Time magazine says Ben Affleck wants to make “serious movies for serious people,” by which, if we can judge by 2010’s The Town and this year’s Argo, he means movies of the old genre type, especially semi-documentaries and films noir, featuring straightforward storytelling without a lot of emphasis on internal action and flashbacks, clear and relatively simple plot lines but a lot of suspense, characters that do not need a lot of introspection but do behave in understandable ways for understandable reasons, and in general a clear resemblance to the world we live i
Maybe I’m just getting acclimated to current movies, or maybe I’m just tired of griping about movies that don’t make consistent sense, but Looper seemed to me to hold together as well as you expect a time travel movie to hold together. A lot of the mysterious elements appear at the beginning and the explanations tend to appear a lot later and I’m not sure all the initial elements are covered or that all the explanations hold. But I wasn’t frustrated or otherwise unhappy as to Looper making sense.
The Master is this year’s Tree of Life, the movie critics rave about in spite of the fact that David Thomson in The New Republic says, “I have the gravest doubts as to whether it is about anything,” Lisa Schwartzbaum calls it “enigmatic,” and Cary Darling in the Eagle describes it as “easy to admire but harder to love.” I beg to be excused from either activity.
The great thing about Arbitrage is that writer-director Nicholas Jarecki never gives in to what must have been a temptation to surrender his theme to Hollywood melodrama. Arbitrage begins and ends as a story of how one moral failure leads to another one and how one person’s weakness involves other people, one man’s guilt makes other people act guiltily, too, without going beyond what ordinary people with understandable motives might do, under the circumstances.