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Clint Eastwood

‘Cry Macho’ Review: Hanging With Grandpa Clint Is a Charming Delight

I feel a little bad for Clint Eastwood. What do you do after you become a legend? Post-Unforgiven, a film in which Eastwood wrestles with his own legacy and the western genre as a whole, his directing career has become divided between prestige pictures like Mystic River, J. Edgar, and American Sniper, films that seemed designed to just pass the time like Sully, Hereafter, and Changeling, and then there are the films that wrestle with legacy and old age, and in these films, Eastwood seems the most at home and personal. Movies like Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino may not be perfect, but they show Eastwood grappling with his own image and what he will pass on to a future generation, and it’s in this vein that he directs one of his best films since Unforgiven, Cry Macho. The plot is barely there, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s not a plot-driven film. It’s a movie where Eastwood gives up the grit and gravel-voice tough guy for something quieter. It’s an embrace of the domestic, and it’s here that Eastwood brings an unexpected warmth to the picture that makes Cry Macho a surprisingly lovely experience.

Set in 1980, Michael Milo (Eastwood) is a broken-down old cowboy. He used to be a rodeo star with a knack for training horses, but that was a long time ago. His old employer Howard (Dwight Yoakam) comes to Milo asking the old guy to go down to Mexico and retrieve Howard’s estranged teenage son Rafo (Eduardo Minett), with whom Howard would like to restore their relationship. Milo at first refuses, but Howard reminds Milo that he floated the old cowboy through tough times and will continue to do so if Milo does him this favor. So Milo heads down to Mexico, finds the boy in the streets cockfighting with his rooster Macho, and convinces the kid to come back with him to Texas. However, along the way, they both find that a better life may be waiting for them away from America.

I feel a little bad for Clint Eastwood. What do you do after you become a legend? Post-Unforgiven, a film in which Eastwood wrestles with his own legacy and the western genre as a whole, his directing career has become divided between prestige pictures like Mystic River, J. Edgar, and American Sniper, films that seemed designed to just pass the time like Sully, Hereafter, and Changeling, and then there are the films that wrestle with legacy and old age, and in these films, Eastwood seems the most at home and personal. Movies like Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino may not be perfect, but they show Eastwood grappling with his own image and what he will pass on to a future generation, and it’s in this vein that he directs one of his best films since Unforgiven, Cry Macho. The plot is barely there, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s not a plot-driven film. It’s a movie where Eastwood gives up the grit and gravel-voice tough guy for something quieter. It’s an embrace of the domestic, and it’s here that Eastwood brings an unexpected warmth to the picture that makes Cry Macho a surprisingly lovely experience.

Set in 1980, Michael Milo (Eastwood) is a broken-down old cowboy. He used to be a rodeo star with a knack for training horses, but that was a long time ago. His old employer Howard (Dwight Yoakam) comes to Milo asking the old guy to go down to Mexico and retrieve Howard’s estranged teenage son Rafo (Eduardo Minett), with whom Howard would like to restore their relationship. Milo at first refuses, but Howard reminds Milo that he floated the old cowboy through tough times and will continue to do so if Milo does him this favor. So Milo heads down to Mexico, finds the boy in the streets cockfighting with his rooster Macho, and convinces the kid to come back with him to Texas. However, along the way, they both find that a better life may be waiting for them away from America.

For its first act, you’re not really sure what Cry Macho is trying to do or where it’s going. But when you pull back and look at the full picture, you see that Eastwood is reframing his thoughts on his masculinity. You have to remember that when it comes to “macho” Hollywood guys, Eastwood helped defined the role with his work in westerns as well as the Dirty Harry franchise. Unforgiven turns all of that on its head in a compelling, thoughtful way, but what do you do after you create one of the greatest westerns of all time? What do you do after that kind of statement? Eastwood has been trying to figure that out for a couple decades now, and perhaps the answer lies in something as quiet and elegant as Cry Macho.

Once you get past the first act where Rafo’s mother (Fernanda Urrejola) tries (and fails) to seduce Michael and Michael and Rafo start to bond, the film coheres when their car breaks down in a small town and they find the possibility of peace and settling down. While I wouldn’t call Cry Macho a story of “redemption”—neither Michael nor Rafo have done anything particularly wrong—it is a story about finding peace, and that the way of conflict isn’t to be invited or conquered. From its opening, beautiful shots from cinematographer Ben Davis, you can tell that Eastwood is going for something more pastoral and somber. This isn’t the grizzled veteran telling a young man how to be a man by emulating his violent virtues (something Eastwood touched on with Gran Torino), but rather letting it all go to try and settle down.

It’s nice to see Eastwood embrace this vision of life. Nothing is going to erase The Man with No Name Trilogy or the Dirty Harry movies. That legacy is secure. But Eastwood knows he’s not that guy anymore, and it would be foolish to try. So instead it’s better to be grizzled, slow-moving Eastwood, and riding around with him and Rafo is like spending time with your Grandpa Clint. Sure, he may be a little ornery, but he’s also full of wisdom and he’s got a good heart. He’s suffered and he’s barely figured life out, but at least he knows it. He’s no longer carrying around anger, and any attempts to be macho at this time just look silly, which is why “macho” is personified by a literal cock. Not only that, but twice in the film when it looks like the only way out of a situation is through violence, Macho comes flying out, attacks the attacker, and the rooster, Rafo, and Michael are able to get away. In this way, Macho becomes a spirit animal of sorts, channeling the violence that Eastwood no longer wishes to perform or embrace. It’s also legitimately funny to watch some guy get owned multiple times by a rooster.

I don’t know what the grace note looks like on Clint Eastwood’s career, and I think something he’s struggled with is that he doesn’t know either. At times, it seems like filmmaking is merely a hobby for him. He makes relatively low-cost pictures for one studio (Warner Bros.), his prestige is enough to secure the financing and distribution, and he gets his films in on time and under budget. While this has led to some deeply underwhelming affairs and at times maddening efforts (hello, Jersey Boys), you try telling a 91-year-old Hollywood legend that it’s time to hang it up. You can’t force a grace note, but Cry Macho is as graceful as Eastwood has been in a long time.

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood May Replace Steven Spielberg as ‘American Sniper’ Director

American Sniper – based on the late Chris Kyle’s memoir “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History” – has attracted some big Hollywood talent, ever since Bradley Cooper’s 22nd & Indiana production company picked up the rights in 2012 (with Cooper attaching himself as the star and producer). Case in point, Cooper’s Silver Linings Playbook writer/director David O. Russell was reported as being the first serious contender in consideration for the helming job on Sniper.

Russell has decided to look elsewhere, where it concerns the possible followup to his next project: the true-story historical dramedy American Hustle (also starring Cooper). Steven Spielberg appeared to be all-ready to commit as director on American Sniper back in May of 2013, but he then dropped out around three months later.

Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. wants American Sniper to begin filming by the first quarter of 2014. That could mean the studio intends to release the movie during the subsequent awards season; or, at least, have the Sniper adaptation ready in time to make an Oscar-qualifying limited theatrical run in December next year.

However, in order for that to be feasible, WB is going to need a director known for working fast, efficiently and effectively to captain the American Sniper ship – which may be part of the reason why the studio has begun “tentative negotiations” with Clint Eastwood, so as to have the Oscar-winning legend take the helm. If a deal is struck, then Eastwood will begin filming his Jersey Boys musical adaptation at the conclusion of this month (August 2013, at the time of writing this), before he wraps up production a couple months later and then jumps head-first into principal photography on Sniper.

Kyle’s American Sniper book – detailing how the former Navy SEAL went “from Texas rodeo cowboy to expert marksman and feared assassin” – has been adapted into movie script form by Jason Dean Hall. The latter’s artistic credibility took a hit this past week, due to the poor critical reception for Paranoia (which Hall co-wrote). I’m taking the time to note this because Eastwood has a tendency to direct scripts with potential – something that Hall’s American Sniper script draft clearly has (given the talent it has managed to attract).

Problem is, Clint the director is able to work faster because he skips on polishing or fine-tuning the scripts he works from, as has become increasingly noticeable in his more recent films (see: Invictus, J. Edgar) – meaning, he may not be the right guy to give Hall’s American Sniper script draft any necessary tweaks it needs to realize its full promise. Moreover, Eastwood’s no-budge directorial temperament often gives rise to a slow-paced and soulfully-morose final product – but is that the right approach to Kyle’s story, passing over how respectful Eastwood would be towards his subject?

How about it, then: Clint Eastwood to direct American Sniper, yay or nay?

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood to Direct ‘Jersey Boys’ Film?

These days, actor/director Clint Eastwood is best known as the filmmaker behind hard-hitting dramas like Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River. However, the former Dirty Harry has been looking to try his hand at a very different genre for quite a while – the musical.

For years, Eastwood has been developing a remake of A Star Is Born, which was most recently brought to the big screen in 1976 with Barbara Streisand in the lead. Eastwood’s version – which would be the third remake of the original 1937 production – was set to star Beyoncé Knowles. However, Knowles has since dropped out of the project, leaving it in a state of limbo for now.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Eastwood will instead shift his focus over to another musical project with the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway production Jersey Boys. The plot focuses on the rise and fall of musical group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and uses the group’s music to tell its story. Jon Favreau had previously been attached to direct the film.

If Eastwood takes on Jersey Boys, the film would likely be his next directorial project, followed (presumably) by A Star Is Born. The latter film is currently courting Grammy-winning jazz singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding to star, though the project has also faced difficulty in casting its male lead. Sean Penn is among the most recent crop of actors being discussed for the role.

Eastwood’s decision to move on from A Star Is Born is a wise one, considering that project looks like it will take a while to gain any traction. Besides, a filmmaker as accomplished as Eastwood can lend just the right amount of gravitas to something like Jersey Boys. After last summer’s Rock of Ages failed to score at the box office, audiences may need convincing to check out another “jukebox musical.”

Do you think Eastwood is a good fit for Jersey Boys? Let us know in the comments section below.

Stay tuned to Screen Rant for the latest news on the Jersey Boys movie as this story develops.

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Clint Eastwood

‘Trouble with the Curve’ Images: Clint Eastwood Returns to Acting

Clint Eastwood hasn’t appeared onscreen in four years, and the last time he acted under the direction of someone other than… well, himself was in 1993. The 82-year old Hollywood legend returns to the big screen in Trouble with the Curve from his protégé Robert Lorenz, who’s worked on-and-off as an assistant director and/or producer on Eastwood’s films (beginning with Bridges of Madison County).

Eastwood co-headlines Trouble with the Curve alongside three-peat Oscar-nominee Amy Adams. The supporting cast isn’t shabby either, including John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, Robert Patrick, Matthew Lillard (The Descendants), and semi-newcomer Joe Massingill.

Trouble with the Curve is a father-daughter relationship drama explored through the lens of an off-the-field sports drama. Newcomer Randy Brown’s script revolves around an Atlanta Braves scout (Eastwood) who on the verge of being put out to pasture, due to his diminishing eyesight and old-fashioned approach to recruiting players (obviously, he doesn’t subscribe to the Moneyball school of thought).

Eastwood’s character convinces his estranged daughter (Adams) to accompany and assist him on what could be his last assignment, to determine whether or not a promising power hitter (Massingill) has potential to make it in the big leagues. Timberlake plays a player-turned-scout who’s on good terms with Eastwood, but risks trouble when he starts getting too friendly with Adams.

Lorenz has the opportunity to demonstrate the directorial tricks he’s picked up on working with Eastwood over the years, while establishing himself as a reputable storyteller on Trouble with the Curve (his feature-length directorial debut). The two-time Oscar nominee certainly works as efficiently as his mentor, given the six-month turnaround between the film’s production start date and its release this fall.

Moreover, Trouble with the Curve could satisfy as a capstone to Eastwood’s acting legacy, much like Unforgiven did for his days working in the western genre; not to mention, Gran Torino served as a swansong to his career playing characters who’re rough around the edges (ex. Harry Callahan). If Eastwood turns in a performance deemed awards-worthy by his peers, well, that’s icing on the cake.

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