It's been a long time since I blogged (I don't like that word, blogged; it sounds like something you do after you eat a large bowlful of Swedish meatballs right after eating a handful of old peyote). The reason is that I'm incredibly lazy and I have a mild, self-diagnosed form of OCD, a disorder I've pretty much completely applied to a burgeoning interest in astrophotography. It's a cloudy night, so I've decided to blog. And I hope you'll forgive the smell of projectile bowel and stomach emissions.
Clint Eastwood made that awkwardly strange speech last night at the GOP convention, talking to an invisible President Obama, and it was really kind of sad, but it got me to thinking of how good some of his movies were and how awful some of his movies were.
The Outlaw Josey Wales, from 1976 or thereabouts, is a film based on a KKK member's novel, a sort of re-telling of the Jesse James story, with Jesse (Josey) as an unlikely quasi-Confederate hero. It's complete bullshit, of course: Jesse James was a self-promoting, publicity hungry serial murderer who liked stealing money from banks. I hate banks, but I don't like people who rob them and murder people. Call me conventional. But The Outlaw Josey Wales is the first film that showed real promise for Clint Eastwood, the director. It was quirky, funny, violent, and character-driven. And it contains one of my favorite exchanges: Josey Wales kills two bushwhacking bounty hunters, and when Josey's companion, a young fellow who is seriously wounded, suggests that the bushwhackers be given a decent Christian burial, Josey says, "Hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat ... same as worms." Classic Eastwood.
Unforgiven is an ambivalent drama about the nature of violence, a very naturalistic drama with perfect performances from its entire cast, and it is arguably Eastwood's masterpiece.
Mystic River was a difficult film to watch, dealing as it did with child abduction and molestion and ultimately misplaced vengeance, which leads to an almost universal devastation. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and every other actor in the film give great performances, and if the ending of the film is unsatisfying, it is because it is supposed to be unsatisfying.
And Million Dollar Baby. Who could believe the chick from the ultra-shitty Karate Kid Part II could give a believable performance as a female boxer, but she does, and it's another great Eastwood film.
Grand Torino, not as good as any of the aforementioned, is still good. Has all the characteristic Eastwood quirkiness.
There were other Eastwood films of course. Horrible ones, like Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, and that piece of shit with Burt Reynolds whose title I can't even recall ... City Heat, I think it was. Some were very good, like White Hunter, Black Heart, a re-telling of the making of The African Queen, which was directed by John Huston, who is played by Eastwood.
It was embarrassing watching the shitty performance he gave at the GOP suckfest last night. But chalk it up to, perhaps, senility. Dude's gettin' old. Really old. I've always thought that Clint should never try to be funny. He's no good at trying to be funny.
I'll remember Eastwood spitting chaw onto the forehead of one of the bushwhacker victims in The Outlaw Josey Wales as he says the immortal line, "Hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat ... same as worms," and I'll cherish that memory. Instead of the doddering, meandering, scatter-brained old man talking to an empty chair for the GOP.
Nothing against his politics. It's just that he didn't seem to have any idea of what the fuck he was trying to say last night.
He needed a script ... and a good director.