Some days, you just get lucky.
Like the day I found the irrefutable evidence I need to advance my long-standing argument that Clint Eastwood is an overrated, mediocre, inessential director.
Far be it from me to judge a film from its trailer alone, but take a gander at Eastwood’s latest piece of Oscar-bait:
Holy shit. That is like fucking catnip to old ladies and the Academy, aka Clint Eastwood’s target audience. It just looks so…so…so important! What awaits us after life, indeed.
At long last, we have a movie that ties the tragic 2004 tsunami to Matt Damon’s piercing, blue psychic eyes. I bet if only we can talk to the dead people who died in the tsunami, it would provide some sort of cathartic healing experience. Also…dead kids! Everybody wins.
In the case of The Dilemma v. Eastwood, this trailer is the stunning evidence that my lawyer, Michael Kuzak, introduces at the last possible minute, rendering the jury speechless, causing audible gasps from the audience, and forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. (What?)
It is a very bad trailer. It will be a very bad movie. Don’t believe me? Awesome. Go see it. In the theater. $11. Money well spent, I bet.
The third film ever directed by Clinton Eastwood Jr. was “The Unforgiven.” And with that classic (although, if we’re being honest with ourselves, ever-so-slightly overrated and obvious) Western, the man built himself a reputation. A reputation strong enough to withstand the likes of “Space Cowboys” and “The Bridges of Madison County” with nary a hint of tarnish. A reputation strong enough to build a bridge all the way to “Mystic River,” the next legitimately hailed film in the Eastwood canon.
11 years and seven films separate “Unforgiven” from “Mystic,” and only one of those films (“A Perfect World”) is any good.
Unfortunately, beginning with “Mystic River,” things took a turn for the (even) worse. Before that, Eastwood seemed to content to roll out professionally made schlock, to coast on his early success and the collective good will that comes with being American icon Clint Eastwood. Shit like “Absolute Power.” Does anyone even have an opinion on “Absolute Power”? It’s just there. It just exists.
And “Mystic River” is fine. I’ve got nothing specifically against “Mystic River.” It’s a reasonably faithful adaptation of a typical Dennis Lehane tale. Ahh, but it gave ol’ Clint the taste. Like a vampire who feeds on human blood for the first time and can’t escape the urge thereafter, Eastwood basked in the Best Picture and Best Director nominations he received and never looked back. That little gold statuette has ruled the rest of his years.
Beginning with “Mystic River,” Eastwood essentially began releasing one film a year, usually in November or December — not coincidentally the heart of Oscar-hunting season. These films were always incredibly serious and ultra-important. And they were all thinly veiled stabs at more of that precious, precious Academy gold.
After “River” came the worst of the lot, “Million Dollar Baby,” also known as the movie that made me lose respect for Eastwood permanently. It’s just an atrocious movie, written by Paul Haggis of “Crash” infamy, and overacted by Eastwood and Steve Sanders’ girlfriend from that one terrible season of 90210.
Next came “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” which admittedly did serve a purpose. They proved to the world just how dull World War II movies could be so that “Inglourious Basterds” would eventually look all the better in comparison. “Changeling,” “Gran Torino,” “Invictus”…you get the idea.
So that’s 20 years of directing, 18 films in total, two of which are honest-to-goodness good. To steal a line from Jay-Z, that’s a one hot film every ten year average. And now, finally, with “Hereafter,” perhaps the rest of the world will see what I have seen lo these many years — that Clint Eastwood is a much better actor than he is a director. Oh wait, he’s not a great actor either? Shit.
* Did you guys realize Clint Eastwood is fucking 80 years old? Maybe I should stop picking on the old guy. In that light, it’s pretty fucking impressive that he’s even making big-budget Hollywood movies. Who cares if they’re any good?