The University News (Irving, Tex.), Vol. 36, No. 2, Ed. 1 Tuesday, September 21, 2010 Page: 8 of 12
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8 — September 21, 2010
Arts 8t Entertainment
The University News
Solid ' own Average A
Needless 'Noodle ' Dumb 'Devil'
Ben Affleck showed directorial
skill in his debut feature, "Gone
Baby Gone." His sophomore
effort, "The Town" (wide release)
isn't as powerful, but it's still a
more than respectable effort.
Rebecca Hail and Ben Affleck in "The Town."
It's an old-fashioned tale of
a gang of bank robbers who get
into trouble during their latest
heist, when the hot-tempered
loose cannon of the bunch Qeremy
Renner) briefly takes the pretty
manager hostage and is afraid she
might be able to finger him. The
handsome, cool guy who plans
their jobs (Affleck, of course)
volunteers to find out where things
stand by "accidentally" meeting
her. Of course, he falls for her,
his affection is reciprocated, and
he decides to go straight for love.
Needless to say, hiscriminal pals
won't let him. They force him to do
one last, big heist. You can almost
hear A! Pacino droning, "Every time I
try to get out, they pul! me back in."
If you remove the automatic
weapons and fast cars, you
could imagine "The Town"
having been made in the 1940s,
with people like Clark Gable
and George Raft in the leads.
But though the story is a bit
hoary, it's played to the hilt by
an able cast. And it captures the
atmosphere of Boston, where
it's set, with colorful local lingo,
plenty of helicopter shots of the
red-brick neighborhoods and
an exciting car chase through
the area's narrow streets.
The concluding robbery,
moreover, couldn't be more
geographically defining - the cash-
counting room at Fenway Park.
Among high school comedies,
"Easy A" (wide release) doesn't go
to the top of the class, but it's funny
enough to earn a passing grade.
The script, which clearly bears
the impact of Diablo Cody's "Juno"
with its machine-gun jokes and
constant pop culture references,
includes clips from John Hughes
movies ("Sixteen Candles," "The
Breakfast Club," "Ferris Bueller's
Day Off") to indicate its inspiration.
But its real antecedent is
"Clueless." That picture was a teen
update of Austen's "Emma." This
one tries the same with Nathaniel
Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter."
Emma Stone plays a nice kid
who invents a story about a hot
date that quickly circulates around
campus and gets her a reputation
as a bad girl. Dark opinions
about her grow exponentially
when pathetic guys beg her to
go on phony dates with them
to bolster their social standing.
"Easy A" strains credulity
to the breaking point, and
even a teen comedy needs
a modicum of plausibility.
expertly delivered not only by the
personable Stone, but by pros
like Patricia Clarkson and Stanley
Tucci (as the girl's incredibly
hip parents), Thomas Haden
Church (as her favorite teacher,
who naturally has Hawthorne
on his reading list) and Malcolm
McDowell (as the gruff principal).
The romantic side of the
plot is bland, and the stuff about
fundamentalist Bible-thumpers on
campus is crassly stereotypical.
But the movie scores
more often than not.
"A Woman, a Gun and a
A transposition of Joel and
Ethan Coen's debut film, "Blood
Simple," to medieval China seems a
strange and unpromising idea. And
as "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle
Shop" (Magnolia) shows, it is.
altered. "Blood Simple" was a
dark film noir shot through with
gallows humor. Zhang's film is
basically a burlesque, with a lot of
slapstick and broad, exaggerated
performances of the sort Jerry
Lewis might once have given.
So while the picture is lovely
to look at and an intriguing idea,
ultimately it doesn't satisfy.
Last and least is "Devil" (wide
release), a chintzy horror flick
from a story by the increasingly
embarrassing M. Night Shyamalan.
Emma Stone stars in "Easy A."
But the screenplay has a
lot of funny lines, and they're
Ni Yan is the wife of a noodle shop owner
in "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop."
The movie comes from Zhang
Yimou, and though it doesn't have
the scope and flash of "Hero" or
"House of Flying Daggers," it's stiii
visually stunning, with colorful
costumes and landscape shots
that are extraordinarily beautiful.
And the script follows the
convolutions of the original
plot quite closely, though
swords and arrows necessarily
replace guns and bullets.
But the tone is radically
Bojana Novakovic is one of five people
trapped in an elevator in "Devil."
It's a claustrophobic tale of
five strangers trapped in a stalled
elevator halfway up a Philadelphia
skyscraper. They begin to be
gruesomely killed during blackouts
that occasionally strike the cubicle,
and the question arises whetherone
of them isamurdereror-asa pious
security man watching the scene
from a computer console suggests
- Satan is the perpetrator, torturing
the sinful victims in the here and
now before carting them off to
an eternity of fire and brimstone.
This is a nutty scenario, but
the picture does generate some
modest tension before it collapses
in ridiculous final twists that not
only reveal the culprit in a way
that was old when Agatha Christie
used it but turn the piece into
a purportedly serious parable
of redemption and forgiveness.
The unfortunate soulstrapped in
Devil" might well seek forgiveness
themselves with the excuse that
Shyamalan made me do it."
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Chee, Gabbi. The University News (Irving, Tex.), Vol. 36, No. 2, Ed. 1 Tuesday, September 21, 2010, newspaper, September 21, 2010; Irving, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth201527/m1/8/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Dallas.