Man About Town

Director: Mike Binder

After the critical success of actor turned writer/director Mike Binder’s mostly female driven hit The Upside of Anger, he rebounded with this dark little masculine indie starring Ben Affleck as a successful but emotionally unfulfilled Hollywood agent. Eager to put the pieces of his life together and do a little soul-searching due to the unrest at home with a distant relationship to his wife (Rebecca Romijn) and caring for his stroke and dementia-ridden father, Affleck’s Jack Giamoro signs up for an evening adult education journal writing class taught by John Cleese. When a revenge-seeking aspiring screenwriter (Bai Ling) steals his journal, she decides to expose all of his dirty secrets in a tell-all article, jeopardizing his career and position of power. The film, which begins as a sort of darker version of Jerry Maguire with hipper camera angels and a funny, poignant narration quickly veers out of control by its halfway point, evolving instead into a sort of twisted and violent hybrid of Robert Altman’s The Player and the entire oeuvre of David Lynch. Not sure if the film should pull at our heartstrings, shock, or simply amuse us, the brainy, creative and prolific Mike Binder (who also costars) tries to fit all of these reactions into the piece, thereby concocting an uneven film. Although chaotic on the whole, Man About Town contains some genuinely funny (and a few surprisingly moving) moments including a memorably zany ending with enough miscommunications and characters coming and going to have made Preston Sturges proud.