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Author Topic: Who saw CHANGELING? Members' Comments (NO SPOILERS, PLEASE)  (Read 7989 times)
KC
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« on: October 03, 2008, 07:05:41 PM »

With the U.S. premiere tomorrow, it's time to start this thread, even though it will be a few weeks yet before many of us have a chance to see the film.

Anyway, this is the official thread for Eastwood Web board members to weigh in and let us know what you thought of Changeling, whenever you get to see it.

We welcome all thoughts and comments and even full-fledged reviews of the film, but please... NO SPOILERS IN THIS THREAD. If you feel that what you want to say about the film may spoil it for those who haven't yet seen it, then please post in our SPOILERS thread for Changeling.

http://www.clinteastwood.org/forums/index.php?topic=7455.0
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KC
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2008, 08:58:40 PM »

I can't believe it's been two whole weeks since the premiere. I'm sorry I haven't posted before now. I started this mini-review last week but kept getting sidetracked before I could finish it.

WARNING: This is the "no spoiler" thread, but I'm going to assume that from the advance publicity, everyone knows at least a few basic facts about the film, so if you really don't know anything and don't want to know anything, you can stop reading right here.



Changeling is based on the true story of Christine Collins (played by Angelina Jolie), whose nine-year-old son Walter vanished from a quiet Los Angeles neighborhood in March, 1928. Several months later, the police announced they had found the missing boy in the Middle West. When the boy was brought to Los Angeles, Christine knew right away that it was not her son, but was unable to persuade the police they had made a mistake. Eventually, on the orders of the police captain in charge of her case (Jeffrey Donovan), she was confined to the county's psychopathic ward and told she would not be released unless she signed a statement admitting that the impostor child was her own. A Presbyterian minister (John Malkovich) who has embarked on a crusade against police corruption is on her side, however, and is able to secure her release. Meanwhile, on a miserable chicken farm in a rural area nearby, traces of a horrible crime spree are uncovered, for which one Gordon Stewart Northcott (Jason Butler Harner) would in due course be tried and convicted. In another courtroom at the same time, a hearing in the case of Captain Jones, Christine's principal tormentor, would be held. The film doesn't end with these parallel courtroom scenes, however, but continues to follow the story for several more years to its inconclusive end in 1935.

I liked the film quite a lot on a first viewing. It's true that it's all on a very high, melodramatic pitch, with few moments of repose after the opening scenes, and it's also one of the few Eastwood-directed films I can recall with no humor to speak of. What makes it work for me is the knowledge that it all really happened more or less exactly the way it's told in the film. I suppose it shouldn't be that way; the story should work as a story, not because it's history, but this is such a powerful true story that it overwhelms considerations of what makes a "good" fictional tale.

The period setting is well done. I did find Jolie's makeup a bit distracting, especially since the bright red lipstick she wears calls attention to her most prominent facial feature, her full lips. I kept wondering whether Eastwood was making a point with that look (especially since "good" women in his films have traditionally been the ones with no makeup) ... perhaps you could make a case that it makes her appear all the more powerful and intimidating. She's a threat to the men of the LAPD, because she's a woman who refuses to "know her place." It's established that she's a fighter in an early scene with her son, when she tells him he should never start a fight, but always finish one. When the fight is for the life of that son, the one thing in her life she holds most dear, there is no doubt that she will keep on fighting until the finish.

The performances were excellent. Jolie, of course, is impeccable in the part of the desperate but indomitable mother. Among the others, I especially enjoyed seeing John Malkovich in a good-guy role (for once), but all the lesser-known actors did very well with their parts. Even the child actors were good; the "changeling" boy was subtly creepy, recalling stories of troll children or fairy children that are exchanged for human ones … this is one of the original meanings of "changeling." The young actor who played Northcote's unwilling accomplice was moving in his big confessional scene. Jason Butler Harner as Northcott not only resembles him physically but gives a jumpy, occasionally over-the-top performance that seems to exactly match contemporary descriptions of his behavior. (I should confess that I "researched" this case a bit myself, in the archives of the Los Angeles Times, available online at my library (selected stories now also available via a link from the Changeling website), and in contemporary photographs, which are available free on the Los Angeles Library website.) (Thanks to Dan Dassow for sending me a series of photos from this source.)

I think it's an interesting exercise to count up the recurrent Eastwood thenes in this movie. First, there's the abducted child … which recalls A Perfect World, and more recently Mystic River. In some ways, Changeling is a nightmare counterpart to A Perfect World, in which, as in Changeling, the only son of a single mother is stolen away from her, but in that case, very soon thereafter the "good" abductor kills the "bad" one and proceeds to treat the child victim, not to anything harmful, but to the adventure of a lifetime, before he's returned  to the mother at the film's end. Similar to Changeling, however, is the way the authorities charged with recovering the child are presented in a generally sinister light.

Capital punishment, and the interrelated question of society's search for justice in the face of murder, is another frequent theme of Eastwood's, going all the way back to Hang 'Em High. Especially in recent years, it seems to turn up regularly in Eastwood's films: Absolute Power, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, True Crime, and Mystic River all deal with it in one way or another.

Finally, the twin themes of police corruption and police incompetence figure in virtually all of Eastwood's cop movies, beginning with the Dirty Harry series. Notably, in The Gauntlet, it's heightened to the point of caricature; but that caricature comes startlingly close to the historical truth behind the incredible case of Christine Collins and the contemporary LAPD. Even the "death squad" and police vigilantism of Magnum Force apparently had a historical counterpart in 1920s Los Angeles.

Structurally, this is one of Eastwood's most linear films in recent years. In order to broaden the scope from a simple A-B-C narrative, he does resort to frequent flashbacks, mostly brief and suggesting more than they show, which illuminate the more vivid moments as they're recalled in various characters' testimony.

Finally, the picture ends on an Eastwoodian note of ambiguity, as one more surprising development in the Collins/Northcote case renews Christine's hope about her son's ultimate fate, at the same time as it provides the audience with a satisfying denouement while leaving it up to each member of the audience to decide how the story is ultimately resolved.



I'm sorry if the above is a little ragged and incomplete. I may have more to say after a second viewing!
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Anonymous
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2008, 12:15:43 PM »

Thanks for your review! What do you rate the film out of 10? Also how does it rank to Clint Eastwood's other directed films?
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Fhil
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2008, 02:30:42 PM »

I don't get to see it until next week :(
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Hemlock
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2008, 08:58:07 PM »

I don't get to see it until next week :(

I don`t get to see it until early next year  >:(
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-satu-
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2008, 08:56:50 AM »

I don`t get to see it until early next year  >:(

Same here :(
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-satu-
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2008, 09:34:06 AM »



I did find Jolie's makeup a bit distracting, especially since the bright red lipstick she wears calls attention to her most prominent facial feature, her full lips. I kept wondering whether Eastwood was making a point with that look (especially since "good" women in his films have traditionally been the ones with no makeup) ... perhaps you could make a case that it makes her appear all the more powerful and intimidating. She's a threat to the men of the LAPD, because she's a woman who refuses to "know her place." It's established that she's a fighter in an early scene with her son, when she tells him he should never start a fight, but always finish one. When the fight is for the life of that son, the one thing in her life she holds most dear, there is no doubt that she will keep on fighting until the finish.

In 1920's, the makeup was either very natural or very powerful. Eyebrows were plucked thin and arched. The colours for eyes were brown and dark grey. The eye makeup was diaphanous. They used a lot of mascara. The lips were drawn small, heart-shaped and they were painted red. Blush was used lightly on cheekbones.

We have studied different eras and what the makeup was back then, so I felt I had to comment.  ;) I'm not saying your theory is wrong. Strong women use red lipstick.  :)
« Last Edit: November 16, 2008, 09:35:54 AM by -satu- » Logged

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KC
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« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2008, 12:30:57 PM »

It's good to hear from an expert, Satu, thanks!

I think women's makeup is the hardest part of a period "look" to get right. If it's historically accurate for a given period, it often looks wrong to contemporary eyes, while if you compromise and let the women look more contemporary, it will be guaranteed to look dated when enough time has passed for "contemporary" to become "historical."

In this case, the effect of the red lips was exaggerated by the prominence of that particular Jolie facial feature. ;)
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-satu-
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2008, 09:03:24 AM »

I tried to understand what you meant with your latest message, KC, but I can't quite get it. Difficult structure in your sentence and words I don't fully understand, I think.  ::) But it's ok.  ;D
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KC
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2008, 03:11:54 PM »

People have been telling me that all my life! ;D

I just meant this:

If you make a period film set in the 1920's and the women in the movie are made up "correctly" for the period, some people who watch it will find the women don't look "right." That's because our eyes are used to today's styles in women's makeup.

On the other hand, if you make a period film set in the 1920's, and the women in the movie use the makeup styles of today, maybe no one will notice or complain, since it's what we're used to seeing. BUT in five or ten or twenty years, when someone looks at that movie, they're going to say, "How could they have gotten the makeup so wrong? Everyone knows that's not what 1920s makeup looked like!"

And then, Angelie Jolie has really big lips. So bright red lipstick really "makes a statement" on her. ;)
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-satu-
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2008, 10:56:55 AM »

Ok, thanks. I got it now.  :D

And you're right a about that.  ::)
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2008, 12:22:33 PM »

I am going to see it at last.   :)    The Changeling arrives in our backwater town on December 12 for 1 week.    I am away from the 11th to the 15th but I am going to the first showing on the 16th which is at 1.30 pm.     

Further to the comments re the make up, I have seen stills and I find the red lipstick on Jolie's large mouth a little over the top but when I see the movie I may not notice it the same.     
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-satu-
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2009, 08:39:51 AM »

9th of January in Finland.  :o Next week!! Yeay!  O0
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Hemlock
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2009, 11:45:00 AM »

9th of January in Finland. Yeay!  O0

My thoughts exactly  O0 Sadly I don`t have time until sometime next week to go see it...but still great news that it`s finally here.

Gran Torino will open 20.2.09 so it won`t be too long for that either  8)
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2009, 05:25:56 AM »

TODAY  :D Me and my friend are going to see it in the evening. I can't wait!  ;)
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Dan Dassow
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« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2009, 05:59:15 AM »

TODAY  :D Me and my friend are going to see it in the evening. I can't wait!  ;)

It looks like the reviews from the press in Finland seem to be generally positive. Unfortunately, my ability to read Finnish is limited, so I had to cheat by using some of Babelfish and Google translators.

The Finnish trailer is sub-titled. Is the film also sub-titled or did they translate screenplay?
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Hemlock
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2009, 07:34:43 AM »

It looks like the reviews from the press in Finland seem to be generally positive. Unfortunately, my ability to read Finnish is limited, so I had to cheat by using some of Babelfish and Google translators.

The Finnish trailer is sub-titled. Is the film also sub-titled or did they translate screenplay?

Foreign films are always subtitled in Finland.Only the films for children,cartoons and such are dubbed.

So far Changeling`s reviews have been good.It has earned three to four stars out of five just about in every reviews that I´ve read.

In our major newspaper Helsingin Sanomat the critic especially liked the way Tom Stern has captured the L.A.of the 1920`s-1930`s.Also Angelina Jolie got good reviews but the same critic though John Malkovich`s performance was a bit too deranged for a film´s reverend and that the story is a bit too long with the numerous courtscenes(??).Clint Eastwood`s direction is said to be as admirable as it has been lately.

Here`s the article where I shortened the review.The title translates"Clint and mother`s pain

http://www.hs.fi/nyt/artikkeli/Clint+ja+%C3%A4idin+tuska/1135242580315

As said I propably get to see it next week.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2009, 07:38:34 AM by Hemlock » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2009, 06:32:04 AM »

I'm so late on the news here...this movie hasn't open in my city either. When it does, still will decide if i'm going to watch or not...Clint only directs and...i'm not Angelina Jolie fan. >:(

 Let's see what happens.
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Christopher
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« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2009, 07:43:19 AM »

I haven't seen many of Jolie's films, but she's very good in ChangelingO0 Though I might still be considered a fan of hers. ^-^ ;)
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« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2009, 10:42:16 AM »

I have seen her only in  "Original Sin" and "Taking Lives".
Her mouth is so overrated! ::)
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