Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Lighten up, Clint!
Since film awards season is upon us, I've been going to the movies a lot lately. I recently saw The Wrestler and Frost/Nixon and have plans to see both Revolutionary Road and Slumdog Millionaire. But you know what I have no desire whatsoever to see?
You got it: Gran Torino.
My antagonism toward Clint Eastwood films hasn't always existed-- I thought Mystic River was amazing and I wept through most of Million Dollar Baby. But it is interesting to note that if I never see either film again, it will be too soon. Watching those movies is a harrowing, gut-wrenching experience.
I feel like Eastwood goes out of his way to make his films not entertaining. The second you're enjoying his movie, he does something like paralyze Hilary Swank or kill off Tim Robbins. It's like a sucker-punch to the stomach.
I see previews for Gran Torino and the pull-quotes from reviews are what you'd expect:
"Vintage Clint Eastwood"
And so forth. With the exception of "vintage Clint Eastwood," the other descriptions could also apply to my last root canal. Don't get me wrong -- I don't need my movies to be total fluff (I would rather have another root canal than see Bride Wars) but do they have to be so, well, grim and joyless?
Clint is getting kudos for his acting in Gran Torino. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing he plays a hardened old coot with a soft spot. Just a wild guess.
I know, I know, all my film buff friends are doing the alive equivalent of rolling in their graves. I'm sure Gran Torino is an excellent film, I just have no desire to see it. Just like I had no desire to see the pair of black-and-white movies Eastwood directed about Japan during WWII that won raves a couple of years ago.
In his films, Eastwood takes himself pretty darn seriously. I wonder what he'd be like as a dinner companion. Is he as tight-lipped and gruff as the men he plays? Or would he be a loquacious dude? Would he joke with the waiter and do over-the-top lines from Dirty Harry or stare him down when the bread basket was empty and leave the tip in pennies?
These are the questions that keep me up at night.