GROWLS AND ‘SWELLS’: AN ANALYSIS OF CLINT EASTWOOD

| May 21, 2015

CLINT EASTWOOD flies a Soviet Thought Jet in 1982's FIREFOX

EPISODE 1: STRANGE PLACE, FAMILIAR FACE

A flashback to a period of a nation under pressure and all two kids can argue about is who should win the damn 2004 oscar.

This was my moment at age 13 and I passionately argued for Martin Scorseses THE AVIATOR while a some blonde who kept telling me about this picture called MILLION DOLLAR BABY. Pfft, I balked at the silly girl, the notion of that possibly beating Scorsese.

One week later Million Dollar Baby won best picture.

I was enraged, as since watching The Aviator I had discovered Goodfellas, Raging Bull , and many others. What enraged me more was that while having never seen a film by or starring the director, i knew he had already won an Oscar where Scorsese had none. It was a fervor that would last all of about 6 months, when I finally saw Million Dollar Baby…

My whole perception was changed instantly over the course of 2 hours and the way I enjoyed films would never be the same. For that was the day I met Clint.

Million Dollar Baby was directed by and stars the legendary Clint Eastwood and it is responsible for a man crush that has stood the test of time and can only compete with my equal man crush on Scorsese.

Clint Eastwoods genius and appeal always lies in his persona, both in front of and behind the camera. Its an air of solemn respect for reality with the curious glimmer of hope that can still make you growl in defense. In front of the camera he has been the ultimate tough guy touting a sly wit, true grit, and the inability to quit. Behind the camera he has made it a priority to take everything i have just mentioned and disassemble it thoroughly with a fine tooth comb and show the reality of being a lone wolf. Its primarily why I’ve admired the man for 11 years on: melodrama with a point and action with a purpose.

To make a top ten list without examining each one to see if we missed a gem would be a disservice, so for the next couple of weeks we are gonna examine all 57 of Eastwood’s films, 4 to 5 per article.

To kick things off, we have to understand that beyond his obvious tropes of cowboy and cop, Clint is a man who can really go anywhere; whether its Spy who steals thought jets, jewell thief who sees the president kill a woman, wounded Yankee soldier in a convent full of southern girls, or even begrudged basball scout. Yes Eastwood’s been everywhere man….

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE:
1.5 outta 4 baseballs

The final moment in Trouble With The Curve shows Clint Eastwood walking down a street alone, almost to say he is walking away from acting forever and this is his graceful bow…. That bow happened 4 years prior with Gran Torino and should have been left to that.

CURVE has the distinct characteristics of an afternoon or late night TNT film, mixed with all the sap and spices of a Happy Ending you can blend together, which in itself would be fine if the editing wasnt so weird and jumbled.

That said though, its a 50/50 because honestly, this cast was so much fun to watch I would absolutely watch this again. In a different reality, Justin Timberlake and Clint would have done at least 2 other team up films, and Amy Adams is just divine to watch as always. It even shows Clint still has it, even if it is Torino Lite. And if this is how Clint wanted to go out, i gotta respect that choice….

THE BEGUILED

3 outta 4 turtles

Directed by Don Siegel, who later this same year of our lord 1971 gave the world a certain Harry Callahan, takes on this Oscar Bait melodrama that is much more than it seems. Its not so much a Clint Eastwood movie as it is a Drama that happens to have Clint in it. The majority of the dramatic heft lies with a house full of lonely southern women who have let Eastwoods character, a wounded Yankee, into their Girls School.

Once inside the house, the film plays an interesting game where we are truly set up to despise Eastwood as the film progresses . Its a rare ‘bad guy’ performance from him that proves just as haunting as the head matriarch of the school ( played by Geraldine Page) who has her own buried secrets.

The tension in this film feels flat at times, but no more than any melodrama possesses, and this films unique setup allows it to play out like a thriller in the vein of a hillbilly Hitchcock.

Be ready for an interesting ride with one of the ballsiest endings of a Clint Eastwood film from this decade.

ABSOLUTE POWER:
2.5 outta 4 fake beards

In this picture is 20 minutes of some of the slickest direction Clint has ever been at the helm for. Its a Robbery scene that goes on for a solid 20 minutes that almost plays out like a short film that has its own strong thematic conclusions without the necessity of any resolved ending that satisfies an honest man/woman.

But alas this is a major motion picture, and we need more than that. Thankfully, while not on par with that chunk, the remainder of the picture turns out a very fascinating airplane novel mystery aptly directed by and starting Eastwood as an aged thief who witnesses a murder at the hands of the secret service. And it takes a while for Clint to really get involved in the plot, in reality his character is more of a supporting player compared to the amount of time he gives to the bad guys. In theory this works, but it still has some major bumps in pacing. The ending itself is something i championed when i was 17, but looking at it now, i would have been much more fascinated if the ending was bleaker and much more hopeless.

Regardless, its one of those fascinating what if scenarios which provides thorough entertainment.

FIREFOX:
2 outta 4 Soviet Thought Missiles

Clint is a man of many wonderful talents, but speaking Russian may not be one of them. Which is probably why when he should be attempting an accent to get past Soviet generals, he instead just speaks in his normal voice and they let him pass by. Yet his character is indeed supposed to be a man who is fluent in the language.

But none of that matters because he can THINK in Russian. Which is handy as his character is tasked with the mission to steal a prototype Soviet Jet that operates by thought. Thats right boys and girls, its a Thought Jet, and we get to see it fly for a glorious 40 minutes in sequences against a blue screen that must have had the boys at ILM scratching their heads saying “Why didnt Clint just call us to do the Flight Sequences”

Apart from the more fanciful elements of Firefox, there still remains a fun little action/spy thriller that delivers the stuff your looking for in a fun tune out and enjoy manner.

P.S. Clint with a bushy mustache disguise is highly interesting.

…. And thats just 4 films kids… we still got 53 more to go…

53 more films… Fuck … is it too late to back out?

TO BE CONTINUED…..

About the Author:

Zach Eastman is the filmmaker responsible for films such as TWOMBLEY (Starz Film Festival 2012 Official Selection) and THE BOY WHO STARES. He is also the producer of Matty O Connor's film GUNS DRUGS AND SYNERGY, Adam Jewels award winning film THE ZONE, and Tony Grosz's TWO YEARS SINCE FRIDAY. He has been a frequent guest on REEL NERDS PODCAST and now is one of their contributors.
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