Clint Eastwood has been in movies before my dad was a twinkle in his dad’s eye. Most actors his age have buried their lesser known films behind the woodshed. But Eastwood has been great from the start, and he just keeps getting better.
After all the westerns, I still haven’t tired of that grimacing gunslinger. That guy is in everything that Clint Eastwood makes. The man with no name rode into legend in the 19th century with a poncho, a snarl, and deadly fast six-shooters that always have one bullet more than his victims are praying for.
The years are more than kind when, in the late twentieth century, we rediscover him sporting a wool coat with elbow patches and the most powerful handgun in the world. Some things just never get old.
Grandpa Eastwood hasn’t lost his edge; far from it. It’s just that now his edge has a patina. Those movies he made as a youth, and by that I mean before he was 65, were great. But something began to change. Ever see Mystic River? Brilliantly crafted, and absolutely tragic. Not unlike Flags of our Fathers, Changling, and Million Dollar Baby. Not only has Eastwood maintained his pace, he’s ratcheted up- and his work is largely dark.
Like I mentioned before, some things just never age, and for me that’s the happy ending. Even a semblance of redemption for our hero is enough. Those darker movies were also told with great skill, but in the end, I can’t bring myself to watch them again. Not like The Outlaw Josey Wales, which I’ve seen 37 times.
Enter Gran Torino.
This movie has enough bigotry, cursing, and chewing tobacco to fill the old school red-neck’s week. Still, Eastwood had finally brought out a redemptive quality to his unique voice; somber, straightforward and unflinching, but now without the emptiness.
Invictus too has all the marks of the filmmaker; and as I recall, none of the crudeness. Yes, it has racism but this is about apartheid, and it was shown for its true ugliness.
Now, I’m chomping at the bit to see Eastwood’s latest: Trouble With the Curve.
Not directing this time, but only acting, Eastwood plays a different role that looks a little more down to earth: a father struggling in his relationship with his estranged daughter, and I trust, an ending that doesn’t leave you with the six-shooter-snarl.
I’ll have a review for you Friday morning, fans.
And I look forward to reading your thoughts on this new “Eastwood” as well.