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Clint Eastwood

These Are the Best Non-Western Clint Eastwood Movies of the Last 30 Years

Westerns have maintained their place of pride on the coveted Hollywood mantelpiece for a little over a century. Yet, you’d have to stretch back as far as 1899 to source the first Western ever to be captured on film. Titled Kidnapping By Indians, the movie wasn’t shot in the desolate, often sun-drenched surroundings of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, or even in a Hollywood studio, but Blackburn, England. Ironically, one of the wettest, grayest and greenest places in the UK, far removed from the deserts and mountain plains of Sierra Nevada. Cowboys, Indians, saloon shootouts, and tumbleweed are all associated with the Western genre, but there isn’t anything or anyone that encompasses yee-haw! flicks more than the legendary, eye-squinting, Clint Eastwood.

The actor-turned-director made his name in the television series Rawhide, before reaching the lofty heights of international stardom, appearing in Spaghetti Western films such as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, and For a Few Dollars More. While much of his early success came riding horseback, hunting down the outlaws of the American Frontier, and frequenting the saloons of Santa Cruz and El Paso, Eastwood has acted and directed in countless movies that are by far and large a departure from the Wild West. The major change happened after Unforgiven in 1992, when Eastwood began to almost entirely stop making Westerns (until, arguably, Cry Macho in 2021). Let’s take a look at these last 30 years of his directing career, and the best Clint Eastwood movies to have come from them.

7. A Perfect World

Kevin Costner stars as Robert “Butch” Haynes, in the Clint Eastwood movie A Perfect World. The film follows Haynes, a prison escapee who kidnaps orphan Phillip (T.J. Lowther) and goes on the run, with the ranger, Chief Red Garnett (Eastwood), in hot pursuit. The pair forms an unlikely bond during their encounter, and a father-son-like relationship ensues. A Perfect World makes for gratifying and charming viewing, as the protagonists provide one another with sanctuary from the stresses, reality, and hardships of everyday life.

 

6. The Bridges of Madison County

Based on Robert James Waller’s 1992 novella of the same name, The Bridges of Madison County jumps between the present and 1965, documenting the love affair between Francesca (Meryl Streep) and Robert (Clint Eastwood). Whilst her husband and children are away, Francesca experiences a chance encounter with a National Geographic photographer, Robert Kincaid. During the four days the couple spends together, they share an intense and passionate love that ultimately remains undeveloped.

Running concurrently with the happenings in 1965 is the present-day, where recently deceased Francesca has left a safe deposit box containing the remnants of that fateful four days she spent with Robert. Francesca’s children are left to piece together their mother’s surreptitious affair 30-years prior. Even in a progressive, 21st-century society, extramarital activities are seldom approved of, yet The Bridges of Madison County seemingly dismantles the social construct of marriage and lays bare the vulnerabilities, complexities, and failings of the human character, in turn, positioning the audience in a place of understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness.

5. Changeling

The definition of a Changeling is one of mystical nature: a deformed fairy spawn that is subsequently exchanged for a human child; this captures the very essence of the 2008 Clint Eastwood movie starring Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins. Clint Eastwood appears to enjoy creating motion pictures where the core nucleus focuses on real-life events, from Sully to Richard Jewell, to American Sniper and several more in-between.

Changeling is also inspired by true events. It details the story of Christine Collins, a single mother in 1920s Los Angeles whose son (Walter) is kidnaped and “found” by the LAPD. It transpires that the boy “found” and returned to her care, is an intruder, and not her missing son. Despite the boy’s best efforts at proving otherwise, Christine remains adamant that he is not her son, pointing at several physical discrepancies. The film explores the increasingly disturbing truth, as it takes twist after turn before culminating in an alarming, rather deranged manner. The movie delves deeply into themes of police mistrust, negligence, love, and loss, taking the audience on a journey through a mother’s heartache as she frantically attempts to locate her missing son with disastrous consequences.

4. Mystic River

An adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel, Mystic River includes a stellar ensemble cast, with the likes of Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, Laurence Fishburn, Tim Robbins, and Laura Linney. Penn and Robbins claimed an Academy Award each for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. This mystery crime drama depicts the story of Jimmy, Dave, and Sean, who endeavor to solve the murder of Jimmy’s daughter, Katie. As Alan Morrison from Empire states, “While not quite the equal of the novel, it’s more complex, emotionally-charged and better acted than the average Hollywood thriller.”.

3. Letters from Iwo Jima

Letters from Iwo Jima is a touching, moving, and at times heartbreaking portrayal of the events that unfolded on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during World War II. The islet played host to one of the bloodiest battles during the war between Japanese and American troops. The film was released just four months after its sister film, Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers, which depicted the same battle but from an American perspective. With an American invasion imminent, outnumbered Japanese General Kuribayashi and his men attempt to hold off the US bombardment as American forces arrive at its shores. In the face of the inevitable, the movie pays tribute to the fearless and unwavering resolve of the Japanese soldiers, who were knowingly hoisted into a suicide mission. Letters from Iwo Jima confronts the devastation of war and the senseless, merciless act of mass slaughter, creating vast amounts of empathy by humanizing the ‘other’ side.

2. Gran Torino

Obstinate resistance to societal change + a reluctant act of kindness against one’s better judgment = eventual submission to the positive forces of change. Sounds like an equation to a Clint Eastwood movie; sounds like the formula to Gran Torino. In some cases, Clint Eastwood movies have possessed a certain air of predictability, which has undoubtedly affected the reception of some of his work. However, in the case of Gran Torino, the predictable element by no means hampers what is an otherwise brilliant film.

 

Following the story of disgruntled, racist war veteran Walt Kowalski, alienated by his experiences in Vietnam, the man detests his neighborhood which has lost its predominantly white middle-class identity to that of working-class Asian immigrants. Initially pig-headed, Walt develops a blossoming friendship with his Hmong neighbor, Thao, who works for him doing odd jobs around his house. The omnipresent danger of gang violence from local Hmong gangs leaves Thao and his family fearing for their safety, and Walt with a decision to make. As Roger Ebert put it, “Gran Torino is about two things, I believe. It’s about the belated flowering of a man’s better nature. And it’s about Americans of different races growing more open to one another in the new century.”

1. Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby took the 2005 Academy Awards by storm, laying claim to four Oscars, with two going to Clint Eastwood for Best Picture and Best Director. As far as awards go, this movie has been Eastwood’s most decorated as a director (at least since 1992). It depicts the story of aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), who has to persuade a doubtful and stubborn boxing trainer, Frankie Dunn, to take her on as a trainee. Throughout the film’s 132-minute runtime, the political nature of boxing, as well as the constant struggle to be taken seriously as a female boxer is developed. Yet, Million Dollar Baby extends far beyond just being a film about boxing, and reaches into the realms of the characters’ self-discovery and wholehearted acceptance of who they are, recognizing the processes of fortune and misfortune and how these have shaped their lives for the better. It’s a stunningly emotional modern classic.

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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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