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Ben Afflek in the spotlight at LA Intl Film Fest

The main event on day five of the fest Monday, was a staged conversation with actor Ben Affleck, 37, held at the Grammy Museum a short walk away from the Regal Cineplex 14 main festival venue. This was introduced by long term Newsweek film critic David Ansen who is the artistic director of the festival this year. The moderator --i.e., leading question asker -- was a Mr. Sean Smith, who prudently allowed Mr. Affleck to do most of the talking. Clips from some of his films were shown including the trailer and extended portions of his new film "The Town", a fast-paced cops and robbers thriller set in Boston and scheduled for release in the fall.
Tall, handsome, dressed casually in short sleeves and designer jeans, and sporting a full growth of beard, the popular actor was quite affable, charming, speed-talky, and hyper-active, sitting in a high stool on the stage, and peppering his salty dialogues (lots of F-words) with enough hand gesticulations to make even the most zealous Italian jealous.
Ben first came to major public attention in 1997 at the tender age of 25 when he co-scripted and co-acted with old Boston home-town buddy Matt Damon in the hit film "Goodwill Hunting" which won him a an Academy Award for best screenplay of the year. Damon went on to A-list superstardom immediately thereafter while Ben remained more or less in the second ranks of good looking leading men with a string of less than memorable big budget pictures such as "Pearl Harbor" and "Changing Lanes", but cut a hot figure in the Hollywood gossip columns while involved in high profile romances with the likes of actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Public Sexpot Number One, Jennifer Lopez. The "J. Lo" affair generated so much media attention that the was couple considered a de-facto unit and dubbed "Bennifer". When all that fizzed out he got married and more or less settled down, while his acting career sort of fizzled out and he was not seen on the big screen for a while.
Finally he scored something of a comeback in 2006 with 'Hollywoodland", a kind of film noir in which he played (appropriately and convincingly) the forgotten TV actor Georges Reeves who was the TV Superman of the fifties. For this role which was critically lauded he received the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival of 2006, and found himself back in demand, if not quite at the A-List level.
After the "The Town" trailer Affleck was joined on stage by his short pugnacious co-star in the film, Jeremy Renner, last seen in the Oscar winning "The Hurt locker". On screen the pair are constantly at each others throats, but on stage it was all good old buddy hood, a tribute to the magic of cinema. Much of the talk was about the acting process itself and the difficulties of directing yourself as Ben will do in the upcoming film.
All in all the evening progressed very well and a good time was had by all, especially the many young ladies who turned out to see handsome hunky Ben. Nobody ventured to ask him, "Hey, like what happened after "Good Will Hunting", man? ...

by Alex Deleon


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