s, when he was pursuing those roles, was going to be Superman in the version that Kevin Smith never did (and that again would have been perfect). The must-see film of this phase of rebirth and ascent isbye bye little girl bye bye, which stands on its own.
Only Affleck’s career seems to be doomed to unrealized potential and as soon as something goes well, demons reappear, relationship problems with women (the list is incredible and boasts crazy names and bodies) and especially alcohol. , not a minor problem. When everything went wrong, in 2001, he ended up in rehabilitation, he was only 30 years old. And again the demons of alcohol returned more recently, ruining this phase of his rise. His fourth film (live at night) was terrible and alcohol prevented him from directing the new film by Batman (it would have been a consecration if he had shot it at its best) forcing him to another restart. Once again he was in rehabilitation, this time when he was almost 50 years old, and once again he made little movies like your last wish, in addition to a bulky and swollen body that betrayed his condition.
Now he’s back on a roll, he’s back with Jennifer Lopez (after having been with Ana de Armas) and the film to keep in mind from this last stage is, without a doubt, the way back, in which he still has a body ravaged by excess alcohol, but which is perfect because he uses it for an exceptional story that seems his own, even though he plays a former basketball champion who is recycled as a coach. Precious. Gonna be Batman again The Flash, but for the last time, and in the meantime he begins to give his best again. those who have seen the last duel Ridley Scott’s (not many, objectively) will have noticed that he’s back in shape, alongside his longtime friend Matt Damon (they really grew up together, a block apart), his dyed-haired character is the best of the film, the most vital. And now, with a co-starring role in The bar of high hopes, by George Clooney (on Amazon Prime Video), practically holds the entire film by himself (and he’s lost weight!). Also, there are a couple of movies to direct and star in that, if they get off the ground and get made, could hold a lot of promise: one is a war movie written by Nic Pizzolatto (of True Detective), the other is a remake of the classic (and beautiful) prosecution witness. That is, if they succeed.
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Ben Affleck misunderstood actor, problem man, exceptional filmmaker