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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Live by Night 2016 * * * 1/2 Stars

Live by NightDirector: Ben Affleck
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson

Ah yes, another holdover from last year. So OK, would I put it in my top ten? Oh absotively boss, absotively! Here goes nothing:

What I've adapted from Live by Night (my latest review), is that Ben Affleck has yet to oversee a bad movie. His direction here is lush and unwittingly glossy. Heck, I've never known a filmmaker to make Tampa Bay look so darn profuse. The cinematography, set design, period detail, and costume design concerning "Night", are all of the highest order. The goon characters love their fedoras and the women characters love their Cloches.

"Night's" setting is 1920's Boston and late 1920's South Florida. A frenzied car chase here, a speedy robbery there. Yeah, this is Affleck's The Cotton Club (minus the dancing), his Public Enemies, his Road to Perdition. It's the Good Ol' Days coupled with the good old boys. Yup, it's a slam-bang, action style event.

Image result for live by night movie movie scenesAnyway, Ben Affleck narrates along with playing Joe Coughlin, a World War I veteran. He's a small time crook who doesn't want to exist as a gangster but ends up being one anyway. Like Affleck's own trouper in The Town, he's a nice guy criminal who eventually wants to leave the bad guy life. He's not about the kills and he's not about the forgone anguish.

Affleck has cast himself in the lead in three of the four films he has helmed. Between Argo, "Night", and "Town", Live by Night is his finest work lighting both ends of the candle. At 129 minutes, "Night" is not overlong by most gangster flick standards. However, it could have used a little tighter editing. Nevertheless, its stride is frantic with Affleck's camera flying all over the place (it truly whips and follows). Bullet-ridden, bloody, and despairing are words I would use in my hasty description.

Live by Night is rampantly based on a novel by Dennis Lehane. The Drop, Mystic River, and Gone Baby Gone are other movies adapted from Lehane's writing. In terms of the music, well the score by Harry Gregson-Williams gives Live by Night a sense of foreboding throughout. The cast including Brendan Gleeson, Elle Fanning, an unrecognizable Sienna Miller, and Zoe Saldana, harbor great supporting work throughout as well. Lastly, the concluding, gruesome shootout scene in "Night" is its ultimate pinnacle. I didn't pick up on the irony firsthand. Regardless, it sealed my heralded recommendation.

Image result for live by night movie movie scenesAll in all, I've liked every single movie that Ben Affleck has ever directed. With 2016's Live by Night, he's now batting 1000. This film "lives" and breathes freely. Hot dawg! Rating: 3 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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