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Topics - shabby chic

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General Discussion / The Beguiled and Blood Work
« on: February 10, 2003, 10:21:56 AM »
The Beguiled was great.  I think after Dirty Harry, this is Clint's and Siegel's greatest effort together.  Really worth a another look!  It's great looking.  Faulkner meets "Misery."

On the other hand, I watched BW for a second time this weekend.  There are moments of greatness in this film.  But it's also sloppy.  Why didn't Clint leave with the woman and child?  Daniles would have been trapped?  You could say that Clint felt connected to Daniels, but then why didn't the woman ask him to leave?  "Ill let her heart guide me" is a painfully bad line.  It's a little muddled too with the corpse he and the woman cop find.  Who was that?  It wasn't the computer guy because he's found later.  And then the Russian guy was used to throw people off, but then the killer leaves another clue the following day.  

Eastwood News / Sight and Sound review of Blood Work
« on: February 10, 2003, 10:14:56 AM »
I can't find it on the web, but the latest edition of the British mag Sight and Sound has the best review of BW I have read yet.  I was happy that the article blasted the awful performance of De Jesus, calling her performance an "assertive talk show host."  I'll type it up if I can't find it, but it's really worth checking out.  I think it's a very fair review.

General Discussion / What director do you think Clint should work for?
« on: February 06, 2003, 01:55:44 PM »
Don't you wish that Clint would star in another director's film again?  And I mean a top tier director, not some guy Clint hired so he could push around.  Who do you think could really utilize Clint well in a film?
My vote: Wes Anderson

General Discussion / Heartbreak Ridge
« on: February 04, 2003, 01:55:41 PM »
I can't recall.  Somebody please remind me.  What was that really awful scene that had Van Peebles (spelling?) singing a song at a bar?  There was something really stupid about it.  Was it that he didn't have a microphone?  Or was it that there was a band playing but no band present?  I can't remember what it was.  Does somebody remember?  That was one of Clint's best performances, but probably some of his laziest directing.  I was surprised by how bad the scene was, especially given Clint's respect for live musical performances.  

General Discussion / Unforgiven - original title Cut-Throat Ws
« on: January 16, 2003, 02:10:05 PM »
In Richard Schickel's (spelling?) he wrote the original title was Cut-Throat W (I can't wrote that word).  He wrote that Eastwood ordered a name change, and this Unforgiven was born.  Schickel is not very clear.  Did Eastwood come up with the title Unforgiven or the script writer?  

« on: January 14, 2003, 10:11:05 PM »

General Discussion / Bronco Billy
« on: January 13, 2003, 09:26:27 PM »
I recently watched Bronco Billy and made some notes about it.  It was the first time I have ever seen it from begining to end.  I'm a newish Eastwood fan.  I have been watching his movies, as close to chron as possible, and taking some notes.

I will just list some things that struck me.

The film begining credits have a backdrop of gentle, beautiful landscapes, almost cheesy, like tacky Americana paintings.  But the film's landscapes are quite muddy and unspectacular.  The film ends with a pull-out shot that looks quite similiar to the ones in the begining credits.  This is a visual symetry that Eastwood seems to favor (Perfect World is another example).

There is a shot of a record player that plays music announcing Bronco Billy.  The player is old, decrepit and dusty.  A fitting metaphor for the film's central theme about American heroism and the need to have American myth, no matter if it is a lie.  The wild west show seems quite anachronistic and tired.

Cigarette holder that Lily uses.  Seems also like an anachronism, perhaps a throwback to old screwball comedies, which the relatrionship of Billy and Lily seems very much inspired by.

The names Billy and Lily.  They are quite smiliar, showing a kinship between them.  Billy brings to mind Billy the Kid, or any number of Billy cowboy outlaws.  Lily, a semi-common name, is also the name of one of the most famous American traditional folk songs, Lilly of the West.  The film is steeped in classic Americana, both past and present.

A controlled environment.  Billy believes, almost like a child, that anybody can be what they want to be in America.  He has designed his Wild West Show into proof of that.  It is a controlled environment with definite rules.  Like America, his tent show is a melting pot that accepts all people: Indians, blacks, whites, draft dodgers, ex-cons, alcoholics, a prostitute.  Billy hates when his world is challenged or changed in anyway.  Note how furious he gets when Lily changes some of his dialogue during the performance.  Also note the simplistic way he speaks to children about the importance of school and America (it sounds like banal Hulk Hogan blather).  Billy needs for the American dream to be real.  He is an ex-con who dreamed of being a cowboy, and he became one.  To Billy, America is this simplistic.

The film is loaded with signs and symbols of classic America culture and storytelling.  Not everything, of course, exists solely in America, but I feel that they help define a certain sect of American belief and image: Pickup trucks, country music, an attempted train robbery, cowboys and Indians, homemade Sunday dresses, red sports car, barroom fights akin to John Wayne, skyscrapers.  Most importantly I find the image of Coca Cola to be quite funny.  Coke bottles are a big sing post of the American South (see Thieves Like Us or any number of movies), as well as America in general.  Old Coke ads and bottles and machines are collected and considered Americana art.  Billy gets a bunch of Cokes from the a classic Coke machine and lines them up on top of the vending machine.  He procedes to offer them to all of his crew only to have them all complain that they wanted a diffeent brand; Billy is annoyed.  It seems unAmerican to him.  They are losing faith in the traveling Wild West show.

The use of religion.  Billy calls himself a sinner, but also pays utmost respect to the church and its figures without being religious in the least.  "Forgave the whore" is even said.  This felt very Amercan to me.  Also this played a part in showing the death of American myth and heroism.  When they have lunch with the nuns, the scene comes quite close to looking like the last super.

The appearance of Merle Hagard.  He's a famous singer, so why is he playing a divey bar?  I think he is seen, like Billy, to be a wandering cowboy who America is close to forgetting.  

When the tent burns down, somebody says "Thank the lord nobody got hurt."  Billy sadly replies, "Yah," meaning he believes America is for the worse, the death of something important, perhaps his own mythic death.

Locke and Eastwood spar, like I said before, like old screwball comedies.  But she realizes she's gone too far when she says, "You're a phony cowboy from New Jersey."  It's a brilliant scene.  She realizes she broke the Wild West Show's first rule: anybody can be whatever they want.  

The tent at the end is of American flags, stitched together by insane inmates.  This is perhaps the greatest end to an Eastwood movie.  America: a patch quilt, the American hero myth and heritage still survive, maybe it's all a lie and madness, but it's still better to believe in nobility than to succumb to the beatings dealt by society.  They are all heros, the performers in the tent, and all of them were people tossed away by society, all of them outcasts.

Sorry for rambling.  I just get so excited by this movie.  I think, so far from what I have seen, that Bronco Billy, Unforgiven and A Perfect World are his best directed films.

And to add something, I think this film is (intended or not) the composite of two 1970s films: John Cassavetes' The Killing of A Chinese Bookie (the controlled environments, the main characters' obsession with being like a movie character) and Robert Altman's Buffalo Bill and The Indians (the American myth and hero aspects).


Questions & Answers / Aspect Ratios and Clint
« on: January 12, 2003, 04:24:28 PM »
Almost all of the films Eastwood directed were in 'scope' (1:2.35. which his latter films are actually 2.39 but they still call it 2.35)
Here are the ones I noticed are NOT scope but rather 1.85:
Play Misty
Bronco Billy
Are there any others that he directed in this ratio?

Questions & Answers / Madison County
« on: January 10, 2003, 02:43:55 PM »
I can only find full screen.  Was a widescreen made?

General Discussion / Eastwood Grosses
« on: January 10, 2003, 02:42:26 PM »
I know this doesn't matter, but I noticed on IMDB that Bridges of Madison County grossed something like 175 million worldwide.  That must be one of his biggest hits.  I also saw that A Perfect World made 135 million.  I guess that was a big hit in Europe where they like good movies.  

Questions & Answers / Anybody read the novel Blood Work?
« on: December 19, 2002, 09:39:23 PM »
Does it end on a old rusted boat like in the flick?

General Discussion / Bob Dylan paid tribute to Bronco Billy
« on: December 19, 2002, 10:07:05 AM »
Dylan's song from 1985 "Seeing The Real You At Last" is compiled of lines of dialogue from great classic films.  The only modern line (from a movie post 1960) was from Bronco Billy.  Here are Dylan's lyircs:

When I met you, baby,
You didn't show no visible scars.
You could ride like Annie Oakley,
You could shoot like Belle Starr.

General Discussion / The Gauntlet
« on: December 18, 2002, 01:18:16 PM »
I have been watching the films Eastwood directed from begining to end, and last night I watched The Gauntlet.  I thought it was pretty by the numbers.  It was pretty nasty towards women, as was HPD.  It makes it almost unwatchable.  There were some nice touches here and there, but mostly it was rather pedestrian.  When they escaped through the tunnel, and walked out in broad day light and went back to their car, why didn't any of the shooters notice them?  Why didn't Locke grab the gun when Eastwood was being attacked?  What she did to grab the evil trio's attention was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen in one of his films.  No wonder Pauline Kael dislikes Eastwood.

General Discussion / Hypertrophic devices - William Beard
« on: December 18, 2002, 10:29:22 AM »
In William Beard's book Persistence of Double Vision, he discussed hypertrophic visual metaphors in Eastwood films.  Here are a few example: The tent at the end of Bronco Billy.  Their old tent burned down and was replaced by an American Flag tent stitched together by insane people.  This was a gigantic visual in the film, serving as a larger than life metaphor, the need for American heroes (even if they are lies), the need for myth and legend (even if they are lies).  One could argue that if Bronco Billy himself did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.  Another example is the Hell City in HPD.  Slowly the town turns on itself, and slowly and surely, boom!, the town is a big glimmering metaphor for man's defilement.  

Anyway, Beard doesn't mention, I believe he doesn't, that these images usually creep out at the ends of Eastwood films.

I got to thinking about Blood Work, which of course predates Beard's book.  The ending always troubled me, the old ship in the water out of nowhere.  It was not organic to the story. It came from no place in the story.  But now I think I love it.  Blood Work is a movie about mortality.  Going out to sea has always been a cookie-cutter metaphor for death (Plague Dogs, Kiss of the Spider Woman, etc.).  The broken down ship was the hypertrophic image for Eastwood, an old war ship now scrap metal, of no use, slowly going under.  And at the film's end, Eastwood is finshed with detective work.  he's boating around with his girlfriend and the child, content with living out the rest of his life.  

Questions & Answers / Question about the end of True Crime
« on: December 16, 2002, 04:33:14 PM »
At the end of True Crime, a film where Eastwood is playing largly against type, he is still the same sleazy man he was at the begining.  He is flirting with the check out girl who is young enough to be his granddaughter.  Walking out we see the homeless man who is a sort of metaphor for Eastwood's character, a man with little respect for women who seems to also have little respect for anybody.  His character is a motif throughout the film, and Eastwood always reluctantly supports him, perhaps seeing himself a little in him.  Anyway, he sees the man who he saved the life of.  Eastwood looks at his cigarette and throws it away.  A lot of people think this means that Eastwood has now cleansed himself and will walk the straight and narrow.  Like he's kicking his bad habits.  I don't agree.  I think Eastwood saw this man, a happy family man, and saw the opposite of himself and just felt disgusted with himself.  I don't think Eastwood's character change din the throw of the cigarette.  Months passed since he saved that man's life, and Eastwood never changed.  What does everybody else think?  

Collectors' Corner / Breezy
« on: December 12, 2002, 04:53:53 PM »
how can I get a copy?

General Discussion / William Beard's book on Clint
« on: December 12, 2002, 01:57:19 PM »
I just read this.  Very interesting.  Are there any other good, analytical books on Clint?  Besides fact-based produiction detail and biography books?

Questions & Answers / John Cassavetes & Clint
« on: December 12, 2002, 01:18:32 PM »
It's been said that Cassavetes was wild about Misty.  Does anybody have anyting to substantiate this?

General Discussion / Eastwood as auteur -
« on: December 12, 2002, 10:17:59 AM »
A lot f the great filmmakers have, what is called, an invisible hand, meaning that they don't have really specific visual sytles.  They can still have the auteur status based on recurring thematic and plot elements.  Howard Hawks, Louis Malle, Billy Wilder are examples of these.  There is a tendency to want to include Eastwood in with these directors.  So I got to thinking.  What traits does Eastwood express over and over again in his films i.e. slight visual styles, thematic motifs, etc.  
scope: First of all, along with John Carpenter, Eastwood seems to be one of the few Hollywood dirtectors to really utilize and master the 2.35 aspect ratio (albeit Play Misty and maybe a few others).  This is quite odd, if you think about it.  For many people have never seen his films in the theatre and have only seen the very cropped versions of his films.  Many people have only seen, really, half of his films, meaning that they are missing have the visual informaiton - when watching them on tv.  

Landscapes: Eastwood's landscapes seem to be the opposite of John Ford.  They range from muddy (Josey Whales), hazy (High Plains Drifter), striking color but plain architecture (Perfect World), broad, empty and dying (Unforgiven).  But never are they romanticzed.  In this regard, Eastwood seems more akin to Howard Hawks.

Building scenes:  In his earlier films we see a handful of scenes that exist for mere plot exposition.  For instance, the town's hierarchy in High Plains Drifter, sitting around and smoking their cigars while delivering dialogue that does little for character development but everything for story (though one could make an effort to compare them to Lang's similiar scene in "M".)  His later films would remove these scenes entirely.  Look at Absolute Power.  Hackman and Davis have many talking scense that serve story, but Clint interjects an interesting element into every scene.  The decision to have Hackman and Davis dance was brilliant.  It appears he is romancing her, but he's actually threatening her.   Clint's films do not havy a sweeping, seamless quality (like Ford and Mann do), but his films feel like good scenes combined into a whole.  They feel clunky at his worse, but brilliant at his best.  In this regard, he is again very similiar to Sam Fuller and Hawks.

Ensemble:  The films Eastwood directs and stars in have a tendency to pull away from his central character (i.g. himself) and have a tendency to deal more with the supporting characters.

I'll post more later, if anybody is interested.  I have to get back to work.   Or if anybody else would care to offer other directorial fingerprints, PLEASE DO SO!    

Questions & Answers / Question about a line in A Perfect World
« on: December 11, 2002, 05:36:39 PM »
Where does the body in the trunk come from?  He was not killed by Costner, but probably by the inmate who escaped with Costner.  And why Does Red (Eastwood) say something about a beaucrat when he opens the trunk and finds the body?  Please explain.

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