The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Ben Affleck succeeds again as writer-director-actor

Ben Affleck again authenticates his appeal to filmgoers with “The Town,” his directorial follow up to his debut film “Gone Baby Gone.” Redefining his movie career has progressed him from a washed-up, has-been actor to an award-worthy director.

For most of the millennium, Affleck has been the butt of countless jokes. From SNL and South Park to umpteen blogs, Affleck has been mocked, mimicked and ridiculed endlessly.

courtesy of MCT

He  has even lampooned his career by appearing as “himself” in close friend Kevin Smith’s film “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,”  where the infamous phrase “Affleck, you da bomb in Phantoms, yo!” originated. In Smith’s film, Affleck mocked his reputation and career choices (purely for money) by concocting the fictional film “Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season” within the film. Smith also brings in Affleck’s best friend Matt Damon for a cameo appearance.

Kevin Smith’s film festival, “West Coast Vulgarathon,” took place at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood for the first time in March 2005. During the Q&A, after a screening of “Chasing Amy,” Affleck acknowledged and joked about his relationship with Jennifer Lopez, during which the infamous celebrity couple was known as Bennifer. Affleck surmounted several stumbling blocks including alcohol addiction, tabloid hell with J-Lo, and questionable movie choices, but he’s been able to rebound as a promising director.

Hollywood actors-turned-directors are nothing novel, though few have actually succeeded. One success story is Academy Award–winning director John Huston, who debuted with the enduring classic “The Maltese Falcon” and formulated some of the most memorable films during the 1940s and 1950s, including “The African Queen” and “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Huston established himself as a flourishing filmmaker and later acted in other directors’ films, most notably in Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown.”

For every Ron Howard, several A-list actors have deplorably failed as directors. Still, for the past three decades, various successful actors have shifted into prolific filmmakers. Jon Favreau penned the celebrated cinematic indie film “Swingers,” in which he co-starred and consequently directed.  He went on to  direct “Elf” and the two “Iron Man” movies. Peter Berg (best known as Dr. Billy Kronk on television’s “Chicago Hope”) skillfully directed “Friday Night Lights” and “Hancock.”

Other established actors turned their sights on directing and distinguished themselves as such, like Rob Reiner with “This is Spinal Tap,” “The Princess Bride” and “A Few Good Men.” Sylvester Stallone most notably directed five films in the “Rocky” series, “Rambo” and “The Expendables.”

Academy Award–winning anomaly George Clooney masterfully directed “Confessions of A Dangerous Mind” and “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn directed critically acclaimed films “The Crossing Guard,” “The Pledge” and “Into the Wild.” One of Hollywood’s original bad boys, Warren Beatty, collected his Academy Award for directing “Reds” and continued his triumphs with “Dick Tracy” and “Bullworth.”

Robert Redford and Kevin Costner have enhanced their careers as actors and directors. Redford’s directorial debut “Ordinary People” garnered four Oscars, including Best Director. Kevin Costner’s directorial debut “Dances With Wolves” captured seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Controversial Academy Award winner Mel Gibson, of the “Mad Max” trilogy and “Lethal Weapon” series, produced “Braveheart,” which nabbed him two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. He subsequently co-wrote, produced and directed “The Passion of The Christ.” And who can forget Mad Mel’s last visit to CSUN where he ranted, raved and roared?

Affleck has remained focused and avoided the limelight unlike most of his contemporaries. A family man and private individual, his down-to-earth nature transcends his acting capabilities and translates onto the big screen as he depicts life’s harsh realities in Boston.

Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese has ratified his reputation for gangster and New York films. Comedian Woody Allen, a New Yorker, entrenched the Big Apple as the backdrop for his films until recently.

The epitome of a successful actor turned equally effective director remains Clint Eastwood. Eastwood successfully transitioned to actor/director and director seamlessly over the past four decades. He picked up four Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture for “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby” respectively.

Affleck appears fast-tracked to become the next Clint Eastwood.  After co-starring in “Hollywoodland” and receiving rave reviews for his performance as George Reeves, television’s original Superman, he became more obsessed with quality roles rather than financial gain. He took a three-year sabbatical from acting to direct “Gone Baby Gone” and re-emerged as someone to once again watch.

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Affleck has re-established himself as a first-class Hollywood talent.

French moralist François de La Rochefoucauld wrote, “Nature has concealed at the bottom of our minds talents and abilities of which we are not aware. The passions alone have the privilege of bringing them to light, and of giving us sometimes views more certain and more perfect than art could possibly produce.”

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