Humidity is hell on ass hair. It gets all wet and matted and you feel like you are sitting on a dead rat. From below, something unpleasant slow dances with your nose and dips your nostril hairs in an unflushed toilet. You hope the odor is just the remnants of your egg sandwich fossilizing just beyond the dual monitors on your cluttered desk. Then the attractive Asian girl on your floor wants to show you a computer problem she is having and you are afraid to get up, hoping that you don’t have sweat marks on the seat of your work pants. As you follow her to her desk, nonchalantly studying her toned legs and ass, you are praying that the heavy duty Carhartt pants keep both your erection and any possible demonic stank bottled safely in the damp darkness of your nether regions. Where is that freezing cold weather when you really need it? She turns to you and smiles as she shows you her computer which is flatlining with the blue screen of death. She reminds you of a model on the Price is Right, displaying the glittering prize. She asks if you want to sit on her chair while you attempt to resurrect her sputtering desktop. No thanks, you say as you start typing random shit on the keyboard, trying to look like you know what you are doing. You can picture how amazing she must look naked and she seems perplexed that you don’t want to sit at her chair. All the guys on the floor want to sit on her chair, hell they want to be her chair. You feel a drop of sweat trace the length of your ass crack like a single tie-fighter patrolling the trench on the Death Star. As your sweltering rear-end makes its way to the chair, you can envision her laughing about you with her girlfriends at the coffee machine. She theatrically pinches her nose and sneers as she cackles like a hyena at your hygiene issues. At work, you will be about as socially relevant as an IBM PS/2 in today’s office tech environment. Your mind wanders, grasping at outlandish thoughts like life preservers. Anything to calm you down.
Does Ben Affleck have these problems?
By the mid 2000’s Affleck’s film career was limping along like the hot Asian girl’s computer. He was still banging the hottest broads in Hollywood, but the rest of America didn’t give a shit about any movies he was making. His films were bombing more than the classrooms at the remedial incendiaries workshop at terrorist camp. As he walked the red carpet, people may have even been questioning how much he had to do with the Oscar winning screenplay for Good Will Hunting. That good looking, but dull lunkhead could never have had a hand in writing that, could he? It must have been all Damon–now that is the smart one!! At least Affleck’s beloved Red Sox had lifted the curse of the Bambino and won a few World Series, much to the chagrin of this sometimes soused writer and full time Yankees fan. Was Affleck destined to making infomercials for Ronco, hawking prosthetic chins to give everyone that movie star jawline for only three easy payments of $19.99?
What to do?
You go out and write and direct one of the top crime movies of the past decade, proving to everyone that you have talent other than the ability to be a tabloid headline. Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, Gone Baby Gone tells the story of two streetwise private detectives hired to help the police find a missing 4 year old girl. Like Clint Eastwood’s(another actor who has had a pretty nice career as a director) Mystic River, Affleck’s movie perfectly captures the tough as nails Boston neighborhoods and its punch drunk citizens. Many of these people toe the line between working class heroes and small time criminals. Its a tough world out there and sometimes you have to augment your salary at the factory with some beer soaked ten dollar bills selling a little weed or jerking off a horny rummy behind the gas station. All of them would rather give their ATM pin to their arch nemesis than talk to the police.
You don’t need to give yourself up to a background check or have your credit history investigated if you want to have a child. Even though the government seems to be encroaching on our lives in ways that only seemed possible in pulpy science fiction novels from the 1950’s, to this writer’s limited knowledge it has not legally prevented any of us from having kids. You can go straight from doing rails in a bathroom stall to the delivery room. Barflies can go from nursing beers and blowing guys on rickety bar stools, to nursing their young daughters in rooms with no furniture, sitting in houses decorated with Hostess Cakes wrappers, rolling papers and crushed beer cans. Leave the Jerry Springer on. It is educational for the little ones.
Helene McCready is one such mother of the year candidate. Brilliantly played by Amy Ryan, Helene is a sometimes hilariously profane, always mean-spirited coke head, drunk cunt, trollop of townie taverns, who treats her daughter the way most of us treat that friendly neighborhood stray cat. You feed it and pet it when you have the time, but if you have to do some day drinking, or go up Nashua to make a buy for local drug kingpin, Cheese, you let it fend for itself, or hope the in-laws will care for it.
Look on the bright side, bitch. When your daughter goes missing you become a local celebrity.
Since pigs are for eating and not cooperating with, two seemingly inexperienced private detectives from the neighborhood are called in to assist. They are Patrick Kenzie and and Angie Gennaro, played by Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, respectively. The two of them are also dating. Although both actors are quite good in the roles–particularly Affleck–they just seem too fresh-faced compared to the characters in Lehane’s series of books. The duo from the books seemed to have more ragged edges from being put through the meat grinder on a daily basis. It’s a very small quibble. Affleck is tough beyond his slight frame and Monaghan brings a working class pessimism that dulls her movie star beauty. One great scene has Kenzie in a tense verbal showdown with neighborhood thug, Cheese(Beetches love the cheddar). The dialogue–excellent throughout the film–particularly shines here like the moonlight off a switchblade.
If Shakespeare was doing a stretch in Walpole for armed robbery, this is what he would write.
Captain Jack Doyle, played by acting deity Morgan Freeman in a small role, assigns detectives Remy Bressant(Ed Harris) and Nick Poole(character actor extraordinaire John Ashton) to assist Kenzie and Gennaro with the investigation. It is not a work detail that these veteran detectives are interested in, particularly Bressant. Harris is such a good actor that he makes the hair piece he is wearing look genuine. This is not something you can learn at the finest of thespian schools, you need to be born with it and Harris delivers. He has a fantastic line regarding geographical lineage and how it relates to age and it is a knockout put down to Kenzie’s wise-ass attitude towards the cops.
Titus Welliver–sporting a John L. Sullivan style ‘stache from way back–turns in what may be the best performance in the film. He plays Helene’s wounded and in recovery brother Lionel. Proud of his twenty three years of sobriety and disgraced by his sister’s treatment of their family, Lionel is a man torn between what he believes is right and what society tells us. He has a dark past and that allows him to be plied by forces that destroy while they promise resolution. The way Affleck and cinematographer John Toll film an agitated Lionel watching Cutty Sark being dumped in shot glasses as he contemplates taking a drink for absolution is painful. It is a slow pour of death for him, bringing real world pain to a Hollywood thriller.
This is a great directorial debut from Affleck. Here’s hoping, like Eastwood, he directs movies well into his eighties. If you find yourself stuck on the tarmac for any amount of time, please investigate reading Lehane’s Darkness, Take My Hand. It is the second book in the Kenzie/Gennaro series. It is a great crime novel that happens to get as scary as a horror story in certain parts. Good stuff. Maybe Affleck would like to direct that down the road.