Ben Affleck confuses me. He confuses me in an â€œAm I attracted to this man?â€ way but also in a â€œWho is this guy exactly?â€ way.
Heâ€™s going to be the new Batman. Heâ€™s regarded as a nuanced actor after having a very sad downturn in Hollywood for a couple of years. Heâ€™s gone viral on his views about Islam and heâ€™s even directing movies now.
This past week, NPRâ€™s newest show, â€œInvisibilia,â€ is all about the power of categories. As humans, we function by having categories for everything. We see a couch and know itâ€™s a couch and not a bomb or Daredevil. Ben Affleck somehow evades my constant attempts at categorizing him.
I got the idea for this article when I watched â€œGone Girl,â€ though the idea may have really started in that dark room where a young boy of the world watched a historical documentary film called â€œPearl Harbor.â€ I knew nothing about this Pearl Harbor event and was so moved at how these brave souls, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, were broken by the surprise Japanese attack.
In the film, the Americans mounted a dangerous counter-attack even though Hartnett finally got with the love interest, much to Affleckâ€™s loss. Instead of hiding to save himself for his baby, Hartnett decided to drop some bombs but ended up dying. Harnettâ€™s last words were telling Affleck that he must take up the role of father for Harnettâ€™s child.
I was not aware of the historical inaccuracies and weird wife-swap concept so I thought this was just a great movie. The movie does not hold up very well today (big surprise) but it is amazing to see how far Affleckâ€™s acting chops have come.
â€œGone Girlâ€ was such a great movie. It looked cool, had interesting characters and the plot had enough surprises to keep the suspense high even after an exhausting scene. Everyone in that movie performed great, but Affleck was the main actor and, hot damn, he was Â good.
His performance as a distraught husband from the Midwest hiding a secret was phenomenal. He was attractive and scary and charming and confused, sometimes in one scene.
Affleck is credited as an actor 62 times on IMDB, yet his body of work paints a very confusing picture. There are random roles early on in his career before becoming a star, but then there are also these random roles that happen when he has become a starâ€”for example, he appears as a guy who just gawks at this couple making out in â€œClerks II.â€
Is he just a fun guy who loves popping up in Kevin Smith? As a counter-argument to that, Affleck has played a lot of melodramatic, brooding, handsome men. So is he just a serious actor who does dramas? His performances have just the slightest hint of irony and charm even in his darkest performances.
But this bright star couldnâ€™t keep shining. Ben Affleck started acting in worse and worse movies, which led the entire industry to dismiss him as a pretty boy with no acting chops. On a tangent, I would like to say that I donâ€™t consider â€œDaredevilâ€ awful. It was before comic book movies were good and the movie triedâ€”â€Aâ€ for effort, I guess.
I digress though. Ben Affleck became a joke with no end in sight. He took two-year break. Then he starred in some movies when he came back, and his directorial debut, â€œGone Baby Gone,â€ was reviewed amazingly by critics. He appeared in a couple more movies then came out with his second directed movie, â€œThe Town.â€
By this time, I knew he disappeared but didnâ€™t realize he had come back. I hadnâ€™t heard of â€œGone Baby Goneâ€ a few years earlier. I saw â€œThe Townâ€and realized that, wow, I like Ben Affleck. He kicked ass in the film, but the film also kicked ass. Since then, heâ€™s been in highly regarded movies.
One of those highly regarded movies is â€œArgo.â€ The improbable story of some filmmakers who helped solve the Iranian hostage crisis, â€œArgoâ€ won three Academy Awards and was nominated for seven. When â€œArgoâ€ one the big award, Affleckâ€™s career revamp was complete. He gave a speech for best picture that was, oddly, confrontational. He spoke about the low he had and about his come back.
It sounded kind of crazy and sincere at the same time, if that makes sense. â€œArgo,â€ I thought, was highly overrated and felt more like a rollercoaster ride than anything. I felt emotionally manipulated but hey, it was a well-done movie.
There isnâ€™t a lot of confusion about his political views. Heâ€™s a vocal Democrat. My confusion in this regard stems from the fact that Iâ€™ve seen him speak a couple of times and Iâ€™m not absolutely certain if I think heâ€™s smart or just passionate and charming.
Either way, Iâ€™ve realized it doesnâ€™t matter. Heâ€™s a confusing person who doesnâ€™t fit the categories in my head. I want to be more upset by it but, in fact, I kind of like it. He is, after all, a normal person beneath all the glamour of Hollywood.
In fact, come to think of it, the actual problem may not be that heâ€™s hard to categorize but that other people are too easy to categorize.
Affleck has had ups and downs, but in spite of that, heâ€™s still trying. As a result, I donâ€™t doubt that his career will be highly regarded when we all look back on it.