Easy A / The Town

Hey just so you know, GeekReads is still alive (barely). Been so busy lately with my September ad-French-ure series that I haven’t had much time for anything else. Never fear, there’s a decent backlog of stuff that I’ll gradually work my way through once that’s over and done with. For now, here’s a two-for-one.

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Easy A poster
So many meanings, so few letters

Easy A is a breakout role for Emma Stone – she’s what you would get if you take Lindsay Lohan’s innocence from her “Mean Girls” days, add a bit of Jodie Foster’s look, and inject a good-size dollop of Shirley Manson’s hair and spunk. She plays Olive Penderghast, the invisible, nerdy girl at school that nobody notices. Yeah, right. A very token gesture is made at the beginning of the movie to make her out to be dorky-looking, but that’s dispensed with almost immediately as she takes a giant step towards infamy in helping a gay classmate to stop being tormented by pretending to sleep with him – making way for the flashy, trashy costumes and the ‘tude as she revels in her new-found popularity/notoriety as the school slut. This inevitably spirals out of control, and she finds herself unable to deal with the attention that she suddenly starts receiving from every direction.

The movie is Hollywood in a nutshell – in a good sense of the word. It’s got: characters that straddle the border between real and stereotype; a smart, sassy script with wit and timing; a glossy and attractive cast that’s easy on the eyes; and a moral clarity, despite the fact that the pious are portrayed as the “enemy”. All of these are combined together in a package with proportions as perfect as Olive’s.  Another stand-out is Thomas Haden-Church as Olive’s English teacher Mr. Griffith – I don’t know why I find him funny, but I crack up every time I see him (and I wasn’t even a big Ned and Stacey fan).

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The Town poster
I prefer this poster. The other one makes the movie look like "Sister Act meets Scream"

Ben Affleck’s an odd one. He’s got this aura of crapness about him, and yet he still persists in being a relatively well-known celebrity. I don’t know whether it’s residual good will from Good Will Hunting, or even hand-me-down cred from his friendship with Matt Damon, but he simply refuses to disappear no matter how many disasters he appears in (and there have been many).

Affleck tries his hand at directing in The Town, and despite my inglorious introduction above, it’s not crap. He also plays the lead role of Irish bank robber Doug MacRay, who falls in love with a victim from one of his heists. This provides the tension throughout the movie as the various forces (police, FBI, gang bosses) conspire to bring his secret into the light.

One thing that I found interesting is the lengths to which the scriptwriters went to try and make the heists believable. Audiences today must be very sceptical from being brought up on a diet of CSI and its ilk, because great lengths were taken to show how careful the robbers were in covering their tracks: throwing bleach around to remove DNA evidence, ensuring that all mobile phones are not simply confiscated but destroyed, planting random hair to throw the police off the trail, etc. Robbing banks isn’t just about wearing gloves and not leaving fingerprints any more.

I’m usually pretty good with accents, but I admit that I struggled with the Boston/Irish one in this movie, and missed a bit of the dialogue.

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