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Friday, February 23, 2007

fading sun, rising sunshine

I have seen two more films this week in my mad dash to Sunday's Oscars: Letters from Iwo Jima and Little Miss Sunshine. I'm still very keen to see two of the foreign-language nominees, Days of Glory (Algeria) and The Lives of Others (Germany), but we'll see what I have time for.

I guess I just don't belong to the cult of Clint Eastwood. In 2003 he directed Mystic River, an ugly, stupid movie based on unimaginative platitudes of innocence and vengeance that brought six of the coolest actors born between 1958 and 1964 together for no good reason whatsoever. (Laura Linney's Lady Macbeth turn at the end stole the show.) Incredibly, or not, it was nominated for best picture and best director.

This year, my reaction to Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima is not angry but equally mystified. It is nothing more than a boring, digitally de-colorized war movie of explosions and a range of male responses to the stress of combat. Ken Watanabe is great as the worldly General Kuribayashi, a man of equal parts compassion, conviction, and courage. But the film is a big nothing. Can someone help me understand the reasons for the hype?

Message-wise, the film wants to teach us not to demonize an enemy we do not understand. A timely (and obvious) message perhaps, but one would not want to get too carried away analogizing al-Qa'ida to imperial Japan. People generally rally to their nation's cause, however wrong it may be, in time of war; al-Qa'ida fights to abolish nations per se. But enough about that. This is supposed to be Oscars week.

On a sunshinier note, Little Miss Sunshine was a complete surprise to me. When I heard last year that it was a moving road movie about a dysfunctional family on their way to a children's beauty pageant, it sounded like the last thing I would want to see. I'm probably exaggerating, but it seems like half the films made by Americans these days are about dysfunctional families. (Why do we even have this term 'dysfunctional family'? Isn't it redundant?)

But any story told well is worth hearing, not for the content but for the telling. The content of a well-told story always feels new even when it is anything but. Filmically, Little Miss Sunshine is nothing special. There are some cute compositions of the family members as a chain, à la Abbey Road—sitting on a bench with equidistant spacing between them, moving in line formation, taking turns jumping into their vehicle—but it is the screenplay and ensemble cast that shine here.

I'll limit myself to the start of the film for the sake of remaining spoiler-free. Even so, I don't think I could describe the screenplay without it sounding trite or mawkish. My academic colleagues will appreciate the setup: Steve Carell plays Frank, the nation's preëminent Proust scholar, who has just experienced a failed suicide attempt prompted by a sequence of events beginning with falling in love with one of his grad students, who then left him for the nation's #2 Proust scholar, which then led him to words and actions that led to his being fired from his university position. His sister's family takes him in and things go downhill from there.

The story works because the screenwriter, Michael Arndt, never shies away from the pain of disappointment that real people experience. The dysfunctional family scenario is everywhere these days, but it usually amounts to a shallow catalogue of quirks. Rarely does this genre of narrative make one feel the pain of one's own family or one's own experience. Little Miss Sunshine is a dysfunctional family film that succeeds. And it's very funny.

People who know me personally know that the HBO series Six Feet Under is like scripture to me: I study it over and over again on dvd, and I would certainly never take its name in vain. I do think there are grounds for comparison, and not just because the family drives around with a [spoiler suppressed] in the back of the [spoiler suppressed]. Think of it as Six Feet Under meets Arrested Development: humor, gravitas, recognition, and genuine feeling, earned by the creators' honest and mature reflection on real experience.

Although not nominated, could it be my choice for best screenplay of the year? Tune in Saturday night around midnight, New York time, for my full list of predictions and favorites.

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14 Comments:

Anonymous Blint said...

I would say that Little Miss Sunshine is the most underrated overrated film of the year, and Clint Eastwood is one of Hollywood's most overrated underrated directors.

In order, then - Little Miss Sunshine . . . It took all the "Indie" tropes and motifs and ran with them: the family that puts the fun in dysfunctional; the moping & morbid adolescent whose catharsis brings him back to the warmth of family; the perversely leering but nevertheless endearing old curmudgeon; the bland everyman father whose spark of madness ignites a family adventure; the ugly duckling; the gay; the pat liberal homilies, which seek to offend Red State values while reaffirming the core of those values; the patient wife and mother who tolerates and then thrills to her husband's whimsy; the wacky road trip; not-quite-hollow literary references; everything, in fact, except Parker Posey . . . And yet, it worked. Gentle direction, a funny script and some superb acting brought what could have been a Scary Movie-type collection of favourite moments from your everyIndie movie into something quite lovely. The backlash against the film missed the point, just as surely as the early critical fawning did.

Although Steve Carrell was stunning, the film really needed Greg Kinnear. Kinnear is the actor too many people think Tom Hanks is. He has the same bland looks, and the same vague but not vanishing charisma of the everyman, but unlike Hanks with his dead-fish eyes, Kinnear has something going on behind his eyes. Imagine Kinnear in any Hanks role, and, without changing much, the film would have been so much better (if not actually any good). He would have brought a touch of irony and frost to Forrest Gump; he would have visited some fleeting moments of agony on Philadelphia; he would saved Saving Private Ryan with some fear.

As for Clint - well, he has certainly brought some duds into the world. I've defecated things more palatable than Mystic River. Literally. But at his best, he is a thoughtful, unintrusive director, unfrightened of the quiet moment, sure enough of his audience that he does not underline the small gestures. The film is a little bit boring, but what you so dismissively call "a range of male responses to the stress of combat" is treated with a quiet sympathy, and yes, Watanabe was great, but why leave out Ihara's brave Errol Flynn baron or Ninomiya's cheeky fidgeting or Nakamura's bellicose nihilism? It was quite a range . . . Along these lines, I think that you too easily dismiss the political arguments that have been made around this film. It is not trying to create specific parallels between Al Qaeda and the Japanese - although the film actually dares countenance suicide in battle. It is a mostly understated response to constructions of enmity as anonymous evil. Think of the scene where the Americans kill the Japanese prisoners. It is not just a rather extraordinary scene in an American political climate where "Support The Troops" is Biblical in its weight; it is also rendered as a specifically casual, stupid, and lazy act, seen moments later from the Japanese perspective as the most awful act of cruel violence. And it is both. The scene transcends the jingoism and the anonymity (of fims like Saving Private Ryan) that pretend to be outraged by such violence but that actually are what allows such casual, stupid and lazy acts of violence, and which then only inspire more of the same and worse. It is a rather subtle film, and far better judged politically and aesthetically than you give it credit for. But it is a bit boring.

6:01 PM, February 23, 2007

 
Anonymous blint said...

"better-judged", not "better judged" in the penultimate sentence.

6:03 PM, February 23, 2007

 
Anonymous blonkytonk man said...

Mr Strabone, Mr Eastwood has for a very long time been conducting subtler and more artistic investigations into violence and masculinity, themes you pretend some interest in, than your bitch Scorsese managed in The Departed. The director of such films as The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider, Play Misty for Me, High Plains Drifter, Unforgiven, Bird, and, ah, Firefox commands respect from any thinking cinemagoer.

But it is true that he has made some less satisfying films. I believe that Space Cowboys has few diehard fans. And Mystic River, adapted from one of the lesser novels of Dennis Lehane, is another minor work in his oeuvre. You say:

In 2003 he directed Mystic River, an ugly, stupid movie based on unimaginative platitudes of innocence and vengeance

Er, whatever. But can I remind you that you think that "THE SCRIPT IS NOT A DIRECTOR'S RESPONSIBILITY"? Oh wait, you only think that for Scorsese and no one else? Okay! While we ponder your aesthetic consistency, let us hear your sophisticated reading of Iwo Jima:

Message-wise, the film wants to teach us not to demonize an enemy we do not understand. A timely (and obvious) message perhaps, but one would not want to get too carried away analogizing al-Qa'ida to imperial Japan.

Here we see a familiar crass pseudo-critical trope: the writer reduces an artwork to a trite message, and then says: "Look! There's nothing to this film except this trite fucking message I've just made up!" Must try harder.

Well, that you find Mr Eastwood's film "a big nothing", and "boring", is as it should be. Mr Eastwood doesn't give a fuck what you think.

7:25 PM, February 23, 2007

 
Anonymous Blint said...

I have to admit, blonkytonk man, that there were moments during Letters from Iwo Jima when I found myself high plains driftin' off to sleep. Although I've never met Mr Eastwood, I have met somebody who knew him quite well, and therefore I can confidently say that you are nevertheless correct in opining that Mr Eastwood would not be too bothered by this. That I would say to him that I have execreted things more interesting and attractive than his Mystic River - quite literally - would probably annoy him for a second or two.

But, let me offer this up as a lob, to see if it sinks or flies. And before I do, let me offer three caveats in the wind-up, which I hope will be accepted. The first caveat is that I know I'm not specifically addressing something either blonkytonk man or Jeff said. The second caveat is that in Clint's films, especially his Westerns, he is often a manly man doing manly things like shooting pistols, riding horses, chomping cheroots, taking slugs of whisky, and therefore I would never say something like, "Clint Eastwood's films do not interrogate tropes of masculinity". And third, we know we're not going to reduce an oeuvre to a single conceit, but we will continue as if we were.

Now, here's the lob. Clint's Westerns are not about masculinity, and this is why they are the pinnacle of the genre.

The previous personification of the Western was John Wayne, whose every film is not just about being a man, but about being an American man. With names like Jake and Davy Crockett. By shooting his pistols while galloping on a horse. By tipping his hat to the ladies. With that generous twinkle in his eye, as if he was always a little bit amused by how he had to tolerate the frailty of the men (and the women) around him, a twinkle that was only extinguished by cold contempt or, more rarely, respect for another man who was also a red-blooded American Male or, least rarely, when he looked about this country of his and was damned proud to be an American man. If one were to choose a single song as the soundtrack to John Wayne's career, one could do worse than pick Elvis' heroically trashy U.S. Male. Many of the other great Western figures - Shane, the Magnificent Seven - followed in his footsteps.

Until Clint. Clint did many of the same things. He looked out at the land around him. He sized men and women up. He didn't blather about his feelings. And so one is tempted to think that he was a variant in this exegesis of masculinity.

But he isn't. In the same way that his Westerns ceased being primarily about America and Manifest Destiny, so the man without a name ceased being about the US Male and masculinity. He became a windswept cipher, an astronaut in spurs and poncho, the living corpse of modern man. Masculinity and the (Italian) American landscape were not the message, but the medium.

And with that, the Western became fulfilled.

10:06 PM, February 23, 2007

 
Anonymous blint said...

I can't leave this alone. I mustn't. This is too important. If you accept that Clint Eastwood completed this genre by fulfilling it - and why should you? You have no reason to! - but if you accept this thesis, then you are forced to ask yourself: Who, other than Clint Eastwood, has completed a genre?

First, you are faced with the terrible question: is there any genre like the Western, which can be completed? And then you must worry over the chilling nature of the Western itself: that the endless plains are not endless, but eventually arrive at the Pacific; that the American genre par excellence, trumpeting the end of history, could sprout, blossom, bloom, and die in such a short time; that the promise of redemption ends up being Unforgiven (where Clint Eastwood has arrived at his pacific - but has to turn back) - all in all, that it is the only genre that can be completed though incompletion is what defines the genre, and that this can occur only when the promised land is no more than limbo. Is there any other genre that is ironic?

But if you accept that Eastwood completed the genre (and did so long before Unforgiven, which did not "deconstruct" the Western and revise or finalise it but, answering the sphinx's riddle, merely sounded da capo), and if you accept that the genre can even be compared to other genres - and there is no reason to accept or reject these theses at all! - then you are left with that question: who else?

Of course, I'm not just asking who epitomises each genre, or who perfected it. Toshiro Mifune is no answer; the greatest actor ever? Perhaps. But he did not complete the Samurai film ( . . . do we not hear an echo of the brotherhood between the Western and the Samurai film in Clint's choice to film Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of our Fathers?) Bogart came nowhere near to completing the Noir, and nor did Mitchum. Is there a comparable figure in Science Fiction or Horror?

The argument here, by the way, is not that historical moods and cultural shifts in tone saw the decline of the Western, but that Clint Eastwood completed the Western. And the American tragedy? That people mistook Reagan as the completion of the Western: the years of searching for redemption ended up with jellybean forgiveness. America's hubris was to reject Eastwood's silent answer: doing the right thing and being unforgiven for it. And why was Eastwood rejected and Reagan followed? Because in Eastwood, America and masculinity were the medium, not the message. And people wanted the message.

So, who else can be compared to Clint Eastwood?

Now, tell me,

11:29 PM, February 23, 2007

 
Blogger Jeff Strabone said...

Was I dismissive in referring to Iwo Jima's 'range of male responses to the stress of combat', as Blint suggests? It felt more declarative than dismissive when I said it, for that is what one gets in this film: a range of male responses, a catalogue even, but not a depth of male response. Which leads me to latch on to Blint's later remark that Eastwood's films 'are not about masculinity'. If we permit ourselves to extend our consideration to the Leone westerns, then the point is all the more convincing. The western tropes there really are pure style and little more (not that that's necessarily a bad thing).

Which is why I don't for a second understand why Blint says, 'And with that, the Western became fulfilled.' It sounds more like the western was not thereby fulfilled but evacuated.

I also don't find it meaningful to speak of a genre being fulfilled. That implies an archetypal understanding of genre. I hope Blint will join me in reaffirming that genres are best approached historically.

As for the act of murder committed by the American troops in Letters from Iwo Jima, that struck me as the typical liberal gesture of appearing balanced. Again, I shrug. It's hard to attribute artistic courage to something we all know: duh, all sides in war do bad things. The film's distance from blind jingoism is hardly cause to call it 'extraordinary'.

Wow. Greg Kinnear could replace Tom Hanks, as Blint suggests. That is a very astute hypothetical observation.

Blonky Tonk Man is right to remind us of Eastwood's earlier films, but his list is heavy in the 1970's and it's been fifteen years since Unforgiven. Should we respect Woody Allen because he made Annie Hall thirty years ago, and a parade of uninterrupted disgraces for something like a decade and a half?

I don't for the life of me see why Blonky finds a contradiction between my remarks about the difference between screenwriters and directors, on one hand, and my dislike of Mystic River, on the other.

On the matter of ethical quotation, Blonky has inappropriately added upper-case letters to my words. Furthermore, Blonky distorts the context of my words. Here is the passage from my entry:
'This then is the film Scorsese chose to remake: a proven international box office smash with an intricate and intriguing double cat-and-mouse plot. But the script is not a director's responsibility. The cinematic interpretation is.'
I was not exculpating Scorsese from the screenwriting mess of Gangs of New York there, as Blnky implies. Rather, I was simply denying him credit for the plot of Infernal Affairs/The Departed.

As for reducing Iwo Jima to a trite message, I also wrote in the very same entry that
'any story told well is worth hearing, not for the content but for the telling. The content of a well-told story always feels new even when it is anything but.'
Had Iwo Jima had a more entertaining story and felt less like a lesson in humanizing one's wartime enemies, there might have been more to say about its content.

As for John Wayne and, by implication, John Ford, Clint Eastwood does not deserve comparison with either as actor or director.

Finally, I don't want to leave the impression that I have not enjoyed a fair amount of Eastwood's work in the past. What bugs me about him is that he gets far more artistic credit than he deserves.

And yes, Toshiro Mifune is the greatest film actor of all time.

1:29 AM, February 24, 2007

 
Anonymous Blint said...

I also don't find it meaningful to speak of a genre being fulfilled. That implies an archetypal understanding of genre. I hope Blint will join me in reaffirming that genres are best approached historically.

But I wrote: The argument here, by the way, is not that historical moods and cultural shifts in tone saw the decline of the Western, but that Clint Eastwood completed the Western.

So, clearly in this particular case, I don't join you in reaffirming that genres are best approached historically, unless by "best" you mean "not". And yes, I was arguing that the Western may really deserve consideration as archetypal, although I was avoiding using that particular word because it is so prejudicial. For my reasons, please see what I wrote above.


Should we respect Woody Allen because he made Annie Hall thirty years ago, and a parade of uninterrupted disgraces for something like a decade and a half?

If I do anything in my life half as good as Annie Hall, I will demand respect for the rest of my living days. Add to that Manhattan and a dozen other brilliant films, and, yes, he deserves to be respected. And Match Point and Scoop, imperfect films both, were hardly disgraces; both had some terrific moments, and Scoop was quite lovely at times.


As for John Wayne and, by implication, John Ford, Clint Eastwood does not deserve comparison with either as actor or director . . . What bugs me about him is that he gets far more artistic credit than he deserves.

Right at the top of my first blomment, I said that he is the most overrated underrated director in America. He gets artistic credit for all the wrong reasons (which bugs you), and not nearly enough credit for what tremendous things he has done artistically (& I'm disappointed that you're not convinced of that by now). As for your fightin' words - I would not hesitate for a moment in talking about Eastwood as an actor or a director in the same breath as Wayne or Ford. And I'll give you one reason why: because of Eastwood, they still matter.

4:05 AM, February 24, 2007

 
Anonymous blonkytonk man said...

I find Blint's theory very exciting. Of course, I will agree for the sake of argument, Mr Eastwood's films are not about masculinity: that would be boring, just as the recent films of Scorsese are boring. Instead, it is indeed the amazing thing that Mr Eastwood, a looming tower built out of purified masculinity, has escaped the tedious "masculinity" ghetto jealously guarded by cultural studies, and instead made a series of existential films about being a human person.

Did he "complete" the western? Yes! Certainly! Has anyone ever done anything comparable in any other genre? No! Is that because the western is in some sense the smallest among genres? Maybe! But that should not mitigate our awe.

Mr Strabone says:
Blonky Tonk Man is right to remind us of Eastwood's earlier films, but his list is heavy in the 1970's and it's been fifteen years since Unforgiven. Should we respect Woody Allen because he made Annie Hall thirty years ago, and a parade of uninterrupted disgraces for something like a decade and a half?

This is really an absurd argument: that later weak works somehow devalue earlier great works. I will not insult your intelligence by referring to the numerous examples from literature that show this to be the historically myopic attitude that it is.

Mr Strabone says:
If we permit ourselves to extend our consideration to the Leone westerns, then the point is all the more convincing. The western tropes there really are pure style and little more (not that that's necessarily a bad thing).

Well, why should we so permit ourselves, if we are talking about Mr Eastwood as a director? Can you see no difference between A Fistful of Dollars and The Outlaw Josey Wales?

Of course, to denigrate Mr Leone's and Mr Morricone's work as little more than "pure style" is silly. They were wordless operas, with Mr Eastwood as the non-singing lead.

Blint demands to know who else can be compared to Mr Eastwood. The answer, of course, is no one.

7:37 AM, February 24, 2007

 
Blogger Jeff Strabone said...

What I should have said, for it is what I meant, was: Should we respect Woody Allen's current work because he made Annie Hall thirty years ago, and a parade of uninterrupted disgraces for something like a decade and a half? I, for one, will not defer to Letters from Iwo Jima for the sake of Eastwood's earlier work. Blonky had said:
'Mr Eastwood has for a very long time been conducting subtler and more artistic investigations into violence and masculinity, themes you pretend some interest in, than your bitch Scorsese managed in The Departed. The director of such films as The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider, Play Misty for Me, High Plains Drifter, Unforgiven, Bird, and, ah, Firefox commands respect from any thinking cinemagoer.
I will not credit Eastwood's late films with 'subtler and more artistic' anything on the grounds that respect is owed for earlier work.

If I am the only interlocutor who approaches genre historically rather than archetypally, then there is little point in arguing further on that point. It sounds like the question is an article of faith for all of us. I, for one, would never do anything as Fukuyama-esque as announcing the completion of a genre, for I don't believe in genre as an ahistorical essence. I also don't believe that Beckett was the end of literature or that painting died in the 1970's. To me, these statements take the mismeasure of our own capacity for innovation and merely express too uncritical and exaggerated a preference for certain artists over others.

I do give Eastwood credit for his earlier work. But nothing he has made from 1993 on that I have seen has mattered as much.

It is rubbish for Blint to say that 'because of Eastwood, they [Ford and Wayne] still matter'. You may as well say that it's because of John Currin that Botticelli and Cranach still matter or that it's because of Dizzee Rascal that Rodgers & Hammerstein still matter. Eastwood borrows his predecessors' greatness; he does not enhance it. He may be the case that best demonstrates the old figure of dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants.

I trust Blonky was being ironic in calling Eastwood 'a looming tower built out of purified masculinity'.

Two clarifications. One, I gestured toward Leone because Blint's line about fulfilling the western immediately followed his invocation of '(Italian)' landscape. Two, coming from me, 'pure style' is not a denigration, as my parenthesis should have indicated.

11:39 AM, February 24, 2007

 
Anonymous blint said...

Why are you huffily demanding there is only one way of looking at genre, which is your (no doubt objectively correct, though still historically- and culturally-determined) way? With a little bit of whimsy and caprice, one begins to see that there is more to genre than your insistence upon its historicity; furthermore, one of the gauntlets I threw was whether or not the Western was different in this possibility of closure (and hence whether or not it is the only ironic genre). If you stamp your foot and say "You can't do that! Genre is what I say it is!" then you're right, we won't have much of a discussion.

You're quite right, though, that Beckett was not the end of literature (enter Rushdie, Roth, Murakami, Coetzee, DeLillo, Pinter, and on and on); or that painting died in the 1970s (enter Haring, Basquiat, Murakami, Ofili, and on - not to mention that the Hock himself has continued to paint). And so, in answer to my questions before, we can say that Beckett is no answer to my question. (But could we say that Beckett was the completion of a certain strain of modernism?)

It is rubbish for Blint to say that 'because of Eastwood, they [Ford and Wayne] still matter'. You may as well say that it's because of John Currin that Botticelli and Cranach still matter or that it's because of Dizzee Rascal that Rodgers & Hammerstein still matter. Eastwood borrows his predecessors' greatness; he does not enhance it. He may be the case that best demonstrates the old figure of dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants.

Do you really think that the best possible demonstration of the figure of dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants is Clint Eastwood? I think you're being hyperbolic, possibly in response to what seems like hyperbole in my claim about 'because of Eastwood, they [Ford and Wayne] still matter'. But who is being so very ahistorical, as if Ford's and Wayne's Greatness is objectively inscribed into the fabric of time itself, unimpugned, unchallenged, unconsidered, even unforgiven? There are so many ways in which my statement is arguably true (that Eastwood's opposition to them keeps them alive in the dialectic of the Western in a way that transcends the sentimental celebration of the canon; that what Eastwood brought to the Western, and what was lost, keep the old Ford/Wayne Westerns alive, and not just as cinematic museum pieces; that Eastwood's fulfilment of the genre reinvigorates the early works through their now-revealed lack, which before just took the appearance of stilted inadequacy; or the arguments I made above . . . and before anybody pops a cork, let it be known that I love cinematic museum pieces; I am no brave soul who rejects the canon but I go out of my way to see as much of it as possible; and that I love Ford and Wayne - my argument does not preclude these passions).

And, finally, yes, by the way, there is a way in which contemporary artists keep artists of the past alive in ways that mean that the artists continue to matter - in homage, in influence, in rejection. I could go on for hours - no, I have gone on for hours - about how Robbie Williams has made 80s pop matter again. Artists even resurrect one another, as Morrissey has done with Jobraith and The New York Dolls, or as Dave Eggers did with Edward Lewis Wallant. It is therefore quite possible to argue that later artists can make earlier artists matter without making silly height comparisons.

12:37 PM, February 24, 2007

 
Anonymous blonkytonk man said...

What I should have said, for it is what I meant, was: Should we respect Woody Allen's current work because he made Annie Hall thirty years ago, and a parade of uninterrupted disgraces for something like a decade and a half?

I'm sorry you did not say what you meant the first time. Of course, if you now say this it makes more sense. Putting to one side, of course, the coarseness of an aesthetic sensibility that dismisses Sweet & Lowdown and Scoop in the same terms as it does Curse of the Jade Scorpion - and what strange terms! "Disgraces" - as though Allen's crime is to fall foul of some social consensus upheld by smug aesthetes. Well...

I trust Blonky was being ironic in calling Eastwood 'a looming tower built out of purified masculinity'.


I was most certainly not!

But it does allow me to suggest one figure to whom Eastwood might rightfully be compared — viz., indubitably the greatest cinema actor of all time, Cary Grant.

2:42 PM, February 24, 2007

 
Anonymous Blint said...

Cary Grant. Cary Grant. #2 on the American Film Institute's Greatest Actors list - behind Humphrey Bogart. They note that amongst the actors whose screen debut was just too late to make their list were Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood.

There's a really standout line in Lou Reed's standout track, Halloween Parade, in a standout album, New York. Lou is describing the costumes men and women are wearing in the New York Halloween Parade, and remembering those who died of AIDS.

"There's a Crawford, Davis and a tacky Cary Grant / And some Homeboys lookin' for trouble down here from the Bronx."

"a tacky Cary Grant" - it's a fantastic image, isn't it?

8:41 PM, February 24, 2007

 
Anonymous blonkytonk man said...

Next to Cary Grant, every human being looks tacky.

Is Mr Strabone able to explain to us the plumbline or measuring stick by which he judges that there is no "depth" to the male responses to violence portrayed in this film? Because if not his comments hardly count as a critical argument.

Had Iwo Jima had a more entertaining story and felt less like a lesson in humanizing one's wartime enemies, there might have been more to say about its content.

Oh, I see, Mr Strabone desired an entertaining story about Japanese conscripts dying en masse on Iwo Jima. That explains it.

Having now seen Letters from Iwo Jima, I am able to state with authority that Mr Eastwood's diptych - for diptych, let us remember, it is - is a stunning masterpiece, which in some sense completes the war film, and his Oscar this evening will be richly deserved.

3:01 PM, February 25, 2007

 
Blogger Jeff Strabone said...

I will have more to say soon. I needed some time to finish watching films and making choices.

Blonky is clearly too much an Eastwood partisan, some may say that I suffer the same short-sightedness towards Scorsese, and Blint seems to occupy the middle ground of appreciating both. Perhaps he should change his name to Blorsese-Blint.

5:15 PM, February 25, 2007

 

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