Friday, January 6, 2017

Movies: Live By Night

(Drivebycuriosity) - Ben Affleck is a brand name. The Hollywood star earned a well deserved Oscar for directing & writing "Argo" and played in strong movies like "Gone Girl", "The Town" and "State of Play". Often he acts as a nice guy who happens to be a criminal, but isn`t really malicious. Ben Affleck stands for smart entertainment. I don´t remember seeing any stupid movie with him in the leading role. So I had to watch the film "Live by Night" that is now running in selected US cinema theaters (official US start January 12  imdb). The Hollywood star directed, co-scripted, co-produced  the movie himself and also incarnated the leading character.

The film is based on a novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane and describes the career of an ambitious criminal starting in Boston in the 1920s (this is a spoiler free blog). The movie reminds me of "Scarface" and a little bit of "Godfather". "Live by Night" doesn´t quite play in their league, but comes close - at least in some scenes. The film - set in the prohibition aera - is an epic drama about greed & power and the costs of it. I really enjoyed the complex & colorful film.

Cinematographer Robert Richardson framed the plot into amazing pictures. I indulged into the decadent beauty of a Gatsby universe, stunning landscapes and ferocious action scenes, including a breathtakingly choreographed car chase.

The camera focuses on Affleck himself of course, who seems to be at home in the leading role.  I was even more impressed by the economical acting by Chris Cooper, who seems to get cooler with every film he makes.  I got surprised by Matthew Maher, who plays as a loathsome racist and half-crazy outlaw goon. He blends craziness with malice and reminds me of Woody Harrelson`s best cinematic moments. Remo Girone, who incarnates a Mafia Don with menacing calmness, will also stay in my memory. The rest of the cast made a strong impressions as well, including Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina & Sienna Miller.

"Live by Night" is a strong and promising start for the movie year 2017.

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