Movies

The One Movie You Should See This Week

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The contenders: The Town, Devil, Catfish, and Never Let Me Go.

Jon Hamm in The Town

The Town
Director: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively

SCOTT: If you had told me a few years ago that I'd one day be eagerly anticipating "a film by Ben Affleck," I'd have assumed you were very drunk, and yet here we are. Affleck's debut effort, Gone Baby Gone, wasn't perfect, but it did boast the most authentically seedy Boston atmosphere since The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which bodes well for The Town. The novel on which it's based, Chuck Hogan's Prince of Thieves, doesn't exactly reinvent the "one last job" genre, but it should provide a sturdy framework for a solid crime thriller. It will be fun to see Jon Hamm in a modern context, and the central heist at Fenway Park will be the only real action worth watching at America's most beloved ballpark, since the Red Sox are tanking. The Town is definitely my front-runner this week.

ANDREW: In this Boston native's humble opinion, the wicked pissah Gone Baby Gone was more compelling (and featured way better accents) than Mystic River and The Departed combined, so I'm already a fan of Affleck's smart, believably gritty directorial style. Plus, I'm always down for gun-toting nuns, heist flicks, and New England filmmaking in general (I mean, heck, I sat through frickin' Knight & Day just to catch a glimpse of a 727 exploding in a cornfield near my parents' house). Add Hamm and The Hurt Locker's magnetic Jeremy Renner and The Town is a pretty formidable contender for Top One Movie honors. But will an unexpected challenger knock it from its perch?

Devil
Directors: Drew Dowdle, John Erick Dowdle
Cast: Chris Messina, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine

ANDREW: No, seriously. I know M. Night Shyamalan is an easy target what with his Airbending, Scrunts (Lady in the Water), killer shrubs (The Happening) and ginormous ego. And yet Shyamalan, for all his flaws and missteps, is still the genuine article, a bona fide auteur, with a distinct, unpredictable rhythm that makes even his goofiest films more interesting (to me at least) than typical assembly-line studio fare. And if he's found his groove again (as the spooky trailer for this claustrophobic "trapped-in-an-elevator" thriller suggests), the results could be an early Halloween treat.

SCOTT: Yeah, he's got a "distinct, unpredictable rhythm" all right, but so did Ed Wood. In any case, Shyamalan only gets a story credit on this one, while the directing chores are handled by the Quarantine team of Drew and John Erick Dowdle. And I use the word "chore" advisedly, in that spending ninety minutes trapped in an elevator with four people yelling at each other is my idea of hell on earth. I'll take the stairs, thanks.

Catfish
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Cast: Megan Faccio, Nev Schulman, Rel Schulman

SCOTT: Hot on the heels of Joaquin Phoenix unraveling (or not) in I'm Still Here comes another documentary that has some critics questioning the veracity of what unfolds onscreen. Consider me among them; I caught an early screening of Catfish, and while I initially found myself caught up in this supposedly nonfiction account of the perils of Facebook dating, my bullshit detector was ringing loud and clear by the end. The filmmakers insist there's nothing shady going on here, and I'm not suggesting that the entire chain of events (which I won't describe here, as the element of surprise is key to the film) was fabricated, but I did sense a great deal of manipulation, as well as a queasy undercurrent of exploitation. By the end, I simply didn't trust the filmmakers, to the point where I'd feel a lot better about recommending Catfish if it were being marketed as a Blair Witch-style faux-documentary.

ANDREW: Yeah, I don't necessarily care if a documentary is real or fake, as long as it's entertaining (or at least has a discernible point beyond generating publicity for the filmmakers), but the mysteries teased in the film's trailer barely kept my interest for two minutes, let alone eighty-six.

Never Let Me Go
Director: Mark Romanek
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, Charlotte Rampling

ANDREW: On the other hand, certain critics have been more than happy to spoil the mystery at the heart of this dreamy adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel about… well, um, I can't really say without giving away the central plot twist. If you like pretty, melancholy young people moping around in foggy British landscapes, this could be the movie for you. Me, I'll stick with The Town.

SCOTT: I guess I'm a smidgen more interested than you are, mainly due to the presence of music video visionary Mark Romanek, who hasn't directed a feature since 2002's One Hour Photo, and the positive reviews coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival. But I think I'm going to go with my initial instincts this week.

The One Movie You Should See This Week: The Town