In Theaters: Ben Affleck’s ‘Daredevil,’ Matt Damon’s Art Flick

Damon, Casey Affleck discuss their experimental, meandering 'Gerry.'

As Ben Affleck’s much-publicized “Daredevil” arrives in theaters, some of the most important people in his life are quietly dropping a new flick of their own.

Created by brother Casey Affleck, pal Matt Damon and “Good Will Hunting” director Gus Van Sant, the unconventional “Gerry” takes its title from a word that’s been thrown around by the group of friends for years. Or at least by most of them.

“We’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with Gus since ‘Good Will Hunting,’ ” Casey explained recently. “And we always thought that he was following the conversation. It turns out he never has any idea what we’re saying! I thought he was just quiet. But he’s just sitting there going, ‘I don’t know what they’re saying!’ ‘Gerry’ was just one of those phrases, but there’s a long list. And Gus — he’s never with it.’ ”

“It’s just really one of those words that grew out of our growing up together, that just ended up indicating some certain experience,” added Damon. “Gus would see us talking, we’d use that word sometimes, and he’d go, ‘I don’t know what the hell it means or what you’re talking about, but I like watching you guys talking together. Because I’m watching you two relate and obviously you two have known each other for a really long time. But I’m kind of outside of the conversation.’ So he wanted to incorporate that into the movie.”

In the film, Casey and Matt’s characters use “Gerry” as names for each other and as a verb meaning “to screw up.” Like Van Sant in real life, the audience is forced to draw this definition from context. “Gerry” goes to great lengths to explain virtually nothing.

The film begins with Matt and Casey driving in a dessert. They park, start walking and eventually become lost. Dialogue is sparse, and there are no supporting characters and little background music. Modern editing techniques are almost absent. Many stretches consist of nothing more than the two pals walking from one side of the frame to the other, for several minutes, without exchanging a word.

“Some people said when they saw ['Gerry'] in Sundance last year [that] it’s brilliant,” Damon said. “And some people said, ‘You will only ever see this movie if you’re being tortured.’ So I think it really does depend on what experiences a person has [had]. It’s going to be a personal experience. You’re either going to go and invest in it and it’s gonna do something for you, or it’ll be watching two people walk for two hours and you’ll just lose your mind.”

“Gerry” opens in Los Angeles and New York this week and expands to other cities later this month. Anyone interested in a little more action onscreen need look no further than “Daredevil,” a faithful adaptation of the blind Marvel Comics superhero, starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner (“Alias”), Michael Clarke Duncan (“The Green Mile”) and Colin Farrell (“The Recruit”).

“Daredevil” is the first comic book movie to follow in the wake of the record-breaking success of “Spider-Man” (see “‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Star Wars Episode II’ Top Flicks Of 2002″ ), but anyone expecting a feel-good Spidey-like movie could be startled by the picture’s grim tone.

“They may come out disappointed, they may come out … loving it,” Farrell said recently. “I loved ‘Spider-Man.’ I really enjoyed it. I had such a laugh watching that film. But hopefully they will like ['Daredevil']. It’s dark in places. I know that for sure. I was there. … Some of the themes are dark. [But] there is also very sweet love between [Daredevil] and Jennifer’s character, Elektra. So hopefully there is something for everyone.” (Click for photos from “Daredevil.” )

Disney’s animated “The Jungle Book 2″ also opens this week, while the acclaimed films “Chicago” and “The Hours” expand into wider release.