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December 04, 2008


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Aaron Aradillas

Forget Unforgiven, the one-two punch of A Perfect World and The Bridges of Madison County represent the best of Eastwood as a filmmaker.

What people forget to mention about A Perfect World is that the story is set just a few weeks before JFK's assassination. The backdrop of Texas backroads and farm houses and empty diners create a mod of mourning and loss that is about to take over the nation.

I've viewed Million Dollar Baby as an extremely Catholic movie. Frankie Dunn is constantly pestering his priest about the many "holes" in faith. The priest finally tells him he needs to take it on good faith that God knows what He's doing.

The fighters that Frankie trains are constantly questioning him about their next fight. He demands that they trust him and never question him.

It is Frankie's positioning himself as God without acknowledging the existence of someone above him is what eventually causes to lose everything.

By the end Frankie is humbled by his own limitations.

Changeling might be the most overrated movie of the year. The cruelty level starts out at 11 and never lets up. The shame is Jolie gives a spectacular performance.


"It is Frankie's positioning himself as God without acknowledging the existence of someone above him is what eventually causes to lose everything."

Does he lose everything though? There's a clear suggestion in Scrap's voiceover/that final shot, that his absent daughter - who occupies in this story something of the same significance that Munny's late wife did in Unforgiven - might come to understand what a truly kind & loving man her father was & forgive him for whatever caused the estrangement between them. In one sense the entire film is a testament to the daughter about her father.

Million Dollar Baby & Changeling both end up as what one might reasonably term uplifting tragedies. Sure there's a lot of misery & heartbreak in each but just as Frankie's daughter may learn to forgive her father in M$B so it transpires in Changeling that Christine's son Walter may still be alive. There's hope in each of the films. It's not just unrelieved gloom.

And aside from that aforementioned ray of hope at Changeling's end (which rather disproves your claim that 'the cruelty level starts out at 11 & never lets up') I couldn't disagree with you more about Changeling being overrated. The film for me ranks as one of Eastwood's most impressive. That Eastwood handles the multiple themes & story strands so skillfully, that he gets such strong performances from the entire cast & that he never lets the film drown in the period production values that a lesser director would have done - & that he made such an accessible mainstream movie about such horrific events & gave it such contemporary resonance & bite - illustrates yet again that Eastwood's ambition & his ability to deliver on that ambition, continues to increase. I'd peg Changeling as a better movie than Unforgiven, but then there's about half a dozen movies Eastwood's made over the last 15 years I'd peg as better than Unforgiven.


A PERFECT WORLD is indeed a masterpiece. And Eastwood at his best (UNFORGIVEN, JOSEY WALES, even HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER) is virtually untouchable.

But what bothers me is the sometimes ridiculous amount of praise heaped on some of his lazier recent films: the wildly, wildly uneven MILLION DOLLAR BABY is a perfect example. I haven't seen GRAN TORINO yet, though.

Tony Dayoub

"Changeling" was ultimately a disappointing film for me. I call it a "kitchen sink" movie, as in it-includes-everything-but-the.

But Eastwood is definitely a talent and extremely underrated. And it seems like his talent is always most evident in his least appreciated films. Go figure.

"A Perfect World" is a masterpiece, and probably my favorite of all of his films.

Mike De Luca

I agree, Joe. And I find "Flags of Our Fathers", with its decontruction of modern American notions of heroism to be far more subversive than "Letters From Iwo Jima". But still I can't imagine "Letters From Iwo Jima" having the same impact, had I not seen "Flags of Our Fathers". I would not have had my "Oh man, that's Iggy" moment watching the latter, which was like a punch to the gut.

Aaron Aradillas

Letters from Iwo Jima almost drowns in nobility. The scene of the Japanese soldiers killing themselves bordered on pornographic. The fils tells us how over and over again how noble the Japanese were because they knew they were facing certain death.

I knew Changeling was rigged from its opening scene. Here's a movie set in Los Angeles during the Spring and Summer and Eastwood shoots it like it's set in Seattle. The gloomy, overcast look of the movie shouts "This is a Serious Movie!"

The motives of the captain are never really explained. No one offers any sort of kindness and sympathy toward Christine. I don't care the movie is based on fact, there needs to be a moment of empathy/sympathy to contrast with the mounting indiference that Christine is fighting against.

The two best-acted scenes involve young boys giving confessions. The first confession is so well done that I was shock by Eastwood's lapse in judgment when handling the conclusion of the serial killer subplot.

The scene that really disturbed me is when the cop takes the little boy back out to the farm to locate the bodies. He forces the child to dig up the bodies and says, "You put 'em in there you dig 'em out." Why would the officer be so cruel? Doesn't he know the boy is already suffering from the wieght of his actions?

The other offensive scene is the execution sequence. Eastwood drags out this scene in such a way that its only purpose is to get the audience lusting for the guy to die. That's Eastwood pandering to his base. He's better than that.

Oh, can someone please explain the Lady Macbeth ending of Mystic River? It's been 5 years and I have yet to get a satisfactory explanation to that scene.

Mark J

Nice to see all the 'A Perfect World' love, not so sure about the dissing of 'Unforgiven' though...

Dirty Harry

Good to know I'm not alone with my PERFECT WORLD love (Costner's simply amazing in that role) and I consider MILLION DOLLAR BABY to be one of the best films of the last ten years, but FLAGS, IWO JIMA, and MYSTIC RIVER all deserve honored places in Woody Allen's Hall of the Wildly Overrated -- and THE CHANGELING is in every way a failure.

Eastwood makes timeless pulp. JOSEY WALES, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, THE GAUNTLET, HEARTBREAK RIDGE... It's either deeply serious fare or great B-films with A-budgets people will enjoy for generations. TORINO looks like Eastwood's first conscious attempt to mix the two -- which might explain the wildly mixed reviews.

Very much looking forward to it.

Pedro Canhenha

Clint Eastwood has been a talent to be reckoned with for a long time. "Unforgiven" brought him the accolades he deserved. But his previous films, such as "Bird", "White Hunter Black Heart", "Pale Rider" already showcased is unique view. I think "Changeling" is a beautiful film - he shot it beautifully and allowed for the story to develop.

gabriel lv

couldn't agree more with joseph . i would tinge that idea of protection with 2 more themes –deeply interrelated–:

· a very straight sense of justice , as in iwo jima : 'always do what's right because it's right'. the flip side of this vision would be mystic river , which dispenses with any god or understanding of fairness.

· friendship –as in white hunter black heart's cartoon scene or million dollar baby's vision of euthanasia as a supreme act of love.

cheers from mexico,

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