It feels good to be an apologist. Once the decision has been made to take someone on as your charge, cumbersome critical faculties can be relaxed—there’s no longer any need to choose sides. Most freeing of all is that it doesn’t really matter who you defend. Thinking back to last night’s party, hearing yourself eloquently championing Matthew McConaughey or whoever, you might even convince yourself, and realize the arbitrariness of your cherished “opinions.” It’s like baseball fandom—when you like a player as a rookie, you don’t throw away the cards from all of his slump years, you protect and sleeve them like the rest.
Ben Affleck can do little wrong by me, but it’s difficult to say why. A resume with lowlights as low as Reindeer Games, Pearl Harbor, and Gigli and highlights as modest as Good Will Hunting and Hollywoodland can’t be the answer. The whole “sexiest man alive”/Bennifer phase was pretty irritating, and came as something of a surprise to those of us who were first aware of Affleck as Chasing Amy’s chunky loser-in-love Holden McNeil. His self-deprecation in the Silent Bob movie (I refuse to type the title) and on shows like Dinner for Five helped a little, though it still wasn’t clear how far he was stretching himself while basically slumming it. His appeal to me might be something as simple as his retiring laugh or aura of solid dude-ness; I can only chalk it up to the mysteries of apologia. Click here to read Justin Stewart’s review of Gone Baby Gone.