‘The Town’ Comes Home

Everyone in Boston seems to be buzzing about The Town, and while I haven’t had the chance to see it yet, what with classes in full swing, I have to agree that it looks pretty fantastic. But, seeing as I’m a usual skeptic before watching movies longer than an hour and a half, I did a little research first. After seeing that Ben Affleck’s previous foray into directing (Gone Baby Gone, Oct 2007) was hailed by many critics and received a 7.5 out of 10 on, I decided to watch the trailer for The Town, and really see what this thing is about. For those who don’t know yet, The Town is set in Charlestown and the North End, and seems to be a mix of the Bourne movies with less mystery, and more of an inlaid plot conflict, with Affleck’s character falling in love with the hostage taken from a robbery, who has no idea of his true identity. The film has had a great opening weekend, grossing over 23 million dollars. (You can read reviews here.) The Town also stars Chris Cooper (American Beauty, Capote), whose wife, Marianne Leone, will be visiting Snell Library for a Meet the Author event on November 3. She’ll be discussing her book, Knowing Jesse, about the couple’s son who passed away in 2005 due to complications from cerebral palsy.


As far as blog posts go, this is most likely my last for a while. I will not be around in the summer or fall of this year. In the spring of 2009, I should be back at work. Provided that this blog is still operational, I will be back to posting then. I will continue to post on the Facebook page and continue to leave comments. This is my opening disclaimer for this post.

I have decided to make this a comment–oriented post. There are numerous books that I want to read in the upcoming months, but it seems that I can never get around to them. Sometimes I feel that I am being too ambitious and trying to read books that are too weighty for this time in my life, when I have a lot of things going on. But I think I will get around to reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I have heard generally good things about this book, and it seems to be very popular for a work of ‘literary fiction.’ It has been made in to a movie starring Viggo Mortensen that will premiere at Cannes in May. Before I see that film I will try to read this book and try not to picture Viggo Mortensen as the main character. Perhaps this will add another dimension of difficulty to the book.

I also want to get around to reading, at least partly, some of Pauline Kael’s writings in her various collections of Film Criticism. Trash, Art and the Movies is her most famous essay; I don’t think I’ve ever gotten around to reading all thirty-something pages. I would like to read The Citizen Kane Book: Raising Kane, where she argues that Orson Welles deserves more credit than is necessary for revolutionizing cinema with Citizen Kane, and even in the creation of certain aspects of the movie itself. I have read with interest other writings by Pauline Kael that I’ve read (what fan of movies hasn’t?) and feel the need to dig in to more.

But I need some recommendations as well. What are other good books that Snell Library has which are worth reading? What about movies? What is a good summer read. i.e something that is sort of silly but interesting? I still have two and a half more months in Boston (before I go to New York for a spell) and still need to spend some time in the Snell stacks.

Good Movies, Even Some Great Ones

Snell Library has an impressive selection of DVD’s, and the DVD section is undeniably something that has improved over the past two years. I mean this in an entirely physical sense: the DVD’s, VHS’s and the books on movies have wisely been integrated together, in to a well-organized cinema-in-general section, which spans most of the PN call numbers on the third floor shelves.

Since there are not many good video stores in Boston, and not many cheap or nearby Movie Theaters, Snell Library is the best place here to rent a DVD. Since you can stop at the Library to rent a DVD, it is also advisable that you rent something that is not the standard fare you will be finding at the LOEWS by Boston Common, or in a Blockbuster; I am aware that I am speaking largely to Cinema Studies Majors and Minors with this suggestion, but so be it. I would recommend a good Japanese film such as Ugetsu (1953). Ugetsu is for anybody who is interested in Film History, Japanese History, or just Beauty. It was directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, a nowadays seldom- mentioned Japanese filmmaker who turned out a prolific amount of work that was once regarded as some of the best stuff Cinema had to offer. Ugetsu has some of the most graceful, eye-pleasing Black-and-White imagery that can be found in Japanese Cinema, and is one of the few films to my mind that succeeds as a strange blending of several different genres; it is an Adventure story, a Ghost story, a Tragic Love story, a Period/Costume piece, and occasionally a dark comedy.

Don’t be afraid by the age of the film: it has been restored to a crisp image by the Criterion Collection, and is very well subtitled. See it while you can.


Recently, (over Easter) I saw the movie Stardust. I had seen advertisements and read reviews of it this past summer, and had wanted to see it then, but didn’t end up having the chance to. I saw it with my whole family, and everyone really loved it. Diann had earlier written a post on Neil Gaiman, and he’s the author of the comic the movie is based upon. I’ve checked out the first volume of his Sandman series before, but couldn’t really get into it. I found Stardust to be a visually stunning movie, and to have a magical and sweet story at its core. I think it’s quite similar to The Princess Bride, but its humor is a bit more subtle. (Sorry Billy Crystal!) Stardust follows young English lad Tristan Thorn, as he attempts to recover a fallen star; a journey that takes him from the 19th century village of Wall, into the supernatural kingdom of Stormhold. That the star is not just a piece of molten rock, but a young woman is the first of many new discoveries for Tristan. The movie seemed both humorous and generous, in a way that you rarely see. As you can tell, I endorse it! It also made me wonder-what are other good movies that you think may have fallen through the cracks?