Tag Archives: The Town

When Boob Tube Meets Silver Screen – 5 films that could probably “cut it” on the small screen

This past Friday, IGN Entertainment released THIS trailer, to promote an upcoming television series, based on the popular, and EXTREMELY profitable, Harry Potter book and film franchise . . .

Of course, if you recall, this past Friday was also April Fools’ Day.  And the above – trailer for the new FX series, The Aurors, set to premiere this summer, ended up being a FAKE (not to mention a Big Fat F-YOU to Wizard Lovers, EVERYWHERE)!

And yet, you have to admit, if a series like this actually DID air on FX, there’s a good chance it would be fairly successful.  After all, The Aurors, has all the ingredients for a television ratings darling, including:

(1) an allegiance to the Harry Potter brand, and the massive geek-chic cult following that comes along with it;

“When I wave my magic wand, millions of dollars in advertising revenue will appear, right before your VERY EYES!”

(2) a savvy nod to the world’s current obsession with All Things Supernatural;

(3) action adventure; and

Might I suggest some prune juice, Harry.  I hear it helps with your . . . condition.

(4) that Crime Procedural Mumbo Jumbo, which tends to bore the STUFFING out of me, but seems to be genuinely popular among most of the American viewing public (as evidenced by the success of the 85,000 versions of Law and Order and CSI currently clogging our television sets).

Don’t shoot!  I swear, I didn’t mean it!

This got me to thinking about other popular films that have the potential to make the transition from the Big Screen to Your Screen.   And so, without further adieu, here are my top five picks (in no particular order) for movies I’d like to see take that oh-so-dangerous small-screen leap  .  . .

1) Inception

I don’t think I’ve ever had as many in-depth, and complicated, conversations about a film, as I have had about this psychological action thriller.  The idea of being able to enter people’s dreams, and by doing so, altering their perception of reality, is just so inherently intriguing and ripe for discussion.  And for a television show revolving around a crack team of insanely attractive and ridiculously well-dressed, “dream engineers” — hired to basically control people’s minds from the inside-out — the possibilities are literally endless.  

Episodes can revolve around a different “dream hijacking” each week, or can slowly unravel an extensive “dream heist” throughout the course of the season.  Of course, at the show’s core would be the brilliant, but deeply troubled, Dream Makers, each of whom has their own extensive backstory, as well as specific, but complicated, rationalizations for choosing this, admittedly morally ambiguous, career path.

Speaking of morally ambiguous career paths . . .

2) The Town

Back in September, I fell in love with a film about a small town called Charlestown, Massachusetts, where children were raised to be bank robbers, con artists, and criminals, with the same intensity and efficiency that other towns invest in growing bankers, doctors, and lawyers.  Everybody loves a “brooding bad boy with a good heart” (especially when he takes his shirt off often).  And The Town had a whole cast of both Brooding Bad Boys and Hard-Nosed, but still hot, Cops to love.  Most notably, it had THIS GUY . . .

Oh, yeah!  That’s Ben Affleck!  And, upon seeing this picture, I totally took back, all those jokes I made about that awful Gigli movie.  Because THIS guy could ABSOLUTELY kick my ass!  Let’s find  a “kinder, gentler” picture.   Shall we?

That’s better!

And THIS guy . . .

A television series based on The Town would boast an extremely unique location, the likes of which has never before been depicted on television.  It would also undoubtedly feature a cast of scorching hot twenty and early-thirty somethings, each with their own idiosyncrasies, family dramas, romantic subplots etc.  And of course, the crime capers depicted in each episode would put the ones in those Ocean’s Eleven movies to SHAME!

Speaking of Ocean’s Eleven (and one of it’s stars, i.e. Matt Damon) . . .

3) The Adjustment Bureau

Ever wonder if the Universe has a specific plan in store for you?  The Adjustment Bureau was a romantic drama / action flick that dealt with the question of “fate” and “circumstance” in a way that  absolutely caters to the self-absorbed and egocentric world in which we live. 

Yes, Joe and Jane Average Citizen, SOMEONE “up there” has BIG PLANS for YOU . .  . and for your life.  In fact, you can find those plans in a BOOK, filled with multi-colored SQUIGGLY LINES that resemble those mazes they put on the back of Happy Meals at McDonalds.  (Those of you who saw the movie, know what I mean by this . . .)

Not only that, the world is crawling with Cute Men in Funny Little Hats who’s LIFE’S MISSION is to make sure that YOU reach your destiny . . .

And there’s a good chance that one of those “Cute Men in Funny Little Hats” probably looks a lot like Roger Sterling from Mad Men.

Because all of us like to believe we were put on this earth for a “reason,” and because we all find the idea of Cute Men in Funny Little Hats chasing us around the City all day, monitoring our every move, oddly appealing (or mildly creepy, whichever you prefer), a television series revolving around the titular Adjustment Bureau would likely be a fun-filled hour of escapist fantasy for the masses.

  Like the Inception series suggested above, The Adjustment Bureau series would work well as either a serial drama, in which a different “guest star’s” fate was adjusted each week, or a long-running storyline, in which the future of a particularly Important Person (like the politician Matt Damon played in the film) is systematically modified in every episode to achieve a specific goal. 

High concept mind benders, philosophical discussions, and crime capers aren’t your thing?  Fear not!  I have two more prospective television series ideas that might be more to your liking . . .

4) Adventureland

This past summer, I rented this fun coming-of-adulthood “period piece” (The film took place in 1987.)  about a recent-college grad, (played by The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg) who, without any immediate prospects for his future, was forced to take a summer job at a small-town amusement park.  Working the “ring toss” with Jesse, was none other than Twilight’s Kristen Stewart (playing a character who kind of, but not exactly, resembled Bella Swan), and 2010’s Sexiest Man Alive, himself, Ryan Reynolds . . .

Yes, I DO find every excuse to put pictures of hot, half-naked men in my blog.  Thank you for noticing!

In addition to having an all-star cast of up-and-coming actors, intriguing characters, and some stellar script writing to its credit, Adventureland boasted a refreshingly fun sense of time and place. 

As an 80’s baby, who spent most of the decade clad in Care Bears underwear, I’ve always been a bit jealous of those folks who actually got to experience this admittedly awesome decade as teenagers, and early 20-somethings.  From the killer music, to the amazing made-for-teen movies (John Hughes anyone?), to the care free days spent making out and getting high behind the Tilt-a-Whirl at your local theme park, the 80’s just seems like it was a great time to “come of age.”

An Adventureland television series would allow us to do just that!  Along with its “youngish” (and indubitably attractive), cast of characters, viewers could “travel back in time” each week, and experience the slings and arrows of early adulthood, all while enjoying a kickass soundtrack, drinking some cheap beer, and riding that old broken down Ferris Wheel for the 25,000th time . . .

5) Scream

At first blush, this one might seem like an odd choice for a television series.  After all, half of the fun of watching horror movies, like Scream, is seeing the characters get killed off, one-by-one, in increasingly gruesome (not to mention, patently ridiculous) ways, while trying to figure out who the killer is, right?  So, how does that translate to an entire season of small screen viewing, you ask?   And I say, how does it NOT?

“Do you like SCARY movies television shows?”

Think about it.  What is the BIGGEST, MOST SHOCKING, thing that can ever happen to your favorite television drama?  The one thing that’s CERTAIN to get ratings buzz for your favorite program, and ensure that EVERYBODY will be talking about what they saw the next day . . .  Of course, I’m referring to the DEATH OF A MAIN CHARACTER.  On most shows, this Major Television Viewing Event only happens about once or twice every season (typically, around sweeps week). 

But imagine the fun and excitement of MAIN CHARACTER DEATHS (along with “fun” Celebrity Guest Star Cameo Deaths”) occurring EVERY SINGLE WEEK!  Nobody is safe!  Everyone is a suspect!  And everyone is at risk! 

The “killer’s identity” would presumably be revealed in the Season Finale.   Or, perhaps, the mystery could be carried over into subsequent seasons, with new cast members regularly replacing the “old dead” onces.  Sure, it’s a gimic!  But look how long they’ve taken to reveal that darn MOTHER on How I Met Your Mother? 

OK . . . just keep smiling and pretend you actually know who “The Mother” is . . .

 If they can do it, so can WE!

So, there you have it folks, five sure-fire television success stories, based on five popular films.  So, which movies would YOU most like to see transition to the small screen?

[www.juliekushner.com]

6 Comments

Filed under movies, Television Show Ideas

“I’ll see you again, on this side or the other.” – A Review of the film “The Town” (contains some spoilers)

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret.  I used to have a massive crush on Ben Affleck.  I mean MASSIVE!  Just to give you an idea of the intense LOVE I had for this man . . . up until very recently, I had a rather large poster over my bed that may or may not have looked something like this . . .

 . . . and a smaller one in my living room, that may or may not have looked something like this . . .

Then something happened.  A little movie came out.  For argument’s sake, lets just call that movie . . . Gigli.

All of the sudden, it was considered less than “cool” to have a “massive crush” on Ben Affleck.  Friends who used to be fairly supportive of my little obsession, started teasing me mercilessly about it.  And whenever I had boys over (not that THEY ever really liked those posters anyway), my fandom was a subject of constant ridicule.

And yet, I stuck with my guns, and hung on to those posters . . . for a little while longer, at least.  Then, shortly after I moved back to New Jersey, I sold them to a lovely gay couple at my Aunt’s Summer Yard Sale.  I like to believe they are in a better place now . . . one free of judgment and Gigli-related abuse.

Now, I have yet to see Ben Affleck’s directorial debut film, Gone Baby Gone . . .

. . . but I’ve read enough reviews and watched enough award shows to know that (1) it was pretty spectacular; and (2) much of its spectacular-ness can be attributed to what I would like to call “Ben’s Mad Directorial Skills.”

So, when the trailers for The Town started showing up in theaters, and I saw that it was, not only directed by, but also starred my former love,Ben Affleck.  And when I saw that the cast included the Dapper Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm . . .

. . . the enigmatic, Jeremy Renner . . .

 . . . and Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively, playing a strung out, much dirtier, ho bag than Serena van der Woodsen could EVER be . . .

. . . I just knew that I HAD to see this film!  And, let me tell you, I am THRILLED I did!

Based on a novel by Chuck Hogan, entitled Prince of Thieves . . .

(which the publishers have since cleverly renamed The Town, and slapped Ben Affleck’s pretty, but gritty, mug on the cover)

. . . The Town follows career criminal, Doug McRay (played by Affleck), as he tries repeatedly to “go straight.”  But when you live in a town like Charlestown, Massachusetts — which churns out bank robbers and crooks, like Yale University churns out lawyers and politicians — and when your best friends are THESE GUYS . . .

 . . . “going straight” is easier said than done. 

The film begins, as most films of this genre tend to begin, with a “routine” bank robbery.  And it only takes a few minutes, for us viewers to realize just what good criminals, McCray and his crew are.  From the creepy face-obscuring masks they wear on their mugs, to the inside men who disable the security cameras immediately upon their arrival, to the way they torch the place upon leaving, to destroy all the evidence, it’s clear that these are NO amateurs. 

That is one UGLY nun!

Yet, despite all of their painstaking preparation and skill, McCray’s crew runs into a little snag during the heist, and is forced to take a hostage.  They decide on Assistant Bank Manager, Claire Keesey (played by Rebecca Hall).

 They blindfold Claire, and pack her into the getaway car, but, ultimately, let her go.  Afterward, some of the crew express concern about Claire, and her ability to identify them to the FBI.  These concerns are intensified when a look at Claire’s driver’s license (which they stole) reveals that she lives in the neighboring town, just a few blocks away from the crew’s headquarters.  McCray’s best friend, the hotheaded, but loyal-to-a-fault, Jem Coughlin (played by Jeremy Renner), whose idea it was to take Claire as a hostage in the first place, offers to “take care of her.”  McCray, however, doesn’t want to see Claire get hurt (if such a thing could be avoided) and offers to take care of the situation, himself.

So, McCray stalks Claire a bit, and figures out that she leads a fairly solitary life (no quirky “Best Gal Pal” in this movie).  Eventually, he follows her into a laundromat (where all the cutest movie couples meet), charms her a bit, and asks her out for a drink.

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next. Of course, they fall in love!  (Duh!)  But what’s interesting about the way this plotline is acted and directed, is that, while certainly cliche, the relationship between Doug and Claire doesn’t seem all that contrived.  Affleck and Hall have a real natural chemistry.  Right away, you can see what appeals to these two characters about eachother. 

Claire is quietly unassuming, and incredibly straitlaced, without seeming judgmental or self-righteous.   She gardens during her spare time, and volunteers at the local Boys and Girls Club.  Doug, for all his tough beginnings, and dark past, is surprisingly shy and sweet.  He listens to Claire when she speaks, and genuinely expresses a desire to take care of her. 

And I’ll be darned if this odd couple didn’t end up having a remarkably normal courtship!  They go out to dinner together.  They take walks in the park.  They go out for coffee.  He buys her a pretty diamond necklace (probably with dirty money).  They have nice gentle sex in Claire’s Pottery Barn-decorated bedroom.  Bank robberies and hostages-takings aside, Doug and Claire are probably a lot like you and your significant other.

Suddenly, Doug’s desire to get out of the “racket,” becomes more than just an empty platitude.  Now, he really means it.  Because, now, he really has something, or, rather, SOMEONE to lose if he fails.  Now, if he could just get through this “One Last Job”  (well . . . maybe two).

It may sound odd, but, believe me when I say this: The Town is the perfect date movie.  It’s got enough action, chase scenes, explosions, and crook versus cop shoot-em-ups to please even the manliest of men.  At the same time, it boasts an intelligent script, complex likeable characters, some VERY pretty faces, and a surprisingly adorable romance, all of which are sure to satisfy even the girliest of females.

In addition to great plotting, exciting action, and a heartwarming romance between its two leads, The Town also offers a very strong supporting cast.  Jon Hamm is wonderful, as the tough-as-nails, gruff, and very-un Don Draper-like FBI Agent, Adam Frawley.  A lesser actor could have made this a very forgetable role.  But Hamm’s charm, intelligence, wit and natural grace, help make the Frawley character more likeable than a cop in a film about a criminal-with-a-heart-of-gold has any right to be.

Speaking of characters that you like more than you should, Jeremy Renner does a remarkable job of making Jem Coughlin a three-dimensional and tragic figure.  In many ways, Renner’s character is very similar to the one Affleck himself inhabited back when he played opposite Matt Damon in the spectacular Good Will Hunting (except Renner’s character is armed and dangerous).  Unlike McRay, Coughlin has resigned himself to a life of crime, running from the cops, and being relatively poor.  And yet, despite his knowledge that his best friend is smarter than he is, and perhaps destined for a better future, Coughlin still remains loyal to McRay.  He would literally do anything for him, even if that meant going to jail or losing his life.  Though you might not agree with his lifestyle choices, you’ve gotta respect a guy like that.

And then there’s Blake Lively, who absolutely impressed me with her portrayal of strung out ho-bag / baby mama, Krista Coughlin.

I’m SERIOUS!  This was NOT an easy role to play.  In the wrong hands, this role could have been at the very least, annoying, and at the worst, positively laughable.  But Blake brings Krista to life.  Her Boston accent is authentic.  Her breathy intonations, and pathetic attempts at seduction, speak to a life spent on one’s backside, screwing crooks, popping pills, and inhaling toxic fumes.  Blake more than held her own, during her scenes with Affleck, Hamm, and Renner. 

And you know what else?  Blake was FUNNY!  A few of her lines had me laughing out loud.  I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

Of course, no crime caper would be complete without Pete Postlewaite, of The Usual Suspects fame.

There’s just something about this guy’s face and demeanor — a hidden menace, perhaps.  Whatever, it is, the dude always manages to scare the stuffing out of me, even when he is doing nothing more exciting than cutting the thorns off a rose.

In short, The Town is highly entertaining and intriguing film.  The acting is nearly flawless, the plotting is tight, the action is high octane, and the directing is commendable.  Its enough to make me almost wish that I never sold those Ben Affleck posters .  . . almost.

The Town is in theaters now.  Will YOU see it?

[www.juliekushner.com]

13 Comments

Filed under Ben Affleck, Movie Review, The Town